“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient."

Steve Maraboli

Building resilient leadership is an important agenda for any organisation trying to build a competitive advantage in their marketplace and remain successful over long periods of time. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting unprecedented pressure on many businesses worldwide, building resilient, agile leadership has become even more crucial as we move to the next phase in fighting this terrible disease. With vaccinations arriving before 2021 and organisations around the world starting to develop their strategies for growth and regeneration, it will be resilient leaders who will have to lead the charge.

Why Resilience Is Important For The Hospitality Industry

The coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard all around the world; no industry has been safe from the health risks and economic impact of this deadly disease. The hospitality industry has been particularly hard hit with commentators saying that the impact has been worse than SARs, 9/11, and the 2008 banking crisis.  

The operational and financial impact, driven by the global downturn in travel, is clear to see with hotel occupancy rates falling dramatically and restaurants forced to close or to operate with significantly lower levels of customers. However, the human face of the pandemic is arguably more significant and more long lasting. Hasseen Djeebet of Les Roches Marbella articulates this really well:

“Putting the human at the centre of the situation, the virus generates deep fear, confusion, and impacts us in a deeply emotional way that this generation has never felt."

(source: HospitalityNet )

Business plans, new marketing initiatives, and creative financial planning will all be used to pull the industry back to where it was. But one key driving force will help determine whether businesses in the hospitality industry succeed or fail, and this will be resilient leadership at every level within an organisation.

What Is Resilience? 

We all face challenges and adversity throughout our lives, but how do some people manage to cope better and bounce back following crises and turmoil when others seem stuck and unable to move forward? Psychologists have studied this phenomenon and come up with the term “resilience.” Psychology Today provide a useful definition:

“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”

(source: Positive Psychology )

Resilience relies on different skills and draws on various sources of help, including physical and emotional health, rational thinking skills, and your relationships with those around you. In today’s dynamic and fast-moving hospitality industry it is now recognised as a very important competence to demonstrate in the workplace, particularly as a leadership skill.

When resilient leadership is developed within an organisation, managers will be recognised for the following traits:

  • They view challenges as opportunities and not as paralysing events. They focus on learning from experiences and their own mistakes.
  • They are committed to their goals. They create targets and objectives for themselves and their people.
  • They spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. This ensures that their efforts are targeted to the places where they can have the most impact.
  • Don’t blame themselves when bad events occur. Instead, they recognise the true cause of failure and focus on fixing it rather than generating a blame culture.
  • Are empathetic and compassionate, however, they don't waste time worrying about what others think of them. They maintain healthy, productive, and professional relationships.
  • Develop personal and positive habits that help them progress agendas and develop professionally.

Building Resilient Leaders? 

Leadership development is vital for leaders to build the resilience levels they need to focus on developing key characteristics such as optimism, flexibility, adaptability, independence, and effective problem solving. In addition to these key traits, we also see leaders with a good sense of humour, self-control, strong relationship skills, high self-esteem, and the capacity to manage their own emotions as being some of the most resilient organisational leaders. All of these traits come from the individual and research has shown us that as much as 40% of our resilience levels come from our outlook on life and the activities we pursue.

The starting point for leaders in the hospitality industry, to build resilience will be to focus on their outlook and grow key skills with others in their organisation. Some practical tips include:

Look After Yourself 

Staying fit and healthy is a cornerstone of resiliency and well-being. This is because stress is as much physical as it is mental, that’s why adopting a healthy diet with regular exercise can boost immunity and strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce anxiety levels.

Apart from diet and exercise, it is important to keep a positive outlook on things and always try and look at the bright side of life. Remember that we can all choose to be positive or negative.

Prioritise Relationships 

Relationships in work will have a significant impact on resiliency. Developing a strong network within work is a valuable component of building better resilience. Strong social networks are a key foundational building block for this skill to increase in your life. Work on connecting with colleagues in work who are empathetic and understanding, which will help you remember that you are not alone during these challenging times. Show that you are trustworthy and compassionate as your employees will need to draw on these characterises during the months ahead.

Create Your Purpose 

As a leader in the industry, it is important to have personal and professional purpose and clear goals. Decide what success looks like over the short and medium-term and create your own goals and targets.  These will give you purpose and something to aim for. Regularly work towards your goals by keeping your activity levels up and focus on achievements, even if these are small. And remember to celebrate success!

Stay Objective and Positive 

Your mindset is important as you grow your resilience levels. Staying positive will impact how you feel, how you react to challenges, and how you deal with obstacles.  Try and identify areas of your work where you have any irrational thinking and focus on creating a more balanced, objective perspective. You may be faced with a stressful issue which you cannot change, but at least you will be able to manage how you react and cope with it.

Developing as a resilient, agile leader will set the right example for others in your organisation, help you embrace the changes ahead, and keep you healthier and more productive.