The judgement of a free leader

Free leaders to be able to make judgements

In all that is written about the lack of trust and stress at work, it is often leaders that take much brunt of critique. The hard truth is that they face some real challenges and are not always free to act in the way they believe is right.

There are many reasons for this but leaders need to be free to lead – as otherwise the culture and environment struggles from the start and leadership does determine culture.

Bottom line, employees, talent, clients and customers need more than a business process and a company that wants to maximise profit. Everyone understands that profitable business is fundamental but there is a balance. What these groups also want to see is real leadership – values, principles, great people and a client/customer ethos.

However many leaders feel restrained from developing strategies that are not simply engineered towards increasing shareholder value and increased profits – whatever this may mean. The lifespan of leaders which is arguably too short means that they possess little room to operate and no room for luxury.

There is already a school of thought asking whether the CEO is any longer needed? It is a fair question for if they cannot lead with freedom, then they are undermined from the start and the process and structure can be developed to be robust enough to have businesses with no CEO.

They will be pretty soulless organisations… but does that matter?

We argue that it does –most especially in hospitality. Hospitality is not just any business. It is about generating great experiences using a rare mix of skills and talents from the culinary to the designer to the guest services to beyond. Business process does not create great experiences; great people too and great teams need inspiring, motivating and yes leading.

But it is all deeper than this – the British are tribal by nature. We want to belong to a community or group. It becomes part of our psyche. We place our sporting captains on pedestals as they carry our hopes and dreams – Bobby Moore, Martin Johnson, Andrew Strauss et al – and they are our champions. They represent us.

Our great business leaders over the years fought our corners, stood up for better and believed in the importance of people and how we needed to train and develop this asset – think Gerald Lawless, Peter Lederer, Garry Hawkes – they made a difference and they stood often for the best in the Industry.

So let’s stop idle discussion about how CEOs can be replaced and maybe instead talk about how leaders should be freed up and backed. If you want a CEO to live under threat from day one then of course great teams will not be built. Clients and customers love what the Industry offers so maybe we can back those that deliver excellence.

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