Risk Management Update – Drones and the Club Industry

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As clubs continue to seek new ways to market their products and amenities, and to gain efficiency in the services they provide, more and more they are relying on innovative technologies such as drones. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have gained in popularity in a variety of industries over the past several years and have developed some very useful applications for the club industry.

Many clubs now utilize drones to enhance the impact of their real estate marketing via aerial videography of their grounds, amenities, home sites, real estate inventory and the club’s proximity to surrounding points of interest. Clubs have also begun to use drones in monitoring and assessing course conditions such as areas of high stress, wet areas, patterns of disease, and a variety of other golf course maintenance applications. 

While the benefits of drone usage are easy to see, from a risk management standpoint the use of UAVs brings into question a few key areas of concern: the insurance, legal, regulatory and ethical considerations of drone usage. Listed below are a few things to review and discuss with your risk manager to determine if the use of a drone or a drone service provider is right for your club:

  • Regulatory requirements - The FAA has oversight of UAV operations and requires any pilot of a drone weighing less than 55 pounds to be licensed and to have passed a written examination. Drones cannot be operated at an elevation greater than 400 feet and must not be used in any airspace within 5 miles of an airport.
  • Legal concerns – In addition to the FAA requirements, many local and state governments have ordinances in place which may prohibit the use of drones in your area. These local ordinances do not always coincide with the FAA requirements and, in some cases, may be more restrictive.
  • Ethical considerations – Potential areas of concern from the operation of UAVs include neighbor’s rights of privacy, potential for unintentional trespassing, and allegations of harassment.
  • Insurance coverage – Most commercial general liability (CGL) policies contain an absolute exclusion for aircraft operations, even for unmanned aircraft such as drones. The insurance marketplace has developed several “drone specific” policies which can be purchased to cover the hazards of bodily injury and property damage resulting from UAV operations. If your club chooses to operate the UAV, please check with your carrier to ensure that workers compensation coverage will apply in the event of an injury to an employee. Should your club choose to engage the services of a drone or UAV contractor, a certificate of insurance showing coverage for aviation liability and workers compensation should be obtained prior to commencing work on behalf of the club. The club should also be named as an Additional Insured on the subcontractor’s insurance policy.  

The emergence of drones and their benefits to club operations is exciting and new. While the benefits will most certainly outweigh the risks involved, conduct a little homework with your risk manager and your local authorities to make sure your exposures are addressed in advance.


Todd Perdue, PWCA, is Risk Advisor, SIA Group, in Jacksonville, NC. He can be reached at (800) 682-7741 or tperdue@siagroup.com.


Leader, Don’t Forget to Lead!

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In the year 2000 we started coaching leaders in the club management industry. We have coached leaders who have just lost their jobs, we have coached leaders who are being interviewed for new jobs, we have coached leaders who are at the top of their game and we have coached leaders who are facing some inevitable challenges that arise in an exciting and very personal profession. 

When we look at the successes and failures of people in the industry, we believe that it is probably a very small percentage that does either with a lack of knowledge of how to lead. We have observed that it is more likely people fail, slow down or limit their success when they or someone critical to the organization forgets to lead. 

Leader, Don’t Forget to Lead!

How many times have you come out of a seminar and heard someone say “I already knew that”? It is the old knew it vs. do it problem. Knowing how to lead is not the same as leading. Leadership is a privilege and a responsibility. It is the opportunity to bring the best out in many to get an Extraordinary result for the organization and the people in it. It is a chance to energize, inspire, dream, create and expand, yet when we forget to lead all of the opposite things can happen.

Why Do Leaders Forget to Lead?

  • They learned to manage first so they default to management
  • There are so many distractions that can take them in other directions
  • They forget that everyone is watching
  • They start to believe their success is about them and not the people they lead and serve
  • They can’t say “no” to the unimportant things
  • They convince themselves that they know it all
  • They are more comfortable telling vs. asking
  • They are too busy defending 

Some leaders reading this list will relate to every item on the list. Even the most successful leaders may recognize something on the list that applies to them right now. This article is not intended to be a criticism of you as a leader, but rather a reminder that there are a lot of things that can get in the way of you performing as the leader who can make a profound difference in the organization that you lead and in the lives of people you are privileged to lead.

