Become a More Effective Leader and Manager-Coach

Become a More Effective Leader and Manager-Coach

The best coach I’ve ever encountered was Joan H. She was neither a guru, published author, nor great speaker. She was my first manager, but she was endowed with a superior gene for coaching. My job involved writing articles for publication: a piece of cake—or so I thought. My first assignment was to write an article. Eight agonizing drafts later, Joan judged my article good enough to go!

Joan was a terrific coach whose effectiveness came from six practices:

  • Setting the bar high. Joan knew what constituted excellence, and she would not settle—or allow me to settle—for less. Joan persevered, draft after draft, without lowering her standards or giving up on me. As a result I reached a new level of excellence.
  • Stating “shoulds” clearly. Clear shoulds provide targets, which prompt desired behavior. Joan didn’t simply say: “Rewrite this.” Her feedback was specific. Still, her focus was never on how bad my writing was, but on how it could be better. Clear shoulds not only provide targets to hit; they also clarify the current “as is” and the gap between the two. My job was to close the gap.
  • Refusing to “rescue.” Joan never said, “This is how I would rewrite it.” She put the onus on me, saying things like, “This paragraph is too wordy. How could you express the same thought in fewer words?” She forced me to come up with solutions.
  • Testing for understanding. Joan never assumed that I knew what was expected of me. She provided feedback, then asked “So, do you understand what you need to do? How will you go about doing it?” This kept me on target.
  • Contracting. At the end of every feedback session, Joan carefully laid out the next steps: What she expected me to accomplish the next time we met and when that meeting would occur.
  • Having patience. Joan may have been frustrated by the rework, but she never let it show. I was on a learning curve, and she gave me the time I needed.

Traps in Leadership and Management

Avoid Three Traps in Leadership and Management

Three traps can derail you:

  1. Colluding with the client (not pressing the person or team to go beyond their comfort zone). Collusion is “feel-goodism” in the short run, but one of the biggest barriers to lasting behavior change.
  2. Not knowing when to let go. You can’t learn to ride a bicycle unless you pedal on your own. Great coaches aren’t rescuers; they don’t carry monkeys. They don’t have the conversations their client should be having, forge relationships for him or her, or make up for the person’s inability to change. They provide support and guidance.
  3. Giving clients an ultimatum: Go for coaching or go for the door. Getting a client to change behavior by the threat of repercussions is futile. Instead, focus on facts. Begin the coaching by interviewing those closest to the executive. Does he or she come across as a doormat or as Attila the Hun? When this person enters the room, does the air become thick with tension? Is the person perceived as a team player or Lone Ranger? What do colleagues perceive as his or her greatest strengths and weaknesses? Answers here are the key to behavior change, providing a “reflected self”—a sense of how others perceive him or her.

Data alone isn’t always sufficient. Many executives are in denial; their view of their own behavior is at odds with that of their boss, peers, and direct reports. Sometimes it’s possible to eliminate the disconnect by careful questioning: asking the executive what he or she might be doing inadvertently to create these perceptions. In other cases, the client may continue to deny the facts. Then, the coach needs to examine his or her own style. Is it too direct? Is it possible that the client feels threatened?

Sometimes executives know that behaving differently would be to their advantage; but as one executive put it, “I just don’t have the stomach to change.” When faced with such resistance, refuse to collude. Continue to push the person gently until the desired behavior change is achieved.

Coaching involves following a step-by-step process: collecting and analyzing facts; sharing them with the client in an objective, non-threatening way; transferring the specific skills needed to bring about behavior change; and measuring results. World-class coaches adhere to these six practices and sidestep the traps.

