Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance
My dear Sir, I look at you askance
You suffer from cognitive dissonance
How can you pity the starving poor
When you waste your food all o’er
And blame it all on happenstance?

We observed Cognitive Dissonance when we once pitched for a Workshop Series with a Key Account. We had done several similar assignments for this company and we had communicated this to them quite clearly as there was a new bunch of decision-makers now. We trusted that this history and experience of our work with them in the past would give us a clear edge over the competition.

We finally met with the Sales head who was the Decision Maker, and while creating a connect with her and breaking the ice, we talked of her prior experience and how it was so different from the industry she was now in. She had recently joined this company, having worked in other industries in the past. The Sales head enthusiastically asserted that sales experience and learnings can be applied to any industry, and she did not see this as an impediment to her success in this new leadership role. We agreed and then went on to make our presentation pitch. Somewhere in the middle of the pitch, she came up with the objection that though we had done several assignments with their company in the past, we had not specifically covered the topic that they were seeking in this project. We lost the pitch subsequently, and I was left scratching my head in bewilderment… I mean, we had all the credentials and the experience with fantastic reviews of our work done in the past with this company. Yet, the Sales head felt we did not have the necessary experience to handle their current need… strange, when she herself (having had no experience in this industry), had been given charge of her sales domain in this company; and had claimed earlier to us that the Sales domain was a common domain regardless of industry!

Cognitive dissonance is a mental conflict that occurs when your beliefs don’t line up with your actions. It’s an uncomfortable state of mind when an individual has contradictory values, attitudes, or perspectives about the same thing.

I could recount countless such examples, and I am sure you, as the reader, will recollect such situations of ‘cognitive dissonance’ (aka Cog Diss) occurring around you.
  • When a key decision maker of a company, booking a banquet function, brags of having done similar functions in the past at premium hotels in India and abroad, and then goes on to ask for an abysmally low rate (as ludicrous as expecting a Mercedes for the price of a Santro), bang! That’s Cog Diss.
  • Or, what about an ostentatious parent booking his daughter’s wedding function, flying in people from all over the world, and he is the MD of a Fortune 500 company touting its ESG values… bang! Cog Diss.
  • And then you have a government having the capability to produce a vaccine to control a pandemic, yet asking the populace to bring out their thalis et al to create an obnoxious din, loud enough to supposedly scare the virus away (but which barely scares the crows away), bang! That’s Cog Diss again.
  • In British India, when the xenophobic Britishers disallowed Indians from joining or entering establishments, they forgot that these same Indians, earlier, had access to more magnificent edifices and establishments in the past, bang… Cog Diss!
  • Many organisations claim their employees to be their biggest assets, and also include this in their mission statement, yet when calamity, ego, or circumstance strikes, the employees are the first to be let go, quite ruthlessly… remember Kingfisher airways and the Promoter? Bang, that’s Cog Diss!
Leon Festinger’s theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957) proposes that inconsistency among beliefs or behaviours causes an uncomfortable psychological tension, leading people to change one of the inconsistent elements to reduce the dissonance or to add consonant elements to restore consonance. What it means is that when we believe and act oppositely, we are suffering from Cog Diss. To be in consonance, we either need to change our beliefs or else change our actions, each to match the other, and thus be apposite to each other.

Hence, when we use plastic bags despite knowing that we are treading shamelessly on Cog Diss since we are hurting the environment; what we need to do is either change the action (stop using plastic) or else change our belief that plastic is harmful to the environment. Since the latter is a lie, and untrue, the choice of modelling our action to the belief is obvious, and we need to stop using plastic. That feeling of mental discomfort when using plastic bags is an example of cognitive dissonance. This is because our beliefs are clashing with our actions or behaviour. We believe that humans need to protect the environment, yet we still use plastic bags. The internal conflict that this causes, keeps us in turmoil.

I have seen a few leaders with commendable values, who say and act what they think and feel, in all sincerity… these are the highly respected ones. Cog Diss rarely appears on their horizon, and they are considered stable, level-headed, and looked upon as true role models. Mahatma Gandhi is one of the greatest examples of this consonance between thought and behaviour.

