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Leadership in the hospitality industry Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 28th, 2019


The ability to reflect effective leadership in an organization stems from understanding employees’ and clients’ needs, designing acceptable vision as well as challenging status quo. When the aforementioned procedures are well executed, leadership in any given organization will have added since existing culture that may be obsolete as well will be redefined.

As a matter of fact, a leader ought to have acceptable attributes as well as characteristics that emanate from deep within. Boyd (2011) points out that leadership remains as one of the most remarkable models that strongly bring about positive and coherent organizational change through moderation of organizational operations, motivation strategies and creation of best working environment to achieve organizational goals.

Therefore, an effective leadership should remain outstanding in driving an organization towards change and linking its operations to long-term objectives. This paper is a deep analysis of Bill Marriott Junior leadership. The main focus of the paper is to explore his effective leadership in the hospitality industry. Besides, the paper exemplifies the need for effective vision, charisma, focus and continued motivation of employees in an organization for the sole purpose of improved performance.

A brief overview of Bill Marriott Jr.

Bill Marriott Jr. can be described as one of the greatest leaders of this time in the hospitality industry because of his ability to influence change, encourage efficiency and effectiveness in business operations and also for his exceptional leadership skills. Since the passing away of his father back in 1985, Marriott Jr. has taken active charge of the operations of the entire Marriott Company.

For instance, he has successfully managed the operations of this prominent and well established hotel chain in the world. Palierse (2011) posits that Marriott has managed to innovate and improve his father’s business empire which largely dealt with family restaurants and fast-food outlets. Currently, the business chain deals with provision of large scale contracts in hospitality industry.

This business organization operates well established accommodation and lodging services. Besides, he increased competencies in the areas of operation to boost performance. His success in business has been attributed to the manner in which he attends to details such as research and collection of information, provision of clean and high quality products and services, and the logical manner through which his tasks and services are performed.

As the hospitality industry is growing in terms of complexity in operations and also becoming more competitive, businesses in this industry are also in dire need of improving their services and overall performance in order to remain relevant in the market. For example, there are myriad of strategies that are being put in place so as to remain relevant in this highly dynamic and competitive industry.

Some of these strategies include incorporating speed in decision making, increasing the flow of information in and out of the industry environment and also offering mobility and value to all of its workers. Hence, a deep understanding of the hospitality industry demands thorough understanding of up-to-date business operations, articulate discharge of leadership duties and careful coordination of teams.

It is against this background that Marriott was able to expand the company in 1993 and split it into Marriott Corporation as well as Marriot International. The former largely focuses on airport concessions and real estate while the latter is a service management and lodging company (Palierse, 2011).

Leadership styles by Marriott Jr.

Organizational visioning

Boyd (2011) is quite categorical that many analysts understand organizational visioning as a unique entity especially when it has to be applied in real organizational leadership. However, organizational visioning forms the foundation upon which leaders establish their objectives. In the case of Marriott Jr., he developed a vision that changed the normal way his father used to ran business operations.

His new management strategy eventually raised the performance level of the business. Boyd (2011) continues to indicate that organizational visioning goes deeper into an organization’s streams of production, priorities of the shareholders and external forces that dictate the main operations.

On the other hand, Moors (2012) argues that a vision must be based on the benefits that an organization would realize after it has attained its goals. Leadership of any organization must appreciate the fact that all stakeholders are important when executing various functions of an organization and as such, they ought to be involved in the realization of the set vision.

The effective leadership by Marriott when he was narrowing his father’s vision sought to define the vision by outlining the benefits that the change from family and fast-food restaurants to accommodation and lodging services would bring to the business. Moors (2012) reiterates that Marriott Jr. was able to involve stakeholders and employees towards attaining the desired vision.

This was found to be necessary since incorporating all stakeholders would minimize regular resistance and conflicts within the organization. Besides, he devised ways and means through which constant motivation would be effected among employees in order to boost performance.


Although creating a vision is crucial as well as part and parcel of organizational management, Bono, Hooper and Yoon (2012) hypothesize that it is the constant application of the course to attain it that is more essential. It is therefore imperative to take into consideration the fact that a vision defines the objectives of an organization. As such, a leader must create a strong force that will rekindle it and should be persistent in attaining it.

In his leadership, Marriott has been able to suggest short-term win-win situations which have been accepted by his workers and stakeholders. It is from these set strategies that he has been able to restate the vision of the company and refresh its application to his employees and stakeholders. It is crucial to understand that the win-win situation has been greatly focused and spread among his employees and top management, a factor that has lowered chances of loss of focus.