Seven Deadly Roles

Here are seven roles that coaches should avoid at all costs:

  1. Playing Confessor. Coaching is not about absolution, but behavior change.
  2. Playing Freud. Coaches don’t get paid to fathom the “inner self,” but to assess what’s observable.
  3. Playing Houdini. Coaches should not pretend there’s magic in coaching. They should explain their process.
  4. Playing Solomon. Coaches should not think they have all the answers. For the best insights, they need to look to those who interact with their client.
  5. Playing Tarzan. Coaches don’t get paid to carry their client’s monkey. The client must carry the burden and learn how to lighten the load.
  6. Playing Shill. Coaching is not about making excuses, but about changing performance so excuses won’t be necessary.
  7. Playing Intimidator. Coaches don’t win through intimidation, sabotage, or by rattling clients. They help clients, not destroy their ego—or career.
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Posted in Management and Leadership

Seek Benefits for Both Sides in Negotiating Deals

Seek Benefits for Both Sides in Negotiating Deals

What is a reasonable goal in negotiation? Can both parties walk away from the table with even more value than they expected? Many professional negotiators prefer to aim towards what is known as a Win-Win solution. This involves looking for resolutions that allow both sides to gain.

Think about this as a possible goal: to create joint value and divide it give11 concerns for fairness in fhe relationship.

You may say to us, “Get real! My clients don’t do business that way!” or “Buyers are not interested in creating value, much less in being fair!” Or as the top salesperson for one of our Japanese clients once said: “You don’t understand; the Japanese buyer dictates what we do—and all he cares about is price! We don’t have any say.” So, if that’s what you’re thinking, we are not surprised.

However, we have convinced many top selling and purchasing organizations to adopt the reasonable goal in their negotiations. We’ve done this for one good reason: it works. Both sides benefit when you create joint value and divide it given concerns for fairness in the ongoing relationship. For example, if you’re trying to sell your product to a customer whose main concern is price, the customer can look at this negotiation in one of two ways. He can say, “My goal is to get the product for less,” and simply demand a lower price. If you, as the salesperson, accede to his demands, he’ll be happy because he’ll get what he wants, but you’ll be less happy because you won’t be making as much money as you had hoped or expected to make.

What if, however, the customer considers his goal to be “to create joint value and divide it given concerns for fairness in the ongoing relationship?” If he’s thinking along those lines, he may still suggest that you give him a deeper discount than you’re offering, but in return he might agree to a longer commitment or higher volume or provide you with access to other divisions of his company—options that would cost him nothing. In this situation, you are more likely to offer a better discount because you are getting more of his business. In fact, you would both come out of the negotiation with more than you anticipated going into it. The best win-win agreements often spring from presenting multiple offers rather than a single, lone offer or proposal. And, you would establish a positive relationship that is likely to bring you even more business in the future.

“It sounds all right in theory,” you say, “but does it really work in practice?” Yes, it does. Aiming to create joint value and divide it given concerns for fairness in the ongoing relationship changes the nature of the negotiation in positive ways. It helps you create and negotiate larger deals because it leads to tactics that are more likely to yield larger deals. As a result, even if it doesn’t work every time, in the end you make more money because the individual deals are larger. To guide these win-win perceptions, give your negotiation counterpart a voice in the decision process. Even when you are in a position of power, be sure to acknowledge your counterpart’s perspective and invite him to express his views, to suggest alternatives, and to react to initial proposals. Another benefit is the positive effect on the climate and tone of the negotiation as a result of sharing the goal with your customers. Of course, they tend to be very skeptical at first. But once you prove that you mean what you’re offering over the course of several negotiations, your sincerity not only makes individual negotiations easier and more productive but has a positive impact on the ongoing relationship.

Whatever the circumstances, in order for the situation to be a true win-win, both sides should feel comfortable with the final outcome.

Recommended Books on Negotiation

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Posted in Life Hacks and Productivity

Chill out at the Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa in Enchanted Sedona (Arizona)

Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is renowned for being the center of strong spiritual energy, in part because of its commanding color mishmash of red orange rocks, cornflower-blue sky, and evergreen vegetation. This part of Arizona is renowned for its new-age spirituality, age-old mysticism, and there is certainly something special about these parts. Sedona presents at an elegant intersection of soul-nourishing wilderness and indulgent luxury where towering red rock monoliths embrace an array of resorts, spas, art, and spirituality.

Super spa Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa is surrounded by the Boynton Canyon and overlooked by a wind-carved rock formation christened Kachina Woman (considered one of the most sacred.) The Mii Amo Spa was voted the world’s best spa in 2007 by Travel+Leisure magazine, and the staff, location, treatments, and facilities all scored perfect ranks.

The architectural style of Mii Amo blends in impeccably with the outstanding Arizona red-rock. There are sixteen casitas and on-site suites—the largest being the Mii Amo Suite—all with private courtyards and views of the Boynton Canyon. The exclusivity of the Total Sedona Hiking Experience is in all that it encompasses. Beds of lavender lupine and white desert chicory line the jaw-dropping beauty of the Boynton Canyon Trail, a hiking expedition that begins well before you christen the rocks with the soles of your feet.

Sedona, Arizona If you feel the need to take your soul on a journey, the Mii Amo Spa is the place to do it. Craft a link with your inner self in a soul-seeker gathering, renovate your energy in the Crystal Grotto at the heart of the spa, or have a Mii Amo signature massage with mineral crystals from Sedona. This is a place where magic happens.

The title Mii amo comes from the Native American word for “journey,” and the spa offers a diversity of ways to take your body and soul to a new level, whether by spending the day experiencing treatments from a conventional facial to an aura reading, or staying here for a three-, four-, or seven-day vacation. You can sign up for a basic spa package, a fitness package that includes hiking around Sedona, a new age, Native American-influenced package, complete with sweat lodge-style sessions, or a combination of all three.

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Posted in Travels and Journeys

Creating Authentic and Sustainable Value the Toyota Way

Creating Authentic and Sustainable Value

Creating authentic value goes beyond getting financial results. Getting financial results is not what the magic of leadership is all about. Even poor leaders get results—often at unacceptable costs. We can achieve our goals but harm our health; get results but damage morale; make earnings but jeopardize customer relationships; push for cost savings but diminish quality; advance our career but destroy our family.

Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System, defined waste as “any activity that absorbs resources but creates no value” and “Consider the waste of overproduction, for example. It is not an exaggeration to say that in a low-growth period such waste is a crime against society more than a business loss. Eliminating waste must be a business’s first objective.” Good leaders get results; great leaders create sustainable value by serving multiple constituencies.

Dee Hock, the visionary founder of Visa, said, “As leaders, our job is to serve everyone else.” This is a powerful reframe of leadership. It is so easy, as we advance into leadership roles, to think that others are there to serve our needs. The shift means moving from leadership that is self-serving and short-term, to leadership that is constituency serving and sustainable. In Winston Churchill’s words, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” We are measured as a manager by what we produce. We are judged as a leader by what we give. As Einstein said, “It is high time the ideal of success is replaced with the ideal of service.”

Once I coached a highly-driven, results-oriented executive whose belief system was: I achieve therefore I am. All needed to serve his ego mission.

'The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer' by Jeffrey Liker (ISBN 0071392319) As his career advanced, his relationships suffered. However, because he was producing results, his bosses loved him. They were unaware of the heavy costs. One day a 360-degree assessment revealed how others viewed his leadership. At first, he resisted the input. “I’m so results-driven that I sometimes drive people too hard.”

During coaching, he began to see how his approach was getting results but not creating sustainable value: “I’ve been controlling everyone to serve my need to succeed, not serving my people.”

The watershed moment for leaders is to move from tyranny to stewardship, from being burdensome to being purposeful, from control and domination to inspiration and service. If we don’t make this leap, what behaviors will we justify in the name of financial results?

Financial results fuel organizations. Nevertheless, if we seek financial results only for the shareholders, without serving employee, customer, and environmental needs, the results will not be sustainable. New leaders will need to create more balanced measures to achieve financial results.

Finding creative, life-enriching ways to serve multiple constituencies is the leadership challenge today. One powerful way is to foster a compelling vision of our unique Value Creation proposition: What life-enriching vision do we serve? When I visit organizations, I ask people, “What do you do?” It is a type of Value-Creation Audit. Most people describe their job. Others see their role and contribution on a deeper level.

