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Introduction

A leader is a person who has authority and is followed by others. Leadership, therefore, is the process of putting up a technique for people to throw in their efforts to make something happen. In a nutshell, leadership is perceived to mean the capacity to put in order a group of people to accomplish a common objective. The kind of a leader that an organization has will determine the direction that the organization will take in terms of development. Visionary and exemplary leaders will steer an organization to prosperity and success, while inefficient leaders will drive the organization to disarray and disorder.

            The subjects under a leader will often derive their modes of behaviour from their leader. They always look upon the leader to give those directions and instructions that are aimed at steering the organization forward. In Howard Johnson’s chain of hotels and restaurants, there is such an exemplary leader. Howard Johnson’s was undoubtedly the biggest hotel and restaurant chain in the entire United States and Canada during the 1960s and the 1970s. At this time, the chain had over 1000 restaurants under it. Howard Deering Johnson was the founder and owner of the Howard Johnson’s chain of hotels and restaurants; thus, the company derived its name from the founder. Lately, Howard Johnson hotels are a constituent of Wyndham Worldwide, which used to be a part of Cendant (Miller, 2005). The company’s restaurants are franchised enterprises whereby the La Mancha Group LLC of New York owns both the food and beverage rights.  When subjects do not listen to their leader, the organization is bound to split and splinter groups will start to emerge. These splinter groups are bound to create disorder and mistrust within the organization, and due to this, the organization is bound to fail.

Howard Deering Johnson

            Howard Deering Johnson is regarded all over the world as a great historical leader in the field of hospitality. The great leadership qualities and commitment to excellence that Howard Deering Johnson possessed had all portrayed him as a role model to many aspiring leaders, both young and old. Howard Johnson’s leadership qualities have set standards all over the world since he managed to achieve what many people regarded as impossible to achieve by then. He brought success in the hotel company in a very extra-ordinary manner that has never been seen anywhere in the world. Various world leaders consider him as a saint because he found out a way to play all his roles at once.

                        Howard Deering Johnson’s leadership qualities are actually based on basic leadership principles that spell out true and congruent leadership. He regarded courage to be an inspiring element in a person’s personality, rather than courage being a sign of nonexistence of fear (Miller, 2005). When somebody is a leader, his subjects should not see any sign of fear or panic on him. The leader should portray heroism and bravery in order to provide a sense of confidence and safety to the subjects. Even when things are out of control in the organization, the leader should still maintain a sense of calm. During this turbulent period, the sense of panic and fear can only be seen when all the available options have been tried in vain to counter the threat. The act of fearlessness provides a positive inspiration to others, thus, helping them to be strong even when things are not working out correctly for them.

Another leadership style that was employed by Howard Deering Johnson was leading from the font line and never leaving the subjects behind. As a leader, Howard Deering Johnson managed to dictate terms concerning the market share, thus challenging the notion that managers were not capable of negotiating with any institution. All in all, he negotiated his way in to the market to become the peoples’ leader. During the negotiation time, he never forgot the people he had left behind; after he became the leader, more positive developments occurred within the company. When such an element of leadership is incorporated in the hospitality industry, the organization will be focused into meeting its goals and short term objectives. The hospitality industry is so complex in nature because it encompasses several jointed hotels that work together with a common aim. A leader should be ready to put in extra efforts in managing and preserving the values and objectives of the organization.

            A leader should also lead from the back and let others assume that they are in front. Hence, leaders should be ready to have someone to emulate. During board meetings, there are always clashes of interests that might come about. The leader should have a sober mind and weigh out all the arguments from other parties before passing on a judgment. During cabinet meetings, tempers could flare up, but Howard Deering Johnson still maintained his composure and treated all arguments from his board members with much respect and considered all of them before making a final conclusion. This element is essential in leadership as it averts unnecessary conflicts within the organization. A leader should unite everyone without despising any of them. He should appreciate everybody’s efforts and recognize each and every talent that they have by rewarding them accordingly. In a hospitality industry, this element of leadership is very instrumental as it plays an important role in shaping the capabilities of the workers.

