Over the past few years, Dorchester Collection has been fortunate to achieve great success through its people strategy, giving me, as VP of people and organisational development, a platform for speaking about our practices and my love for the HR profession. It’s easy for an outsider to assume that the success we’ve had as a business is my own. Yet, I’m very aware that it has been a team effort.
To be a strong and successful business, department, family unit, you must empower the various talents around you and work together towards a common strategy. Everyone can have individual success, but this is not sustainable. Real, long-term success comes from uniting the strengths of those around you, optimising their expertise to achieve the end goal.
Exploiting and connecting talents
A great example of this in action is the England national rugby union team. While I’m not the biggest sporting fanatic, I can’t help but admire the work head coach Eddie Jones has been doing with the squad and management. He has taken them from a collectively poor performance at the 2015 Rugby World Cup to a fit, confident, winning, team.
What’s remarkable is that he has done this with predominately the same players.
So what’s changed? From what I can see, it’s down to gaining a clear understanding of the unique talents he has available to him within the squad. He and his team – including the players themselves – have worked out how best to exploit and connect those talents. Having done this groundwork, Jones is now able to optimise the skills around him to achieve success for the players, fans and country.
Of course, this “there is no I in team” perspective is not groundbreaking. However, I find that sometimes, as a leader or a highly talented individual, it’s easy to think you are above those around you; to believe that you are the only expert. When you start to believe this, you do a disservice to yourself and your company.
As Greek philosopher Aristotle said, you must recognise that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
What we can achieve when working together as a team is far more effective, impactful, and successful than individual accomplishments. Every individual has strengths, but when we put these together in a perfect formula we can create something more successful than could possibly have been created by individuals, working to their own objectives.
This is why I believe, had I not surrounded myself with people who are experts in what they do – and in most cases, much better than me in their area of expertise – that we would not have achieved so much success as a business.
Embracing difference and diversity
My diverse team gives us the ability to think, look and act in different ways. Each person has a different perspective, different skills, different ways of solving challenges. Some come from the hospitality field, others from a completely different sector. Some have global experience, others have local knowledge. They provide me with something I cannot provide myself, as leader. They bring perspective, and ultimately, self-regulation.
This is why, as leaders, we must not be afraid of bringing into our teams people who are different or can do something better than we can do ourselves. Fundamentally, our role, as a people leader, is to enhance the business: to understand what is important about the business and what needs to be done to improve its performance. If that means bringing into my team an expert in an area such as guest experience, who typically wouldn’t sit within an HR function, I will do this. Or if someone has the right skills and qualities for a role but has never worked in the hospitality industry, I won’t automatically dismiss their application.
Our roles, as leaders, cannot be about being an expert in every area we touch. Our job is to guide. We must stand at the front and lead the way. Our teams must be given the opportunities, support and development to be the experts they are. Only then do we have a chance of achieving and sustainable success.
Eugenio Pirri's first book - http://amzn.to/2fWiApw - was published last month.