5 dimensions of leadership


Why the Co-Active Dimensional Leadership Model applies so well to hospitality.

By David Lund

As a professional coach, I was introduced to a new leadership model from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). In this article, I will explain the Co-Active® Dimensional Leadership Model™ and how it applies so well to hospitality. CTI developed this leadership model in addition to its Co-Active™ Coaching Model. Both are incredibly effective platforms for building teams and leaders who believe the world is built on the efforts and creativity of everyone. This is not the traditional “leader-servant” model we sometimes cling to in hospitality.

This leadership model fits the hospitality industry so well because it is the very essence of a people-focused business. Two of our industry’s three pillars are guests and colleagues, so the ability to create a stronger foundation to ensure we are all contributing has a compound effect. Imagine a business where traditional roles and positions vanish into the ether because they’re not required. This is entirely possible with a model that has leadership coming and going in all areas of your organization.

The model’s five dimensions are all equal in importance and move freely within your business. No one dimension in this model is bigger or trumps the other. It’s about letting all people in the organization step forward and give their gifts – when this happens, we compound the impact they have.

Leading from within is at the core of the model, and it means that leadership is instilled in all of the individuals in an organization. The people inside the organization take on a level of ownership that promotes behavior akin to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” People treat each other and their clients as they would want to be treated. They use the same level of authenticity with colleagues, peers and managers. They act and model the same behavior with guests. They behave this way all the time, with everyone – whether the boss is present or not makes no difference. Everyone is on the same page. They all make a difference and ultimately know they are part of the fabric, not the pattern.

If you could see how people operate, think and create at this level, you would not be able to discern the different traditional roles. What you would see would all look the same. People’s actions and efforts would seamlessly melt together, producing a core operating system. There would be no winners or losers, no right or wrong, no better or worse – just a truly level playing field.

Leading from the front is what we would traditionally equate with an organizational boss. But in this model, leadership takes on a completely different tune. Leading from the front means emulating values by giving and leading in a way that puts others’ needs first. It means serving by creating a commitment to others’ success, growth, potential and prosperity.

Prosperity, meaning personal success, has the incredible power to transform peoples’ efforts and commitments to each other, their guests and the organization. If my very being is defined by how well my team and its members feel about their lives, their contribution and their personal success, then my team becomes me. An extension of how I truly feel and operate is created inside each member of our team.

My No.-1 goal is to be the one who strives to ensure that others succeed, living their lives to their true potential. This might sound altruistic, but it is the very core of hospitality. Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt describes hospitality in the Encyclopédie as, “The virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity.”

According to the blog Dan Black on Leadership, “Nothing is more sapping as an employee or team member than to be told how slow you ran the race by someone who didn’t run it. It’s hard to hear how bad you did when there was no one around to answer your questions about how to do it better. You wind up with the motivation of a sloth.”

Leading from beside in any endeavor is the very essence of wanting to move together. Energy, creativity, stamina and drive are but a few nouns that describe the result of this type of leadership. When we lead our teams into their battles from afar, we miss the opportunity to experience “team phenomena.”

We create four key elements with our team when we lead from beside. The first thing we learn is what we can improve. Second, we learn when to lead from beside. A greater capacity to see and touch what our guests and colleagues experience expands our ability to be a better heartfelt leader. Third is the team effect. We’re part of the team when we lead from beside, and teams can accomplish amazing feats when they are working together. In the context of baseball, the teamwork of the San Francisco Giants in 2010, 2012 and 2014 shows how incredibly compelling and effective it is to lead from beside. Last is a benefit we really need more of these days – reduced stress. When we are beside our team, we all feel the positive effects. When were not beside our team, we miss the opportunity to share their experience, and this results in less engagement.

Intuitively, we know that without leading from beside, we are less effective. Today more than ever, we are pulled apart by technology and stakeholders, and we are missing the true meaning of hospitality. Get back on the field, and you will see the powerful effects of leading from beside in your hotel.

Leading from behind is an incredibly exciting aspect of hospitality leadership. Knowing that the efforts of everyone involved makes a huge impact on the result. There are superstars everywhere if we simply acknowledge them.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front.” In hospitality, so much action occurs behind the curtains, out of sight of the guests and even out of the sights of many of our colleagues. It’s easy to forget the night cleaners, the room attendants, the pot washer, the sauce cook and the legions of others. We could not operate or even think of victory without the profound contributions of each person. Leading from behind in hospitality means we bring these stories of service and contribution to the surface, and we celebrate their courage, creativity, capacity and impact.

When the most entry-level jobs are placed under a spotlight, they shine in a unique way, ultimately lifting everyone up. Leading from behind is about seeing everyone as a successful part of the experience.

We are the most impactful and engaged when we bring what is natural to us to the game, leaving behind what we think others might be looking for from us. So much of what we think, do and feel is the result of an outside-in view of the world. Leading from the whole is an inside-out view in which we be ourselves and trust ourselves. So much of our view of leadership is based on the need to look good and please others. The problem with this outside-in approach is that it’s inauthentic, lacking originality and creativity. Knowing and trusting that what we have to offer is exactly what we need to deliver is the biggest challenge for most of us. Leading from the whole does not mean charging down the middle of the road, ignoring all the signs. But it does mean keeping your foot on the gas and driving in your own unique way. Leading from the whole is bringing forward unique gifts and creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to do the same.

Bringing the five together
Developing a leadership model inside your organization is a bold and creative endeavor. It is beneficial to realize that the individual and the organization are really one in the same.

In the hotel business, we have long held onto the adage of, “Look after guests and the money will look after itself.” Instead, try this mantra: “Look after our colleagues, and they will look after our guests and our money.”             ■

David Lund, CHAE, “The Financial Hotel Coach,” is an international hospitality financial leadership expert who has held positions as a regional financial controller, corporate director and hotel manager with an international brand for 30 years. Lund authored an award-winning workshop and two books on hospitality financial leadership, and coaches hospitality executives and delivers his financial leadership training worldwide. To learn more, visit www.hotelcoachdavid.com.


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