So, what stops us leaders from ducking away from Cognitive Dissonance and embracing Cognitive Consonance?


This article appeared in ET HOSPITALITY WORLD.COM Feb 2023

Posted in Human Resources, Leadership | Leave a reply

A ‘Dear John’ Letter

My dear John, my candidate
Really, what’s with you mate?
You haggled & took the job offer
Then ghosted and did us fob off
Morally, is that the right etiquette?

Dear John letter is a written communication in which the letter writer ends a relationship with the recipient. The term was popularized during World War II when many Americans spent years away from home. A letter written to impart the bad news of the end of the relationship would start in a formal way, such as “Dear John.” (John, being the most common first name of adult males during the 1940s).

After a series of interesting recruitment attempts gone wrong, wherein potential candidates backed out unscrupulously and unfeelingly, I paused to give thought to the Dear John letter concept and soliloquized to myself that perhaps it was time to write one such generic letter to errant candidates. So, here it is, dedicated to all who fit the bill!

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the position you so eagerly applied for. Your initial enthusiasm and comportment, along with a feigned passion for the job on offer sure pulled the wool over our eyes. What we missed out on was that it was all an act, worthy of perhaps being nominated for the ‘Recruitment Oscars,’ if ever there was any. What we failed to pick in our interactions with you was that in your case ‘still waters run deep.’ (a euphemism from Shakespeare’s King Henry VI – part 2, referring to a deceitful person)

Your ‘Benedict Arnold’ like behaviour has sure hurt our company… we wait for months for candidates like you who sign on, and then, a day or two before joining, express their inability to join for ludicrous reasons. Your recruitment cost is something we bear with nary a protest, and while we spend our resources wastefully on you, you earn more by using our offer and negotiating a better salary on the strength of our letter of intent. (Either with your present company or even with another opportunity!)

You send a WhatsApp message or email to communicate your last-minute decision, but do you not know that to be an upstanding human, it is best to face us live, by calling and speaking to us instead? To top it all, you are then incommunicado thereafter! Is it playing the game, I ask? What if the shoe was on another foot, where, God forbid, you were to receive a “Dear John Letter” from your loved one? Would you then, not have preferred your loved one to have faced up to you and given you the good ‘ole brusheroo in person?

In hindsight, we are grateful for your act, as it has strengthened our recruitment process and style. It has made us that much smarter to spot the decoys and fakes in the future, from amidst a sea of potential candidates. It would be foolhardy on our part to forecast that people with guile, as you so well concealed, will never get through our fishing net; but yes, we are working towards identifying and throwing back the unwanted fish into the sea of recruits. Experience makes us wiser, and we have incongruous candidates like you to thank for this.

Are you familiar with the poem by Dale Wimbrow titled ‘The Guy in the Glass’ written in 1934? Allow me to quote you a couple of verses from it:

When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.


Companies will come and go, and so will candidates. Many have learned that ‘bucking’ a company never makes sense, for the world is round, and our sins have a way of catching up on us. If you feel that your cozenage is now ‘water under the bridge,’ and you lightly disdain your act of elusion, then you have another think coming!

I am pretty positive that you have been taught not to burn your bridges. Well, my friend, for you, this bridge has burned, and while it may seem that you have rejected us, in truth, you have only eluded us… and now, our company has rejected you!

Nevertheless, with a heart of compassion, we wish you an honest and ethical future, where you may be able to look back confidently at the guy staring back from the glass!

Best Regards,

The Recruiter


This article appeared in ET HOSPITALITY WORLD.COM Oct 2022

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Guest Centricity

Guest Centricity
Guest Centricity

In our workshops on Guest Centricity, our earlier poser was ‘What changes have happened over the past two decades.

Damn, now it is ‘What changes have happened over the past two years!’

