The hospitality industry often talks about the sought-after character traits of its desired future leaders. Decision-makers seem to agree that individuals who are “measured, grounded, contemplative or even-tempered” are the talent that most companies value and seek. To paraphrase, organisations are looking for upcoming professionals with grit and resilience who can handle situations effectively under pressure. In this sense, it is not exclusively about business or financial acumen; instead, it is about how such technical abilities are balanced with emotional intelligence and social savviness. In other words, individuals who show a deft understanding of and corresponding ability to balance business practices and people practices. It is those executives who are then often linked to having evolved into servant leaders in their later career while at the same time gaining greater exposure and visibility within their respective organisations in the first place.
The question that rising talent in the hospitality industry should pose itself is thus the following: “How does one achieve or demonstrate this servant leadership mentality?“
The answer to this is more straightforward than what one might expect. At the beginning of the year, AETHOS already recommended senior executives to more often self-reflect and to re-evaluate how to best up one’s game (see this article here). To stop periodically and to take stock of decisions taken is a routine which will pay back handsomely, and quickly. It is also a habit which many servant leaders have in common. And, whilst many might think that such tactic is a purely introverted and/or selfish one, geared towards elevating one’s own profile and personal advancement in the professional world, this is a false-truth. True servant leaders will pause and then decide on a course of action geared by wanting to achieve best outcomes for the greater good of their teams and their perspective company. So, the real million-dollar question that the up-and-coming talent out there should ask itself is: “What impact will this action or response have on my team or company culture?”
Pausing for just 10 seconds to challenge oneself with this strategic question in mind before then acting tactically can combat emotional, reactive and/or impulsive attitudes and behaviours that are nasty and notorious for eroding trust, loyalty, and influence. And, let’s face it, no one is immune from temptations for making snap judgments or taking rash actions – however, the best leaders compensate for such emotional urges with tools or manoeuvres that demonstrate perspective, humility and thoughtfulness.
To ask oneself the above question is thus a valuable tool for problem-solving and decision-making as it helps see things through the prism of a high-performance, yet service-driven culture. And it is culture-building actions which earn young talent the positive visibility they strive for.