The story of Odin may provide a way forward in the development of future talent

Many will link the story of Odin with the Norse mythology and Marvel films but the basis of the story was that Odin was the god of wisdom who had a need to continuously learn; the more one could learn, the stronger a person would be.

This same maxim lies at the heart of the belief of many today and at the heart of EP’s own philosophy; that exploring, challenging and examining new ideas and knowledge can only help us all become stronger and better. Many believe that over the last twenty years thinking has become increasingly narrow and more concerning, that real knowledge has declined by an estimated 30% because there is less need to carry or possess as much knowledge in the digital age when so much lies at our fingertips. However, the picture is more complex as research also tell us that many executives are struggling to cope as they feel they are out of their depth and do not possess enough knowledge. Many argue that the decline in knowledge has a direct link to increased levels of stress and anxiety.

The counter-argument is that we have all learnt so much during this period that leaders and senior management will have been on an intense learning course which will have reset the balance and that knowledge over the last year will have caught up. This may well be true but there is also a strong argument that there will be a gap between those who have continued to learn over the last year and those who have not.

We will have to see how this unfolds and even whether it is true but the view of many experts seems to be that many have enjoyed once again finding their own strength through listening and learning; that this is a lesson that they would be loath to lose.

Why is any of this important?

It is estimated that the lifespan of most CEOs and MDs should be in the region of 5 years before they become either weary or stale. In Hospitality, the life spans have been far greater in tenure and the argument is that this has brought both stability but also been a barrier to the natural progression of younger talent who have not broken through. The question is asked – how can this be corrected?

As companies rebuild, there will not be a great desire to offer unproven talent in new senior roles. Senior players will want to guide their ships through to safety. Understandably so. Therefore the only answer must be to create an overall understanding that constant challenging, thinking and learning should be crucial in emerging talent as it supports the development of talent and knowledge.

The great opportunity which exists is that the industry possesses a huge bank of experience and knowledge that can be passed down to emerging generations. The challenge is to create a framework that allows this to be achieved. Many will argue otherwise but this has not been successful over the last twenty years and a solution is now needed.

We have written many times about a marriage between generations but somehow this now needs to be founded as it will safeguard the future. This isn’t about courses, qualifications, or accolades but about how to transfer knowledge from one generation to another in an inspiring way.