Leaders manage things and they lead people. They manage budgets, schedules, inventories, assets, but they lead people. How do you like it when someone manages you? You know, when someone needs to show you that they know better than you do. They want to tell you what to do rather than set a vision for what they want and ask how you will take them there. It may make you feel like they don’t understand your skills, your knowledge and your commitment. Do you ever find yourself doing that to others?

A key to being a great leader is helping everyone you lead understand the power of accountability. Every person in the organization is accountable for their part in making it successful. It is like developing a community of leaders. This flies in the face of the concept of being the boss and would be uncomfortable for many. The boss thinks accountability is what you set up to punish or fire someone. The leader thinks of accountability for every individual is something to empower and develop someone. 

A Reminder for All of Us About Leadership

Leaders Have Followers! Sure it is possible to have people follow you because you have the title that implies that they should. True leaders don’t need the title. People follow them because they believe in them. They believe in what is important to them. They want to be like them and perhaps one day they would like to be in their position.

Leaders Have Character! Leaders live to a high set of principles and standards. They do the right thing even when nobody is watching. They behave the way they would hope there people would behave. They care about others. They care about the truth. They are powerful with their words and their actions. They know how to lead and they remember to lead.

Leaders are Learners! You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting. Leaders are reading, listening, developing and constantly improving. Leaders challenge their people to do the same and provide the resources to do so.

Leaders are Visionaries! They dream, they look forward, they see what is possible when others see the obstacles. They challenge their people to dream and innovate. They don’t care where the best ideas come from they just want to inspire and access the best ideas.

Leaders are Communicators! They articulate the vision. They paint a vivid picture of where the organization is going. They care about how their message lands. They ask powerful questions. They listen to the answers. They hear what is said and what is not said. They listen without memory, judgement and desire to make sure the truly hear what is being said. They communicate to build up vs. knock down.

Leaders are Coaches! They care about the success of the team and they care about the success of the players on the team. They display this and it is also displayed by the leaders they lead. Everyone needs to know their roles; everyone needs to perform it to the best of their ability. Everyone needs to share in the successes and the failures. Everyone needs to learn from both.

Leaders Lead Themselves! Leaders know that they are imperfect. Leaders have humility and they are willing and insistent on looking in the mirror to make sure they are the example they want to be. Leaders are willing to get support on being the best they can be. Leaders don’t point at others as the problem, they look within first.

Your organization, your department, your family, your life and the world are all waiting for your leadership. Don’t forget! 


Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at kmacdonald@dccnet.com or newreality@telus.net. We believe you could have your best year yet!


Mastering Social Media as a Millennial

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Social media - Phipps

According to Forbes, by the end of 2017, Millennials will make up 38 percent of today’s workforce. By 2020 (a mere 13 years from today), they will make up approximately 70 percent.  

Millennials are at the apex of the social media movement. A Boomer may say “who needs social media?”  A Gen-Xer may argue that social media has its place but cannot replace the personal touch. A Millennial has always had social media as part of their world, and therefore they see it being connected with their professional future.

Boomers, remember when your parents may not have had a car yet, but you could see your future with a car? Gen-X, remember when your house had one phone now you see every person you know needs their own personal phone. Then can you blame Millennials? They see Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram as the same type of development tools. 

Our office conducted a generational communication experiment. With almost 100 total participants, we had an almost perfect disparity of having approximately 33 percent of each generation being represented. Ninety-one percent of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, or ages 53 to 71) said if social media existed during their teens and twenties, they would have used it. Of the Boomers involved in the survey, 79 percent said they were currently active on at least two different social media platforms. Those same Boomers had similar feelings about what they are seeing from the social media sites from today’s Millennials. If you are a Millennial, consider what Gen-Xers and Boomers are saying about the Millennial generation when they look at your social media pages:

  • Stop taking selfies for your professional pictures.
  • Stop taking mirror pictures for your professional profiles and avatars.
  • Stop making negative comments about others.
  • Stop taking pictures with negative images.
  • Stop posting personal content on LinkedIn. 
  • Start dressing up for your pictures (at least from the neck up).
  • Start grooming your hair and face.
  • Start smiling.
  • Start sharing positive positing.
  • Start sharing professional content on LinkedIn.

