Google “leadership” and you’ll be welcomed to peruse 2.9 trillion results.
Narrow your search to “leadership styles” and you’ll find everything from autocratic to servant, breakthrough to resilient, affiliative to transactional, and plenty of others in between.
There’s a lot of information to choose from.
Many styles feature an accompanying model, such as a pyramid, triangle, upside-down pyramid, helix, diamond, circle . . . the list goes on.
But leadership shouldn’t be defined as a style or illustrated through a shape. While relationship based, the focus is on relativity, a lemonade mindset that embraces potential and a shared vision of what can be.
It’s a dynamic that begins with simply stating, “I’m at your service.”
The Business of Serving Others
It’s no secret the pandemic decimated the hospitality and travel industries, forcing organizations to downsize and release thousands of service professionals.
A colleague shared a conversation he recently had with the CEO of one of the largest environmental services companies in the southeast United States.
The CEO described how he used circumstances from the past 18 months to his advantage, hiring dozens of former hospitality professionals into all levels of his organization.
He’s been amazed with what he described as a “mental agility”, their capacity to move and think clearly in a given situation.
It’s what the CEO said he looks for in an ideal candidate, offering further proof that if you have clients, customers, guests, or patients . . . congratulations, you’re in the business of serving others.
Begin With a Mindset of Trust
At Your Service is an emotional extension from a service professional to their guest. It is based on trust, an implied understanding that while my guest is free to explore the potential of an experience, I will be here with the knowledge and resources available to help them meet, and then exceed their expectations.
This mindset of trust doesn’t come with arrows, diagrams, or a flow chart.
It comes with genuine care and compassion for the well-being of others, an inherent desire to share in the joy of discovery, to propagate memorable experiences that shape and enhance lives.
Think of that before your next department meeting, group huddle, or performance review.
Consider the impact of stating to your team:
Please feel free to explore your potential throughout your work experience. Feel inspired, we have several opportunities available for you to pursue your dreams and aspirations. Our hope is that you not only meet your expectations but enjoy the process of exceeding them whenever possible. If you have any questions or concerns along the way, I am at your service.
If that statement sounds like you’ve just arrived at a resort or hotel, that’s the whole idea. The most successful hospitality professionals have a firm grasp on their role in leading a memorable guest experience. They facilitate information to promote confidence, monitor key measurable elements within the experience, and reassure the guest they are available 24/7 for questions or advice.
The most successful leaders recognize a similar commitment to their teams.
Pragmatic (Real-World) Application
In the service industry, you understand the guest is your reason for being. Nothing else matters: not your facility, location, amenities, swimming pools, etc.
No guests, no business.
Successful leaders understand their talent is their reason for being. Not titles, positions, degrees, club memberships, etc.
You can’t do it all yourself. No talent, no productivity.
Translating this service-related mindset of trust into a real-world leadership application includes:
Confidence begins with selecting the right talent for your industry, location, and team.
Your new employees will arrive with knowledge of your company they gleaned from a website, previous experience, and industry awareness. But they rely on you to teach them what to do, to build competence that breeds confidence, to make personal recommendations and offer your guidance and assistance.
This includes accountability regarding standards, performance expectations, and overall attitude.
Provide constructive feedback, coach-up opportunities to improve, and celebrate both individual and group accomplishments. There is tremendous value in maintaining a consistent presence, physically supporting your commitment to being at your service.
Monitor Key Measurable Elements
A service experience will feature key measurable elements, that if executed properly, continue to build engagement within an experience.
These extend through techniques woven into the fabric of a service culture. For example, using a guest’s name and delivering on preferences have more impact if those details are seamlessly communicated among staff, avoiding unnecessary inquiries at every service touchpoint. Teams should practice joint accountability to ensure everyone is growing in the same direction.
Building key measurable elements into your work culture accomplishes a similar objective.
Consider what ultimately drives performance and productivity, then collaborate with your team on a set of standards to promote joint accountability.
Communicate the value of seamless execution in pursuit of team goals and benchmarks. Your presence as a leader then shifts to encouraging alignment, referencing the agreed-to standards to support necessary changes.
The secret to successful service execution is presence. It’s the ability to see without being seen, an intuitive sense of trust based on genuine care and concern, supported through body language, tone, and demeanor.
The same applies to impactful leadership. It’s one thing to say, “I’m at your service” and another to live it.
Your presence in a work environment can lift and shift perception of what engagement, teamwork, and a shared purpose represents. But it requires a sincere belief and faith in the talent that surrounds you, people looking to you for guidance and direction along with the freedom to perform.
Equally important is the commitment to being present . . . if you’re going to be there, be there.
One of my pet peeves within a service environment is having agents or wait staff present without a visible connection to what’s happening around them. I feel invisible, requiring me to break out of my comfort bubble to ask for assistance or a beverage refill.
Similar behavior as a leader could have your team feeling invisible, too. “At your service” carries the intention of being mentally and emotionally present.
The Luxury Side of Leadership
People often ask what separates a luxury experience from other opportunities. Elements of craftsmanship certainly influence the look and feel of luxury in the jewelry, fashion, and automobile industries.
Luxury service, on the other hand, relies on relationships; emotional connections rooted in an unwavering commitment to deliver on the personal details of an experience, as well as an unspoken passion to exceed expectations.
A similar spirit carries over into your approach to leadership. All the basics of an employment experience are there: accountability, discipline, encouragement, feedback, inspiration.
Elevating quality leadership begins with embracing a simplified perspective of “At your service.” When you commit to promoting confidence among your team, building a culture supported through key measurable elements of performance, and being present … not just visible, but emotionally and spiritually present, your team enjoys the freedom to perform to their fullest potential.
As for me? I am at your service.
Thank you for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!