Exploring the feminine side of leadership

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It is so hard to find good leaders. It is also a difficult task to retain good leaders once you have hired or developed them because once a reputation is earned and broadcast, clubs want to grab the leader for themselves. In a former life I was a director for a management company. At one point we had more than 50 properties. We had a serious turnover issue in management. We turned over regional managers as well as general managers too often. 

One segment of the leadership team that stayed intact however, were the women general managers the company had hired. In all we had a total of five. They were very good managers for many reasons. They were consistent in their approach to the club and their task at hand. These five women loved their club, their team and the membership. It showed on their faces and those of the staff and the members. 

As a general manager of a golf property, with a thriving F&B operation, there is a lot to think about and lots of people to connect with every day. These general managers were professionals, handling their roles with great attitudes and sincere patience. In particular, they managed the soft skills well. They showed respect to every employee, no matter their role, and they went out of their way for every member. A few of these managers knew not only every members’ name, but the names of everyone in their families. Some were better in marketing, others in accounting, but they each served their property well. 

 As you consider changes in leadership, no matter the area of responsibility, think about reaching out to all strong candidates for your openings. Whether it is in property leadership, F&B or Sales, look at every available option. Here is what I discovered:

1)    The women we worked with studied all areas of their responsibility. They also asked for help where needed

2)    They were very outgoing to the women members and all of the juniors, and they worked closely with staff members who were struggling

3)    Cleanliness was their laser focus for the entire property

4)    They handled the tough conversations behind closed doors

5)    When mistakes happened, they each took responsibility for the errors and most protected their staff when it was appropriate 

 As you strive to build the best golf club in your community, think about interviewing qualified women and minorities for leadership roles. If this game is to succeed long term, it must attract all people to both play and serve in leadership roles. In addition to stepping up to manage all critical aspects of club life, they will reach out to women, juniors and the entire community like no others. The next time you begin to review resumes and Linkedin pages, look at the success stories before you look at the names. You may just be onto something different. Thank you. 

Jack Dillon is an Orlando-based writer of the highfives series and is a speaker and an expert in hospitality, merchandise and people coaching. He has been in this industry for more than 45 years. Contact him at 407-973-6136.

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