Whether you are a Boomer, Gen-Xer or a Millennial, you have an opportunity to be mentored by those with more experience. Use your influence to embrace opportunities to be a future mentor to the next generation of leaders. 

Phipps 2017

Vincent Ivan Phipps, M.A., CSP, is the owner and CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of Communication VIP Training and Coaching. He specializes in motivational keynotes, interactive workshops, and individual coaching. Vincent’s areas of expertise include: Communication, Motivation, Leadership, Customer Service, Conflict Resolution and Speech Coaching. Vincent has earned the highest earned honor awarded by the National Speakers Association called the Certified Speaking Professional. This recognition has only been given to 12 percent of the world’s best speakers and trainers. 

Passion vs. Going through the Motions

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Passion vs. Going through the Motions

Our job as coaches is to bring the best out in people. We help them get clear on what they want in life. We help them to determine why they are doing what they do. We challenge them to dream bigger and live the life they design. We help them become more self-aware. We help them to see the gifts, the genius and the uniqueness that moves them toward their design. We help them see the beliefs, the language and the habits that maybe getting in the way of bringing their design to life. We encourage, we acknowledge, we challenge the people we are privileged to work with. We celebrate their successes and we celebrate the failures that help move them toward their goals.

One of the keys to their success is often inspiring, creating or reacquainting them with the passion for what they do. Extraordinarily successful people are passionate about what they do. Having said that I realize that someone may contact me to say “I am very successful and I hate what I do!” Well congratulations in advance for proving me wrong and I am very sorry to hear that about you.

When we are in our passion, life is better. When we are in our passion, we don’t know where the time went. When we are in our passion, we tend to work on technique, competence and confidence. When we are in our passion we look better. We are energized and fulfilled. 

The extraordinary people we work with are in their passion at work, at home, at the gym, in their hobbies and in their solitude. 

There are also a lot of potentially extraordinary people who are just going through the motions. Perhaps you have seen them. It is possible that you know some. Maybe you are one. Perhaps you are a leader who is leading some.

Going through the motions is complacency. Going through the motions is lethargy. Going through the motions is uninspiring. Going through the motions impacts a reputation. Going through the motions affects credibility. Going through the motions can result in loss. Going through the motions can suck the life out of you. 

If you are going through the motions, or if you are leading, coaching or mentoring someone who is going through the motions, you owe it to yourself and everyone to find or help others find passion. 

So let’s talk about passion for a minute. If you are a passionate person, you might wonder why would someone not have things they are passionate about in their lives? Why would someone do a job they don’t like? Why would you live a life without passion?

In coaching people, I have heard many reasons. Some people don’t know that it is possible. Some people don’t think they have permission. Some people have a belief that work is not something that you are supposed to enjoy. Some people have not had models of passionate people in their lives. Some people don’t know what it is. Some people think they can’t afford to give up what they don’t enjoy to explore a passion. Some people will be criticized by other passionless people if they get engaged and passionate. This could be describing some people you lead, but let’s consider for a moment that it might describe you. It doesn’t have to mean that you are without passion, but maybe there are some areas of your life where a lack of passion, a blind spot or some level of complacency is getting in your way. Maybe you have been going through the motions. Maybe it is time to engage. 

You can decide to get passionate about something. When you do, you focus on it, you spent time with it, you have fun with it, you change the way you think about it, feel about it and act upon it. You begin to feel proud of it. You can also decide to not be passionate about it. You could delegate it to someone else. Home repairs and doing your taxes might fall into this category. There are people who are passionate about doing those things. 

