What makes an industry great?

What makes an industry great?

There are a number of consistent themes to debate developing across all communities.

Certainly one of the most central is weariness of austerity but although this has been made into a central theme, it has to be questioned whether it is really about austerity – as most understand the issues – but rather a desire to see large companies less focused on profit generation and more on profit coupled with a social consciousness.

It has become a stock line from boards that their primary responsibility is to their stakeholders and focus on stakeholder return. This is fair and true but there is still a need for fair balance – but what is fair balance?

The Hospitality industry has performed admirably over the last twenty years and the Industry is as exciting as any in terms of its growth, its continued potential and the results it has delivered. It is strange therefore that so many in the industry still believe that one of its biggest problems is its need to be better at attracting talent.

Even in a recent discussion forum, one senior consultant asked others round the table who would encourage their children to build a career in the industry? Not one put their hand up. It was the same as twenty years ago. However, the industry has moved forward but is just failing to win the argument or is failing to communicate its message well enough? You can decide as to where the problem lies.

Greatness is all about the balance between profit, shareholder value, compassion and care.

The industry has the potential to be a great industry because it has developed a strong sense of community, team leadership, compassion and care for its own and those beyond. There are already many examples of such behaviours like The London Hotel GMs putting on a fund raising dinner for the victims of Grenfell Tower. There are many pubs, restaurants and industry leaders that work tirelessly for their local communities and for charity causes beyond Hospitality.

The industry is already leading many great causes and as we argue, can play key central roles in all communities as every community will possess a strong hospitality presence in some form.

However, the Industry does need to care too about the development of the future. Most will accept that there is a struggle to develop through new generations and find new leaders. Some will point towards a change in values between generations but does anyone really believe this is the core problem? An expert observer recently wrote that all previous generations were pretty “screwed up”. The parents of the baby boomers has carried demons from the Second World War, their parents from the First World War. Apparently the Baby Boomers have loved their children too much.  Maybe there is some merit in the psychological arguments but the bottom line is that people are people and need developing. The hard truth is that less is currently spent on leadership development than thirty years ago and again a balance needs to be found.

Great leadership is about the values of the leader and cannot just be about profit generation. Importantly, it also needs to be about leadership in the community and the talent within. If we had found the right balance to date there would be far fewer debates over whether the industry is good enough at developing talent, is a good profession or is respected as an industry. These were the debates of twenty years ago, why are we still having them today?

It has been a long journey but the generation can be a true leader in every sense – it just needs to see beyond profit and also what it can contribute to society and its people.

Then (and finally) it will stand at a level that it has long desired and deserved.

For more information: Ben.Butler@epmagazine.co.uk

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