Leaders in our industry often spend all their time developing their team, but it’s vital to consider your own individual goals too, says David Taylor
As leaders, one of the most important responsibilities within our roles is to develop and prepare our teams for future leadership.
Whether it be an internal initiative, the Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Diploma or other training courses made available by organisations such as Springboard, HIT Scotland or the Institute of Hospitality, there has never been a better time to watch our talent grow and develop.
However, you need to ask yourself: “When was the last time I took a step back from the business and thought about my own development?”
Once you reach general manager level, it’s very easy – and normal – to forget about your own development and put all your focus onto your team, property and day-to-day operations. Nevertheless, carving time to establish your own development goals is essential to your growth as a leader and should be actively encouraged by employers.
When I achieved the first general manager role of my career while at the Hoxton, one of the board members took me aside, congratulated me and gave me two golden pieces of advice. The first was that it’s lonely at the top and I needed to ensure I had great mentors to bounce ideas off and challenge my thought process. The second was to seek out an external programme that would aid both my personal and professional development.
Since receiving the advice, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had several brilliant mentors, leading me to have an executive coach, who I describe as my ‘conscience’. I was also encouraged by my employer to take time away from the business and apply for the Innholders Scholarship, which generously offers a fully funded management programme, either at Cornell University in the US or Cranfield School of Management, here in the UK.
Although a big time commitment, the career-changing opportunity enabled me to take a fresh perspective of my role and leadership style, establish my managerial goals and learn from and collaborate with like-minded peers. My time on the programme taught me to be inquisitive and helped me develop the skills required to take the step from hotel management to business management.
I wholeheartedly believe that if I hadn’t taken time away to focus on my own development, I wouldn’t be doing the role I am today. Sometimes you need to think selfishly to make the next step, so I would actively encourage you to stop what you’re doing and think: “What about me?”
Since 1997, more than 240 professionals have taken advantage of the Innholders scholarships, with 90% of successful scholars now sitting at general manager level or higher, or in senior specialist roles.
Applications for the Innholders Scholarship are now open until 29 July. While the scheme is co-ordinated by the Master Innholders, the judging panel is actively looking for applications that cover the length and breadth of the country across all styles of hotel.
David Taylor is vice-president – operations for Principal, InterContinental Hotels Group