In some cases you may consider letting go of the thing you are not passionate about. Some people find it hard to let go of a job they are not passionate about because of the money, the geography or not knowing what else they could get. The truth is that many people who are just going through the motions will find the decision to leave their job will not be theirs. 

An interesting phenomenon about coaching is that the people who want to be coached tend to be passionate people. It is so much fun working with people with passion. Imagine what it would be like if you had a whole team of people who were like that. Passionate people can’t wait to start another day. They bring their passion wherever they go and you can feel it. Many of them are at the top of their game and it is fun to watch. They have spent thousands of hours working, playing and developing technique in their passion. They bring an energy that inspires others. What we find very inspiring are the people who seem to bring passion to all parts of their lives. They are passionate about their work, they love the person they are sharing their life with, they are passionate parents and sometimes grandparents, they are passionate about health and food and pleasure and others. Perhaps I just described you!

Maybe there is one of the areas of your life that has not been receiving your passion lately. If so you have a chance to decide.

The point is, you and the world deserve a you, that is living a passionate life. If you are a leader, please help others do the same. If you or the people you lead need some support in doing this, please get some support. Maybe you should call your coach!

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at kmacdonald@dccnet.com or newreality@telus.net. We believe you could have your best year yet!

Checklist for a New Manager - Revisited

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Checklist for a New Manager

“Checklist for a New Manager” first appeared in the March-April 1994 issue of Club Management Magazine. It was my first attempt at writing and I was fortunate to have it published. I had no expectation that it would be included in industry resources and that over twenty years later, managers would still be using it as a reference tool in tackling their new responsibilities. Like those one-hit wonders of the ‘70s and ‘80s, I probably should have just quit while I was ahead.

While much, if not all, of the original content is still relative, I have been asked over the years to update it for today’s challenges. The meaningful content of the original article is included herein, so if you still have a ragtag copy, you can comfortably dispose of it in favor of this one. Hopefully, this will be better than most sequels.

The first checklist was a product of reflection on the first 90 days in a new position. I have had more than my share of those first ninety days, but each one has been rewarding in and of itself. Even my last set was fraught with the wide range of emotions that go along with walking through those new doors for the first time. The excitement of starting the new position, the anxiety of the increased responsibilities and living up to the persona that you established during the search and interview process at times all seem to be in conflict with each other. Despite your training, learning and years of experience, it remains a bit disconcerting, whether it is your next posting as the seasoned chief paid executive or your transition from assistant manager to the role you aspired to have. Whatever the reason that prompted your move, it is human nature to question that decision. “Buyer’s remorse” will lead you to thoughts of why you left the security, familiarity, fit and your own personal standing in your last club, to hit the restart button in unfamiliar surroundings. Take stock of the fact that you were ready for a new challenge, or you wouldn’t have been looking in the first place.

So here are those personal strategies, developed over 35 years and seven clubs, that have helped ease the transition and ensure some measure of success. Updated for the new millennium and the Millennials that came with, they have been just as effective today in securing eight years of tenure at Birmingham Country Club as they were in 1994.

Club Culture
If there is one thing I have learned since the first rendition of this checklist, it is an appreciation for club culture and just how much that differs – and what it means – from club to club. It is the cornerstone of the foundation you will build in your new role. Understanding it, appreciating it, is vital to your success and longevity. 

It is a topic of considerable debate. In one of those debates with a venerable long-tenured and well respected manager, his position was that it takes a manager roughly seven years to really fully accomplish both the understanding and appreciation. I would advocate that you have 18-24 months. If you haven’t wrapped your arms around it by then, you’ll be back referring to this checklist and not by your own choice.

