Q&A: Good leaders vs good managers

Kempinski VP training Katherine De Fontaine weighs in on the debate

Katherine De Fontaine, vice president people training & education, Kempinski Hotels S.A.
Katherine De Fontaine, vice president people training & education, Kempinski Hotels S.A.

Katherine De Fontaine, vice president people training & education, Kempinski Hotels S.A, weighs in on the debate between good management and good leadership and reveals the company culture established by Kempinski CEO Reto Wittwer.

What makes a good manager?
In the hotel industry, as in most industries, there are several obvious skills that good managers possess — the ability to plan well, create and work with budgets, hire and guide staff, organise operations in an efficient way, and then ensure that those plans and systems are executed well. Good managers must go beyond those basis skills though. Good managers know how to communicate. A good manager gives direction and ensures that the team understands her expectations. At Kempinski, managers meet regularly with their team members on a one-on-one basis to follow up on assignments, give direction, and also to get feedback. Fostering an environment of communication is key to growth and innovation, which are strong values for us.

 What makes a good leader?
Leaders set the direction of the organizations. They communicate the vision, they align people, and most importantly they motivate and inspire. Good leaders must have a long-term vision, which enables them to see connections and possibilities and steer the company in that direction. The CEO of Kempinski, Reto Wittwer, is a great leader, who is recognized in our industry for his vision and his passion. Kempinski is expanding into new regions in Africa and Asia and we are looking for thousands of new employees to join the company. Mr. Wittwer takes every chance he can get to speak to young people about the opportunities that the hospitality industry offers. He has the vision to know that the future success of Kempinski relies on having passionate talented people in the company who will drive the business forward.

Did you like this story?
Click here for more

What is the difference between management and leadership? In what ways are each important?
Leaders communicate the vision and future of the company and managers must implement the strategy to achieve that vision. Organisations need both good leaders and good managers.

Can management be taught? Can leadership be taught?
Management is probably easier to be taught since it is often about skill, utilizing tools and developing processes that help get the job done, however, this does not mean that everyone can be "good" at management.
Certain leadership "activities" can be trained but it is difficult to train people to see connections, have the vision, and possess the courage necessary to be a pioneer and take risks, and then motivate a team to "follow" you.

 The art of delegation
The art of delegation really centres on being able to decide what can and should be delegated and then finding the right person to delegate to — and to do that, it’s important to understand how much guidance and follow-up is needed. Delegation is a fantastic training and development tool. And a thank you should always be part of the formula.

Click through to the next page to find out about the dangers of weak management...

The importance of empowerment
We target a luxury clientele that favours individuality, so empowerment is key to how we operate our hotels. At Kempinski we find that we work best without rigid policies and procedures. This creates a culture of empowerment and we value staff who are good listeners and observers and most of all are comfortable making decisions.

The impact of good managers and leaders on an organisation
Engagement! People work for people, not for companies. Company reputation relies on corporate culture, which is lived top down. It is proven that companies with a strong corporate culture have less turnover and far better results.

The dangers of weak management for an organisation
More than 60% of resignations are due to poor relationship with superiors. In the luxury hospitality industry, turnover of staff can be a real threat to the successful operation of a hotel. Poor management also hinders the implementation of strategies, which directly impacts the bottom line.

How to spot where training is needed
At Kempinski we use several quality management tools such as LQA, CSS, and ESS, and we also utilise personal observation; conversations with guests, colleagues, suppliers; guest reviews, and financial results. Trends and new technologies, as well as company strategy and new initiativesare all indicators of training needs. Regular analysis of training needs is key to successful operations because some issues are process issues, some are material issues, and some are staffing or hiring issues

Who are the best consultancies for management and training?
At Kempinski I lead a training department and which overseas training managers and teams in each hotel. This means that we have our own internal trainers, who bolster good managers and leaders who believe in Kempinski. We also work with training partners such as NEOMA business school and Lobster Ink e-learning for specific programmes when needed.


For all the latest hospitality news from UAE, Gulf countries and around the world, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page.

Most Popular



Human Capital Report 2017

Human Capital Report 2017

The second annual Hotelier Middle East Human Capital Report is designed to explore the issues, challenges and opportunities facing hospitality professionals responsible for the hotel industry’s most important asset – its people. The report combines the results of Hotelier Middle East's HR Leaders Survey with exclusive interviews with the region's senior human resources directors.

Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Report 2016

Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Report 2016

The Hotelier Middle East Housekeeping Report 2016 provides essential business insight into this critical hotel function, revealing a gradual move towards the use of automated management and a commitment to sustainability, concerns over recruitment, retention and staff outsourcing, and the potential to deliver much more, if only the industry's "image problem" can be reversed.

From the edition

From the magazine