How to become a better leader in hotel entertainment

I’ve met more than fifty animation chiefs in my career and worked directly with fourteen of them. I want to show you what mistakes people made when they are in charge. I think that every leader should become familiar with my observations and thoughts. I will gladly admit that I hated some of my chiefs because they didn’t behave like leaders, and were more like “bosses.”

What’s the difference between the two?

Boss –  Criticizes and offends, Focuses on themselves (me, me, me), They lead with fear, Commanding (Do this! Do that!),  Is never wrong, Knows everything best, Talks more than listening, Blames others and looks for a guilty person

Leader –  Praises and compliments,  Focuses on the team (We, We, We),  Lead with admiration and respect from the team,  Teaches and explains things thoroughly,  Admits their mistake,  Always ready to learn and adapt, Listens and asks questions,  Take´s responsibility 

The Boss – Criticizes and offends. The Leader – Praises and compliments. 

A good team leader can compliment his team for a job well done. I remember my boss complimenting my water gymnastics and stage performances because I did a good job. Receiving a compliment from my chief meant a lot to me because I respected them and wanted to be like them. Thanks to my superior’s attitude, I wanted to give my best every day. On the other hand, I won’t forget the bosses, who came to see my classes. These bosses were just looking for something wrong during my activity to complain about. They mentioned that I wasn’t wearing my name tag or wearing sunglasses. In some cases they were right and I needed to be corrected. The way they pointed out my mistakes made me angry and from then on I was unmotivated to work for them. It made me feel bad and discouraged after only hearing negative opinions about my work. Once you become a leader please remember to talk to your team with respect. Each of us likes to hear that we’ve done a good job. It’s very important to motivate your team because you are the one that holds it together. 

The Boss – Says I. The Leader– Say We.  

Most bosses don’t understand that without their team they can’t achieve the same results as they would by themselves. One of the most important rules is to say “we” instead of “I.” For example, it’s much nicer to hear from the person who created the show that we did a good job instead of I did a good job. Our team leader, Luca, invited us to a Greek restaurant and paid fifty percent of the bill every time we reached our target for the animation points. These nights were some of the best team building dinners I have had in my entire life. Being a member of a team, or even a little family, is very important when you are far from your home.

The Boss – They lead with fear. The Leader Lead with admiration and respect from the team I have worked with a lot of bosses who lead with fear and put a lot of pressure on their team. The result of that is everyone is very stressed and it has a negative effect on our work. As a team leader, it’s much better to earn the respect of your team through hard work and respect instead of being a bully Some of my first bosses from Italy could almost destroy the whole backstage when they were angry, they screamed and gave punishments. Someone like that will never be able to motivate and inspire his team. It was different when I came to the team in Lanzarote because the head of entertainment was with me from morning to evening on the first day. She explained to me the exact location of all the places of importance, introduced me to the hotel staff and showed me what my work should look like. That was the real leader. To this day, I still remember how great an entertainer she was. An example was Katarina from the H10 Lanzarote Gardens Hotel. I admired her on stage and at work. She was always calm and never screamed. You could see that she had years of experience of this profession behind her. She worked for over ten years in the same hotel. Therefore, she knew very well how to lead a group of eighteen animators. I learned from her how to encourage the actions of subordinate employees.

The Boss – Commanding (Do this! Do that!) The Leader – teaches and explains things thoroughly 

I used to work in Mallorca and my boss was a really lazy woman who loves to command me to do this and that. At the very beginning, she made a good impression. She could speak six foreign languages and had a head full of ideas. It didn’t take long for my impression of her to change. It turned out that she was burnt out and only became a boss because they paid her more money for doing nothing. For example, when she taught us how to dance, she always forgot the choreography and didn’t care at all. That made me really angry because we would rehearse in our free time and she lost my respect because she was wasting my time and not coming prepared. She also didn’t care about how the new members of the team were doing. She usually spent all day in the backstage and surfed the internet browsing photos on Facebook or chatting with friends. I didn’t last long with her after two weeks, I had a whole list of things that irritated me. She didn’t have the character needed to be a good leader. Moreover, you have to work on an equal level with others, and maybe even a lot more. Having said this, such a lazy person would never gain my respect. Instead of ordering people around, it’s better to plan things in a team meeting. Ask your team about their needs and what ideas they have. It’s better to make decisions as a team. I’ll give you a quick example: I’m going to use the example of having to be the mascot during the mini-disco. A boss would just tell you to put on the costume because you have to do it and the leader always gives options. One option would be to find a guest who is willing to be the mascot or asking one of your other team members to do it. Doing it this way doesn’t give the impression that somebody is forced to do something. 

A leader should lead by being an example. I have met too many bosses that are burnt out and don’t care anymore and lost their passion and enthusiasm. I remember a situation I had during my water polo activity.. My chief asked me if I have ever participated in a water polo tournament. I said no, but that I was capable of organizing one. He said to watch very carefully because tomorrow you will be in charge of organizing it yourself.” He then put on a red headband followed by painting two stripes on his cheek with red paint, then he took a whistle and turned on the music from the Rambo movie. We then went out to the middle of the pool with two goals and the water polo ball. He started to whistle and call out “Mark, Thomas, Peter – time for water polo!” He shouted three times. Right away, fifteen people appeared in the water ready to fight to the death. Luca picked two team leaders, each picking their players one after another. Once the teams were ready, Luca assigned the team names: The first team was called Sparta and the other was Rambo. Each team also needed to create the battle cry like a haka. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was like an amazing show! People around the pool were cheering, clapping, and eating popcorn, it was like we were participating in the Ancient Greek Olympics. What’s important here is that Luca showed me what the activity should be like in an amazing way. He made an animation masterpiece out of a regular game. After the activity was over he told me that he wanted me to organize every activity like that.. By doing the activities full of energy and making them crazy it really helped to get more people to join because they would see how much fun everyone was having and come join the next day. Before he let me do my own activities he made sure that I was ready. In my opinion, this was an example of a perfect leader. 

