A quick Google search reveals that countless books and papers have been written on the subject of leadership. Having read more than my fair share of them over many years, I am of the opinion that there are perhaps as many theories on what makes a good leader as there are good leaders in this world. My hope in this article is to share a few pearls of wisdom that I have acquired over the years as to what I believe constitutes a great leader.
“Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.”
A large majority of those people who have worked in corporate America have, at one time or another, been subjected to a motivational/training session on leadership.
Having been subjected to this borderline violation of the Eighth Amendment more times than I care to remember (it really can feel like cruel and unusual punishment), I found that more often than not, the speaker/trainer merely regurgitates the same time-worn homilies about who and what makes a great leader. This typically is followed by your corporate team leader(s) reciting the highlights of this session over and over for many months, thinking they will be ingrained into your soul.
In my humble opinion, nothing is further from the truth.
As the Chinese proverb succinctly points out, great leadership—and ultimately great leaders—comes from the doing and not the saying.
Looking back over the long and winding arc of my career, I have spent the bulk of it in positions that involve a meaningful amount of business development. First as an attorney in private practice and later (and currently) as an adviser (which is a fancy term for a broker). I can recall a number of instances when a senior member of my firm or organization would sit me down and prattle on about his or her secrets to business development and how, if I followed the same blueprint, I could succeed in the same fashion.
|The Atlanta Hospitality Alliance (“AHA”) was created in late 2009 by Dan Weede of Carlton Fields and Monty Levy of HREC Investment Advisors to provide a forum for Atlanta area hospitality executives with a transactional and development focus to network and collaborate on industry-specific matters. In 2010, the AHA became a members-only, nonprofit corporation. To date, it has approximately 100 dues-paying members, with the goal of not exceeding 200 members. The AHA holds quarterly meetings at Atlanta area hotels; each meeting comprises networking and educational components. For more information about the Atlanta Hospitality Alliance, please visit www.atlantahospitalityalliance.com.
While I would take notes during such meetings, very little of what was preached effected meaningful change.
It wasn’t until I encountered a true act of leadership that my business development practices would be forever altered.
”Example is leadership”
In early 2003 I left a full-service commercial real-estate firm in Atlanta where I had been for seven years to join a hotel brokerage firm. Prior to that move, my notion of best business development practices had been shaped primarily through sessions with the so-called experts and war stories from my senior-level colleagues.
Upon entering the wild and wooly world of hotel brokerage, I fully expected the same—that I would “learn” about the secrets of business development through stories and pontification. Fortunately, however, one of the senior members of that firm had a different and, in my opinion, a spot-on perspective of what constitutes effective leadership.
Shortly after joining the hotel brokerage firm, I was approached by the same senior member who offered to let me tag along on a trip out of town to meet with clients and prospective clients. Rather than simply sharing his secrets for business development in the hotel brokerage arena with me, I was able to spend a few days observing him in action with clients and prospective clients, and understanding the nuances of how to pitch one’s services in our highly competitive industry.
While this shouldn’t strike anyone as groundbreaking business development practice, the point I want to hammer home is that my former mentor took the time and effort to show me his best business development practices as opposed to simply telling them to me.
Since then, I have made it a point to pass on my best business development practices, as well as other tricks of the trade, to the younger members of my firm through my actions in meetings and on calls.
In closing, I believe that those of you that are in a leadership or mentoring role would do well to remember that true leadership is best exhibited through your actions as opposed to your words.
Monty Levy is a Senior Vice President and Market Leader for the Atlanta office of HREC Investment Advisors. Monty is widely regarded as one of the leading investment sale brokers in the hotel arena, with a focus on upscale select-service and midscale full-service hotel assets, and a particular expertise in portfolio transactions. Monty is a licensed broker in Georgia and Alabama, as well as a member of the State bar of Georgia having practiced law as a commercial real estate attorney prior to moving into investment sale brokerage. Monty is the current President and co-founder of the Atlanta Hospitality Alliance.
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