Leadership in the Hospitality Industry: Boadecia vs. Attila-Bring It On!

By Whitelaw, Paul; Morda, Romana | Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, August 2004 | Go to article overview

Leadership in the Hospitality Industry: Boadecia vs. Attila-Bring It On!


Whitelaw, Paul, Morda, Romana, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management


The need for high-quality leaders in the hospitality industry has been readily recognised and is seen as critical to the long-term well-being of the industry. In recent years, the industry has undergone something of a sea change in its gender composition, with increasing numbers of females graduating from hospitality and tourism management courses. This suggests that the gender composition of managerial ranks is likely to change in the medium term, with concurrent changes in the typical leadership style valued in the industry. This article seeks to explore and quantify the differences in gender-based perceptions of leadership styles and outcomes in the hospitality industry. Using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ; Bass & Avelio, 1995), a well-established self-administered instrument, the researchers used a "snowballing" technique to recruit a self-selected sample of 264 hospitality employees. These employees work in a variety of sectors in the hospitality industry, including large international-style hotels, small franchised motels, food and beverage operations and contract catering, and at levels ranging from junior staff to senior property and site managers. The data indicated that despite their similarities, there were a number of subtle but significant differences between males and females in terms of the behaviours used and the extent to which various behaviours contributed to successful leadership outcomes, One potentially confounding result was the high emphasis placed upon the "contingent reward leadership style" by females and may be explained by the female's desire for clear, open and transparent communication. More generally, the differences between males and females were manifested in the form of the males placing greater emphasis on "confronting" and "sporting" leadership styles while the females placed greater emphasis on leadership styles which are built upon clear and concise communication and a greater focus on personal consideration for the team members. However, these subtle differences warrant further investigation--possibly using a more holistic approach-such as a 360 degree assessment or semi-structured interviews.

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This study sought to explore and quantify the differences in gender-based perceptions of leadership styles and outcomes in the hospitality industry. Leadership studies in the hospitality industry have tended to focus on identifying the personality traits of effective leaders (Berger, Ferguson, & Woods, 1989; Bond, 1998; Cichy, Sciarini & Patton, 1992; Cichy & Schmidgall, 1996; Greger & Peterson, 2000). Bond (1998, p. 1104) examined the style of leadership shown and valued in the hospitality industry arguing that there were two types of leaders: "those in the hotel business and those in the business of hotels". Leaders in the hotel industry focus on the needs of employees and the provision of a high-quality service to guests. These leaders are also described as charismatic. In comparison, leaders in the business of hotels (such as leaders of hotel real-estate investment trusts) were found to possess exceptional financial skills. To succeed in the hospitality industry, Bond (1998) contends that leaders needed to combine strong interpersonal skills with sound business knowledge and hotel operational skills--in effect, arguing that a mix of transactional and transformational leadership skills are needed to succeed in the hospitality field.

This article seeks to identify and assess the existence of gender differences in these leadership styles among hospitality professionals.

Transactional and Transformational Leadership

Extending on the work of Bums (1978), who was one of the first theorists to distinguish between transactional and transformational leadership, Bass and his colleagues (Bass, 1997; Bass & Avolio, 1994) have developed a comprehensive model of these two forms of leadership. In its present form, the model consists of three transactional-leadership dimensions and five transformational-leadership dimensions (Antonakis, Avolio, & Svasubramaniam, 2003). …

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