Over the past 2-3 decades, Guest Service Levels have striven to move from ‘Satisfied’ to ‘Very Happy or Pleased’ to ‘Delighted Guests.’ Now, over the recent past, Guest Delight has also taken on additional and neoteric dimensions. Earlier, it was mostly about delighting the ‘Guest ego and needs.’ Now it has forged ahead to a more philanthropic perspective.

Today, the guest is ‘Delighted’ to stay at properties that also tick the box on corporate social responsibility needs. The presence of fulfillment standards of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is in effect an altruistic self-actualisation for the guest and the new normal for enhancement of guest centricity.

To cite an example, earlier, guests would be delighted to be served by the same person over breakfast and dinner. Not anymore. Now guests take umbrage when the employee is being overworked and has no proper work-life balance.

The conundrum for us hoteliers is how to satiate and delight the guest, whilst not over-working employees.

We have called this upon ourselves by exploiting our employees over the decades… and now, post-pandemic, we have no choice but to work with fewer resources. Recently, we are seeing hoteliers and owners apologizing for the historical evils of exploitation. Now, we need to put into action, innovative employee best practices, to eradicate these evils of the past. Unfortunately, there is no magic potion for this, and this will best happen by a positive intent to change, rather than being wedged in a shell of the past.

What works against this relatively new realization that we need to adapt to ESG needs is that currently, the hospitality business is anyways hitting the roof. Hoteliers are exulting in business trends ziplining north, that too, from the domestic travel market. With the international traveller soon to touch Indian shores for our tropical winter season, business trends will positively implode further. Where then, is the bandwidth for introducing corporate social responsibility?

Yet, we need to note that delighting guests also encompasses delighted employees, for how can Guest Centricity exist without empowered, motivated, and delighted employees?

The ‘S’ in ESG is explained as the social aspect. This focuses on people and relationships and includes working to support equity, gender, inclusion, and diversity, in addition to enhancing guest delight and employee engagement.

Though Guest Centricity has of late, taken on the additional dimension of Corporate Social Responsibility through Environmental, Social, Governance (CSR-ESG), the basics of Guest Delight must still not be forgotten.

While enhancing Guest Delight is an art – a natural, and therefore intrinsic art for a few talented guest-centric associates, there is also a behavioural science backing this art.

Here is my must-have formula for Guest Centricity, which I exhort you to supplement and enhance.

SINCERE PERSONAL INTEREST IN GUEST WELL-BEING: Unless we really care for our guest’s well-being, we will deliver services clinically. Clinical service becomes procedural, and while it may satisfy the guest, it will not delight them. It is the convivial service that delights, and when delivered sincerely, with a personal interest for the guest, it is a clear winner. If the chicken and egg story confuses us, the Guest Delight saga need not do so… for guest delight clearly must come first, for supreme guest loyalty and word of mouth, higher sales and profitability, higher ratings, and motivated associates to follow, thereafter.

MOTIVATED ASSOCIATES: This has already been expounded as part of the ‘S’ of ESG.

EMPATHY: One of the most misunderstood concepts. It is easy to say ‘Empathy is all about putting yourself in another’s shoes.’ The challenge normally overlooked here is that before doing so, one has to remove one’s own shoes first! Only when one keeps aside one’s opinion, advise, and life-viewing prism can one truly get into the skin of the other person and understand their angst. There is this story about the hotel staff at a B&B in Canada who displayed solidarity with their guest, by shaving off their hair completely, when they got to know that a single father was bringing his son on R&R post his chemo. That is Empathy!

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: This encompasses the ability to perceive, reason with, understand, and manage emotions within yourself and others. While EI embraces all points mentioned in this list and is complex in its understanding; being emotionally intelligent to take responsibility for one’s mistakes and handle criticism maturely is directly connected to Guest Delight. Oft times ‘Guest Angst’ can be converted to Guest Delight. However, the logjam comes from justifying, instead of taking responsibility for the guest’s issues and handling feedback positively.

