Spa Balance

53. The Invisible Crystal Ceiling That Looms Over Wellness Leaders

Why is the crystal ceiling placed so low for wellness leaders in hospitality? 

Today I’d like to address the elephant in the room. 

Less than 1% of wellness leaders make it to hotel general manager.

And over 90% of wellness leaders find that they hit this invisible but strong crystal ceiling that they’re unable to get past. 


Here are two root causes that play a pivotal role:

1.    The image of the role of wellness leaders – that of a specialist role.

We’re supposed to be this soft, balanced and unambitious leader that deeply believes in wellness. Here, the underlying assumption is that you can’t be both wellness-oriented and business-oriented. So – it is either or, but not both. The problem with viewing wellness leaders in this limited lens is that we hinder our growth opportunities. And if we don’t have ambition, that will to progress and take ourselves and our wellness business to the next level, we are the ones that are automatically placing that crystal ceiling terribly low.

2.    The harsh truth that wellness leaders simply don’t have the skill to take on such a complex business as a hotel.

If we’re already struggling with our complex wellness business units, which in most cases represent 1-3% of total hotel revenue, then how can we equipped to lead a business that is 100 times bigger and has 20 times more staff to look after?

The result of these root causes (in other words the symptoms) is that wellness leaders feel that:

1.     Wellness is the most neglected department of the hotel, 

2.    They’re hospitality’s lowest paid specialist leader, and 

3.    They have a career that is very short-lived.

And what wellness leaders end up doing to change their situation is to change the symptoms. Sure, we can wish for a more wellness-oriented GM or owner, or increase our pay, or even get ourselves a seat at the big table. But that doesn’t solve our problem of having that crystal ceiling placed so low.

What will help up break past this ceiling is by tackling the root cause head on. By giving our wellness leaders the possibility to be GM (and I mean a genuine possibility), for them to go through that development plan.

Because the harsh truth is that if we don’t dream big, if we don’t occupy key decision-making positions within the hotel, it’ll be impossible to make the impact we want. It’ll be impossible to make any significant progress past 1-3%, perhaps we could get to 20%. But we’d never get to 50-60% of total hotel revenue if we don’t change the image we’ve given ourselves and if we don’t upskill ourselves.

In today’s episode, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. 

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