The decisions you make will invariably affect that culture, so they should contemplate that effect as part of the vetting process. Your understanding and appreciation will grow with time, but you absolutely cannot make effective decisions and enhancements to the club without consideration of potential collateral damage to the club’s culture. You cannot be expected, nor should you expect it of yourself, to be able to fully grasp this concept upon arrival, or even in your first 90 days. Neither can you wait to gain this understanding before making decisions. You will eventually become the guardian of this culture, but you are not going to get your head around it for several months – even a year or two. Until then you are going to have to develop a support system for vetting your decisions, programs, and initiatives. Thus it is paramount that you find a trustworthy surrogate who can function almost as your conscience. This person can be anyone from the club’s president or search committee chair, to a senior level department head or two with decades of combined experience in the club. But you absolutely must be able to trust them implicitly. 

Having a solid communication strategy will be key in the transition. You are going to need to communicate to and with the many constituencies you will have – board directors, committee members, club members, employees, department heads – and the community outside the club as well. Each one is going to require its own structured approach. How often and in what form you communicate with them will in part be driven by both the club’s culture and your management style. Both should carry equal weight. After all, those that hired you no doubt contemplated how the latter would fit in the former. 

A well-organized all staff meeting should be high on your list of priorities. This is a critical first step in the introduction of the new manager to the staff. After all, none of the other constituencies noted above will be more critical to your success than this one. Define your leadership qualities in a controlled environment from the onset.

As painstaking as it might seem, meeting with each employee privately after a review of their work history can prove extremely beneficial. In those meetings, individual goals and objectives should be discussed and how they are (or are not) aligned with the organizational goals of the club. You should also seek each team member’s perspective on current challenges and suggested remedies. Some will be frivolous, but never underestimate their importance without contemplation. 

Initiate weekly, well-structured senior staff meetings at a regular time if they do not already exist. Distribute written agendas or previous meeting notes in advance so that everyone comes prepared. Use these meetings as a forum to convey your message and club information thoroughly and consistently. It will also be a valuable vehicle in gaining insight into the communication and organizational abilities of your management staff. 

Communicate with your board. A weekly written status report with both an “in review” and “look ahead” feature will keep them abreast of organizational activity and issues. Visit each board director in their office and get input and feedback. Establishing good lines of communication should be an early priority and will keep transition problems to a minimum. Don’t forget to meet with each committee early on as well. Some can often be as empowered as the board. Also find out if there are any “renegade” unofficial committees at the club. Difficult situations can be diffused early if you can identify the source of the discontent and are able to address it.

One of the most valuable sources of information about your new assignment carries the same weight today that it always has – circulating through the club. You will gain a unique perspective just by observing others in the club surroundings. Talk with each and every person you encounter – from the bridge ladies to the dishwashers. Get to know your members as quickly as possible. Work the floor every day and introduce yourself to the members you encounter (versus having one of your staff members introduce you). Like management by walking around, visibility isn’t old school – it’s THE school. No one expects you to be the maître d’, but they expect to see you in and around the club. How else are you going to ascertain what is taking place on your watch.

Organizational Structure
There are two components to your organizational structure – governance and operations. Obviously, you will have a more immediate impact on the operational side. Evaluate the operational structure and determine if it makes sense for what you are trying to achieve. This is where you get the right people in the right seats on the proverbial bus. Identify the club’s weaknesses. For example, if you have a facilities manager that is very strong logistically but enormously weak at housekeeping, unless there are other circumstances that would mandate a change, it may make sense to hire an executive housekeeper to shore up the weak area. More often this will require a reassignment of staff to maintain budget parameters for payroll dollars. Review staff organizational charts for each department and changes to those should be done in concert with your senior manager. They will be the ones that will have to execute your vision. Make certain they have the proper resources to do so. 

Establish Your Credibility 
And do it early. Outlast everyone on your staff for the first three months. Be the first one in and the last one to leave. In talking with successful managers they will tell you that this remains just as important today as it has ever been. It shows your staff that you care as much as they do. And yes, there is still that smug satisfaction that comes with having your sleeves rolled up and on your second cup of coffee as the staff begins to roll in for the day. Don’t forget to do a thorough inspection of the entire club daily, ensuring that it is ready for the extension of hospitality to your members and their guests.

