Tapping into leadership and excellence at all levels of the organization

Tapping into leadership and excellence at all levels of the organization

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Aristotle

This quote has always sent shivers up my spine. Why? I cry when people applaud at the end of a theater production. I think the audience’s enthusiasm and the actors’ excellence just overwhelm me. I am blown away by the simple act of greatness wherever I find it. So let’s talk about greatness and what produces it. Greatness, excellence, having your heart in something — it’s all the same thing.  

What is the best way to create an outstanding culture with corresponding results? Well, it makes sense that the more greatness in our ranks, the more outstanding our results. How do we make a habit of tapping into greatness?  

What happens after we hire a great individual? Most likely the following: 

Enthusiasm: Most people are excited about new beginnings. Many may also experience relief to be employed. 

Orientation: In the best of hotels, we talk about who we are as an organization, what our legacy is and what we are committed to. We give the team a tour, lunch, perhaps an overnight stay to experience the hotel as a guest.

Training: We hire good people, earnestly provide training, audit and review them, and yet, often, areas of training fall through the cracks. It is probably not for lack of learning ability. Surely there is no excuse for not using a guest’s name in an interaction. So what is going on here?

What’s missing? Recognition and acknowledgement.

With every hire, we have the ability to transcend what we were before as a company. Each individual has gifts. If we can tap into them, we enhance our culture. If we just “formula-ize” the training, we could actually create obstacles to excellence. In other words, one size does not fit all.

To enhance your organization, I recommend tapping into the gifts at hand. I am not saying that if a new hire has a gift for soccer that we let her kick a ball through the lobby each morning, but what could she perhaps bring to the table? What processes are in place at your hotels to bring out what she learned through sport: discipline, practice, opportunity, teamwork, winning and losing.  

Does your organization have a structure in place to bring out the gifts of each hire?

Here is where excellence and training collide. You can teach robotically through formula, and your organization will only get so far. But tap into who each individual is, and train from that paradigm. If I am a soccer player, speak to me of teamwork. If I am a houseman who was an engineer in another country, honor who I am and my education that is obscured by this uniform I wear. If I am a housekeeper from the projects, speak to me of overcoming a default future when you train me.    

Formulaic training only works to a certain degree. People hear you through their filters — we all have them. For example, we all have a perspective on authority. Everyone has a different reaction to authority based upon their experiences with their parents, teachers, coaches, the law, clergy, et cetera. For some it is respect; for some it is contempt. At its very core, very few of us like to be told what to do. We all have varied reactions to it, mostly at an unconscious level. By honoring who each person is, you begin to break down any unspoken resistance. When you really “see” someone for who they are as an individual, they get that, and you have a better chance to bring out the best in them and how they serve your company and initiatives.

When people feel acknowledged, they open up. Openness is a crucial step to absorb training. (A closed system cannot receive much.) When any of us have our heart in something, we feel inspired and motivated. Now as an organization, you get excellence. You get contribution. You get more power. We promote greater opportunities to have training become a habit when we first tap into each individual’s version of excellence.

Acknowledgment and recognition precede excellence.