Leading a successful team
I was recently invited to speak on the topic of Skills for Leadership at an Institute of Leadership and Management event at Cardiff and Vale College.
It is a difficult subject to address because successful leaders bring many different styles to heading their organisations and managing their operations, but I believe the most important skill any leader can learn is how to manage and develop the team of people around you. That is because however strong and talented a leader you are, you cannot do it on your own and the success of any organisation is going to be far more dependent on the actions and skills of the many people in a team, than a single leader at the top.
That is why I chose to start my presentation with a quote: “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”
Taking care of those in your charge means a lot more than looking after their well-being, although that is an increasingly important factor in the modern workplace. It also means developing their skills and potential, motivating them to perform their job effectively, and incentivising them with career opportunities to ensure your team and organisation benefit from the individual progress they make.
With standards of service so important to so many aspects of our business at Celtic Manor, we have always taken training very seriously so developing staff skills runs right through the company. We have stepped up those efforts over the last six years with the creation of a dedicated Learning and Development Team to add greater structure to our training.
We now offer more than 70 in-house courses for employees ranging from food safety to leadership and management – it’s no wonder we call it the Celtic College. Speaking of colleges, we have worked closely for several years with educational establishments like Coleg Gwent and Cardiff and Vale College, offering work experience placements in our kitchens and our spas for their vocational qualifications.
We have taken this further in the last academic year with the launch of a brand new degree course in Hotel and Hospitality Management in partnership with the University of South Wales. Students do the theory in the university classroom and come to us for the practice - a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of the hotel and hospitality industry where they will learn so much from the experience and expertise of our managers.
The degree course in some ways reflects our own trainee management scheme which has been running for four years now, giving those on the programme a thorough understanding of all areas in our diverse business before specialising in a department of their choice.
In an organisation of our size – we now have more than 1,000 staff – and in an industry as transient as hospitality, we recognise some people will move on to develop their careers. I myself am one of many examples throughout the company who have moved on and then returned to Celtic Manor.
We also have many more staff who have been with the company for 10, 20 and 30 years’ unbroken service who have risen through the ranks. In fact, the eight most senior posts in our senior management team all have at least 12 years’ experience with the resort and a combined 130 years of service between them.
This tells you something about how we are able to motivate and incentivise the best people to progress within the company. We are fortunate that the Celtic Manor Resort is an iconic brand that our staff feel proud to work for, and that in itself is a great motivator.
We have some amazing staff benefits – including substantial discounts on accommodation, restaurants, golf and leisure memberships – which are a great perk. We also have a number of reward schemes for personal achievement which culminate in our annual Making A Difference staff awards, when we put on a fantastic gala dinner to match the kind of event we host so regularly for corporate clients.
Most importantly we have a clear talent management route to grow our own leaders. Examples among our current management include the manager of our Coldra Court Hotel, who started with us as a seasonal golf services assistant; our IT Director, who started as a greenkeeper; and our new ICC Wales Sales Director, who has moved over from the same position at Celtic Manor, having started on the phones in event sales.
Knowing the commitment that members of the senior team have shown to reach these positions helps build trust and confidence in their ability to lead their departments, and a consistency in our brand values.
This development of a successful management structure and a motivated team at all levels are the real Skills for Leadership and I ended my presentation with another quote on the same theme:
“A good leader inspires others with confidence in him; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves.”