There is a new era emerging and it is offering much promise but it will ask some tough questions

Over the last four years there has been so many challenges and negativity which has surrounded business, politics and society. It has been hard going. One could state that we are living through a period which no other previous generation has had to face, so maybe there should be more understanding when leaders have struggled?

One can also argue that this is a period of great new opportunity if we can take it?

In society, the way we all live our lives has changed almost beyond recognition since 2019. In business, the work environment has radically changed. In politics?….well,,,,are the structures fit for purpose anymore?

Leadership is changing too. There are many asking if boards still hold value in a world when CEOs and MDs today possess double the level of a management information than they once have. The old principles of gut-feel and insight seem to be now disregarded as having little value as data has become so much more important.

Many questions but on a positive, companies are recovering and performing well. Moreover, companies today have broadened their outlook. If one looks back to 2009-19, the power of the shareholders return was the dominant theme for all. Today though, companies do have an eye on the role in society and this is opening up new conversations – about social mobility, sustainability, service, and people. It has created a new narrative which is more positive and engaging than what was seen from 2009-19.

At the same time, we are about to witness the exit of one generation and the emergence of new leaders with new ideals. Once again, we are seeing more energy, creativity, ideas, passion and empowerment. Once might say this has always been there but the truth is that through the period of austerity and beyond, passion and creativity was almost patronized, empowerment was replaced by process and control.

The new narrative emerging is looking more towards collaboration, value, people, sustainability, inclusivity and care. It is a kinder society which is in the making. With AI, leadership will be less about the power of individuals and more about how leaders serve their companies, shareholders and communities. This could create an exciting new era.

For Hospitality, most especially as the focus will be more on service and product evolution. A brand name will not do the work alone any more; guests and consumers want great experiences and service. It will ask new questions of all and the challenge will be to find answers.

Leaders will have to change and at speed. If one looks back just to when EP was founded, leadership has changed radically in that time and it has arguabally changed just as much in the last four years. The bar has been raised by no few levels. This means that mindsets have to change which naturally impact on cultures, values and engagement.

In 2019, it was argued that only 1:10 employees were engaged in their work so maybe it is not all bad that such change is happening?

Written by Chris Sheppardson, Founder of EP Business in Hospitality