Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 3-12-2021


The impact of COVID-19 on the hotel industry has been catastrophic and like elsewhere, the Chicago hotel market has faced steep declines in occupancy, revenues and profitability, resulting in severe staff cuts and drastic operating changes. Yet many hotels continued operating, albeit at a reduced level. What factors made it possible for hotels to adapt to these conditions? To answer this question, a case study was developed from in-depth surveys with 16 Chicago hotels combined with interviews with 7 leaders from these hotels, providing a snapshot of resilient leadership in the Chicago hotel market before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The results indicated that hotels demonstrated characteristics of resilient leadership throughout in their responses in the areas of crisis management, communication, staff engagement, decision-making and innovation, although they struggled to project optimism and maintain staff morale. The hotels also reported higher levels of teamwork and collaboration, engagement with the industry and outside partners, and overall greater resilience of leadership and teams.


This research was conducted in collaboration with the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association.

Outside author: Susan Tinnish, PhD, Vistage Chair, Success Coach and Professor of Organizational Development