The Differences in Attitude Often Make or Break A Company

Building Value – Now and for the Future #2 in a Series (THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE)

by John J. Hogan, Featured Contributor

Leadership is solving problems.
The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.
They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care.
Either case is a failure of leadership.
– Colin Powell

IN MY career, I have attended probably several hundred professional conferences and meetings. Some of these were local or state hospitality associations, many were brand related and others were for specialized development for my team or myself. I have spoken at a good number of conferences and listened to probably hundreds of speakers and seminar leaders. Many of these have been very good, but just as many or more have missed their mark and were disappointing.

As I look at which programs and conferences to attend, I have found it helpful to look for events that provide a forum for effective networking among peers. Trade shows can offer outstanding value, but I try to avoid the keynotes or seminars where someone is very obviously trying to “sell” something rather than to teach or lead. Case study examples (with the right speaker) can be great and inspiring.

Our continuing interaction with literally hundreds of general managers and hotel owners each year in training sessions and discussions makes it clear that there is a struggle to balance both short and long term goals. We need strategies and tactics to navigate to the continually changing landscape in the technology, purchasing, financing, training and marketing areas of hotel operations.

At the 2013 AAHOA annual convention, an energized leader took center stage and motivated all who were present with his logic, integrity and passion for people. General Colin Powell both entertained and motivated, as he shared insights on what he felt were the basics of hospitality to the 1000+ attendees. I had heard Powell speak on two previous occasions and the difference in his presentations was amazing. In the previous talks, he was either in office as either the Joint Chief of Staff or the outgoing Secretary of State. In both of those roles, his comments were given as a manager or one who is following the agenda set by someone senior in rank.

In the 2013 program, however, Powell discussed the significance of paying attention to each member of the team, as well as to each individual customer or guest. His comments about what is important to today’s travelers all focused on building trust and working to make both staff and guest loyal. He shared stories about individual soldiers, civilian support staff and individuals with a higher “rank” equally, because he was free in 2013 to spread his message. He was able to discuss the differences between forcing and inspiring people. He spoke about establishing a corporate or family culture in business, because he said that was the heart of communication and how everyone can come to understand the vision of hotels or any organization.

Powell discussed the need for discipline in the military to meet the mission of the day, but he was quick to point out that the military today does a much better job at matching people’s talents and experience.

Many of us have seen variations of this chart that explains in very simple terms the differences between a manager (boss) and a leader. If we take a moment, we can see some of the differences in those who have positively or negatively impacted our professional lives. We might also see some of our own tendencies.

Powell was very clear on how office politics is present in every organization – all the way to the White House administrations he served He also said that if and when a corporate or family culture is genuine and supportive then change and positive growth can be real.

In future articles, I will share some additional messages from Secretary Powell as he complimented the hard work and focus of many families who have proven themselves to be caring and professional hotel owners.

In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on whether you are a Boss or a Leader.

This will be a series of messages on Building Value, both on a long and short term basis. Your comments, recommendations and insights are welcome.


John J. Hogan
John J. Hogan
JOHN is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events, with over 35 years in hospitality operations, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis. He is CEO and Co-Founder of which has more than 2000 resource pages and has become the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers. He is also the Principal of, which offers hospitality consulting and hotel expert witness services.

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