ACTIVE LISTENING: The most important subset of listening, Active Listening, entails Understanding before Responding. This cannot be compromised. Sadly, it is, at most times. Understanding includes the intent to understand (displayed by one’s body language) and the ability to understand. (Characterized by paraphrasing, questioning, and summarizing one’s understanding.) Only after doing all of this, should one Respond (agree, no judgement, or disagree)

Some of the most delightful guest interactions happen when the associate takes the effort to understand the guest before responding.


Robin D’Souza, an Indian settled in Scotland, was a regular at The Leela Goa during my stint there. Amongst several regulars, I often interacted with him and his Scottish wife. I learnt that two decades prior, he was from my school and suburb in Bandra, Bombay (St. Stanislaus High School). We both were avid readers and fans of P.G Wodehouse, and this too drew us close, in spite of the several years and seas separating us! During one of our many conversations, Robin had reminisced of flying kites as a youngster; so, on his next trip, we organized the paraphernalia required for this sport (colloquially known as ‘phirkee with manja,’ along with a dozen colourful paper kites). On check-in, he was delighted and emotionally overwhelmed when he saw that besides the regular amenities, there were these multicoloured kites along with their trappings. His wife told me later that Robin actually cried when he saw these ‘thoughtful amenities,’ as they had evoked fond memories for him.

Guest Delight is ignited best by evoking a positive emotional reaction from a guest!

And, on a lighter note…
Chef Joe from Denver city
Was all for Guest Centricity
His version of Prairie Oysters
Deep-fried Bull gonads as starters
Delighted all guests blushfully
This article appeared in ET HOSPITALITY WORLD.COM Sep 2022

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Gimme the right environment!

Gimme the right environment!

The despairing cry of many an employee before they eventually look for greener pastures elsewhere has been Gimme the right environment!

A lot has been written about the great exodus. No, I ain’t referring to Moses, or the wildebeest migrations of the Maasai Mara and Serengeti, or even the Pied Piper!

On the topic of the hospitality employee exodus, much water has flown under the bridge, and I will not squander words on the post-mortem of this skill-drain. Suffice it to say, the industry is almost up s**t creek as far as quality of skilled personnel.

While there are numerous possible solutions to tackle these, we are seeing the tried and tested path of talent search challenged by a diminished show of hands for positions that organisations are struggling to fill.

This long-term decay is the result of not listening to the employees crying out, “Gimme the right environment!

The Zoomers (aka Gen Z, born 1996 onwards) graduating from hospitality institutions do not see this industry anymore as the ‘promised land.’ The millennials (aka Gen Y, born 1981 – 1995) are a disillusioned lot after the treatment meted out to them over the past 2 pandemic years. And, the surviving Gen Xers (born 1965 – 1980) are striving for relevance and at times, even retention.

A millennial who works as an H.R. Manager for the corporate office at an international hotel conglomerate was sharing his angst with me recently. Having worked in this company for the past nine years, he has a brilliant future with the group, hence I was startled to note that he no longer felt like continuing with them.

The reason? He feels overworked, underpaid, and consequently, undervalued. His reporting boss, the V.P. – H.R., seems insensitive to a work-life balance and hearing his plaint of ‘gimme the right environment.’ He calls on holidays and weekends, for reports, and clarifications, and even gives assignments. He expects his people to work after hours and also loads my millennial friend with work assignments beyond his scope, as he is highly capable of doing so, when compared to all of his other colleagues. While my millennial friend values the learning he gets by going way beyond his job description, what really irks him, and is akin to rubbing salt on his wounds, is that his organisation, to match market remuneration, is hiring like positions for significantly higher salaries.

The result? Another one bites the dust, and the industry can notch up one more unwilling deserter! My millennial friend is now looking for a job without the industry, as he feels that working in other fields would be more rewarding, structured, and more work-life balanced.

A ‘brain drain’ is what is happening in our industry before our very eyes.

This is something we need to guard against; for, not only does this give us abysmal scores in employee retention, but also in talent attraction.

The culture of commodification and our old ways of operating stand in the way of differentiating hospitality organisations. This sustained traditional culture also does not foster active talent management and the meaningful personalised experiences that create return guests and make our businesses thrive.

