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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Every Managers

Updated: Apr 13

Managers in the hotel industry want to change, they know that the old ways are driving the new generation away... But there are still a lot of bad habits and ugly tactics at play to survive in the competitive management environment of hotels. What managers need is coaching and training to see the light and how good doesn't mean weak at all. It is a change of paradigm, a leap of faith, and many managers only need a nudge, a benevolent guiding hand.


In the hospitality industry, a sector perennially grappling with the challenges of attracting and retaining talent, the traditional management styles have often leaned towards a "work hard and shut up" philosophy. This longstanding approach, deeply ingrained in the industry's culture, has been characterized by a tough, no-nonsense attitude where long hours and intense pressure are the norms. Accompanying this ethos is a culture that sometimes veers towards bullying and making fun of others, a practice that has been normalized over the years but is increasingly coming under scrutiny.


As societal values evolve, the new generation entering this workforce is demanding change. They seek not only a workplace that values their contributions but also one that respects their well-being and advocates for a more inclusive and supportive environment. However, the changes implemented thus far have often been criticized as superficial, addressing the symptoms rather than the underlying cultural issues that perpetuate these challenges.


This situation calls for a significant cultural reset in management practices within the hospitality industry. It requires moving away from the archaic traditions of overwork and intimidation to embrace a more holistic, empathetic approach to leadership. Such a shift is not just about adapting to the changing expectations of the workforce but is a necessary evolution to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the industry itself. As we delve deeper into the various management styles prevalent in hospitality - namely "the good, the bad, and the ugly" - it becomes evident how these traditional approaches have shaped the current landscape and what might be needed for a transformative change.


Let’s start with the traditional style that is usually called « directive » in literature but in this article will purposely be labeled "The Bad" or "les bourrins" in French. They are the hard-nosed, results-driven managers. Their leadership style is marked by an uncompromising demand for efficiency and professionalism. They exhibit an intimidating demeanor, holding a firm belief that personal issues should be checked at the door. This approach, while fostering high levels of efficiency and clear direction, can also create a workplace atmosphere that is rigid and devoid of empathy. Their authoritative nature can be threatening, particularly to the young and the restless. This approach to management is frozen, archaic, but surprisingly valued in the hotel industry still. These managers today add a coating of compassion to their manager but the heart of their technique remains unchanged.


"The Ugly" is still strong in the industry as well, we could call them "les intrigants" in French, that are the archetypal manipulative managers. They skillfully maintain a facade of kindness while fostering an environment rife with favoritism and division. To those in their inner circle, they extend care and support, but others may find themselves subjected to constant criticism, mockery, and orchestrated exclusion. Their true power lies in their ability to subtly manipulate and control, often using deceit, lies, and strategic maneuvers to maintain their position. "The Ugly" pose a threat to everyone as their cunning strategies can effectively sideline any attempt at a more transparent and straightforward approach.


Now “The Good” or “les gentils” are the managers who embody kindness and empathy in their leadership style. They foster a nurturing environment, prioritizing the emotional well-being of their team members. Their approach is characterized by compassion and support, creating a harmonious workplace where staff feel valued and understood. However, as we say in French “trop bon, trop con” or “too kind for their own good” can be their weakness. This benevolent nature often reveals a significant vulnerability in the competitive arena of hospitality management. Lacking the assertiveness of “The Bad” and the strategic acumen of “The Ugly,” “The Good” are prone to being eclipsed or dominated by the more aggressive. They are also especially susceptible to the manipulative tactics of “The Ugly,” who can orchestrate scenarios to push “The Good” out of influential roles, exploiting their gentleness and compassion to their advantage. Worse, their own staff can use these tactics to overrule or abuse them.


Let’s be clear, no one is 100% this or that. We’re all the good, the bad, and the ugly. But these three distinct managerial archetypes, especially in hospitality management reveal a deep truth. In real life, many managers exhibit traits from each of these categories at different times or in varying circumstances. This fluidity can add a layer of complexity to the team dynamics.

The ability of a manager to oscillate between being "the good," "the bad," or "the ugly" - sometimes displaying empathy and support, at other times adopting a more authoritarian or manipulative approach - does create an unpredictable and challenging environment for their team. This inconsistency can lead to confusion and a sense of insecurity among staff members. Teams thrive on stability and predictability in leadership, and when these elements are lacking, it can impede the formation of a safe, trusting work environment.


The dynamic nature of managerial behavior underscores the importance of self-awareness and consistency in the role. Managers must strive to understand the impact of their style on their team and continuously assess and adjust their approach for the betterment of the team and the organization. Leadership must also encourage and protect the Good in the management team, or risk to see the Bad and the Ugly take over. The weaknesses of the Good profile also highlights the need for ongoing training and development in leadership skills, helping managers to navigate the complexities of their roles effectively and create a workplace culture that is both productive and nurturing. In the end, fostering a safe, stable, and supportive environment is paramount for the success and well-being of managers, their team and the hospitality industry in general.




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