Traveleads: Leadership Material

Ahead of the Leadership Convention we've asked our partners at Traveleads what their thoughts are on leadership and change. What makes a good leader? How have they as an organisation adapted to change?

1. What do you feel are the core characteristics or traits required to be a leader?

A leader should have a vision for the shape, performance and future of the organisation they lead, and be able and willing to involve those within the organisation in mapping out and delivering the changes and improvements required to achieve shared goals.

A leader must be a listener and a communicator; they must be an innovator and be able to recognise when things are going well and not as well, and react accordingly.

A leader must set the scene, tone and attitude of the organisation so that everyone feels part of the effort and both valued and enabled.   Organisations run through power structures, fear and domination will never perform to their full potential, as they will not retain the best people – they may attract them, but will not keep them once they recognise the deficiencies in leadership.

Leaders should retain involvement at all levels and listen to people at all levels, encouraging comment, idea and critique.  If you limit communication with an elite group you only hear a small part of the story.  Everyone in the organisation has a part to play, so everyone should have a voice and a channel to the leadership team.

2. How has your organisation adapted to change?

Change is endemic in our business, due to the fast pace of technical change and the ephemeral nature of supply and demand.

Both in terms of technical challenges and in the scope of solutions we have to provide to clients, we have to embrace change on a daily basis, and because we link with multiple suppliers and technical connections, we experience change on an almost daily basis.

A great example is the rise of self-book systems, enabling travellers to investigate options, but still have the support and expertise of experienced travel consultants to fall back on when things get complex or itineraries are very convoluted.  We have to be able to offer technical solutions for the “easy” parts, and combined solutions with intervention and quality control for more complex work.

In order to cope with change we have ensured that we are adequately resourced on both the technical development side of the company, and in the training and delivery resource needed to explain changes to operational staff – not relying on external sources or providers for this.   With adequate internal resources we can respond quickly and set our own priorities.

3. What are the key considerations to make before embarking on a change process?

  • Identify the benefits and ensure these justify the changes you are proposing.
  • Identify how change will impact existing operations and people.
  • Be clear about costs and timescales.
  • Consider what changes need to be made to existing infrastructure, communications, systems etc. in order to accommodate changes.
  • Explain to everyone what is happening, the process to be followed and their part in it.
  • Be able to keep everyone informed about progress and delivery, through to the end of the process.

4. How do you measure the success of any change to your operations or strategy?

This should be measured against pre-defined assumed benefits.   If you are making change you must know why and what improvements you are seeking, so you should be able to put the metrics in place to measure outcomes.

5. How has the increased role of technology impacted upon your organisation/operations?

Massively, and in a never-ending fashion!   The current thinking is that anything you do in the technical field which is aimed at an end consumer must start from the point of view of being deliverable and fully functional in a mobile environment – not a desktop, a laptop or even a tablet!  The Millennials and Generation Z demand instant gratification in terms of what technology can deliver, and this has to be factored in to the consideration of any new technology being adopted or developed.  

6. What can the sports sector learn from other sectors when it comes to implementing change?

The sports sector should always view themselves, operationally, as a business.  A focussed and well-planned approach to change with financial and operational considerations in mind will ensure that impact, costs and benefits are identified and factored in to ensure a smoother path to change.

7. If you were to sum up the meaning of leadership in one sentence, what would it be?

A leader should have a vision for the shape, performance and future of the organisation they lead, and be able and willing to involve those within the organisation in mapping out and delivering the changes and improvements required to achieve shared goals.

8. What advice would you give to an organisation that is thinking about its future strategy and direction?

Think long term.  Don’t simply focus on tomorrow.   Consider all of the potential factors, events, trends, political and financial external factors which may have a medium-long term impact on your survival and ensure that worst-case scenarios can be provided for as well as being in a position to take advantage of the greatest opportunities for growth and improvement.

9. How important is it to be changeable/adaptable in today’s fast-paced society?

An organisation which is unwilling to consider change is unlikely to thrive.   The demographic of participants and supporters is constantly evolving, and the methods of attracting and retaining them must evolve alongside the population you seek to engage with.

10. What are you most looking forward to about the Leadership Convention?

Catching up with contacts and meeting new people, all of whom share an enthusiasm for their sport or activity, and all of whom have a common interest in improvement and development.