Unless the situation is a drastic one, don’t rush to implement change. As the new manager, you will see things you want to change immediately, but go slowly at first. Changes made too quickly, or simply for the sake of change itself, can upset the routine and rhythm of the club. The circumstances of the management change that brought you to the club may dictate immediate action. But changes made on impulse will only have short term benefits; long term benefits are the result of careful thought and planning. 

You are also going to have to do a lot of research, and that is what the rest of this article is about. Each bullet point represents an area or item worthy of your investigation and review; not only to build your working knowledge of the club’s history, but to assess existing internal controls, processes and the like. 

The checklist and this associated narrative are not meant to be an all-encompassing plan, nor an exhaustive resource for your transition. They are intended as a thought-provoking (both strategic and tactical) aid that should assist any manager facing the challenge of managing a new club. 

Basso HeadshotJoseph F. Basso, MCM, CCE
General Manager / Chief Operating Officer
Birmingham CC logo
We are a full service family-oriented country club committed to Excellence
telephone 248.644.4111
direct dial 248.220.5151
facsimile 248.644.6541

Who Cares?

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The question we are posing in this article is “Who Cares?” This might be a question that is actually more like a statement, when said by someone who is indifferent about something. Please understand that we are not indifferent about this. 

As coaches, who care very much about the success of the people we get to work with, we can clearly see the cost that is paid by people who have an attitude of indifference. What if a simple ingredient to your success and the success of the people you lead is the ability to care and to care deeply? If it is an important ingredient and you care about success, it might be a good idea to step outside of yourself to see if your actions show that you care. 

It is easier to spot when you are looking at others. When you see someone in the service industry who cares about service or someone who clearly doesn’t care about service, both examples stand out. It is obviously very possible to serve others without caring about others or caring about service. When you see someone who doesn’t care about the profession they are doing, don’t you just wish for them and the world that they would find something they could care about? Conversely when you see someone who clearly cares very much, it is as if they are not just doing something, they are being something. They have a servant’s heart! They are “in” service. When someone truly cares about service and truly cares about you, the person they are serving, the experience is very different. 

What do you care about? Would it be obvious to people who see you from the outside? 

We get to talk to club managers, club leaders and staff members from clubs. If you are a club manager we need to tell you this. If you don’t care about your staff, or your members, or service, or numbers or anything in particular and you think they don’t know, you are probably wrong. If this is the case, it is just a matter of time before your indifference becomes their indifference. 

Extraordinary Leaders have a great passion for what they do and deep level of caring for the people they serve and the people they are privileged to lead. Beyond having it, there is an importance to exhibiting the fact that you have it.

At a speaking engagement one time, a gentleman in the audience told us that one day his Grandmother asked him if he was happy. He was a little surprised by the question and responded “yes grandmother, I am happy.” She said “well you might want to notify your face.” Similarly we have met club managers that tell us that they care deeply about their people, yet their people aren’t aware of any evidence of the caring. 

Let’s start with you! What do you care about? Do you care about yourself? Do you care about your health? Do you care about your family? Do your care about your significant other? Do you care about your body? Do you care about your retirement? Do you care about education and continual improvement? Do you care about vacations? Do care about giving time to your passions outside of work? Do you care? 

You may care to some extent about all of these things. We would ask that you pick one or two of these things and check to see if it would be obvious that you care if you looked at it from outside of you. It is pretty easy in this industry to view family as the most important thing and then realize that you are not getting much time with them and when you do, it is when you are exhausted and can’t truly give the best of you. You can believe that you care about your health and your body and then you can look at your health and your body to check in. The point is that what you truly care about tends to get a lot of attention and tends to get the most results. The other way to look at it is to take note of what you are giving most of your attention to and where you are getting your results and you might find what you really care about.

Now we challenge you to do the same exercise at work? Do you care about your job? Do you care about your profession? Do you care about your members? Do you care about your board? Do you care about your staff? Do you care about CMAA and your chapter? Do you care about learning? Do you care about contributing to the learning of others? Do you care about meetings? Do you care about the numbers? Do you care about the facility? Do you care about the future? Do you care about relationships?  