While some factors are out of our control, what we can control is the pace at which we can stop, reflect, and feel for the benefit of our team members. They say, ‘Gimme the right environment.’ If we give them this, not only will it result in more engaged employees, but it may also just have the added benefit of helping an organisation stand apart from the pack of commoditization.

In my recent conversation with a senior and retired IHM principal, now heading a hotel management institute in Agra, I was aghast to hear that 40 of a batch of 60 Zoomers (students) who passed out this year, took up jobs in other industries, mainly retail.

The reason? Pretty much what one would expect: Salary not good enough, long working hours, poor work-life balance, and a lack of adequate rewards and incentives.

The result? Hospitality organisations are now going to regular colleges and non-hospitality institutions in remote areas to recruit staff; since they cannot find talent in regular hotel management institutions. Moreover, Zoomers are now preferring only white-collar jobs and refusing to slave it out at entry-level salaries. Consequently, hospitality organisations are now welcome only if they are sourcing for Management Trainees and the like.

We need to introspect on whether we are creating the right environment for our employees in today’s context.

After all, the work environment is now paraded outside of ‘glass doors,’ literally and figuratively. If an organisation’s environment is toxic, it is clearly bared on websites like ‘Glassdoor,’ which host employee reviews for companies they work in or have worked in.

So, how do we create the right environment? Are employee engagement initiatives, perks, work-life balance, and commensurate salaries and promotions the only way?

Along with all of this, employee empowerment is really the elephant in the room. To achieve this, one needs to work on the following, by asking oneself:


WHAT TO DO: Do they know what is expected out of them, or are they just left at the deep end and asked to swim by themselves? Do they comprehend their Job Description clearly?

HOW TO DO: Do they have the skills and understand the processes (SOPs) to perform their job?

WHY TO DO: Do they understand why they do the tasks and why they need to do so? This defines the purpose for all tasks they are expected to do and is best channelled from the employee’s inner motivation and passion.


ABLE TO DO: Have they been trained/skilled to perform their tasks? And, having done so does the employee have the capability to perform the tasks. Do they have the Tacit Knowledge, aka Experiential Knowledge, i.e., knowledge, skills, and abilities one gains through experience that is often difficult to put into words or otherwise communicate?

ALLOWED TO DO: Are they empowered in their jobs, and are they given the requisite freedom to do so? The organisational motivation, culture, and ethos are what lubricates their empowerment, rather than SOPs.

Considering the way ahead, where employee-to-room ratios have come down and will now continue to be below pre-pandemic levels, assessing and then reacting to the above will improve efficiencies and effectively support lower employee ratios.

A hotel group for whom we recently did an L&D workshop, had its participants bemoaning the perceived lack of empowerment in the organisation. Having interacted with their ownership and COO over the past 8 years and conducted workshops with their teams, we found a dissonance with the ground-level managers asking for this empowerment. In this case, truth be said, the organisation is keen to empower, but the managers are waiting for some hand-holding for the same.

I say empowerment must also be taken (within reason, by the employees) and not just given by the ownership. So here is possibly a rare example of empowerment on offer, but not taken. Perhaps the management could single out ‘driven,’ self-motivated leaders from within to begin the process of empowerment from the top, by coaching and mentoring these select leaders for empowerment. The trickle-down effect would eventually happen, wherein employees watching these select leaders, would be encouraged to emulate their style.

‘Gimme the right environment,’ is the entreaty of the new age employee.

Hospitality organisations need to sit up and take notice, and consider their employees’ needs in the route given below:

  1. Physiological needs (Food, Hygiene, Mise-en-scène at the workplace),
  2. Safety needs (Emoluments, job security, safety)
  3. Their need to Belong (Diversity in the workplace, respect for all, trust, acceptance)
  4. Their Esteem needs (Workplace Recognition, Awards, etc.)
  5. Having achieved this, organisations would finally reach Employee Self-Fulfillment (an Empowering culture, Creative leadership, etc.), thus helping the employees to achieve their full potential, aka Self-actualisation.

