2023 – a moment which highlights the power of the Hospitality leader?

There has been a shift in thinking over the last year or so, maybe longer, which is less about a leader needing to be the biggest alpha in the room to one who can bring people together and build teams once again.

There was a recent time when the definition of leadership became lost. It seemed to be more about who can build the greatest profit line rather than who can build a business vision. Leadership today will be viewed though a different lens – those who can change lives of their people for the better, protect them at this moment and bring people together as one.

Once can easily argue that the natural skill traits of hospitality leaders has often been patronised but now is the moment it really does break through and can be seen for the value it does possess. Hospitality leadership has quietly excelled in these toughest of times and with a real care of people at the heart.

There are many experts who are now arguing that the most successful leadership philosophies are those who see that their value and businesses are stronger for carrying a strong social purpose. This purpose is building value in return. Examples cited include Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba; and David Green, founder of the Hobby Lobby. The argument is that they are seen increased revenues, growth and success happen as a result of having a strong purpose.

This, in turn, has given stronger recognition of the “servant leader” concept. The theory is a belief that leaders establish authority not through traditional top-down power structures but by serving with the innate desire to fulfill their team’s and community’s needs. The argument is that a purpose which is bigger than just generating profit can build more value and better business.

For many in hospitality, this is not a new philosophy. It has sat at the heart of many hotels and companies over many years. It is just becoming more recognised.

But here lies the controversial piece – how many companies did dilute this philosophy for a drive towards generating profit over the years? The answer is of course mixed but there were many. There have been many operations which did down grade care and service to build effective process. There were many who did view great leadership simply by the strength of the profit line.

All industries did. One just has to look back at the communities of the 19080s when a local society was led by the local GP, local bank manager, vicar and hotel manager. The hotel manager is still standing but others have been eroded.

The last few years has seen a marked return back to traditional values in a time of difficulty and it does highlight the importance of the hospitality leader in communities.

The argument is that care and compassion in leadership will be central; that those who practice a leadership style by positively influencing those they serve and fostering consistent development in their followers. For this reason, it is an infinite learning process that produces maximum influence and impact, creating maximium value in return.