There is no right or wrong answer to those questions. There are just answers. If you find yourself realizing that you don’t care about a number of those things, you might want to find something or someplace where you do care. If you don’t come to this realization, there is a high probability that someone else will help you make the change. 

Once you have figured out what you care about and are pretty confident that people outside of you can see evidence of it, here is your next challenge. 

Make sure there is evidence that your people care. If we can look at someone and it is not obvious that they care, we may have to play the role of our friend’s grandmother and ask the question. By asking it, you are not necessarily accusing them of not caring, but rather trying to point out that the evidence of their caring may be difficult to see. 

If you don’t care, there may be interest in finding a leader who does. If your people don’t care, there may be interest in finding a leader who doesn’t tolerate not caring. 

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at kmacdonald@dccnet.com or newreality@telus.net. We believe you could have your best year yet!

The Power of a Question

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The Power of a Question


We have the great privilege of working with Extraordinary Leaders. Many of them are also bosses. There are also a lot of bosses who are not particularly good leaders. 

In organizations the people who ascend to management roles are often people who have developed a certain skill or competency and then been given the responsibility to train it, and then lead others. They are often driven to do more and to rise up. Their competency is acknowledged and rewarded. They are often challenged to help others raise their levels of skill and attitude. They learn a lot along the journey and in many ways become experts. Many rise up and are given responsibilities that start to move away from the original skill that got people’s attention in the first place. They learn a lot more. They know a lot. They often tell a lot. They may start to connect their value to the organization with all they know. They may be able to look at any situation and decide what should be done. They get paid the “big bucks” because they know the answers.

There was a time when the boss thought it was their job to tell people what to do. The people didn’t have to like it, they didn’t have to agree with it, they didn’t even have to know why it was being done, and they just needed to do it because the boss “said so.” In fact in these old times I am talking about a lot of bosses went out of their ways to tell people to do disagreeable jobs just so they knew who was boss. The “all knowing omnipotent boss” was to be obeyed. It was often about the person’s position on their name tag versus the respect they had earned or deserved. One of our Extraordinary Leader Masters Doug Smith said that one day he made the discovery that he was a real “Boss Hole.” 

The Extraordinary Leaders that we admire the most have made the discovery that their most powerful results come when they discover the power of asking questions and then asking powerful questions.

In our years of coaching it has been reinforced over and over that the key to developing people is helping them understand the power of accountability. When we as humans don’t take accountability we look to others for an excuse for why we are not achieving the life we want to live, or why we have license to not live up to our potential. It is in some ways an easy place to be, but it doesn’t do a lot for the individual or the organization. It is easy to say it didn’t work or even make sure it doesn’t work because the boss’s idea was the problem not me.

Extraordinary Leaders have learned to ask questions.

They ask questions to connect! 
Dale Carnegie said “If you want to make a lasting impression on someone ask questions about them!” When we take time to ask questions about others we raise their value. They appreciate your interest and you soon find out that everyone has a story. Getting some insight into a person’s story can be fascinating and can help you lead. Our success in life often is directly linked to the connections we make. Make powerful connections regardless of the person’s station in life.

They ask questions to understand! 
Extraordinary leaders don’t know everything. That is also true of un-extraordinary leaders, but some of them think they do. Even if you think you know something, you have the opportunity to see if from a different perspective. The more questions you ask, the deeper the understanding. As some people age they become more open to the idea that they can learn more things and perhaps learn that what they think is true is not necessarily true.

They ask questions to teach! 
The privilege of teaching people is not just about adding more information into them but rather getting what they know or have forgotten out of them. We ask questions to find out what they need. What would they like to learn? What do they think would make them better? What are they willing to do? What questions do they want the answers to? What do you need from me to bring out the best in you?

They ask questions to empower! 
When you ask someone a question, there is an implication that you think they know the answer. If you pull your car to the curb and ask someone for directions you are hoping they will have some expertise in the area of your question. If you ask a team member for solutions to challenging problems you are suggesting that you believe they have an answer. One company asks potential employees “What do you do to make other people’s lives better?” By asking this question they are letting people know that they are interesting in hiring people who make other people’s lives better.

