The Lost Generation is not so much lost as disconnected and wanting to see greater clarity

Passing the baton: Leadership change in hospitality

Our recent feature on “the Lost Generation” sparked a lot of interest and recognition of a changing dynamic. We are seeing the first leaders that have grown up almost entirely in the internet age and they are asking new questions and seeking different answers. This means that there is a layer of talent reaching board level with new outlooks and approaches. The reality is that they are not as engaged with traditional structures for fair reason and there is a need for change. But why and how?

“I have no desire to network for the sake of it. It has to be relevant and it has to be time well spent.”

So stated an industry managing director aged in their early forties. We have the first leaders reaching board level who have professionally developed in the internet age and unsurprisingly their approach and outlook is different.

The increase in emails and internet communications means that the average executive reads four times more than their counterpart would have done just ten years ago. It is, therefore, natural that today’s executive has less thinking time, and that all time is more precious. So, it is also natural that the next question is: “is this event important or relevant?”

Of course, it is easy to be critical of traditional structures but one of the most quoted statistics that we are told is that only 2% of the industry engage with the industry bodies – so why do we care so much?

This emerging generation of rising MDs and CEOs do not have any desire to engage with industry politics; they want to understand ‘why’ and seek genuine meaning from industry engagement. Networking for this generation of MDs and CEOs must be relevant and, if it is not, then it will not cut it. Events and campaigns must have fair and sound meaning or will not be supported out of goodwill as maybe some have in previous times.

The answer lies in the fact that the traditional structures have an important value, but there is a need for change and evolution as with all things in life. There is a need for reconnection.

Increasingly the rising MDs and CEOs are questioning the value of their commitment to industry bodies, partly due to the multitude of requests on their time but also a lack drive around the issues perceived to be relevant. Networking is an integral part of leadership development, yet some of these leaders simply do see the benefit of traditional structures. The question is how to drive agendas that become aspirational for engagement, by focusing on the real stories and issues prevalent at that time and in the future.

A strategy for re-engagement needs to be generated that is relevant. The challenge is to find clear, directive communication and arguments that focus on facts and agendas that will make a difference. These leaders want to see the big picture and not self-congratulatory gestures.

The good news is that there are some exceptional young leaders making the transition into key roles who will bring their own voice to this debate and will help to drive change. Just look at some of the talent that is coming through that is featured in the current EP magazine – people such as Allister Richards, Andrew Stembridge, David Taylor, Rupert Ellwood, Suzy Jackson, Sharon Segal or Miriam Staley.

This is a natural process – given the challenges of recent years there is much to be questioned and changed. It is a positive process.

Over coming months EP will be profiling these leaders to develop a platform for promoting their values and views.

For more information please contact: Heather Gibson, editor at EP Business in Hospitality magazine on 020 7025 1874 or email:

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