Building leaders in the leisure sector

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Developing Leaders at Serendib Leisure Hotels 

Serendib Leisure Management Ltd. (SLML), which has four hotels under its wing, needed to boost the potential of their mid-level leaders so that they could be the flag-bearers for the new business strategy the company was striving to implement. In parallel to this initiative, a set of six values were introduced to the hotels in 2018 that would guide the behaviour of all hotel staff. 

Pincer & Fabian Consultants (P&F) was asked to come up with a program that could deliver the outcomes the top management expected, such as the upliftment of leadership and managerial competencies of the Heads of Departments (HoDs) and living the six values on a daily basis in their hotels. There were 42 participants from all four hotels who were divided into two batches. 

The program proposed by P&F included four stages. 

Stage one was a 360-degree assessment of each HoD to identify their strengths and areas for improvement, the second stage was a two-day workshop, which introduced leadership and managerial topics. The third stage involved having the HoDs go through a monthly one-day session, which included a learning session and a group coaching session. Each hotel team had to come up with a project that would add value to the hotel as their fourth and final stage. 

Adult learning methodologies, such as group discussions, case study discussions, roleplaying, online sessions, demonstrations, individual and team presentations, and group coaching were used, which helped the HoDs to link their learning to their workplace and to become more effective leaders and managers. The online sessions using Zoom technology and homework assignments ensured that the participants were kept engaged with the program during the one-month gap between each of the sessions. 

The program commenced in December 2018 and continued even after the devastating blow to the hotel industry as a result of the April 2019 bomb attacks. A mid-term review was conducted to measure the effectiveness of the programme and to implement any course corrections, if required. The mid-term review feedback from the four General Managers of the hotels, the participants and the HR department were positive, and they also pointed to certain areas that they wanted more focus on. 

The General Managers’ reviews indicated a positive change of attitude and commitment of the HoDs, rallying together to support the hotel during the Easter bomb crisis and the development of an open mind in response to various operational issues. The final and sixth group coaching session was conducted in November 2019 bringing the learning part of the program to a closure. By this time the HoDs at all four hotels had a value project identified and sanctioned by the respective General Managers. 

A final feedback was taken from the participants on two aspects. One was the overall program and the second was intended to get an assessment of five focus group areas. The HoDs especially mentioned the effectiveness of the coaching training they received and how it helped to coach their second tier of leaders. They also mentioned that this program was a unique experience for them, which helped them to focus on areas that they wanted to improve, such as team leadership, communication skills, guiding and mentoring their team members, conflict resolution, etc. 

They also reiterated the immense benefit they gained from the program, with the opportunity to know and interact with other hotels’ HoDs, which in turn allowed them to develop deeper bonds and share best practices.

They identified three final projects, all of which are to be completed by February 2020. Having a decent proficiency in a foreign language like German, Spanish or Arabic by the HoDs would help them to serve the customers better. The goal of the Foreign Language Project was each HoD to master 200 words from a selected language. The aim of the Wellness Project was to encourage the HoDs to follow a healthy lifestyle by regular exercise and diet control. The goal was to achieve a certain BMI. Final project was the Values Project where each hotel team was told to select a creative project that will add to the hotel bottom-line whilst demonstrating the six values. The teams and individuals will be recognised for their final achievements in all three projects in February 2020.

(Pincer & Fabian Consultants was established in September 2018 with Raj Vijayasiri and Dr. Jayantha Pathiratne as joint partners. Their core area is the leadership development of middle and senior managers in organisations, with group coaching as the main platform. Raj and Jayantha are the two main facilitators of P&F Consultants and they are both qualified executive coaches accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), USA. They have unique exposure to leadership and management challenges both in the private sector and in the armed forces. You can get further details about the services offered by P&F through their website: