Why Lead With Hospitality?

Why should we lead with hospitality?

Since we’re in the thick of summertime and vacation season, let’s talk hospitality.

Do you have a favorite hotel?  What about a favorite restaurant, lounge, or bar?  What about a favorite vacation destination?  How about airlines? 

Now that your mind has sorted to vacation mode, is a thought or memory of that one, special hospitality experience, place, or person dancing in your head?

Why do we have favorite hotels, restaurants, bars, and even a favorite airline? 

Is it what we’re able to do while there?  Is it why we visit, time and again?  Maybe a little of both.  But think about the how

Think about how those hotels, restaurants, lounges, bars, or airlines made you feel

The places are great and the products are top notch.  They have a reputation in the marketplace, and their experiences are memorable.  However, they’re truly remarkable because of how they made us feel back then and how they make us feel today, each time we visit. 

Those are feelings worth returning to over and over again, and these are the experiences which give us stories to tell.  Beyond the stories we’re left to tell are the specific actions we’re inspired to take.  Before we know it, we’re:

  • spending more money at the lobby bar
  • booking another dinner reservation for a special occasion, and
  • we’re applying for the credit card aligned with the airline we love just so we can earn enough points to be a passenger on one of their planes yet again!

Speaking of stories…

I was in my first full time leadership role in the hospitality industry, as a Housekeeping Manager for the grand opening of the beautiful and vibrant Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, in Kissimmee, FL. 

I was 22 years old, fired up, and full of energy gazing out into the classic atrium for which Gaylord Hotels and Resorts are known. 

That was the backdrop to a guest speaker our General Manager had invited to come inspire us.  I don’t recall the guest speaker’s name, and I don’t remember much from his speech.  However, I remember this one, timeless and transferable leadership principle which has rung in my head every day since. 

He said, “Friends, you’re working in this dynamic business of hospitality.  Whether you work in hospitality for the next couple of years or the next twenty years, remember, the essence of true hospitality is the ability to make people feel welcome, comfortable, and important.”

Nearly two decades later, I am convinced the true essence of dynamic, inspirational leadership is also the ability to make people feel welcome, comfortable, and important.  As leaders, our job is to inspire purposeful actions: 

  • Actions which help people become their very best
  • Actions which result in organizational successes
  • Actions which foster relationships, transforming groups of people into teams of people
  • Actions which create meaningful work

I believe we love our favorite leaders for the same reasons we love our favorite hotels, restaurants, bars, and airlines. It’s because of how they make us feel.

Leadership, at its core, is inspiring and motivating the right behaviors, at the right times, for the right purpose, to achieve agreed upon objectives. 

In short, for leaders, it’s less about what he or she does and all about what he or she can inspire others to do.  Wouldn’t you agree that before anyone, anywhere does anything, they must first feel

So why lead with hospitality? 

Hospitality makes people feel welcome, comfortable, and important

  • When people feel welcome:
    • They relax and begin to feel safe, which allows them to be themselves. 
    • They begin to have an open mind, which sparks their creativity for new, fresh ideas.
    • They have less anxiety and fear, fewer doubts, and more energy, passion, and commitment.
    • They begin to enjoy their experience, which makes them more loyal.
  • When people feel comfortable:
    • They open up and engage in more conversation.
    • They become more curious with more exploration, research, and discovery.
    • They foster deeper relationships with each other.
    • They feel like they belong.
  • When people feel important:
    • They become more confident, leaning into their special talents and uniqueness.
    • They become more productive, accomplishing more, in less time, with fewer resources.
    • They become inspired to push even harder and go even further.

Would you like to be be led with acceptance, service, empathy, genuine kindness, significance, encouragement, grace, coaching, and inspiration?

So would I; and so would everyone on your team and teams everywhere.

Lead with hospitality.

Have a great day.


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