“Leadership Qualities” vs. Competence: Which Matters More?

Stanford’s Lindred Greer has published an interesting new study which seeks to answer one of the great leadership selection queries: Will an organization achieve peak performance with a highly competent leader or one with the strongest leadership qualities?

From the Harvard Business Review, the short answer is that the leader's competency – perhaps above other factors – has the greater impact on the success of the team.

In one group of teams, influence was aligned with competence: the person who knew the most about the task to be done led the team. These groups performed best.

A second group of teams shared power – they were relatively non-hierarchical. This group did not perform as well as the first, but they did outperform our third group of teams — hierarchical teams with a randomly chosen leader.

We replicated these findings in the field, by the way. We studied 49 teams at a publicly held Dutch company; the teams were auditing finances in search of tax evasion and fraud. If the team leader didn’t have a deep, technical understanding of tax fraud, he or she led the team badly astray.

This is simple to understand in more everyday examples. Would you prefer an airplane captain with vast experience or one who effortlessly rallies others to the cause? Of course we want someone who can fly the plane expertly. And that is Greer's greater point: depth of experience and expertise allows highly competent leaders to make difficult decisions and mentor others to success.

So… easy, right? Not so fast. Studies show organizations demonstrate a bias towards high leadership dynamic over high skill in selection, even when similar selection has led to failure.

In the end, executives must remember to hire for purpose. If we strive to build highly successful teams that achieve difficult goals, then the leadership for these teams must be exceptionally skilled.

Simply stated: competency matters.

Shared: Thoughts on Servant Leaders and The Great Outdoors

I was greatly inspired by this article on servant leadership twelve years ago. Written by the National Vice Chief of the Order of the Arrow, I happened upon it again today and it resonated as deeply now as it did years ago. I'm sharing this inspirational article in full in hopes that others may find it as meaningful as I do.

TTHOUGHTS ON SERVANT LEADERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS
By David Dowty, 2004 National Vice Chief

The vast forests, fields, oceans, and mountains of the United States have become our most vital resources in the Boy Scouts of America and the Order of the Arrow; they are, for us the staging grounds to learn life's most precious lessons for every scout and scouter. As an Arrowman, one of our central obligations is to be mindful of our duty to the outdoors, to not only preserve them but also to interpret the deeper messages that nature leaves behind.

We are charged to be servant leaders and as such must strive toward leaving an everlasting legacy of cheerful service. In doing so, each of us defines what our own dreams are and with every breath drawn and every mile tread come closer to the ultimate pinnacle. The domain of our leadership though, is the future. It begins as a single spark within and becomes a roaring flame so intense that all around are enveloped by it. However, we must keep in mind that as we dream and look toward the future, a fire must be built in steps.

There is a natural progression of life around us, soaring through the air, rushing through the rivers and rising from the earth. Every great achievement by our natural surroundings has taken time to develop and grow from its own modest beginnings to an awe inspiring presence. The giant redwoods of Sequoia National Park, the deep gorges of the Grand Canyon, the breadth and power of the Mississippi River and the eloquent beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains took millions of years to become some of the most beloved natural treasurers within our nation's borders. Each built upon past successes and accomplishments because the natural world we live in knows that great undertakings take time. It is from this simple observation, that we can learn a valuable lesson.

Leaders are meant to be authors of great ideas and wild dreams, taking a simple problem and applying a unique form of creativity to imagine the possibilities. As the dream takes shape, a leader must also determine and define for themselves and for their group how success will be measured. If we only defined success as achieved after we had reached and perfected our dreams, no one would ever feel that deep sense of accomplishment. Never knowing the taste of victory can demoralize and dishearten those you serve. Within little goals and aspirations can a group find the will and energy to continue serving their ultimate purpose; it is through those "baby steps" that Mother Nature perfected the natural world and that we will come closer to reaching our own summits.

As a leader, celebrate victories often. Always seek out and learn to identify the building blocks that become the foundation of a truly great achievement and with every block placed, have a party. Observe the world around you and see that even the largest tree in a forest was once a sapling, the deepest canyon, a shallow hole, the widest river, a trickling stream and the oldest mountains, a modest hill. A servant leader can look beyond the horizon of tomorrow and believe that although what they do today may seem small and insignificant, they too will someday realize their ultimate dream.