Awaken Value Creation

Here are some principles for awakening value creation:

  • Good leaders get results; great leaders get sustainable results.
  • Great leaders serve the interests of multiple constituencies.
  • Financial results are only one measure of Value Creation.
  • True Value Creation requires that we also enrich the lives of people.
  • Great leaders realize that their role is to serve, not to be served.

To build a compelling value-creating culture, ensure that people understand the life-enriching vision.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

Visit Bhutan … It’s a Wallet-Friendly Visual Delight

Bhutan's Paro Taktsang (Taktsang Palphug) Monastery, also known as Tiger's Nest

While we thought our entire Bhutan travel cost was jaw-dropping, a two-hour trek to the breathtaking Taktsang Lhakhang Monastery ensured our jaws stayed that way. Perched miraculously on a solid granite cliff, the monastery is a vertigo-inducing experience. “Don’t step ahead or you’ll fall,” warned one guide, just as we began our climb of the mountain. One wrong step is a 1,000-metre fall. If you manage the course, the Tiger’s Nest, as it is popularly known, is breathtaking. A wonderful landscape, with colorful flags fluttering in every corner, this beautiful spot is just 10 km from the Paro valley. The trip back is exhausting but you can stop to take rest at the Kyichu Lakhang Monastery. The food’s good. We ordered red rice and Ema Datshi, a stew of hot peppers and cheese, for dinner. This is Bhutan’s national dish and probably tastes best after that tiring trek.

Last year around this time, my brother and I began our trip. We took the legendary Darjeeling Mail from Sealdah at night and reached the Hasimara station the next morning. From there, we took a car to Jaigaon, the Indian side of the Bhutanese border. Our entry into Bhutan was a cakewalk as we had a ready entry pass from the Bhutan consulate office in Kolkata. We simply walked past the gate to reach Phuentsholing, the entry point into Bhutan. The advantage of being an Indian is that you don’t need a passport or a visa to enter the mountain country. All you need is an identification card.

Rinpong Dzong in Bhutan

  • Paro: After a trip to the Tiger’s Nest, we started towards the Rinpong Dzong in Paro, one of the oldest forts in Bhutan. Situated in an elevated zone, this fort gives a marvellous view of the extended valley. The walls of the fort are painted with intricate details on Buddha’s life. Overlooking the Dzong is a watchtower, which is a museum. Paro, the home to Bhutan’s only airport, is a small town that can be best explored on foot. The town has a well-lit street lined with buildings on either side. Most of these buildings house restaurants, emporiums and cafes.
  • Thimpu: If you are from Delhi or Mumbai, Thimpu should surprise you. The car drivers here are polite enough to give way to pedestrians. There’s no traffic signal. Traffic in Bhutan is controlled by well-dressed and well-trained traffic police. There is no bumper-to-bumper traffic, never-ending jams here. The best part: It’s safe to walk at night. There are hardly any instances of robbery or theft. The archery ground is another interesting place we visited. The clock tower in the center of the town is worth seeing. Another must-see is the weekend market, where one can buy good antiques and handicrafts.
  • Bhutanese People are Warm and Friendly Punakha: We started for Punakha the next morning. From the warm Thimpu, our car moved through a windy and winding road and stopped at Dochula Pass, famous for its splendid 108 chortens or domes and a panoramic view of the snowclad Himalayan range. By noon we reached Khuruthang, which is mostly inhabited by monks. We also visited the magnificent Punakha Dzong, which is surrounded by a river and is one of the biggest and most beautiful Dzongs. Bhutan has pictures of forts on its currency notes too, which is why you can probably call Bhutan the country of Dzongs.

Visit Bhutan—it’s pocket-friendly and a visual delight if you plan wise and bargain hard. Bhutan is a visual delight. It has lots of Dzongs or forts that depict details on Buddha’s life. Paro, the home to Bhutan’s only international airport, can be best explored on foot. Our nine-day trip for two cost $325 with food and stay. We never pre-booked our stay. Just bargain hard, it helps.