They ask questions to inspire! 
They ask people if they are interested in going toward their vision. They ask “How can we make our vision more exciting, more impactful, or more fun?” They ask “What inspires you?”

They ask questions to grow! 
They ask questions to learn, to get better, to think differently, to think bigger and to be an example to others of the power of a question. They sometime ask provocative questions of themselves and others. Why am I doing things that are clearly not working? When did I start to believe that? Did I learn what I think I know from people who were experts?

Extraordinary leaders ask questions. Who do you need to ask? What do you need to ask? What is your intention in asking? If you could ask anyone, who would you ask? Do you have a mastermind? Do you need to tell people versus ask people? Are you a Boss Hole?

Kevin MacDonald headshot To reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at kmacdonald@dccnet.com or newreality@telus.net. We believe you could have your best year yet!


“No Problem” Has No Place in Club Management

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Handshake - No Problem

Ritz Carlton trains their staff to give a warm and sincere greeting and to close each guest interaction with a fond farewell, using the guest’s name when possible. As a result, they are often lauded for creating a personalized environment. In today’s day and age, it is their commitment to this detail, including their staff’s choice of language that should be emulated a bit more throughout the hospitality industry as a whole and specifically in the highly personalized world of club management.

Service has been defined as “what you do to someone”, while Hospitality is defined more by “how we make someone feel.” To quote noted restauranteur, Bobby Stuckey, “They are not interchangeable.” In the past year, the overwhelming number of my transactions in restaurants of various types has at some point included an employee closing the transaction by saying, “no problem.” Sometimes, they have even awkwardly inserted it where it didn’t really fit. In almost all instances it was offered in response to my thanking them for their service or confirming they could fulfill a request.

Is it too much to hope that staff in some of the world’s leading hospitality companies could be trained to simply say “certainly” or “you’re welcome,” or “my pleasure,” or “our pleasure?” Ritz Carlton hits the bullseye when they seek sincerity from their staff. We don’t want staff to use language that they don’t believe in, but basic etiquette should be enough to illicit a “you’re welcome” when you offer a thank you for a job well done. That shouldn’t require a page, or even a paragraph in the training manual to achieve.

Why is it then that “no problem” has become so commonplace in such a short amount of time? Could it be emblematic of the “entitlement” generation (define that as you will)? Are today’s line level service employees so put off by having to work in low paying hourly jobs that they aren’t thankful for gratitude, nor taking any personal pleasure from serving individual guests? Is it a general lack of etiquette in society or a missed opportunity to set higher standards by senior leaders? I leave that to others to resolve.

What I offer is this: let’s not allow this to invade the club cultures that each of us works so hard to create for our members. Universally, club leaders recognize that members have high expectations of the service we provide. Why would anyone pay dues to be treated in an impersonal manner? Members crave recognition, as it creates a sense of status and belonging. And, I think most of us would agree that they don’t want the feeling they receive from their club to be one that serving them at that moment, is only relatively inconvenient. They should expect and we should desire to give them something much more. Whether it is “you’re welcome” or “my pleasure” or “our pleasure”, if said with sincerity, we will, as we have often done before, be able to provide our members with a warmer, and more gracious and refined experience than they may likely be receiving elsewhere.

Let’s make removing the expression “no problem” from the club industry vocabulary yet another wonderfully distinguishing feature of our chosen profession

Luke O’BoyleLuke O’Boyle, CCM, CCE is a longtime member of CMAA and former National Director. He currently serves as the General Manager at the Chevy Chase Club in Chevy Chase, MD.




This information is provided for informational purposes only. The contents are presented with no warranty, either expressed or implied by the Club Managers Association of America. No legal responsibility is assumed for the outcome of decisions, commitments or obligations made on the basis of this information. If your club is faced with a question concerning legal issues, you should contact the club’s legal counsel for the specific application of the law to your situation.