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Surrounded by Great Lessons in Leadership & Service

We are working this week in Montreal. We are staying at a Fairmont property, “The Queen Elizabeth,” located downtown.

Montreal is an amazing city. The fall leaves are “peak” at this time and the weather is cool but not so much so that you can’t get out and enjoy walking around the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal in the evenings.
It just so happens that The Queen Elizabeth is the last of many hotels in the area that have staff that are “on strike.” Prior to getting here, I have to admit that I questioned the clients decision to move forward with one of their annual international conferences considering the situation.

However, while people are picketing outside, the “management” and those staff not unionized such as the “front desk” staff are doing an amazing job. The Maitre’d and the Director of Catering are serving meals, cleaning tables and other managers are cleaning rooms and doing whatever it takes to make the conference experience a great one. Hotel restaurants are closed except for breakfast, there is no bar that is open and your sheets don’t get changed unless you specifically request it. So, things aren’t exactly normal, but there are no excuses, no complaints … in fact, they’re very proud of what they’re accomplishing.

The attendees of the conference are very impressed and very complimentary of the staff. We as speakers had more AV help than is typical, so all is well. Last night, I stopped to talk with one of the managers. I asked him when he thought the strike would be over and what would it be like when everyone was back on board. He thinks they’re close to coming to an agreement – maybe first of next week – and he said that “things are going to change” for both sides – those who striked and those who didn’t. Now that he’s doing the jobs of those he usually supervises, he’s going to appreciate them more AND he’s going to expect more out of them because he’s seen what this new “team” has been able to pull off.
It’s an irony that the purpose of this trip was to speak about “branding” and the importance of “living the brand” at every touchpoint. And, for an example of the best, we had to look no further than the hotel we were in. Great lessons in leadership, service and delivering on brand expectations are surrounding us everywhere we turn this week at The Queen Elizabeth. The result will be a new sense of understanding by the management and a sense of pride for what they accomplished this week. And, not to mention great word of mouth from the conference planners and attendees.
I sure hope that the next Fairmont propery I stay at/work at can live up to the expectations created by this skeleton crew. And, I hope the next time that as a leader, I’m confronted with a daunting challenge, I look to this experience for inspiration.

><(("> Melissa Laughon

Melissa is a ><(("> Team Member at Catch Your Limit, a management consulting firm with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, visit

Posted in Leadership, Teaming.

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