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Posted in Travels and Journeys

How to Create a Culture of Accountability

How to Create a Culture of Accountability

Most people view accountability as something that belittles them or happens only when performance wanes, problems develop, results suffer, something goes wrong, or someone seeks to identify the cause of the problem, all for the sake of pinning blame and pointing the finger. When things sail along smoothly, people rarely ask, “Who is accountable for this success?”

Most dictionaries define accountability in a negative view. Consider Webster’s definition: “subject to having to report, explain, or justify; being answerable and responsible.” The words “subject to” imply little choice in the matter. This suggests that accountability is a consequence for poor performance, something you should fear or avoid. When people experience accountability this way, they shun it and justify poor results.

We need a more positive and powerful definition of accountability. Consider ours: “A personal choice to rise above your circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieve desired results.

This definition includes a mindset of asking, “What else can I do to rise above my circumstances and achieve the desired results?” It involves seeing it, owning it, solving it, and doing it, and requires making, keeping, and answering for personal commitments. Such a perspective embraces current and future efforts rather than reactive, historical explanations. With this new definition, you can help yourself and others do everything possible to overcome difficult circumstances and achieve desired results.

Accountability in Action

As hard as he tried, Dave Schlotterbeck, CEO of Alaris Medical Systems, could not get his 2,900 employees to perform. The $500 million company had resulted from a merger of IVAC and Imed. While the merger should have produced strength, debt and under-performance stalled all efforts.

The breakthrough at Alaris was the result of focused effort. Through a series of cross-functional feedback sessions between operations, sales, quality, customer care and service, individuals were confronted with hard facts. People could see the problem and how they could change it. They overcame the barriers of functional expertise and prefer ences and aligned themselves for the common good. ALARIS attained a culture of accountability in which everyone wanted to do and achieve more.

Here are four steps to take in creating a culture of accountability

  1. Know what result you need to reach. Whether you have a sales goal, a delivery date for your product, or a minimum ROI to achieve, know what result you need to reach. Once you set the goat make it clear to all managers and employees. Everyone must know what they are working for and how their job moves the company forward.
  2. Generate joint accountability for results. This occurs when everyone assumes accountability for the result. No one can even think, let alone say, that he has done his job if the team has not achieved its targeted result. In fact, no one can think or say that she has achieved her individual result if the company has not achieved its result. Leaders can create joint accountability by targeting a clear result, driving the result though the company, and holding everyone accountable for achieving the result—not just doing his or her job. Joint accountability demands that everyone become accountable for producing the results the company must achieve.
  3. Keep people focused on achieving the result, not just putting in time and doing tasks. Often, job descriptions push people into boxes. They give people the idea that they are getting paid and using their skills to perform a defined function or task. The task mindset leads people to believe that if they perform their functions, they’ve done the job, whether or not the result is achieved. Effective leaders lead people beyond the boundaries of their jobs and inspire them to relentlessly pursue results by creating a culture that motivates them to ask, “What else can I do?” until the results are achieved. They help people see that their “job” is to achieve the results. The daily activities that comprise people’s jobs must be aligned with the targeted results.
  4. Direct you own destiny. Only when you assume full accountability for your thoughts, feelings, actions and results can you direct your own destiny; otherwise, someone else will. Accountability enables you to influence events and outcomes before they happen. You will gain much more from a proactive posture than from a reactive one.

This view of accountability can help revitalize your character, strengthen your competitiveness, heighten innovation, improve the quality of your products and services, and increase your responsiveness to the needs and wants of your customers and constituents. When you create a culture of accountability, you will achieve the results you want, and everyone will help you along the way.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators

Insightful Life Lessons from Successful Business Executives

Insightful Life Lessons from Successful Business Executives

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Posted in Education and Career

Thermae Bath Spa: The Thermal Springs that Soothed Ancient Roman Conquerors

Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, England

As the sun sets across the Georgian rooftops of Bath, there is no finer place to be than wallowing in the steamy warmth of the rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa. It is the lone location in Britain where visitors can escape into spring water that is naturally heated. Hotel spas, even in Bath, make do with warmed tap water. Thermae uses mineral-rich spring water bubbling up from the limestone at 113 deg F—just like the Romans who built the intricate bathing complex that still stands a few hundred yards away.

