Peter Lederer, chairman of Gleneagles hotel in Auchterarder, Perthshire, told the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin that general managers should reclaim their authority to become leaders of their hotels.
"The role of the general manager has diminished in recent years and has been abdicated to the likes of asset managers and brand managers," he said. "They need to understand that their role is to maximise the value of the hotel for the owner. They therefore need to be going to the owners suggesting ways of improving revenue and be far more strategic in how they do this. It is up to them to be innovative and look at ways of squeezing profit out of every square inch of the business. They should not be waiting for the owners to come to them with the ideas."
Lederer said that hotel schools generally do not provide the in-depth financial understanding that is required of general managers, who would be better served by going to business schools. "General managers often lack the knowledge of the wider economic picture, skills in marketing, ability to think strategically and in-depth understanding of long-term finances."
He also said he failed to understand why many general managers abdicated one of their most important responsibilities - that of recruiting and improving their staff - to HR departments.
Lederer explained it was as a result of the many deficiencies he found in today's general managers that he was inspired to help launch the International Leadership School in Scotland, which is a collaboration between the Strathclyde Business School, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. "It is helping to fill through the leadership gap through a two year programme of 12 three day modules on a variety of subjects including strategy, marketing and finance," he concluded.