Video: great leaders guide rather than direct

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What makes a great leader, asks John Wagner? He shares an example of a great boss who has shaped his leadership style.

“Reflect back on the good bosses you've had and why they were good: why did you feel you really wanted to go to work and work harder and do the right job for them? What was it about the way you were supervised that gave you that incentive?

Of course, the opposite is also true: why were there some bosses where you just ground your teeth every time you saw them or came to work? What are the differences? Try and learn from that.

The best boss I ever had was a guy named Jack DeBoer, who's credited with having invented the US extended stay hotel business, the all-suite hotel business. I was really lucky in my career to have worked for him.

He hired me long ago and as bosses go I'm hard pressed to think of somebody better. He was really smart, successful, motivational, and yet he hardly ever gave me direction and hardly ever told me what to do.

The genius of the guy was he gave gentle nudging and guidance. I was flattered - then and now - that he then let me get on with it.

That's what made me want to work harder for him, because he gave me the trust, which inspired me to work as hard as I could so as not to disappoint the guy.

I try and live that. Quite often I find myself thinking, ‘gee, how would Jack have motivated me to do that?’ when I'm trying to talk to one of my employees.”

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More about John...

John Wagner is the co-founder of Cycas Hospitality. He founded the company determined to use his experience to create something unique and make Cycas Hospitality the best place to work, as well as stay.

He has been involved in hotel marketing, operations and development for nearly 40 years, and his considerable influence on the extended-stay industry – both in the US and Europe – was recognised in 2018, when he received the industry inspiration/lifetime achievement award at the Serviced Apartment Awards.

Before Cycas, John was a vice president at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Born and raised in America, he is now a British citizen and lives in Amsterdam, but has also lived and worked in Paris, Prague and London.

Register for a free trial of the Clear Lessons leadership video library at ClearLessons.com.

About Martin Baker

Martin Baker is the founder and chief executive of Clear Lessons, The Charity Learning Consortium and the Clear Lessons Foundation.

He’s an advocate of collaboration in the L&D industry and is proud to support the unique research of Towards Maturity as a founding Ambassador.

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