There is a modern sense of luxury within the modern construction. More than 140 architects competed to win the contract. Nicholas Grimshaw’s winning design uses conventional Bath stone, like the Georgian buildings surrounding the spa, plus giant swaths of glass and idiosyncratic round portholes. This building also accommodates the Minerva Bath, the largest and most futuristically stylized of the three on offer, with massage jets, a whirlpool, and a “lazy river.”

Cross Bath, Thermae Bath, England The customary treatments are available, as well as private escapes to the restored Georgian Hot Bath and the secluded Cross Bath, a stand-alone bathhouse across the street built above the site of the original Roman cistern. At the main three-story spa, there is everything a latter-day Roman bather could want: scented steam saunas in circular glass pods, an indoor pool with gently flowing currents, bubbling foot baths, a huge shower big enough to soak a dozen people at once, and the highlight, a rooftop pool. The naturally heated rooftop pool on the spa’s New Royal Bath building is best enjoyed at night, when the skyline is floodlit. Visitors can take in a panorama that includes the ornate towers of 17th-century Bath Abbey in the center of town.

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Leadership Connection: Listen and Speak Authentically

Leadership Connection: Listen and Speak Authentically

Connection is the glue of leadership, bonding parts and revealing synergy. Power emanates from our connections with those around us and helps us to go beyond what we once thought possible. Gita Bellin wrote, “The impossible is possible when people align with you.”

Genuine connection requires authentic listening and authentic voice.

Authentic Listening

Most executives consider themselves to be good listeners. They can capture and comprehend a vast array of facts, data, and content from various sources, but they often miss the underlying fears, beliefs, and unspoken messages. Good listeners hear what is said; great listners hear the unsaid.

To become a great listener, you need to learn authentic listening. “In Finding Your Voice”, Larraine Matusak, writes, “When we want to see something better, we sometimes squint. So, if we want to hear something better, perhaps we should squint with our ears.” Squinting with our ears requires having empathy for the often unrevealed concerns of others. Dan Goleman affirms, “Empathy requires being able to read another’s emotions; at a higher level, it entails sensing and responding to a person’s unspoken concerns and feelings—understanding the issues or concerns that lie behind another’s feelings.”

Authentic listening requires going beyond what is” to penetrate the deeper reality. The result is genuine connection and relationship.

To engage in more authentic listening, observe these guiding principles:

  • Honor what the person has to say, even if you don’t agree with it.
  • Value his or her unique contribution and self-expression.
  • Be open to learning from every situation and person.
  • Give the gift of presence by giving your undivided attention.
  • “Squint your ears” to hear the fears, concerns, and beliefs.
  • Seek not to be understood, but to understand.
  • Ask questions to clarify, open up possibilities, and uncover messages.
  • Express appreciation, even when you don’t agree.

Authentic Voice

You may be an accomplished speaker. You can master a topic, get in front of a group, and deliver a message. Your audiences are often impressed by your brilliant analysis, depth of details, and command of data. However, something is missing. People feel informed but uninspired. You need to develop more authentic voice by balancing your analytical competence with more emotional competence. Good leaders master the art of communicating with their heads; great leaders master the art of communicating with heart and head.

An authentic voice genuinely connects with people. It can be defined as shared feeling, shared meaning, shared understanding, and shared mission. These words capture the process of leading from the inside out. It requires a life-long commitment to personal development and emotional engagement with others. To develop a more authentic voice, observe these guiding principles:

  • Risk more openness, vulnerability, and emotion in your relationships.
  • Explore the traumas and privileges of your life to connect to what is important to you.
  • Remind others what is important to help them rise above circumstances.
  • Beyond sharing concepts, facts and data to inform people, share stories to inspire people.
  • Exhibit genuine energy and passion for what you care about.
  • Balance the head and the heart, analysis and emotions.
  • Be the mouthpiece for that still, quiet voice resonating in your heart.
  • Remember that the heart can leap over barriers built by the mind. Measure the value of your legacy by the connection you add.
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Posted in Education and Career Management and Leadership

Social Responsibility is a Business Imperative

Social Responsibility is a Business Imperative

Is your company and industry doing enough to fulfill its social responsibilities?