Top Travel Trends for 2016

This week, TripAdvisor released their annual list of top travel trends for 2016 (PDF). Hidden in the results are a few very interesting details that not only apply to 2016, but hint at travel trends that may have a longer tail for both hotels, airlines, and OTAs.
2016 Travel Trends

Top Travel Trends for 2016

Trend #1 – Seeking new experiences

Globally, 69% of travelers plan to try something new in 2016, including cruises (20%) and adventure travel (15%). A key travel trend in the data is that 17% will try solo travel for the first time in 2016. It will be key for hoteliers to anticipate the unique needs of solo travelers and catering to this emerging trend.

Trend #2 – Spending more because it’s “worth it”

One in three travelers plan to spend more in 2016 than they did in 2015, with nearly half (49%) of respondents doing so “because I or my family deserve it.” To capture these increased revenues, hotels must differentiate themselves with travel packages that focus on unique experiences, such as the "romantic kidnapping" and picnic at Namale Resort.

Trend #3 – Choosing destinations based on culture, special offers

Travel trends continue to point to the importance of targeted online marketing to focus buyers on your destination, with 21% choosing a destination because a hotel had a special offer or package. One in five global travelers have picked a destination because they saw it featured on television. In 2016, turn your marketing and social media team loose to create visibility for those key items that make your market a "must see."

Trend #4 – Staying cool and connected

While free wi-fi continues to be a critical buy factor for most travelers (46%), many travelers relate that they require "super-fast" wireless internet access (26%); 11% are willing to pay a premium to get the speed they need to stream movies and connect in high-definition.

Trend #5 – Rising room rates (and optimism)

Industry analysts and hoteliers are confident that 2016 will bring higher rates, with 47% of global hoteliers initiating rate increases. This travel trend should lead to capital improvements and enhancements for many in the industry. Despite these reinvestments, 65% of hoteliers expect profits to increase next year, as 2016 should give the industry a new baseline for both ADR and profitability.

Trend #6 – Managing reputations online

Given that TripAdvisor initiated the survey, it's not surprising to see reviews carrying a focus in 2016. I was surprised, however, to see only 59% of hoteliers planning to invest more in online reputation management in 2016. I anticipated this number to be much higher and see this as a travel trend that will go higher in future years. There is simply too much at stake for service providers to not actively manage these channels.

Want to Connect with more Customers? Stop being a Morning Person!

I can't believe how many emails I receive every weekday morning that ask this key question:

"Do you want to connect with more customers?"

And the answer, of course, is "Well, yeah! Don't we all?!"

A study by GetResponse.com suggests that the timestamp on emails might be as important as your message.

GetResonse analyzed more than 21 million customer emails and found that while almost 50% of all emails arrived in customers inboxes before noon, customers opened a much higher percentage of mails sent between noon and 6pm.

Additionally, the study found that 23.63% of emails are opened within one hour of when they are received. The number falls by half in the second hour and more than 90% after five hours. Clearly getting your email into your customers hands during the business day is key.

So, does this mean I have to stop being a morning person? Well, maybe not. But, if you are connecting to customers via email, you may have increased success if you time your message for receipt between 12 noon and 6pm.

Though highly, highly unscientific, my own study finds that the best time to send a handwritten card is… ALWAYS Click to Tweet.

3 Great Sales & Customer Service Reads for the Week

Here are three short, compelling reads regarding customer service and sales. I found each of these very poignant for guest service and hotel sales in our industry:

For more customer service and hospitality sales insights, please follow me on Twitter: @mrkevindonahue.

How To Position Yourself as an Expert – ROLL UP YOUR SHIRT SLEEVES!

I happened upon a curious article entitled "How to Roll Up Your Shirt Sleeves" via a luxury company's social media and it really struck me. As a man who wears shirts, I suppose I am well-within the blog's target demographic for this post; however, what really interested wasn't the content, but rather the positioning. 

The article details (with photos AND videos!) different ways for men to roll up their shirt sleeves. This is, I suppose, interesting information for a number of readers. 

Beyond the content, I think this is a great example of how to position yourself as an expert.

Each of us has a number of interests in which we have a great depth and breadth of knowledge. Be it personal or professional, I'm sure there are several areas in which you could be considered an expert. And therein lies the opportunity. 

By taking the next logical step and SHARING your expertise, you can not only impact your audience but also establish yourself as an expert – a status that can reward you handsomly in career pursuits. After all, who would you rather hire/work with/buy from? An expert or the other guy? 

In what areas are you an expert? Find your niche and roll up your sleeves!

The best iPhone / Droid app you're not using

Question: What's the best iPhone / Android app that you're *NOT* using? 

