In Hospitality, everyone should have the chance to aspire to reach leadership roles

It is one of the great attributes of Hospitality – that it is a meritocracy where, if you are good enough, you have the opportunity. This was, once upon a time a truth, and there are a whole number of great leaders that have reached the top despite being expelled from school or starting in the industry at a low level and working their way up. It was a home for all. If you were good enough, you had opportunity.

By Chris Sheppardson, Managing Director, EP

Just ten years ago, there were four senior CEOs who were dyslexic. Today, there maybe are but it less known – and therefore less inspiring – and leadership is far less accessible. There is something inspiring about the story of someone that is successful in spite of adversity. It does inspire. They are are often fascinating characters and possess insights that are different.

But are we hindering such people be able to aspire? Are we making leadership a bastion only for those that possess high qualifications?

It is worth asking yourself – how many CEOs can you name today outside of your company? How accessible is leadership today?

How many senior dyslexics can you name?

Of course, the world has changed and we need to look to the future, not the past. Accepted but this does not mean that we should not stand up for better. I think most would accept that leaders are less accessible and yet leadership is crucial in people led service businesses. Technology has dominated recruitment processes and of course this has created its own selection criteria which arguably does exclude talent that is personality led. Selection does demands qualifications to prove pedigree but the counter argument is that good leadership is far more than about a qualification.

Is leadership about intelligence more than about being a role model to others? Being able to relate to others, being accessible and understanding both the customer and service?

What does make a great leader? As we all know it is a combination of many factors. Many leaders will be both heroes and villains at some point in their career but the ones that you do recall are those that do believe in something deeper and more than is norm; something that is more than just profit.

There is a danger that we are trying to make leadership a test of those with proven university intelligence and more importantly create barriers to those that could really lead well. History will tell you that this is blinkered and wrong. We ask why there are not more leaders breaking through today? Maybe the answer is self explanatory?

So, let’s look at people with fresh eyes, allow any leadership talent to aspire to grow, have belief and be the best that they can be.