General Manager, Hyatt Regency Cincinnati
May 28, 2021
What do you love most about being a leader?
I relish leading a team for many reasons and probably at the top of that list is the thrill of creating a winning mentality within the team. I believe that most staff members want to be part of a winning team. Davidson, as well as our brand and our industry in general, use many metrics to measure winning. I love using & sharing those metrics with the team to keep them informed if we are winning or if we need to improve further. In the end, it is the leader’s responsibility to ensure the right team is assembled & trained and to support that team in their mission of delivering the required results. There is nothing more satisfying than when a great plan is crafted & all the pieces come together and the team members each do their part to achieve the desired results. When this becomes habit and it is expected by the team itself, that is when a true culture of winning is created.
What is your management philosophy?
My management philosophy is simple: hire the best people you can find, make sure they know the expected outcomes and then let them do their jobs – not complicated at all. Of course, you need to be there to support the team along the way and to ensure that our core values are embodied in their efforts, but never lose sight of who really does the work to get the job done.
What inspires you to be great?
A philosophy I like to preach is that we are all coming to work every day anyway, we might as well come to win. Now there is a lot more that goes into motivating a team to acquire this mindset, but motivated team members should want to exceed the metrics we use to indicate if we are great or just mediocre in our performance. If the leader does not strive to be great then greatness will not typically manifest itself downline.
How do you inspire team members?
Team members want to know they are not in it alone. In addition to being on a winning team, they want to know that they are part of a team that views all roles as being equally important. Team members value being part of a team that holds itself accountable for achieving results and to know that excuses do not generate a lot of credibility. Once team members trust this is the environment in which they operate, they will strive to excel and to do their part. An example of this is when our executive team takes the time to assist line level staff, whether it is helping to strip guest rooms on a busy turn day, help reset the ballroom on a tight flip or bus tables when the restaurant is getting slammed (we all look forward to when these days return!) Another thing I like to do is to ask team members to teach me how to correctly perform various tasks, placing them in the position of expert – that respect shown to them goes a long way. When team members know that the hotel really is one team, one dream, then they will work very hard to ensure the hotel is successful.
What advice/tips resonated with you most from mentors throughout your career?
A very impactful piece of advice I received was when I was fresh out of college a long time ago and working for Marriott in Washington, DC. I always worked hard & strived to get that next promotion, but my Resident Manager (that was the title the Rooms Director had back in those days) always told me to be careful what I sacrificed along the path of “climbing the corporate ladder.” This gentleman paid a heavy price in his personal life in exchange for achieving his professional goals and I sensed some real regret. He stressed to always enjoy the journey at every step and to maintain life balance and if I did I would never regret wherever I ended up in my career. He was a true mentor early in my professional life and this advice has stuck with me from the beginning of my journey.
What is the most pressing challenge you’ve faced and resolved in the past year?
I never thought I would be listing my #1 challenge to this question being to keep the doors of our hotel open for business, but that was definitely the challenge in 2020. Our hotel is no different than the countless hotels & restaurants that faced this challenge last year and something never before experienced in our lifetimes. Figuring out a way to generate top line revenue when most municipalities were issuing stay-at-home orders and people feared traveling & gathering in large groups was without a doubt the largest challenge I have faced in my career. We are not out of the woods yet, but we have come a long way to getting to the other side of this pandemic and I am optimistic that 2021 will usher in a better time for our industry and we will get all of our team back to work.
Anything else you want to add?
I know it sounds corny, but leading a team of hospitality professionals is the best career for people who feed off of other people. In this age of electronic & virtual communication, this industry is excellent at satisfying the true need we have for human interaction. From the day I started working at an A&W root beer stand back in high school all the way to the present, the hospitality industry has provided amazing opportunities to grow as a person and to foster many great relationships along the way. I kind of feel sorry for people who are not in our industry, to me their lives seem just a bit less exciting!