Interview with Monika Hilm – Put Your People First

Last month Marjorie Sundström from RaizUp Sweden hosted a remarkable interview with Monika Hilm, an author of the leadership book Put Your People First.  

Monika is a hospitality professional and Managing Director from Sweden. From her years of experience in leadership and hospitality, countless stories and situations, Monika was inspired to write this amazing book and share her expertise with the world. 

Meet Monika and dive deep into the world of leadership. 

What on your journey in the hotel industry made you write this book?

The people that I worked with in one of my previous jobs, where I was managing properties in Prague, told me: “Monika, you should share the way you manage with other people.“  So I decided I should give it a go. 

Why do you think happiness and self-awareness are the first steps to begin with?

Well, if you’re not happy, it’s very difficult to make other people happy. You can fake it for a while, but in a long term, it’s very difficult to make other people happy if you don’t feel it yourself. It’s always easier to make other people happy once you’re happy. Your happiness shines through to other people. You should lead by example. 

What advice would you give to the hotel managers to get through the crisis? 

For themselves, I would say – take breaks. I believe vacation time is there because we need it. Step aside and look at the things from a different perspective. Make time to prioritize yourself – go out and exercise, do something for yourself. That way you will last much longer and you will not walk into the wall and you will not burn out. That would be the first thing I would recommend everybody to do. 

Put Your People First by Monika Hilm


What is your advice for people working in hospitality to accept the feeling of fear of vulnerability?

It all starts with leadership. If they understand the concept that the rules that they apply to the team, they apply to everyone – the members will have a better sense of trust. Consider how often does management breaks the rules vs how often are employees allow to break them. 

It’s like stones in the water. The rings on the water just grow wider and wider because if you trust the employees, they will give that energy to the client, who will also then trust what the employees are saying.

In the book section where you discuss relationships, you highlight the question: How can we help you? How often do we really ask our team members that question?

When it comes to the happiness of the work community as one of the key points together with results, every time people talk about relationships, it’s about empathy and support. How do you best support somebody? Asking a person how do they feel is the fastest way to figure out how to best support somebody. It’s always better to ask the people how they feel than to tell them. If you tell them, people will become defensive. If you ask a question, people will think you’re curious. 

How do you best communicate your organizational purpose – how do you get the team involved?

There are many ways how to do it. I think the best way to do it is to look at your hotel, look at the needs and say: what difference do we want to make in the world?  Then see what your employees would like and ask them how we should define the purpose.

How do you get that sense of balance in the community?

I like to make it personal. When I go to work, I go to work as myself, not someone else. We involve ourselves as much as needed in employee’s private lives, to make sure they find the balance. I think it’s easier for the employees to relate with the guests if they can open up to us.

Watch the full interview to find out how to build a culture of happiness within your team, and how to deal with challenges during crises. 

Get inspired with books on the topic of leadership on RaizUp Bookstore.



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