The Boss – Is never wrong. The Leader – Admits their mistake I once had a very talented chief entertainer. 

He could dance like Michael Jackson had a great body and was very attractive. In the beginning, he seemed like a perfect entertainer and chief. With time, I saw how big of an ego he had. He thought he knew everything and never wanted to admit that he was wrong. He was so confident about how good he was that he lost opportunities to improve and learn from others. People loved him because of his first impression but once you got to know him you could see how lonely he was. Who wants to be friends with someone who thinks that they know everything better than you. This was a big lesson for me. In the beginning, I wanted to be like him. But with time, I understood that this man doesn’t have the same values as me in life. A leader shouldn’t be afraid to admit that they are wrong and made a mistake. It’s important to let other people shine and you don’t always need to be in the spotlight yourself. The Boss – Blames others and looks for a guilty person. The Leader – Takes the responsibility and looks for solutions. Something wonderful occurs when people take full responsibility for their actions. They stop blaming fate and the team, taking full responsibility for the results. Instead of blaming the employees for the poor hotel scores, it’s better to ask myself if I did absolutely everything I could to make my animators give a hundred percent of themselves. Did I properly explain to them what I require from them?  By taking full responsibility for your life and your actions, you allow yourself to regain control over your life. You’re like the architect of your destiny; you create and attract events, situations and people to yourself. I often observe people who blame everything and everyone. Still, they never see a problem in themselves. Example: The boss says that the points in questionnaire cards are bad because guests are shit. The entertainers don’t do what he says, or maybe because we’ve had bad weather last week. Therefore, people didn’t participate in our activities. An example of a leader who takes fate into his own hands: The punctuation isn’t the best right now, so how can we improve as a team? Should we give more punctuation questionnaires to the families we know are very happy with animation work? Action – After every activity, we’ll give people who’ve participated  the questionnaire cards. We’ll ask them gently to help us improve our punctuation. The difference is huge. Start taking responsibility and you’ll see how much it’ll change in your life. You’ll stop being a victim whose life is full of bad situations. You’ll change into the master of your own fate, who takes what he wants from life. At the end of this chapter, I’d like to give you some tips on how to organize team-building activities. Entertainers leave their families and are far away from home in most cases. They want to feel important for someone and that’s why having a strong team bond is very important. There’s nothing better than a well-coordinated team that helps each other. 

Many chiefs are so focused on guest satisfaction they forget about their teams Here’re some ideas for building a friendly relationship that you can use as a group leader: 

  •       After the show, invite your colleagues to watch a recording of the show. You can buy some snacks and drinks. If you have a projector you can create a theatre atmosphere. Laugh at your mistakes and enjoy the foolishness of being on stage together. 
  • Go out to a restaurant once a month and pay for dinner. It’s one of the nicest things you can do together as a team. The combination of friends, good food and a bit of wine will help build stronger relationships within a team. 
  • Paintball – I remember enjoying myself like a little kid running around with a gun and shooting my friends! I felt like Rambo! And of course, I had the most fun while shooting my chief.
  • Boat excursions like the catamaran, dolphin trip or boat parties. I love spending my free time doing these excursions with my friends and team.
  • Organize a barbecue. There’s nothing better than a barbecue with a bunch of friends. If you don’t have a barbecue or a place where you can make one, don’t forget you can buy disposable barbecues in most supermarkets.
  • Go out to a karaoke bar together, even if you cannot sing it’s a great way to spend time together. Don’t worry after a few drinks everyone can sing
  •  I remember how I arranged a thirty-five percent discount at a luxury SPA for our dancing team. I’ll never forget how good we felt, and the next day the atmosphere at work was fantastic. ●
  • Play games, board games, charades etc. One of my favourite games is where you stick a card on your forehead with the name of a famous character or person written on it. Everybody takes turns asking questions to try and find out who the character or person on their forehead is. Games where you need to socialize, help team building. If you don’t know any games you can search google and I’m sure you’ll find many interesting games that you like. 
  • Now it’s your turn! Sit down and plan where you can invite your team. You can share your ideas with your

I know that it is not easy to be a leader of animators. Usually, you have to manage young people between eighteen and twenty-five years old. The vast majority are just learning life and taking their first steps into adulthood. In addition, this is the time for mistakes, ill-considered decisions and bitter disappointments. I agree with many chief entertainers that nowadays there are less and less real animators. Instead, they’re more and more people who just come on holiday and haven’t any idea about being an animator. However, it’s our responsibility to demonstrate our leadership skills and teach them to animate. Such a chief has a huge role to play. He is like the big brother of the whole team and an example to follow. 

Therefore, I encourage you to become a great leader, and not a boss.

Muszynski, Piotr. Hotel Entertainment: Tips & Tricks – How to become a great entertainer, make more money and become true leader!

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