Meeting at the legendary Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., July 29 to August 1, attendees at the Lynette Owens & Associates Insurance/Financial Services Summer Advisory Board Meeting explored the tenets of leadership.
The group — a dozen insurance and financial services executives, 10 industry suppliers, and several Lynette Owens & Associates representatives — heard two outstanding keynote speakers, one from the upper echelon of the hospitality business, the other from the top tier of the sports world, share their lessons on leadership. As well, attendees participated in such activities as a boat-building competition and an interactive cooking competition that brought their own leadership skills into play.
“It's critical for leaders to set an example,” stressed speaker Lee Cockerell, a 40-year hospitality-industry veteran who recently retired as executive vice president of operations, Walt Disney World Resorts. “One of my successes at Disney,” he added, “was that I paid attention to every single person. That's not easy — people in leadership positions are easily preoccupied. But when you're building a culture, it's the little things that matter.”
For example, when Cockerell ran a hotel, he checked the property's meeting rooms every morning. “I turned on the projector, made sure the meeting planners had coffee, and so on. Then I always stopped by during the meeting to say hello. Those little things always got me repeat business.” His book on common-sense leadership strategies, tentatively titled You Can Create Magic, Too, will be published in 2007.
Continuing the theme of leadership, Pat Williams, the senior vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic and author of more than 40 books, inspired the group with his presentation during the final evening. Williams learned his leadership skills not only from the world of sports, but from raising 19 children (including 14 adopted). He believes that effective leaders have seven key qualities: They are visionaries; good communicators; have excellent people skills; reflect strength of character; are competent and approach every task with a commitment to excellence; are decisive and bold; and are dedicated to serving others.
A Grande Dame Updated
Throughout the meeting, attendees had opportunities to experience one of the most beautiful historic hotels in the U.S. Built in 1926, The Biltmore features exquisite public rooms with vaulted, hand-painted ceilings, travertine marble floors and columns, and leaded-glass light fixtures. There's 76,000 square feet of meeting space, including a separate conference facility. The plush and airy guestrooms gleam from recent refurbishments. Among the hotel's amenities are a championship golf course; a 10,000 square foot fitness center; and the largest hotel swimming pool in the continental United States. New to the property is the 12,000 square foot Biltmore Spa, where soothing earth tones and a bamboo footbridge to the 12 treatment rooms help to give visitors a restorative experience.
After the program at the Biltmore, some attendees went on to enjoy a stay at The Alexander, an all-suite oceanfront resort on Miami Beach.
Headquartered in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., Lynette Owens & Associates represents a select portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts. As well, LOA has aggressively expanded its meeting management services, says Lynette Owens. “When we're asked to book and manage the meeting, we pattern with boutique incentive houses that are a good fit for the particular client,” she says. Angela Hartman, a former meeting planner who manages the LOA Midwest regional sales office, also works on the meeting management team.
In addition to leading the advisory board, Lynette Owens serves as executive director of two organizations for senior-level financial services marketing executives: the Alliance of Financial Marketing Professionals and the Financial Services Marketing Association.