Besides, he has involved his employees in pursuing the company’s vision through use of teams. The latter has been very useful in pushing the vision ahead by facilitating acceptance of departmental and organization’s decisions as well as identity for all. In his leadership, Marriott has put a special emphasis on continued improvement where even positive results are considered to have ample room for improvement in attaining the vision (Palierse, 2011).

Encouraging commitment among other leaders

In their publication, Galli and Müller-Stewens (2012) acknowledge the critical role that top management in an organization plays in facilitating the achievement of a vision that has been set beforehand. The top management of an organization must reflect the vision an organization has through anchoring its auxiliary aspects that make it holistic at all levels.

In Marriott International, the top management has been particularly essential in establishing a clear assessment platform which has been used to identify areas that need improvement for realization of the vision of the company (Palierse, 2011).

Marriott Jr. has ensured that this management serves as a key change agent to cite and lead the application of the vision at different instances while also addressing resisting forces sufficiently. Besides, the top management has maintained constant communication with employees to identify their problems that could hinder their commitment towards the vision.

Marriott Jr. transformational leadership

The view that change is indeed the only permanent aspect in any organization has gained overwhelming and unanimous acceptance by scholars. From a transformational point of view, the leadership by Marriott Jr. has been considered a pillar that has continuously supported the realization of full potential by his employees.

Van-Ginkel and Van-Knippenberg (2012) in their article Group leadership and shared task representations in decision making groups compare leadership in an organization to the role a captain of a ship plays while sailing in the sea. The role as Van-Ginkel and Van-Knippenberg continue to say is evident from the nature of the ship’s route which is subject to key disturbances such as violent waves, mechanical problems and internal misunderstandings and which the captain and his team must maneuver.

Similarly, a leader in the hospitality industry should create the much needed sense of mission, commitment and morale through motivation as a force to maintain course. Under the leadership of Marriott Jr., the focus of Marriot Company has been based on taking employees efforts beyond the objectives of the organization (Palierse, 2011). Through transformational leadership efforts of all employees and stakeholders of Marriott Company have been easily mobilized and benefits maximized.

Van-Dijke et al (2012) extensively use Bass’s transformational leadership theory to assess Marriott’s leadership capabilities and how he has been able to move the company into success in the hospitality industry. In particular, Van-Dijke et al cite the fact that Marriott Jr. has increased awareness of task value and the importance attached to it.

It is imperative to note that at this point Van-Dijke et al strongly differ with other scholars like Rieley (2012) and Moors (2012) who seem to be in disagreement over the effective leadership of Marriott as transformational leadership. The theory indicates that when a leader gains special skills and respect for their application, he or she can easily transfer the same knowledge to others. As such, apart from the attached benefits to followers, a guaranteed highly competitive sequence is generated.

Besides, Marriott has set his focus on teams and team work as opposed to individualistic interest. Mayfield and Mayfield (2012) point out that this transformational leadership has brought the objectives of the organization and achievement roadmap to all employees and stake holders. Thus, it has been possible to focus on key organizational goals and rooms for competition, improvement and progress have been ultimately created.

Supportive and participative leadership

Rus, Van-Knippenberg and Wisse (2012) point out in their publication that supportive and participative leadership entail inclusion of stakeholders at all stages of goal setting and development, factors that create an inherent drive which make an organization highly self propelling. A supportive and participative leader is an individual who is considered more as a facilitator as opposed to one who is patronizing in nature and fond of issuing orders.

In what appears to be a raised platform for guiding current leaders in moving away from mechanistic leadership models Algera and Lips-Wiersma (2012) argue that participative leadership creates a sense of responsibility largely from reduced bureaucracies and ultimate communication enhancement.

In the leadership by Marriott Jr. Bono, Hooper and Yoon (2012) cite high level of participation in designing strategies and carrying out tasks that have seen the company grow and dominate the global market. Through participative leadership, Marriott Jr. has used issues and conflicts as platforms upon which reviews of objectives of the organization have been based to facilitate faster achievement of key goals.

Another method of supportive and participative leadership has been witnessed in the manner in which his leadership has been democratic. Kurt Lewin posits in his participative leadership model that a democratic leadership is the most effective model of linking goals and their achievement with workers. Decentralization of roles creates a highly charged mobile system that ensures an organization surges forward.

