Leadership in the hospitality industry

Authored by: Joseph J. West , Sabina Tonarelli-Frey

Handbook of hospitality strategic management

Print publication date:  July  2008
Online publication date:  September  2008

Print ISBN: 9780080450797
eBook ISBN: 9780080914343
Adobe ISBN: 9781136439520


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In this chapter, we introduce the topic of leadership and its importance to the hospitality and tourism industries. One need only scan the current headlines to understand the importance of leadership and its impact upon the hospitality organization. There are as many examples of failed leaders as there are of successful leaders. For every J. W. Marriott, the visionary force behind Marriott Corporation there is a Steven J. Heyer, disgraced former Chief Executive Officer of Starwood. Mr. Marriott built the world's largest lodging company from an A & W Root Beer Stand in Washington, DC. Mr. Heyer was terminated from leading one of the world's largest lodging companies for inappropriate conduct with underlings. For every Ray Kroc, the legendary driving force of McDonald's, there is a Joe Micatrotto, former Chief Executive Officer of Buca Incorporated. Ray Kroc envisioned the future and led a small hamburger company in its metamorphosis into the world's largest hospitality company. Joe Micatrotto took a small Italian restaurant company, built it up, took it public, and then along with several other corporate officers used it as his piggy bank. He and two other executives were indicted for fraud. He pled guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to federal prison as well as fined heavily. What is the difference between these diametrically opposite high profile hospitality leaders?; We are sure that they all felt that it was “their company” —but that is where the similarity ceased. Messer's Marriott and Kroc understood their responsibility to the stakeholders of “their company,” while Heyer and Micatrotto did not. Therein lies the rub. As the global environment continues its dynamic change, leaders face untold challenges. If they are unable to completely understand their role, they set themselves up for failure and perhaps disgrace.

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