In addition, a leader should know and understand his/her enemies. This style of leadership is essential since it helps in planning the next move and also in putting down or formulating strategies that a company should adopt toward meeting its goals and objectives. Howard Deering Johnson studied the business language of the key competitors in the market. He wanted to know and understand this language because he was curious to know what his competitors were up to or what they were planning to do. By knowing and understanding the competitors, a leader will be in a position to evaluate his strengths and weaknesses and lay down strategies in view of that. This style of leadership enables a leader to mix with the rivals and even get to know the secrets of their successes or failure. The hospitality industry has a very competitive market and a leader will be best suited if he knows what his rivals are up to. This will help him or her in gaining a better position in the competitive market of hotel and hospitality. Many new hotel companies are coming up and this requires additional efforts towards keeping up with the ever rising standards of performance.

A leader should not only know and understand his/her rivals, but he/she should be able to keep the friends close and the competitors’ even closer. Howard Deering Johnson always consulted people whom he considered to be his competitors or people he did not fully trust. He rewarded them with gifts or job promotions. The main intention was to bring them in to his inner circle and use them tactfully to obtain any piece of information that could be of interest. This strategy helps a leader to always be one step ahead of the rivals or enemies. The leader is able to know how and when the rivals will change their prices and also or what new products are in line to be launched by the rivals. In the hotel and hospitality industry knowing the rival’s move is very beneficial. It helps in proper planning and allocation of adequate resources in a proper manner.

            A leader should always put on a smile, no matter how hard things might turn out to be. A smile is a sense of calm and composure as it gives a reassuring effect that no matter how hard things might appear to be, not all is lost. Apart from wearing a nice smile, a leader should be presentable and well groomed. Howard Deering Johnson won the confidence of his people by posing as a young leader who was well dressed in nice suits and always wearing a nice smile. This helped him to win over confidence from other people as they regarded him as an able person who was the most qualified to steer them forward. In the hospitality industry, appearance of the leaders do matter a lot as they are the window through which customers or clients see or view the company. When a customer comes to a hotel and meets a nicely dressed attendant, the level of confidence of the customer will grow since there is a sense of perfection. Good grooming and wearing a smile is a sense of warm hospitality and reassures the customers that there is still plenty of niceties to come. Even if there is a big disagreement between the leader and other members of the staff, the smile should still be there since it gives a sense of peace and unity in the company, which is so essential in placing the company at a competitive position against the business rivals.

            A good leader should not be power or money hungry. The leader should not view himself as more important or greater than the company or organization that he leads. When Howard Deering Johnson saw that the time had come to step down from his position, he never resisted. He willingly gave up power to another leader. This was a sign of great democratic maturity. This style could as well be relevant to the hospitality industry. Some companies have suffered a lot because of leaders who want to fulfill their self interests at the expense of the others. This has resulted to low profit margins or losses, division among the workers, internal coups, and lack of confidence in the company by investors or potential customers. A leader who is not power hungry or money hungry will strive to lead the company to prosperity without anything coming his way.

Just like many organization, the hospitality industry employ a leadership strategy that is beneficial and adds value to the company. To be a leader in such a company, a person has to be visionary and perceived to be development conscious by his subjects. This attributes and qualities enable a person to get that position in the company. Most of the CEOs are all round and flexible and take their time to listen to others before making a decision. The leader should have a significant relationship with all the co-workers, and the kind of decisions he makes are beneficial and vital to the organization. The kind of leadership style that is adopted by many companies in the industry is participative or democratic style. This kind of style necessitates proper administration as it allows for ample decision making by the workers. He does not make decisions on his own; therefore, he consults first before making any move. Consultation is a very essential element in decision making because lack of consultation is perceived as an element of dictatorship.

            Efficient leadership strategies are essential in an organization since it defines who the leader really is. The strategies portray the true picture and character of the leader in terms of personal attributes and vision. A democratic leader builds up strategies aimed at developing the staff and developing strategies of staff evaluation. Democratic leadership style makes it necessary to define goals for the staff members and also allows the members of the staff to develop and get promotions. Achievements are distinguished and rewarded accordingly. Highly experienced staff members make it easy for this kind of leadership style to hold, since there is improved coordination and communication in the organization. Democratic style of leadership is most applicable when team building is required in the organization. When staff members are needed in decision making process, this kind of leadership is relevant. This kind of leadership style makes it possible for easy problem solving and objective decision making in the organization. The structuring of this kind of leadership style is easier and cheap, even though certain organizations fear to adopt this style because if a simple mistake is made, it can take time to restore the organization back to normal. For this kind of leadership style to be stable, the leader should provide adequate time for the subjects to contribute to the major decision making processes. All their subjects’ views and observations need to be taken to consideration before a judgment is passed.

