DirectoriesAdd Your Business
News Archive Search
For Hotel Leaders, Mindset Matters More Than Ever During These Challenging Times
In 1914, over five thousand men actually did reply. Twenty-seven of them were selected and in August that year, they set off from England under the command of Sir Ernest Shackleton on an Antarctic expedition with the intention of being the first to complete a transcontinental crossing. From the moment their ship Endurance entered the Wedell Sea off the Antarctic Peninsula in early 1915, anything that could possibly have gone wrong with the mission did go awry. Endurance became trapped in ice and was later crushed by its force and the group remained stranded for months on ice flows suffering one unimaginable challenge after the other, including having to undertake a seven day sea voyage in flimsy lifeboats to reach the uninhabited Elephant Island which still lay beyond the possibility of rescue.
Yet, despite the hopelessness of their position, Shackleton's optimism never waned during the endless months of uncertainty. Staring death in the face, he still did not quit. As a last throw of the dice, he and several crew members undertook a treacherous voyage in a small boat, crossing 800 miles of the roughest seas on earth in order to reach the nearest inhabited island, South Georgia; a feat later described, without hyperbole, as the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. Then, having landed on the wrong side of that island, he and his small crew had to cross over the uncharted mountainous interior to reach the whaling station, from where rescue for his remaining men would later be launched. He had promised them he would return, and return he did on August 30, 1916. Not one member of the party was lost.
The story of Shackleton's legendary Antarctic expedition has become a popular lesson in leadership in recent years and it is for me, one of the greatest stories of human survival ever told. Shackelton undoubtedly had many great qualities as a leader, but he himself placed optimism at the top of the list of attributes that saw him through the ordeal, followed by patience, and imagination. As he said himself, ‘difficulties are just things to overcome, after all'. Without this mindset, it is probable that he and all his men would have met a cold and painful death.
Leaders in our industry do not, thankfully, have to face such a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges, but mindset still matters for every one of them and particularly during challenging times such as these. The best hotel leaders that I meet continue to have an upbeat and determined outlook, which contributes to their ability to effectively lead others through this downturn. No, they don't come running across the car park every morning waving their arms in the air chanting some uplifting mantra, nor do they wear tee-shirts with Carpe Diem written on it. But, by nature, they are optimists who recognize that if they allow themselves to become consumed by negativity, what chance is there for everyone else around them? That is not to say they are blinkered to reality, but they understand that if they lose hope, so too will their people; they don't need to read ‘The Secret' or watch Dr Phil in order to understand the laws of attraction. There is a refreshing and uplifting aspect to how certain leaders are remaining steadfastly positive in their efforts to get through these difficult times.
On a broader scale, I have noticed that these leaders - apart from how they are shining during this crisis - also think very differently in general about how they lead others which in turn influences how they act, and I have tried to capture the essence of that mindset below:
Ken Blanchard, the respected leadership expert and author described the mindset of admired leaders well with regard to how they actually lead others every day when he said: ‘In the past, a leader was a boss. Today's leaders must be partners with their people, they can no longer lead solely based on positional power'. This principle drives successful hotel leaders to build and sustain bonds with their employees, not out of any weakness, but because they are strong and I have seen time and time again how these leaders recognize that without the commitment and support of their people, seeking to achieve business goals remains a wish, not a probability; certainly, getting through this downturn without that support is impossible.
This idea that mindset matters is certainly not new, but it is becoming much clearer as to how much it actually does matter in terms of performance and achievement. I came across an interesting piece of work by Carol Dweck, a leading psychologist at Stanford University, which I think summarizes very well the differences in mindset between the stand-out leaders in our industry and the rest of the pack. In an article published on Forbes.com, based on her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she explains:
She goes on to highlight that there are essentially two types of mindsets, Fixed and Growth.
A person with a Fixed mindset:
On the other hand, the Growth mindset according to Dweck is:
Perhaps there is no better description of how the best leaders you find in our industry view the world than this; how they think sets the context for everything they do and their ability to succeed comes initially from the fact that, for them, nothing within reason is impossible.
© Enda Larkin 2010
Visit our sponsors