Last week a former elected official of a major US city died. Too many of us around the world have come to distrust people who call themselves politicians and that headline would not have been significant to us had it not been for the uniqueness of the individual. Ed Koch, three time elected mayor of america’s largest city died of natural causes in the city that he loved, New York City.
I was born in nearby New England, and generally did not have much of a positive opinion of New York until the Mayor Koch’s election. While I do not know the details of all of his many projects and campaigns (which included some failures), I know that he seldom dodged the public or the media during his terms as mayor or afterwards. He made a difference.
The CNN photo shows the New York City of Mayor Koch in the late 1970s. The city was on the verge of bankruptcy, Times Square and adjacent areas were considered generally unsafe and crime was visible to both visitors and residents. One can see the graffiti in the subway that Mayor Koch is writing, yet this picture symbolize to me that cleared difference one person can make when they listen.
As an educator, seminar leader and author in both academic and corporate settings, I have had the opportunity to see many leaders and managers as they work to bring their organization forward. There are 1000s of books and strategies and some of them work with regularity, while others are flashes in the pan of self promotion.
The one question too few leaders ask any more…………. is one that Ed Koch asked literally every day of every person he interacted with. “How am I doing?” He acceopted compliments and complaints openly and tried to make a difference. He is one of many who helped NYC turn itself around financially and with internal pride and commitment.
When was the last time you heard other politicians or leaders dare ask that question openly?
The funeral is over and speeches are history. I never met Koch and do not hold his record as a shining example of perfection, as he himself admitted to things he might have or should have handled differently.
What I respect is his openess and his question. “How am I doing?”
There are many tributes available online and elsewhere. Here is a short one that seemed apppropriate:
John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of HospitalityEducators.com, which has more than 1600 resource pages and has become the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers. He is also the Principal of HoganHospitality.com, which offers hospitality consulting and hotel expert witness services.
KEYS TO SUCCESS™ is the umbrella title for our programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™ , THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™ and Principles for Success.