7 Timeless Leadership Lessons from an Anachronistic Concierge

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Monsieur Gustave H. was a hotel concierge performing at the very top of his game at a time when Europe was heading into its darkest hour.

He was a man so devoted to his profession and committed to his personal values that it eventually cost him his life.  

7 Timeless Leadership Lessons

Here are 7 timeless lessons (including specific behavior & result) to be learned from Gustav H.’s exemplary leadership style at The Grand Budapest Hotel in Wes Anderson’s delightful new film of the same name.

Lesson #1:  Treat Others with Respect

Leadership Behavior:

Imprisoned with brutal thugs and murderers for a crime he did not commit, Gustave H. treats his fellow prisoners with respect, even earning the respect of the grisly (and artistically-gifted) gang leader.

“This is amazing work! Did you draw this Ludwig?”

Result: 

Ludwig includes him in his gang’s successful prison break plan.

Are there any relationships in your team or work circle you would like to improve?  If you want to improve relations with somebody, read why Dr David Burns views treating them with kindness and respect as the key.

Lesson #2:  Fight for your People

Leadership Behavior:

To his own detriment, Gustave H. twice stands up to soldiers on the train for harassing Zero, an immigrant worker (& Gustave’s deputy) traveling without proper travel documents.

“Take your hands off my Lobby Boy!”

Result: 

Full and eternal loyalty from Zero.

Lesson #3:  Treat Clients Well

Leadership Behavior: 

Gustav H. makes his guests feel special by comforting them in their time of need (intimate room visits not recommended).

Result:

He is left a priceless painting from a special patron and guest of the hotel.

Lesson #4:  Know Your People

Leadership Behavior:  

On unexpectedly meeting his new Lobby Boy, Gustave H. takes the time to interview/interrogate him and explain the rigorous demands and expectations on him as Lobby Boy.  During the intense interview, he also gets a picture of Zero’s skill set…which incidentally needs urgent developing by Gustave himself.

Result: 

By knowing what is expected of him and why, Zero is fully engaged and committed to fulfilling the demands and expectations of the job.

How well do you know your people?  According to Linda Hill and Kent Lineback, here are 7 things you should know about your people.

Lesson #5:  Demand the Highest Standards

Leadership Behavior:  

Eating night after night at a long, cramped table in a tiny back room, Gustave H. meticulously briefs his staff on how to maintain and improve the excellent service which is expected of them all.

Result: 

The hotel has an unparalleled reputation for service and quality.

Lesson #6:  Build Your Network

Leadership Behavior:  

Having exhausted all options while fleeing for his life after the prison break, Gustave H. contacts a secret society of fellow concierges for help.

Result: 

The well-connected network miraculously comes to his rescue.

What could you do to strengthen your network?  In what unexpected ways might a stronger network serve you in the future?  This insightful article from HBR provide practical tips on how to build your network.

Lesson #7:  Live Your Values

Leadership Behavior:  

Clothed in dirty rags after breaking out of prison, Gustav H. lives his value of good hygiene by generously spritzing himself at first chance with his beloved perfume.

Result: 

From then on, Lobby Boy and protégé Zero religiously follows his hygienic Best Practice.

Watch the entertaining trailer to get a colorful picture of Gustave H. and his magical world.

Which of these modelled behaviors would help improve your relationships?  Which would improve the performance of your team?  What would it look like to fight for your people, for example?  What might be the result? Please share your key learnings from Gustave H. or other fictional characters who have inspired you and what you’ve done with the learning.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
Timothy P. Nash

Tim Nash is a Development Coach & Consultant based in Munich, Germany.
He helps teams & team leaders achieve peak performance for breakthrough results.
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web

Image Sources: filmhuisbussum.nl

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5 Responses

  1. WE SAW THIS MOVIE 3 WEEKS AGO AT THE SONY CENTER BERLIN. ENJOYED IT. I USUALLY WATCH MOVIES FOR EXAMPLES OF ORGANIZATION OR LEADERSHIP. I MISSED THEM COMPLETELY IN THIS MOVIE. WONDERFUL ARTICLE

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Charlee – glad you enjoyed it!

  3. What good application from the film to your business! Phil Trice

  4. Thanks for your post, Tim,! The takes in the film of Zero learning the ropes certainly bring home aspects of mindful leadership communication including trust and commitment.

  5. Absolutely!

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