By David Lund

The chapter below is an excerpt from my new book. It’s fiction but some of the characters and story lines are based on people I have worked with and events that have taken place in the hotels I have worked in. The book is a fable about a hotel manager who has some very bad habits. He must change in order to survive and the book takes him and you through the lessons needed to be a great hospitality financial leader. I’m writing ahead each month so I’m not sure how the book will end. I hope you enjoy it and if you missed any earlier chapters you can find them on my website blog tab.

My drive to the hotel today feels different. I am aware that it may be my last. My Jensen feels large and unresponsive. I am not in harmony with my car. The clutch feels stiff. The steering is hard and rigid. The gears are sluggish and stupid at the same time. Just me, I guess. I think about my dreams and wonder if they will be an indication of my day today.

After arriving at the hotel, I pulled to the front door and as usual I just got out of my car, leaving the car door wide open for the valet to quickly tend to it.

My office door was open and the light was on. It’s barely 7:30, who on earth would be in my office? I turned the corner and was greeted by Ann.

“Good morning, Oliver,” she said with a certain sparkle, “I hope you don’t mind, I had security open your office for me. Cedrick asked me to come and see you first thing today.”

“Really, that’s thoughtful of you,” I almost snorted. I have only met Ann a few times—mostly at hotel association events and social gatherings. She is a petite and unassuming woman, calm and confident in her own right.

“Oliver, Cedrick has asked that I speak with you regarding the possible move to the Norton. He also informed me that I will be moving here to assume your position starting today regardless of your decision. Informed is not the best word, he gave me an ultimatum. He also told me that you have been offered my role at the Norton subject to certain conditions. I am here to explain the conditions to you. Would you like to know what they are?”

I removed my coat and hat and took a seat behind my desk. I asked Ann to sit. She did as I took a deep breath.

“Ann, I know Cedrick wants me to go to the Norton subject to having a mentor for the first two months. Is that what you’re here to tell me about?”

“Yes,” she said, “and there is a lot more to it.

“I know Cedrick has given you this 60-days as a non-negotiable condition to your move to the Norton. I want you to tell me if you’re going to accept his offer before I explain the arrangement with the teacher.”

I could feel the anger building under my tongue. I knew Ann was only the messenger. I caught myself and calmly said to her, “I’m not sure what to do.”

Where did those words come from? I have never been at a loss for a decision in my life and now I’m telling a relative stranger that I don’t know what to do with perhaps the most important decision of my career!

Ann smiled and said, “Oliver, it’s OK and if I were you, I would just say yes and then I can explain.”

She made all of this sound like I was saying yes to a cup of coffee that I can either drink or not.

I thought for a moment and the word just came out, “Yes.”

“Good!” Anne said, “You will love the next 60 days. I want to warn you that in the beginning it may seem odd or unusual, but I want to assure you the teacher knows what you need to do to be the leader that serves. I know because he taught me.”

“Serve?” I asked.

“Yes, serve.”

“What does that mean?”

She told me that Oliver has a saying that few know and it goes like this: If serving is beneath you then leadership is beyond you! I thought for a moment and let this nugget settle in. OK, so serving is what I will learn in the 60 days?

“I’m going to be the GM not the waiter, correct?”

Ann laughed a little and said, “The teacher will show you how to serve your team. He will teach you the laws of hospitality service leadership.

“Cedrick explained briefly that he believes your leadership style needs some help,” Ann said, “I want you to know that I can relate to this and when I arrived at the Norton the teacher taught me the laws of service leadership and I can honestly say it changed my life.

“Who is this teacher?” she said as she smiled, “All of that will be revealed in good time. Now it’s time to call your team together, Oliver, and tell them the news.

“Cedrick will be here at 9 a.m. and he will address the leadership group as well and then we’re going to the Norton to do the same.”