Leadership Lessons for Hard Times

Last week, in Coyle’s ‘The Company’ segment, we discussed the importance of aligning action and values, and a feature about “Wow” customer moments demonstrated that, even in times of prosperity, to bring a company’s values to life requires continued, concerted effort. But what about in times of economic hardship?

In an article by McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company interviewed 14 CEOs of major companies. These seasoned leaders discussed principles that apply not just in the boardroom, but equally on the hospitality front-lines, where managerial decisions impact the guest experience and the brand equity profoundly.

  • Confront reality: It is important to have monitoring systems that pick up warning signs for a changing business climate so that a company’s leadership can implement new strategies to match the new reality (for example, declines in RevPAR or average checks).
  • Put strategy center stage: Leadership needs to have frequent and open communication about its ever-changing strategy. Then, when decisions need to be made quickly, all decision-makers are up to speed.
  • Be transparent with employees: The economic downturn appears to have underscored the value of frequent, transparent communication with employees. Not only do employees deserve honesty; such openness fosters the respect, trust, and solidarity that keep employees focused on their tasks when the future is uncertain.
  • Build and protect culture: Much of the above is driven by a company’s alignment with its expressed values. Culture should never be sacrificed for short-term gain, for culture is what creates a competitive advantage, particularly in the hospitality industry.
  • Keep faith with the future: Leaders need to remain forward-looking, in spite of near-term pressures. By doing so, it is possible for companies to turn crisis into opportunity and emerge from the economic recession stronger than before.

Says George Buckley, chairman, president, and CEO of 3M: “If you don’t invest in the future and don’t plan for the future, there won’t be one.”

Read the McKinsey & Company article here.

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