The first four are the D-needs (deficit needs) and these must necessarily be fulfilled by organisations for employee basic needs satisfaction.

The fifth need of Self-actualization is highly individualistic, where the self is ‘sovereign and inviolable’ and entitled to their own tastes, opinions, and values, sometimes coined as ‘healthy narcissism.’ Here the employees pride themselves on their enablement, and this is the stage that an employee feels empowered to the fullest!

Here is an ode to the originator of this theory which applies to our current predicament…

Abe Maslow was a psychologist

A hierarchy of needs did he list

“Physical and Safety needs

Belonging and Esteem needs

Leads to self-actualisation,’ he hissed.

This article appeared in ET HOSPITALITY WORLD.COM Aug 2022

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Where are the Role Models Gone?

Where are the role models?

Where are the Role Models?

A Swiss hotelier, Chef Tim Madl
At work sought a good role model
He looked far and wide
Much in vain he tried
Then fumed off to the Alps to yodel!

Mentor, exemplar, paragon, shining example, star, hero, superstar, epitome, idol, motivator – these are a few words one may find in Thesaurus to synonymize someone worth imitating.

In a freewheeling conversation a few weeks ago, with an industry paragon, the former president of the Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts, Mr. Rajiv Kaul talked to me of hospitality industry professionals nowadays in search of good mentors. He likened it to Don Quixote attacking the windmills, mistaking them for giants. Mr. Kaul gently remonstrated, “where are the genuine role models, those industry stalwarts, gone?” He shared his angst at the fact that both domestically as well as internationally, he receives this feedback from associates working in the best of brands, constantly in the hunt for a genuine role model.

This set me pondering… are we barking up the wrong tree and being quixotic when we look far and wide, like Chef Tim Madl (in my limerick above), for a good role model?

Don Quixote, the paragon of chivalry, in the book by the same name, written by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605 & 1615, battles the windmills as he believes them to be ferocious giants. He thinks that after defeating all of them, he will be able to collect the spoils and the glory as a knight. However, when he charges the ‘Giants,’ his lance gets caught in a sail, and he is knocked off his horse.

Many of us hoteliers battle our hospitality demons quixotically, hoping for mentoring and motivation, and leaders to coach us. Along the way, we are knocked off our steeds in this quixotic search. For, the truth is that Hook, Line, and Sinker Role Models (viz. perfect role models) are as hard to find as an ‘ignis fatuus,’ a ‘will-o’-the-wisp,’ or a ‘chimera.’

Is an ideal role model the real McCoy, in the hoteliering realm today?

I have never personally had an ‘ideal’ role model in my 23 years of active hospitality career, and most of us are probably in similar boats. Along the way, I realised I would have to create my role models from leaders around me… a ‘pick and choose’ if you please. Our industry is largely labour-intensive and there is no dearth of leaders to select ‘best practices’ from.

What stops us from identifying the good qualities of our leaders, and then emulating them into our hospitality DNA?

I had European bosses at one point in my career, and I noted them always bending and picking up paper trash while walking around the property… a sight to behold, as both towered over six feet tall. This discipline was wanting in my DNA, and in that of the 650 employees of our resort. Watching this humbling leadership trait, I followed suit, and soon, I noticed many people in my department doing so too! This has become a part of me now, and I do this wherever I go.

Antithetical to simply observing ‘best practices,’ I also advocate identifying ‘worst practices’ by looking to leaders with questionable praxis, to self-learn and pledge to yourself that you will never do what they do, even as you grow up the corporate ladder.

Here are personal examples of the benefit of identifying and utilising ‘worst practices.’

A General Manager I worked under, shunned meeting guests, perennially saying that he was busy. Another General Manager once told me that I could never hope to grow beyond the Head of Department level, as there would always be an expat in that position. These ‘worst practices’ of guest orientation and employee centricity spurred me to excellence, and I always made it a point to meet and make myself available to all my guests; and also, constantly exhort, coach, and motivate all subordinates in my organisation to grow.

