Conor Kenny, our new hotel management columnist from Conor Kenny and Associates, explores how to respond to difficult times.
When money is good we all get lazy. When a storm comes and we need to sprint, we realise just how unfit we have become. ‘Management’ is no different, we need to stay fit, be ready and have a plan for the rainy day.
Business, especially the business of hotels, is all about relationships and relationships are all about people. Today, more than ever, your leadership compass and course need to be reset to reflect the current conditions. How you lead today will leave an indelible print on your people, your business, your guests and on your reputation.
A New Vision
Old roads run out and well worn paths disappear. When the landscape shifts a new map must be drawn. That map has to be preceded by a vision that describes the new destination. Leadership is what you do to persuade your followers to come with you. However, be warned: leadership without a clear vision is not a dream – it’s a nightmare. Vision, a little like the horizon, is an ever shifting goal. Great leaders embrace this and reset their compass to reflect new conditions and new dynamics. Those waiting for the tide to turn may just run out of fuel, people and power.
Vision needs to be reset and managers need to understand the destination with absolute clarity. The role of a leader is to create that vision. The role of managers is to deliver the destination.
Followers and staff imitate their leaders. Good leadership defines the brand, great leaders make sure managers and followers buy into and deliver the brand. In stormy waters, the rapid rise of a bad leader is a certain path to sinking fast. Storms bring pirates and pirates won’t be forgotten. Perish the thought of pirates getting into positions of power. For sure; a storm will expose their true ability.
A storm frightens lots of people. Some thrive, some perish, others panic. We are all different and the loud bang of thunder, big scary seas and dark clouds will elicit a kaleidoscope of reactions. What frightens me may not frighten you, what inspires me may not inspire you but one thing is sure, a simple message will have many different interpretations. The need for a measured response to a threatening climate was never more important.
John Quincy Jones said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”
Leading Through a Storm: 20 Thoughts
- Level with staff. The truth. It’s the false promises that create mayhem.
- Integrity is earned not broadcast. Respect is crucial, popularity dangerous. Within reason, share the challenge and invite help.
- Avoid ‘team building’ outings. They are like fireworks – fun, exciting, short lived and useless. Real team building comes through sharing hard work.
- Make time (but not too much) for one to one chats. Different people have different needs.
- Ask for help from your staff. How they respond will teach you lots.
- Avoid future promises of great rewards. Sometimes some people won’t make it to the future.
- Break the challenge into daily bite-sized chunks. You can’t solve everything in one day but a week can be a long time when doing the right thing, the right way.
- Avoid huge bursts of optimism – they can be dangerous and misleading.
- Have time to reflect. Every map needs to be revisited especially when you are not sure of the road ahead.
- Stick with facts, not fiction. Remember “Move from we think to we know”
- Set clear and measurable short term goals. The big picture is not today, the future is now.
- Be equal and be fair. There is no time for favouritism, politics or personal agendas.
- Remember motivation comes from achievement. Achievement comes from sheer hard work.
- Kill inertia. There is no time to do nothing.
- Lead by example, lead from the front. Today, we know Superman doesn’t exist. If he does, he’s late!
- Create a fail safe environment, an environment where it’s encouraged to voice a new idea. Now is the time for ideas, innovation and creative thinking.
- Squash gossip and gossip leaders. There are enough external threats to contend with.
- Encourage and share wisdom. Now is a great time to teach.
- Restructure yourself as well as your business. Encourage your people to do the same.
- Always remember that how you lead today will define your legacy tomorrow.
Remember, Storms will pass and waters calm. Good leaders will prevail and the natural order will be restored. No matter how tough, challenging and difficult, remember that wonderful saying: “When you are going through Hell keep going”
By Conor Kenny