It would be an understatement to say that the service-hospitality industry is experiencing unprecedented times. The global ‘Black Swan” event has arrived, and the light at the end of the tunnel appears the size of a pinhole. However, our industry is critical to the ongoing wellness, social connection, and enchantment of consumers, so it will certainly persevere – hotels will re-open, cruise ships will set sail, restaurants will seat guests, galleries and studios will re-engage visitors, and the Vegas lights will again dazzle.
Everyone has a meaningful role to play in bringing the service-hospitality industry successfully into the post-COVID era. One priority that should not get lost among all the tactical manoeuvring that accompanies crisis and change management is how you want to be remembered, if not permanently branded, as a leader, colleague, and friend. ‘Legacy’ is more than the biographic story of accomplishments that defined one’s career. Instead, rethinking this concept has been a theme in my recent conversations with several industry thought leaders. Simply put, legacy is now, not later ― how you handle yourself during this time will leave a lasting impression for the years to come.
There are certain inalienable traits that we all must demonstrate during these chaotic circumstances to best advance as an industry and community. Leaders must be considerate of everyone’s current situation. Tough decisions are often required, but these need to be made, communicated, and executed via an empathetic lens. Open and honest communication is key. Regardless of how dire the situation is, we owe it to our team members to be timely and upfront every step of the way. Furthermore, colleagues and employees need to be amicable and adaptable to their new situations and roles; we all need to recognize that this scale and scope of economic constriction is new for everyone at all stages of their careers. We must embrace and exhibit a level of grit and resilience, take accountability for our actions, and continue to “show up” day in and day out for our fellow colleagues and friends. In essence, many businesses now have to think and act in ‘start-up’ mode.
When the crisis subsides and markets gradually return to normal, you will want to be remembered as the leader, colleague or friend who ‘listened, showed up, and pitched in’. More than ever, we all have the opportunity to be genuine servant leaders by supporting others and inspiring confidence through this historic low. And through this, effective leaders will be remembered for what they did and how they did it. The examples set now – be they positive or negative – also establish legacy. They implicitly groom the traits and tendencies of the future leaders who will help our industry to grow, innovate, and hopefully combat whatever challenges and crises lay ahead.