james houran

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james houran

Hospitality Leadership Solutions Series: Embrace Charisma, Not Stoicism

James Houran | October 19, 2018

By: James Houran, Ph.D., Dallas | Keith Kefgen, New York Noted hospitality thought leaders and corporate governance/ performance management experts Kefgen and "Dr. Jim" share common management challenges while providing time-tested, field-tested or just simple "quick-fix" ideas to keep professionals inspired, effective and successful. Some of the most memorable and effective mid-managers and senior executives utilize leadership charisma to bolster their personal brands, build alliances, gain buy-in from team members and maximize their influence internally and externally to their organizations. But some of the most charismatic leaders h...

The ‘Hack’ Leaders Should Use in Today’s Quagmire of Ambiguity

James Houran, Ph.D., Dallas | October 16, 2018

By James Houran, Ph.D., Dallas Common sense dictates that the more information people have the more informed decisions they will make. This reasoning works flawlessly with problems or issues that are composed of well-defined "cause-and-effect" relationships. Of course, business in the real-world does not get done in sterile environments but instead takes place in dirty test tubes. Here, critical information in an equation is neither always known nor can be properly measured. Indeed, this era of rapid technological advances and marked disruption often brings problems that are poorly structured or involve non-routine decisions, as well as...

Hospitality Leadership Solutions Series: Is Self-Confidence Friend or Foe?

James Houran | September 19, 2018

By James Houran, Ph.D. and Keith Kefgen Noted hospitality thought leaders and corporate governance/ performance management experts Kefgen and "Dr. Jim" share common management challenges while providing time-tested, field-tested or just simple "quick-fix" ideas to keep professionals inspired, effective and successful. Self-confidence can be a friend and foe to emerging leaders and seasoned executives alike. In many cases, leaders must think and act against popular wisdom, and thus must exhibit confidence and grit in the face of severe—and even very public—opposition. Of course, self-confidence can also lead one down a very ...

Talking Environmental Psychology and Guest Experience with Aesthetics Expert Elizabeth Weiner

James Houran | February 7, 2018

By James Houran All people and places give off "vibes." Forming impressions of other people depends on much more than what we consciously see or hear. One UCLA study found that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by more subliminal, nonverbal cues. Our impressions of places are created in a similar manner. In hospitality settings, "staff-guest interactions" are critically important determinants of positive guest experiences, but so too are the unspoken aesthetic aspects that define the physical environments that set the stage for hospitality services. At the 2017 Cornell Hospitality Research Summit, AETHOS spoke with ...

Why ‘Heart and Soul’ Is Also a Strength in Leadership

James Houran, Ph.D., Dallas | December 4, 2017

By James Houran, Ph.D., Dallas and Keith Kefgen, New York One of the most difficult and humbling things for us human beings is to admit we don't know something. Our brain has evolved over thousands and thousands of years into a three-pound, organic computer with the sole task of "making things more certain." Gaining mastery and a sense of control over our physical and psychological environments is a natural, inherent human drive. Many people assume that admitting ignorance about and asking for help in understanding specific things is somehow a sign of weakness and a public declaration that one is uninformed, incompetent or outright dim-...

Excuses are For Losers: Leadership Involves Pressure and Personal Sacrifice

James Houran, Ph.D. | October 27, 2017

By James Houran, Ph.D., Keith Kefgen Behind every failed leader is an excuse. In our experience studying and working with global leadership in the hospitality industry, successful leaders consistently tell us in one way or another that excuses were for "losers" whereas "winners" find solutions to tough challenges, or at least look at failed initiatives with a winning attitude and use the situation to adopt key learnings to apply to future scenarios. It's easy to lay claim to the title of leader when things are going well, but taking responsibility for your actions is difficult when things get tough. In today's Twitter and social media a...

Isn’t “Success” the Ultimate Sign of a True Leader?

James Houran | April 28, 2017

By James Houran, Ph.D. "Pay for performance" models dominate today's compensation schemes, a fact that seems to say implicitly that outcomes are the only thing that matter. Janet Jackson summed it long ago with her popular lyrical meme, "What have you done for me lately?" But, there is also a 1970s lyric by Gordon Lightfoot that speaks to another, equally potent reality, which is "heroes often fail." Leaders simply do not win every battle or war. We recently heard from a colleague who shared one of his life lessons after reading our take on servant leadership. He wrote… "Early in my career I was in the running for a promotion but...

Introducing the “Psychometric SWOT” Exercise for Effective Team Development

James Houran, Ph.D. | March 23, 2017

By James Houran, Ph.D. and Chris Mumford Growth. Expansion. Development. Progression. These words translate in a business sense to an increase in size, footprint, market share, revenue and profit or shareholder value. They are common aspirations of most companies eager to accelerate along an upward trajectory, as opposed to crisis managing a downward spiral. In the current climate, most hospitality operating businesses are in aggressive growth mode and faced with "positive problems," such as how to acquire new contracts, how to staff new openings, or how to satisfy growing customer numbers. For small- to medium-sized businesses in parti...


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