For 95+% of the iOS and Droid users, the answer is BUMP

This great app allows you to quickly share your contact information or photos with other new contacts by simply bumping your phones together. Seriously, it's that easy. You don't have to call one another and save the number in your phone, download VCards or any other legacy sharing strategy. Just bump and done!

Recently the development team upped the ante a new update that allows you to bump photos from your phone directly to your computer. How cool is that?

And the best part? Yeah… it's free. Download Bump for iPhone and Android

Still have questions? Watch this video demo. 

 

The Sales Rep vs The Sales Expert

Ryan Estis posts a great blog on the value of sales positioning and how the role of the sales professional has changed in the last ten years, including this slide on the difference between the sales rep and the sales expert.

 

 

 

I'll give you two shots on who wins more business, but I bet you'll get it on the first guess.

More from Ryan Estis here.

 

5+1 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW!

I read an interesting article on Glassdoor entitled, "5 Changes to Make to Your Resume NOW" in which some often overlooked points were resurfaced. It's worth a read. 

One point that was not mentioned and should be emphasized is how important it is to communicate your social media handles along with your contact information. Your social media standing is a direct reflection of your professional interests and network. and can demonstrate industry engagement

This important engagement element should not be overlooked. After all, there are (literally) hundreds of studies showing that prospective employers are going to seek you out through social media. If this is a point of distinction for you, then you should showcase it, right? 

If you're actively promoting yourself professionally through a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, you should definitely include a handle or link in the header of your resume. Don't miss a chance to make this positive impression!

The Unparalleled Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

As the stories of the Casa Monica Hotel firing an employee for wearing a US flag pin began to break this weekend, I was struck by just how unprepared the hotel and Kessler Collection were for the public relations firestorm which erupted in response to the media coverage. 

(DISCLOSURE: I once worked in Sales & Marketing for the Kessler Collection and, as I said on Twitter this weekend, it was troubling to see former colleagues in such a position.) 

Instead of arguing the merits of uniform policy versus patriotism versus two-year history of wearing the pin, it's important for hoteliers (and businesses in general) to take note of how this incident escalated from a policy decision to an immeasurable public relations incident.

Buoyed by (literally) tens of thousands of tweets, facebook posts, and hotel reviews through social media channels, the story grew from a local Jacksonville story on Thursday into a top five feature on nearly every broadcast and cable news channel in just two days time.

As this groundswell grew against the Casa Monica Hotel's decision, the Kessler Collection was notably silent on the issue. Neither the hotel nor the company responded to requests for comment by the local and national media. Neither the company nor the hotel made any posts to their official websites or social media pages to address the questions. In fact, the only tangible response the company seemed to undertake was to attempt to delete a number of strongly worded posts and comments from the hotel's Facebook page.

The Casa Monica Hotel finds itself at the center of a textbook public relations crisis – albeit one that it should have reasonably anticipated and managed – that threatens to damage its brand. The lack of preparedness and response beg the question: Does the hotel or company have a crisis management plan? 

Crisis management is not and never should be an extemporaneous endeavor. It involves forethought, resources, planning and practice. There are thousands of books, blogs, degree programs, etc to pull from but to briefly summarize, there are three active stages in a crisis – all of which need management:

  1. Before all hell breaks loose
  2. All hell breaks loose
  3. After the crisis

Before all hell breaks loose is the "simple" phase, although it is the one that requires the most work. The "voice" of the company must to be defined. Rules around when different members of the organization will be made available to the media must be written. Responses to reasonably anticipated situations (accidents, acts of God, etc) should be drafted. The channels by which the responses will be routed should be tested. And – most importantly – the entire act of responding to a crisis must be simulated and practiced by the entire organization. 

Once all hell breaks loose, which is where the Casa Monica currently finds itself, the work investing in stage one will begin to bear fruit. The most critical elements are the seemingly contradictory goals of speed and calm. Timely statements and media responses must be effectively managed to turn (and eventually tame) the crisis. 

After the crisis, there are two parallel, urgent paths – reputation management and response review. The company must review the root cause of the crisis and how it was responded to by the public relations team. Efforts must be undertaken to repair the brand's image both internally and externally. 

 

For those of us who are not involved in the Casa Monica / Flag Pin debate, it's important that use this opportunity to learn the unparalleled importance of having an effective crisis management plan. The inability to deliver timely statements and respond to requests for comment can do immeasurable harm to your business.

We will all have crises to face. The key is to remember the old Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared."