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Strategic Discipline Blog

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Successful Execution & Strategy

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jan 2, 2023

Four-Seasons-Logo-1960-1There’s one limitation I’ve been unable to overcome: Lack of faith or belief.

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.” Henry V ~ William Shakespeare

To implement your strategy it must be immersed, lived, and believed by your leadership team to your frontline employees.

Last week in Execution – Why it’s the Same as Strategy I shared why strategy and execution are integral, and cannot be separated to achieve success.

William-Shakespeare-Quote-All-things-are-ready-if-our-mind-be-soIn A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Management Effectiveness Roger Martin shares insights into how Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts CEO Isadore Sharp was able to integrate his strategy with their execution to achieve Four Season’s goal, “to deal with others—partners, customers, coworkers, everyone—as we would want them to deal with us.”

The Golden Rule

Sharp applied the “Golden Rule” as a powerful tool to align the cascade of choices at Four Seasons within this chosen context.

He did this despite, needing every employee, from chambermaid to valet to desk clerk to the hotel manager, to make choices necessary to create a comfortable, welcoming support system for guests.Hand with marker writing Golden Rules

This had to occur in a traditional setting where hotel employees are poorly paid and considered transient and replaceable. Most hotel chains treat their workers as choiceless doers who are told precisely what to do, when to do it, and how—while watching them like a hawk.

This choiceless-doer model would have been the death of Sharp’s vision.

The Golden Rule Strategy Executed

Last blog we shared Roger Martin’s Cascade of Choices from A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Management Effectiveness as a model of how to strategize and implement better. (See Below)

COMBINE STRATEGY & EXECUTION - Cascade of Better Choices Roger MartinSharp’s Four Season choices included empowering every single employee to make right customer complaints in the way it made the most sense to her/him to treat the guest with the concern and care he/she would like to receive.

Sharp walked the talk, treating his employees as he would want to be treated, as he wanted his guests to be treated.

His actions demonstrated his commitment, as he stated, “by paying as much attention to employee complaints as guest complaints, by upgrading employee facilities whenever we upgraded a hotel, by disallowing class distinctions in cafeterias and parking lots, by pushing responsibility down and encouraging self-discipline, by setting performance high and holding people accountable, and most of all adhering to our credo: generating trust.”

He let his people choose.

Something most leaders are unwilling, or unable to accept.

Four Seasons Results

The results have been remarkable.fourseasons--1

Martin notes, in 2019, Four Seasons appeared on Fortune’s list of The 100 Best Companies to Work for the twenty-second consecutive year, one of only eight organizations to appear on the list every year since the list’s inception. The company also ranks first in its category in the J.D. Power and Associates’ annual Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index and is routinely honored in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.

Leaders like Sharp create a context in which people below them in the choice cascade understand the choices that have already been made and the rationale for them.

Watch Sharp walk through the process required to achieve results. At 1:45 he shares how his senior people at first didn’t agree with his approach. He shares what he did to weed out those who didn’t share his belief, and how he slowly incorporated this strategy into his business. The video is 13:49 in length.

Strategy must flow into execution, but it requires time and commitment. At 6:25 Sharp shares how to meet the challenge of difficult times. At 9:05 he shares how their Turkey leadership team made the decision to not be paid one week a month to prevent staff layoffs. Finally, at 10:10 he shares his concept of the emotional capital of Trust. Compromising trust is a risk you must never take, and why having leaders who share and believe in your strategy is essential to success.

“All things are ready, if our mind be so.”

Is your leadership team ready to execute your strategy?


On January 11th you can learn how to create the disciplines, differentiating strategies, greater accountability, and measurement to implement a successful strategy. These resources and tools marry strategy with execution to navigate your business to success. Attend our CEO + Leadership Bootcamp - Annual Planning Workshop to learn how to grow your company and team’s performance.

To create an environment where everyone is inspired to give their best, contact Positioning Systems today to schedule a free exploratory meeting.

Growth demands Strategic Discipline.

Zero to Expert Level of UnderstandingMy responsibility as a coach is to hold my customers accountable and to ask difficult questions. The tools and resources I’ve accumulated being an E-Myth, Scaling Up, and Metronomic coach taught me to enjoy the process. You can borrow knowledge but not action. We’ll explore this in the next blog.

Building an enduring great organization requires disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action, superior results, producing a distinctive impact on the world.

Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period of time, laying the foundations for lasting endurance.

4Dx Cadence of AccountabilityA winning habit starts with 3 Strategic DisciplinesPriorityMetrics, and Meeting Rhythms.   Forecasting, accountability, individual, and team performance improve dramatically.

Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.

Let Positioning Systems help your business achieve these outcomes on the Four most Important Decisions your business faces:












Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M+) businesses Scale-UP. We align your business to focus on Your One Thing! Contact to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

NEXT BLOG – Borrow Knowledge but TAKE ACTIONjames-clear-quote-borrow-knowledge-not-action-how-to-form-good-habits-mindset-motivation-galactic-1 

Topics: strategy, Strategy - How, Execution, It's the Same as Strategy, Strategy, A Cascade of Choices

Challenges of Scaling Up a Business 







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Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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