As a result, inherent motivation based on team spirit not only raises productivity, but encourages emergent leaders. Rieley (2012) indicates that though employees in the hospitality industry are often regarded on the basis of their status, they are endowed with crucial capabilities that should be exploited and utilized to ensure short and long-term goals easily achievable. Harnessing this potential therefore creates a cycle where top leaders use key tools such as motivation in making the correct decisions.

Situational leadership

Marriott’s situational leadership style has over the years been witnessed in the manner in which he has sought to incorporate his roles in order to create a smooth plane where employees of the company can work comfortably to realize preset goals. Besides, his situational leadership has involved a strong analysis of the existing environment situation the business in operating into and developed the capacity to adjust to it. Johnson (2012) posits that Marriott has emphasized on making Marriott International highly proactive in focusing to both long and short-term situations.

Johnson continues to by citing Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory and posits that situational leadership creates a highly flexible and dynamic system for the leaders to relate with their environment and employees. As such a leader must understand and employ different leadership methods depending on the level of employees’ capacity to comprehend various tasks, willingness, competence and motivation.

Situational leadership calls for a kind of leadership which offers direction when employees have low competences or commitment. Strong focus and trust are required and progress effectively measured. Situational leadership by Marriott has invoked the need for a learning organization where knowledge is generated through creativity and innovation.

Leadership in hospitality industry-Application

From the above discussion, leadership styles assimilated by various leaders in the hospitality industry have become some of the most essential aspects that dictate growth and development capacity of the industry. Studies indicate that effective leadership in the hospitality industry is crucial in determining how well strategies, goals, objectives and visions are formulated and assimilated to achieve high profitability.

I strongly concur with Sedmak, Planinc and Planinc (2011) who posit in their publication that in the hospitality industry, leaders are the pillars of change and progress for higher profitability. Taking into consideration of the complexity of management in the highly competitive hospitality industry, I explore the leadership behaviors from Marriott Jr. that I would apply to become successful in the hospitality industry.

Transformational leadership

As a transformational leader, I will just like Marriott Jr. develop clear visions which can be developed in order to assimilate the required growth and development of business in the hospitality industry. Armed with a clear vision, it will be possible to maintain the much needed objectivity towards high profitability and business development. Besides, as a leader, I will be able to display and exhibit high levels on integrity at all times.

This has been a factor that has boosted the brand and leadership of the Marriott Company. To realize transformation in the business, there will be need to enhance commitment both at the top management level and among workers at all levels. I will encourage strong dedication that will make employees go extra miles to ensure that the objectives and goals of the business are achieved.

Taking into consideration that transformational leaders are based on the ability to make their subjects view their roles, duties, operations, and culture differently, I believe that I should possess change agents characteristics of decisiveness, fairness, assertiveness, and carefulness.

Support and situational leadership

Effective leadership is one that understands the situation a business is in and offers support to workers. These are some of the factors that dictate the ability of an organization to achieve its objectives and propositions with minimal resistances. By applying situational leadership and supporting effective organization culture, I will seek to ensure that employees have become part of the overall operation system of the organization.

Besides, I will develop and encourage team operations. It is imperative to note that an organization culture formulates the key ties at the lower and the top management levels. Rus, Van-Knippenberg and Wisse (2012) indicated that that care should be taken to support the correct organization cultures as it forms one of the most important motivating aspects in organization management.

To ensure greater focus towards raising the employees’ commitment and motivation in the industry, I will establish the correct organization culture. Under this consideration therefore, the employees will be able to focus more on the quality of the products and services for the consumers and therefore win customer loyalty.


To recap it all, it is imperative to reiterate that the discussion in this paper was based on the thesis statement that he ability to reflect effective leadership in an organization stems from understanding employees’ and clients’ needs, designing acceptable vision, and challenging status quo to add value and redefine existing culture to anchor continued development.

From the discussion, it is evident that leadership forms the foundation upon which organizations are anchored since it creates inherent understanding of all stakeholders while using individuals, teams and organization’s objectives for sustainability. As a matter of fact, effective leadership of Marriott Jr. has seen Marriott International and Marriott Corporation expand to greater heights in terms of performance and profitability.

In addition, the paper has also established that there are myriad of elements such as motivation and involvement of stakeholders that must be put in place when managing organizations. Finally, the paper has concluded by exploring both transformational and situational leadership styles that have been exhibited by Marriott in the hospitality industry.


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