Obviously, we can all do more. It’s not just a responsibility—for us it’s a business imperative. When we work to make our communities more vibrant, beautiful and prosperous, we’re investing in making them more attractive to our visitors and giving them a reason to travel. Of course social responsibility is not just about investing in places—it’s also about investing in our people.

A guiding principle at our company is when we take care of our associates, they take care of our customers. When we provide a community’s young people with education and training, we enhance the quality of the labor pool. And when we do our part to make entire communities or countries more prosperous, we broaden and deepen a global middle class who can afford to buy the services we sell.

Community service initiatives are laboratories for leadership. They help identify and develop promising leaders, build teamwork, and improve loyalty. And obviously, when our companies demonstrate social responsibility, we add to our industry’s reservoir of goodwill from governments, customers, and the general public.

Real and effective social responsibility is shared by the entire company. Although we set policies for Marriott’s “Spirit to serve our communities” program, our leaders worldwide are strongly encouraged to get involved on a personal level in their communities.

Knowing what a community needs is critical to social responsibility. Just swooping in and offering some global cookie-cutter program and acting as though we know bestjust doesn’t work. Our communities know best what they need—and how to achieve it.

In 47 cities—worldwide, our general managers form business councils representing all of the brands in their market. One top priority is to pool their capital and human resources to serve the needs of their communities.

Of course, there are many needs, and we can’t meet them all. So, we try to leverage our core expertise. That might mean offering ballroom space for charitable fundraisers, or donating surplus furniture to housing programs.

It also means tapping the experience of our leaders. For instance, 50 percent of Marriott’s managers come from the hourly ranks, and those people personally know how rewarding it is to climb the economic ladder. And those same leaders have helped to bring thousands of chronically unemployed people into the work force. Our leaders are the spirit behind a program we call “pathways to independence” —where people learn to find and keep good jobs.

In our pathways program, we match participants with mentors, train them, and help them with solutions to problems that get in the way of work-like childcare and transportation. When they complete the program, they’re guaranteed a job offer.

Environmental protection is another example of social responsibility. In environmentally fragile areas, we might support the community and its tourism-reliant economy by protecting endangered species. For example, at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort nearly 2,500 guests and locals gathered at sunset to release 10,000 baby turtles into the ocean—helping to raise awareness about the plight of these creatures.

Sometimes meeting local needs means building a roof over someone’s head. At a recent Habitat for Humanity project in Costa Rica, associates and top executives from Marriott worked side by side to help build several homes for local families. We’re doing the same in Washington, D.C., and many other cities.

We also need to invest in our communities by investing in our people and improving their lives. Travel and tourism is a 24/7 business, so we help our people deal with this. Every parent knows childcare can be a challenge, but when you’re working the overnight shift at a hotel, it can be almost impossible. That’s why we offer several resources to help families. One example is our associate resource line, which provides access to local services for help with family, legal, and other issues. We also coordinate closely with our people to find flexible and creative solutions to childcare needs. At our Desert Springs resort in California, for instance, six housekeepers with 11 children formed a “childcare cooperative” where they take turns caring for each other’s kids. The property helps coordinate their work schedules—and it works!

Now, all of these ideas are fine, but meaningless if we don’t address our industry’s challenges. We need to work together to get people traveling again.

Travel and tourism’s “perfect storm” has created great challenges. Yet, in every dark cloud there is a silver lining. The events of the last three years have significantly raised awareness about the vital importance of travel and tourism.

Our industry has top-of-mind awareness among world leaders. We must continue to educate our leaders about the tremendous value of our industry. We need to be active champions for our industry and continually ask, “Are we doing enough to make travel and tourism work for everyone?” We are doing a lot, but I hope we never allow ourselves to believe it’s enough in social responsibility, as in leadership, success is never final.

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Posted in Investing and Finance Management and Leadership