The iconic Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, TX was John’s foray into the world of hospitality. With its grand presence, his first encounters in the industry were second to none. Made possible through the work-study program at Jefferson Magnet school in Dallas, John clenched the opportunity to shadow management in every department. From his practicum experience at the Fairmount Hotel during the week, to busing tables at the Adolphus Hotel on the weekends, John paved a contextually rich experiential platform from which he launched his career in the hospitality industry. “Some people lose patience and want to climb too quickly loosing critical footholds. I have learned that to balance assuredly at the top a leader must know each brick beneath which sturdies the privileged and hard-earned platform of leadership.” Rooting himself in since the age of 14, John possesses a seemingly effortless savoir faire. In reality, John spent years fine-tuning this trait along with his nuanced approach to elevating the guest experience at each touch point. Today, John Yzaguirre packages his decades of knowledge from busboy to VP in a “professional renaissance.” His career rendezvous is currently being sketched out in the role of General Manager at the HIE in Las Vegas for Palette Hotels Developments a Hospitality Management Company based out of El Paso, TX. He calls his new role at the hotel management company a perfect catharsis and the opportunity to revive the basics, the “source.” At Palette Hotels, we call it our fortune. John’s goal is not induced by monetary gain but by desire to give back in his true to self-Servant Leadership way, which John likens to a leadership mindset rather than style. Here are his top 5 Servant Leadership tips to help you build productive and happy teams today.
1) Be the Example You Want to See in Others
At the Adolphus Hotel I was mentored by a remarkable leader. She never asked me to do anything without showing me how to do it well herself first. She was patient and impeccable. She taught me through daily demonstration to do it right or do not bother at all. She was a living and walking example of her expectations. It was clear what was expected of me because I saw it with my own eyes, and I learned to complete tasks with excellence because of her example. We never left the restaurant without the silverware lustering from a good polish. This attention to detail from the top trickled down on all of us. We saw our expectations and it was much more powerful opposed to simply hearing them. Our leader showed up, so we showed up too alongside each other. It was an energetic domino effect, and I respected her style. I carry this practice with me in my role. I work hand in hand with my team. They do not work for me rather we work for each other. I challenge myself daily to show up better than yesterday. Of course, there are days when I am tired, but I realize the more I have ingrained good habits in myself and my team the more that we all can go onto autopilot when we are drained. It is well worth it. Starting today Be the Example You Want to See in Others. Don’t Expect First, Do First!
2) Share Your Knowledge
This is a big one and it is powerful. The more that we can impart knowledge on our professional community the more we all collectively gain. Remember knowledge is a renewable resource. Fortunately, knowledge can be replenished and grow infinitely. As a leader, when you open your chest of knowledge others are inspired to do the same for you. This creates a centrifugal force that is hard to be reckoned with. Therefore, it gives you a professional edge. Do not hold knowledge in the crevices of your fist rather open your hand and help the next person up. More than likely this quality will benefit you tenfold and it is a hallmark of true Servant Leadership. Is there information that you have been holding back that can help someone? Today, give it a shot and share it.
3) Build Rapport First
The world is a mosaic of personality types and if you are in the hospitality industry your mosaic of personalities may be especially colorful. At least this has been my experience. Recognizing the complexity of people translates to the need to really know your people. This is vital to your success as a leader. The style in which a message is delivered often needs curating depending on the recipient. What motivates one person may not motivate another. What inspires one person may not inspire another and what discourages one person may not another. A conversation with a teammate can end as productive or destructive based on a key ingredient, TRUST. Trust is built through building and consistently cultivating a good rapport. The thing with trust is, it’s hard earned and easily fractured so it needs a great deal of personal attention. The reward we reap when we have good rapport is well worth the investment. The results show up in critical areas such as retention and productivity. Today, who have you not checked in with in a while? Go and check in today!! Remember that the success or failure of a message is often in the delivery.
4) Roll Up Your Sleeves Regularly
There is nothing like the crisis of a Global Pandemic or the mini–Ice Age that hit Texas that reminds all of us in Leadership that we are not going to get far up the creek without knowing how to row ourselves and sometimes alone. Think about that leader that got on their hands and knees with you. How did it make you feel? Now, think about that leader that led with their door closed. How did that make you feel? I came back to a property level because I knew that I needed to get my hands dirty again. We all do. It makes us appreciate the arduous efforts of our teams as they muscle through each day. All a General Manager of a hotel needs to do is clean just ONE room fully and impeccably and voilà, the recognition for housekeepers’ skyrockets. As leaders, it’s important to keep a little grit under our nails. Remember never to climb to the top by stepping on someone’s backside but rather by getting a gracious hand up. Today, even if its brief, try letting one of your staff members change desks with you so to speak. This lends to a deeper perspective on both sides.
5) Practice Calm in Crisis
Some people are fortunate enough to be inherently calm during a calamitous event but most of us need to fake it till we make it or better yet practice it till we make it. The good news is… we can make it! I have experienced fires, storms, tragic deaths, serious injuries and criminal activity on properties and much more. The one resounding thing I have learned is, the leader must be calm and deliberate in solving the problem. Understandably, when everyone else goes home for the night you may burst into tears but when you are leading you must maintain composure in crisis. Sounds great…but how? Practice it! Practice it! Practice it! Create emergency scenarios at your workplace and put your protocols in place. This is immensely helpful. From a spontaneous fire drill, timed emergency evacuations, hurricane shelter and provisions health checks, to dealing with an individual with a live firearm, the more you practice a crisis the more your responses will be auto regulated in a real crisis. This will also help your teams react pragmatic rather than panicked. Today, put together a list of crisis scenarios that you should be prepared for. Plan and practice on a regular schedule.
Servant Leadership is a mindset we imbibe at Palette Hotels Developments – Hotel Management Company in Texas. We look for Leaders to walk the walk and talk the talk rather than glance up behind the vantage point of a fancy desk cloaked in a fancy suit. We are proud to say that our GM’s are on a journey of leading by example. Thank you to all the servant leaders across the great state of Texas and the Southwest from our front desks to our housekeepers to our GM’s. We are humbled everyday by your service.
John Yzaguirre’s extensive journey in the hospitality industry has been impeccably interpreted into words by Asha Bhakta-Roziere in this Blog!