Less than two weeks ago, Gov. Bill Haslam recognized that "Tennessee is increasingly becoming an international tourist destination, and all of us are benefiting from that helping our state budget, and it has a dramatic impact improving quality of life." That "impact" was recorded as a 6 percent increase from 2013 in last year's tourism dollars ($17.7 billion) in the Volunteer State.
Chattanooga's tourism generated just under $1 billion of that total as Tennessee's government has recognized the value of our abundant natural resources, fantastic seasonal weather and an easy-to-access location offering a variety of family-friendly entertainment. The bump in state revenues through taxes collected from out-of-state guests is a nice prize.
Not long ago I was in a meeting with Colin Reed, president and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, an established business leader Haslam appointed as chairman of the Tennessee Tourism Committee, who talked about efforts to expand Tennessee's reach globally in business and tourism. He finished with a summary of insightful leadership points.
The clarity of his remarks was born out of his business experience, his core competence and brutal honesty. While many will affirmatively acknowledge the truth of his statements, putting these tenets into action requires more than job training.
The blunt, British-born leader gave permission for me to share an overview of his take on leadership. Enjoy.
"Leadership is not authority. Authority is compelled obedience," Reed observed. A lot can get done with authority, but it's best to have "earned trust and respect" that instills the desire for action to follow. "Authentic leaders move others out of a desire to follow rather than assert an entitled and false belief that status or a moniker carries the power to mobilize others," he noted.
The money messages Reed offered came under the heading, "10 Steps to Effective Leadership:"
1. Leading is not managing — you manage things, but you lead people. A manager wants to be liked. A leader wants to be respected.
2. Leaders have a sense of purpose — they think in terms of achieving goals.
3. Leaders have courage — they make tough calls.
4. Leaders are forceful — they have a point of view, and they express it clearly.
5. Leaders are consistent — they inspire trust and confidence because they don't change course midstream.
6. Leaders are truthful — even when it hurts.
7. Leaders concentrate on a couple of big themes — they don't try to do it all.
8. Leaders don't have to pretend they thought of everything themselves — they aren't afraid to make use of other people's ideas.
9. Leaders are made, not born — they have climbed over obstacles that have held back lesser people.
10. How do you spot a leader — look at the people around the leader.
Reed minced no words in noting that leadership "is not suitable for those who enjoy popularity, those who demand their way, nor those unwilling to say what must be said for the good of the organization."
Leadership boils down to a simple fact: The key to any successful business, institution or movement is a consistent leader who has earned trust and possesses the skills to mobilize others who share goals and core values to implement a true strategic plan.
Reed's leadership with great teams, whether at Tennessee's Department of Tourism or Ryman Hospitality, has yielded real results and set records. The Tennessee Way works again.
Robin Smith, a former chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, is owner of Rivers Edge Alliance.