Arguably, modelling yourself on your leader’s ‘best practices’ can be easier than modelling oneself by identifying and avoiding ‘worst practices.’

Why? Because at times you may have to go against the flow to avoid doing ‘worst practices,’ more so if your superior endorses these poor practices. Also, avoiding these bad practices is hard work, as opposed to following the right ones.

To illustrate my point, here is an example.

Sajid, an Executive Housekeeper worked at a luxury hotel in Chennai and saw his General Manager always avoiding meeting guests. He noticed that most of the HODs followed suit, and the complaining guest was often left to ‘dry on a hanger.’ He decided to go against the flow after watching this ‘worst practice,’ and made it a point to meet with all guests who wished to share their feedback. This was harder work than if he would follow his General Manager’s example. If conversely, his GM followed the ‘best practice’ of meeting with his guests, the HODs would do the same too, and Sajid would not have had to run from pillar to post, placating guests complaining about the hotel.

Hoteliering is a passion,’ opines Rajiv Kaul, and I concur to this with knobs on!

A manager who is not inspired, I guarantee you the fish stinks at the head,’ says Anthony Lark, who, at one time was the General Manager for Adrian Zecha’s first Aman resort, Amanpuri, in Phuket, Thailand, and who went on to open 3 Aman hotels thereafter. Strong words, perhaps, but the takeaway is that passion is one of the most important things to look for in a Role Model.

A role model Doyen must possess these Dozen ‘conditio sine qua non.’
  1. PASSION – This is underlying, and a must for all successful leaders.
  2. ONE WHO LEADS FROM THE FRONT – Leaders who follow the rules themselves, and who will never ask their subordinates to do something at work that they will not do themselves.
  3. CHANGE LEADER – Champions change, and is ever ready to innovate, especially in times of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity).
  4. RESPECT – Commands and gives respect.
  5. E.S.G. CHAMPION – Cares genuinely and acts positively for the Environment, Social, and Governance guidelines.
  6. DISCIPLINE – Self-care, self-discipline, respect of time (self & others), mastery of thoughts, focus, ability to resist impulses, and one who sees projects through to completion.
  7. COMMITTED – Focused Leaders honour their word, and always do what is promised. If unable to do so, they set re-aligned commitments as close as possible to the original commitment.
  8. ETHICS, HONESTY, FAIRNESS – Strong moral fibre, truthful, straightforward and honest, being mindful of the impact on others, not doing anything one wouldn’t like done to oneself, etc
  9. OWNERSHIP & ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY – Accepts one’s own, or team’s mistakes… Do not try to cover up mistakes or brush them under a carpet.
  10. EMPATHY – Tries to understand another’s point of view, and hears all sides; re-routes wherever feasible, to enhance productivity. More importantly, is caring and gives a hearing ear to others and their challenges.
  11. MOTIVATOR – Enthuses teams, appreciates their work, exhorts them with a vision to grow, and helps employees improve or sustain their performance.
  12. TRUSTWORTHY – Builds trust through deeds and actions, rather than through words. A ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ to people who rely on them.
‘Tis a Tall task worthy of a Tall Leader to have All these Tall Tenets!

Should you ever find such a leader, make the most of your time with them, as the odds are heavily stacked against you finding another such, in your career.

When you do not find the Ideal Role Model in your job, go ahead and use the ‘pick and choose’ option for emulating their ‘best practices,’ along with circumventing and learning from their ‘worst practices,’ to achieve excellence.

For those of you who have read my earlier blog in ET Hospitality World titled What would you like your WORK Tombstone to say?, you will note that the above ‘Dozen to be a Doyen’ leadership traits are what many of us would also want our people to remember us by.

And, as we look for all of these qualities in our Role-Models, remember that we also need to pay this forward, and one day become role models for others too.

This article has appeared in ET HOSPITALITY WORLD.COM June 2022

Posted in General, Leadership | Leave a reply