Different Leadership Skills Needed in Turbulent Times

We are all aware of the importance of good leadership skills in normal times: motivating the team, managing the operational side of the business, and dealing with daily issues—but effective leadership during these unprecedented times requires a different skill set. I’ve narrowed it down to 5 things:

  1. Empathetic engagement – Leaders need to show they care about and empathize with other people during this crisis, whether they are afraid of getting sick, anxious about lost income or concerned about the health and safety of their family members. This includes employees, customers, and the people who make up the surrounding community. While it might not seem like anyone is taking note, thanks to social media and word of mouth, people do pay attention to how organizations treat people during a crisis. Furloughed employees tune in to determine if an organization is one they will want to be affiliated with for the long term, post crisis. We have heard from customers that the way a hotel engages with their employees and community as well as listens to their own issues and then responses with compassion, will impact their future buying decisions.
  2. Nimble decisiveness – Effective leaders are able to put a stake in the ground and make a plan. They are decisive while at the same time able and willing to adjust based on an ever-changing situation and new information. Few leaders are so flexible they can modify the plan as necessary and be discerning enough to know when to stay the course. The recovery is going to see the need for a lot of change; even fewer leaders are able to motivate their team to navigate changes quickly and with ease.
  3. Innovative thinking – Sadly, this is something we do not see a lot of in the hotel industry. But it is needed now, more than ever, from at least one influential on-property leader. It means tapping into the consumer psyche, determining the implications of trends for the hotel, coming up with out-of-the-box solutions, and then developing services, promotions, and operational modifications that anticipate and leverage consumer sentiment and behaviors.
  4. The ability to implement – Effective implementation requires organizing of resources, practical delegation, holding people accountable to a defined timeline, relentless follow-up, and regular communication with key stakeholders. These are qualities of a leader in regular times, but in turbulent times, a leader must adhere to these 5 steps even more tenaciously in order to be the first to attain and hold onto the top RevPAR position.
  5. Action taking – This crisis is unprecedented. I’ve seen a lot of ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ looks from leadership uncertain of what to do next. Their worry has become paralyzing. Reframe that into thinking and planning and stop waiting. Act. Turn that anxiety and fear into useful energy by putting plans into action. For example, implementation of the sales and marketing recovery plan should start between 4 and 6 weeks prior to the reopening date. In other words, if June 1 is a hotel’s date of reopening, the plan should be finalized now and implementation already starting to take place.

All this to say that in turbulent times, such as now, it takes different leadership skills than exists in most hotels. This is a time for senior leaders who are more comfortable with working in familiar territory—their existing customer base and managing rates, dates, and space—to step aside and be open to accepting help from those with the skills outlined above.

If you do not feel you have the right leadership to take this on, what support mechanisms do you have to guide them through this so that your hotel is not left behind? Is your hotel ready?


"Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning. "
Winston Churchill

Take the Next Step Now

Need help with your organization? Hire Jo-Anne to transform your organization by:

  • Remove barriers to getting things done, including thriving during change
  • Engage a trusted advisor for consultation and recommendations
  • Support your leaders with Leadership Executive Coaching
  • Develop a strategic plan to manage today’s uncertainty
  • Optimize your sales and marketing organization
  • Turn all your employees into revenue drivers
  • Train your reservations team to be proactive and increase conversions

If you would like to hear more, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected].

About Jo-Anne Hill

Jo-Anne is an industry expert who founded JH Hospitality Consulting to help hotels around the world dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, Dorchester Collection, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

Jo-Anne's New Book Cultivating Leadership Buy Cultivating Leadership Book from Amazonnewsletter-footer.jpg

This email was sent to *|EMAIL|*
why did I get this? unsubscribe from this list update subscription preferences