Strengthening the Leadership Bench

By Bill Catlette Co-Founder, Contented Cow Partners, LLC | March 08, 2015

It's All About Leadership

A 2013 global C-suite study by the IBM Institute for Business Value suggests that, by a pretty wide margin, the top two concerns of Chief Human Resource Officers are 1) talent development and 2) employee engagement and commitment, outcomes that are influenced more (much more) by the quality of leadership at a person-to-person level, than organizational attraction. The operative precept here is that our employees don't always get to choose the manager they report to, but they choose daily which ones they're going to come back tomorrow and exert real effort for.

Getting and keeping the right people, and keeping them adequately skilled, motivated, and focused isn't easy even in the best of times. It's especially difficult now. As happens in every economic downturn, focus on talent management during the Great Recession took a distant back seat to other things. As a result, now that we've got the wind blowing a little more at our backs, industry leaders, who themselves have been under-developed and run ragged, are trying to deliver five star performance for more guests (with greater expectations) via a workforce that is largely disenfranchised, if not distracted by the task of looking for other work, and oh by the way, in many cases has never seen good service.

Citing Disney, Starbucks and Apple as business performance exemplars, Harvard University lecturer and former Medtronic CEO, Bill George‬ said recently on CNBC, "If you get the right leader, you get great results." Truer words were never spoken, and as we survey the challenges facing hoteliers (indeed the entire hospitality space), the need to strengthen the leadership pipeline and bench have never been more evident.

That is especially the case as pertains to leadership development, which, for many, has been too much of a DIY proposition, with much of the learning content supplied by watching The Apprentice on television. We can and must do better.

It's Every Leader's Job to Build the Leadership Pipeline

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.