The most common management approach that is adopted by leaders in the hospitality industry is the ‘Management by Objectives’ approach. This approach aims at developing committed employees who are aware of their roles and services and also the mission of the company. Therefore, the employees are motivated to work hard to achieve the mission and objective of the company. This management approach sets out SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound) objectives to the employees and it also improves communication and coordination as feedbacks are received constantly. There is also constant participation of all the employees as they are involved in setting the targets or goals to be achieved by the institution, so one does not feel ignored or left out.

Specialization is the main focus in the organizational structure. Each department consists of a group of employees who have the same skills/specialization. The top management, mainly the CEO and the directors, are the overall coordinators of the company. Therefore, the roles people play in the company is the main basis of classification to the various departments. The chain of command is straight and efficient and there is a great chance for the employees to develop both vertically and horizontally in the organizational tree. The employees are so attached to the values of the institution which makes them have a strong culture. This is because the values are so precise and the employees have no difficulty in embracing them. The management is strong and efficient and provides quality leadership. No employee is more equal than the other, thus, they are all treated equally and fairly with much respect. The directors are all available and reachable. The employees are committed to their work and they strive to maintain the values and the morals of the institution at all times.

Lessons from the Leader

Be Modest about your Strengths and Candid about your Imperfections

As a leader, Howard Deering Johnson knew himself fully. In as much as he is celebrated as a great historical leader, deep within him, he knew that he had weaknesses and often made mistakes. But being a great leader, he found a special way to balance his strengths and weaknesses. Howard Johnson believed that no man is perfect, but people should work hard in order to conceal their weaknesses but reveal their strengths. This kind of element is very rare in today’s leaders. Therefore, as a leader, one should look into the mirror and accept who he sees in the reflection, as his true self rather than deny it.

Lead from the Back

Howard Deering Johnson wanted to be known for the worth that he brought to the table for his people. His people wanted to be heard and at the same time wanted a leader who would listen to them and speak for them. These qualities were spotted in Howard Johnson when he was still a young man, thus contributing to making him the most celebrated leader in the world. As a leader, it is very essential to listen to other people’s problems and take time to grasp them before making any decision.

Quitting Still Portrays a Sense of Leadership

When the time had come for Howard Deering Johnson to leave his office, he did so willingly unlike many other leaders. Stepping down from a powerful position was seen as a sign of democratic maturity. A leader should not be power hungry or money hungry as this will help him to put the goals of the company before his personal goals or interest. A company cannot grow if the leader misuses the company’s resources for his own benefit.

Lead with the Conception that nothing is Neither Black nor White

As a leader, Howard Deering Johnson had the perception that judgments are so complex and nothing is as easy as it may appear. Life is neither right nor wrong and a leader cannot provide answers to all the questions that are arising. A leader should welcome contradictions or criticisms as they are important in strengthening the skills of the leader. Therefore, before making any judgment or decision, the leader should take his time to think and explore all the available avenues before coming up with the final verdict.

Conclusion

            Leadership is a very essential asset to an organization as it acts as the main driving force of the organization. An efficient leader will steer the company to prosperity while a mediocre leader will lead the company to total losses. It is imperative for a leader to employ the best techniques and styles of leadership that are more beneficial and add value to a company rather than leaderships styles that ruin the principles and values of the company. The hospitality industry plays a key role in building the economies of various countries all over the world. A well managed hotel company will attract and retain potential clients or customers. A leader is like the pilot to an aircraft. When the pilot is calm and composed, all the passengers will have confidence and maintain tranquility, but when a pilot is shaky and makes mistakes, then all the passengers are bound to panic and cause confusion in the aircraft. In the light of these, leadership is the window through which people see the company. Many hotel companies have employed a democratic style of leadership whereby all the stakeholders are involved in making major decisions in the company. This style of leadership has proved to be working to the companies as it encourages individual participation to the company. Everybody works hard to play the roles that have been assigned to them and nothing is left to chance.

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