Tip of the Day

Service-Based Leadership and Employee Empowerment

It has been said that leadership is situational and that there is an optimum style of leadership for every profession – from politician, to general, to doctor, to professor, to hospitality manager.  The skills and abilities that make a person successful in one setting do not necessarily translate well to another.  The hard-charging, tough-as-nails, cigar-chomping leadership persona of a charismatic military leader will not work well in the mixed gender, multi-ethnic, and transient workforce of the service industry.  Unlike a soldier, if a hotel or restaurant worker isn’t comfortable with her boss’s leadership, she’ll just go somewhere else.

The very term “service industry” gives hint to the necessary service-based leadership style for hospitality managers where the people- and detail-intensive work environment requires open and thorough communication and training, as well as high levels of motivation and morale.  Certainly, one cannot expect employees to consistently provide service to a customers/guests/members if they are not properly served by the leadership and example of their bosses.

To be sure everyone understands what we mean by “service-based leadership” here is the description:  “With Service-Based Leadership, the attitude and primary motivation of the leader is service to others – to members, to employees, to shareholders.  This approach to leadership naturally creates relationships – the deep and abiding bonds that sustain the efforts of the club.  This outward focus of the leader sets up a dynamic where:
  • Employees are continually recognized.
  • There is an open flow of ideas, opinions, and information.
  • Initiative and risk are highly regarded.
  • Problem discovery and solution is a focus while placing blame is unimportant.
  • Every employee feels energized and part of the team and is valued for his or her contribution.
  • Prestige is derived from performance and contribution, not title or position.
  • Customers are treated well because employees are treated well.
  • The energy and initiative of all employees is focused on the common effort.
“The key to serving the needs of your constituencies lies in ensuring that you build strong relationships with individuals.  Relationships depend upon how you view yourself in relation to others.  If you see yourself as separate and apart from your constituencies, if you view others as the means to your ends, if your vision and goals lack a broader purpose than your own needs and ambitions, establishing meaningful relationships will be impossible.  On the other hand, when you see yourself as part of a team with a shared mission, then a sense of service will be an intrinsic part of your service team relationships.”

The great benefit of service-based leadership is that it naturally fosters a sense of employee empowerment.  And as John Tschohl, president of the Service Quality Institute says, “Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader.  Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers."

With Service-based Leadership employee empowerment comes naturally, but only if the full management team fully supports and practices this powerful style of leadership.