We spoke to Dr Hilary Cooke FIH about her upcoming two part webinar: Picking up the Pieces and her book of the same title.
What is Picking up the Pieces about?
It is a comprehensive and practical toolkit in the form of a two part webinar series and a short book for leaders in our Hospitality Industry to help them create a strong and resilient leadership strategy.
The title and imagery are from an art form called Kintsugi in Japanese Zen aesthetics. Kintsugi, is literally from two words: Kin meaning golden and Tsugi meaning joinery. It is a skilled technique that uses gold and precious metals to mend broken ceramic and glass items so that they are stronger, more beautiful and more valuable.
With hospitality businesses being closed, teams disbanded and now needing to open up and come together again, I liked it as a metaphor for coming back even stronger. I wrote the toolkit because I wanted to support my clients and other leaders to do just that.
How do leadership and management differ?
This is a question that has many different answers and I am not claiming to have it right. But a lifetime in hospitality has convinced me that they are discrete skill sets that are both necessary. Any hospitality operation is a multitude of processes, so there is lots to be managed in terms of planning, controlling, and organising.
Any manager at any level has two main responsibilities to their owners and employers: To protect the asset and to manage the revenue and costs. Because management is part of the organisation structure, the relationship with people in the team is as direct reports. That relationship with people is contractual.
On the other hand, leadership is a different relationship requirement. Leaders have followers and that following is voluntary rather than contractual. This voluntary element is vital to nurture because our success in hospitality operations is achieved through all our team members, colleagues and employees doing their very best and often going above and beyond their contractual obligations. We need people to do that, to customise service and delight our customers and guests and it’s technically labelled as discretionary effort. Hospitality thrives on discretionary effort and it is a by-product of motivation and motivation is an outcome of effective leadership.
Why do leaders need a strategy?
Strategy is the connecting conduit between goals and tactics. A good strategy means that you are more likely to achieve your goals because all the energy spent on the tactical activity is connected to them. All hospitality businesses will have their end goals for quality, profit and other metrics carefully worked out – especially in this economic climate. These are goals that need to be achieved for many businesses to survive in these times.
At the same time, the planning and energy that has been deployed into tactical operational activity to get open and up and running again is simply awe-inspiring. Every little element and detail has had to be scrutinised, sanitised and serviced. So we have needed our best management skills to get everything planned and executed – and that’s taken up a lot of head space and energy.
However, there is also a need for strong leadership to provide clear purpose and direction, which is a challenge in itself in such uncertain times. Because of the different experiences and consequences of COVID-19, lock-down, furlough, closures and in many cases, redundancies there seems to be a need for leaders to be emotionally available in a way that they haven’t had to be before. This is a time for leadership at all levels to demonstrate more self-awareness, authenticity and connection at a deeper and more personal level – and that will be challenging for some.
A strong and clear leadership strategy will strengthen your leadership team and develop the culture that is most likely to achieve your goals. Hospitality operations everywhere need their teams and individuals to be agile, productive and fully present for every moment of every shift. Without a strategy, the alignment of the tactical day-to-day operational tasks with the business goals may well be weakened by the pressures.
How to build a strategy
It’s not a thing that many people will have thought about or considered and that’s why I wrote Picking up the Pieces as a step-by-step practical guide. It is evidence-based as it uses research findings from an extensive study of leadership development requirements for the hospitality industry. This is backed up with data from neuro-science and psychology to help guide certain actions and decisions.
It starts with understanding the transition process in order to facilitate change and being able to create clear purpose, articulate the vision and your own customised version of “where do we want to be?” Whether that is for a whole organisation, or one small department, that’s a key question to have a very clear answer for so that the team can identify with it and contribute fully.
Then there is a clear structure of three phases in a variety of situations and contexts:
Diagnosis – “where are we now?”
Design – “How do we get there? / what do we need?”
Delivery – “How is it working? / what next?”
Strategy creation can be complex, but it shouldn’t be complicated. This is a very simple way of helping leaders to think through the key elements of a leadership strategy for themselves.
Picking up the Pieces part 1 will be held on Tuesday 8 September at 3pm. Book your free Member place here!
Picking up the Pieces part 2 will be held on Thursday 17 September at 3pm. Book your free Member place here!