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Lessons in Leadership Hospitality Tip of the Week™ “Focus on Continuous Improvement” ."

publication date: Oct 23, 2017
author/source: Dr. John Hogan CHA CHE CMHS CHO

Lessons in Leadership - By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA CMHS CHO

This is titled lessons in leadership, and I am not specifically referring to one company, one brand or one country in that title.

HTrendsFor the past five years, even in a tight economy,  leading developers have been targeting previously under-served countries and the pace has hastened this past 24-36 months. (See this link for specifics)

I find it more than interesting that JHM Hotels and Interstate have been working together on projects including a hospitality school in India and that many universities are globally expanding their influence through remote campuses, online courses and crammed month- long management programs.  Starwood was not looking for a public relations coup when they literally relocated most of their US executive home office staff to China for the month of June 2011- they were immersing themselves in the culture of what is happening to their global focus in the location where they expect major growth.

For this lessons in leadership, I looked to the East for a different perspective and different industry.  While hospitality is not the same as manufacturing, there are parallels in certain people skills.

A former senior managing director of Toyota Motor Corporation and renowned leader of their famous manufacturing system, Masao Nemoto is known throughout the world as a leader in quality control and process optimization. In a sense, he is one of the principal architects of the "Toyota Way."    His ideas on leadership and quality management are documented, and reveal the profound knowledge Nemoto infused into the day-to-day operations at Toyota, much the same as certain hoteliers such as Statler, Hilton, Wilson,  Johnson, Marriott, Oberoi, Sharp, Carlson, Kerzner, Forte, Ritz and others did in hotels.

Nemoto insisted on a culture of shared responsibility and he believed that critical tasks could not be left to a single business unit, but rather should be a collective responsibility. Nemoto's point of view says that leaders must lead across the company, not just their own particular area

His beliefs went from the senior leaders all the down to the individual worker on the assembly line, where everyone speaks, insisted Nemoto, not just management. A direct result of this view is the work principle: problems must be solved at the lowest possible level. All employees take responsibility for problem solving, instead of pushing the problems or issues up the line where it likely gets choked in bureaucracy. 

In my career, I have worked with and in all sizes of organizations.   I have sat in countless meetings that seem to be stalled with some regularity and have found myself wondering the same things you might be thinking today:  "Are we competing against each other or against the competition?"

Nemoto's 10 leadership principles:

  1. Improvement after improvement. Managers should look continually for ways to improve the work of their employees. Advance is a gradual, incremental process. They should create all atmosphere conducive to improvements by others.
  2. Coordinate between divisions. Managers of individual divisions, departments, or subsidiaries must share responsibility.  A corollary of this is that upper management should not assign important tasks to only one division.
  3. Everyone speaks. This rule guides supervisors of quality circles at Toyota, ensuring participation and learning by all members. It has also been generalized to all meetings and the annual planning process. By hearing everyone's view, upper management can create realistic plans that have the support of those who must implement them--an essential element in quality programs.
  4. Do not scold. This was an alien concept to most managers. At Toyota the policy is for superiors to avoid giving criticism and threatening punitive measures when mistakes are made. This is the only way to ensure that mistakes will be reported immediately and fully so that the root causes (in policies and processes) can be identified and amended. Assigning blame to the reporter clearly discourages reporting of mistakes and makes it harder to find the underlying cause of a mistake, but it is difficult to train managers to take this approach.
  5. Make sure others understand your work. An emphasis on teaching and presentation skills is important because of the need for collaboration. At Toyota, managers are expected to develop their presentation skills and to teach associates about their work so that collaborations will be fuller and more effective.
  6. Send the best employees out for rotation. Toyota has a rotation policy to
    train employees. There is a strong tendency for managers to keep their best employees from rotation, but the company benefits most in the long run by training its best employees.
  7. A command without a deadline is not a command. This rule is used to
    ensure that managers always give a deadline or schedule for work. Employees are instructed to ignore requests that are not accompanied by a deadline. The rationale is that without a deadline, tasks are far less likely to be completed.
  8. Rehearsal is an ideal occasion for training. Managers and supervisors give numerous presentations and reports. In a QC program there are frequent progress reports. Nemoto encouraged managers to focus on the rehearsal of reports and presentations, and to require that they be rehearsed. Rehearsal time is used to teach presentation skills and to explore problems or lack of understanding of the topic. Because it is informal, rehearsal time is better for learning.
  9. Inspection is a failure unless top management takes action. The idea
    behind this is that management must prescribe specific remedies whenever a problem is observed or reported. Delegating this task (with comments like "shape up" or "do your best to solve this problem") is ineffective. So is failing to take any action once a problem is defined.
  10. Ask subordinates, "What can I do for you?" At Toyota this is called "creating an opportunity to be heard at the top." In the first year of a quality-control program, managers hold meetings in which employees brief them about progress. Three rules guide these informal meetings:
- Do not postpone the meetings or subordinates will think their project is not taken seriously.

- Listen to the process, not just the results, since QCs focus in on the process.

- Ask the presenters whether you can do anything for them. If they ask for help, be sure to act on the request.

If top management is perceived as willing to help with problems, employees are more optimistic about tackling the problems and will take management's goals more seriously.

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for our programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus o- a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Commo- Sense™ and Principles for Success

Feel free to share a- idea for a colum- at john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.


Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

  1. Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual
  2. Making Cultural Diversity Real
  3. Developing Academic Hospitality programs
  4. Medical Lodging Consulting
  5. Sales Management and training
  6. Turn-around and revenue management
  7. Customer Service
If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.


Your Hospitality Resource for the Hotel Owner, Innkeeper, Manager and Hospitality Industry Associations



Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS

United States - Phoenix, Phone: 602-799-5375

www.hoganhospitality.com/ Email: info@hoganhospitality.com

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