Friday, 6 November 2015

Lessons in leadership from top travel executives...the Women in Travel meet up

This Tuesday just gone I facilitated a Women in Travel meet up at World Travel Market, the leading travel trade fair taking place in London every November.

Piloted last year, in 2015 the event consisted in two panel debates, mentoring sessions, a key note and networking.

The first debate discussed entrepreneurship and resilience, while the second focused on leadership, authenticity and what it takes to be a woman leader. The panel was chaired by Prof Graham Miller from the University of Surrey.  

My speakers were 5 senior ladies from the industry holding positions either as MD or Directors in their respective companies. They provided genuine, insightful and bottom-of-the-heart views on women in the sector and what paths are available to them. Over an hour the discussion span from positive discrimination to the need for retention, from describing leadership traits to helping women shine under the spotlights. We also discussed ways to increase gender equality and how to ensure women are fully engaged in the work place. Below I highlights some of the comments/insights that resonated the most with him and we can all - as women - learn from.

Leadership Insight #1

In leadership be fair, treat others as you would like others to treat you. However as women we must be careful not to appear 'weak'. Carol Hay, UK Director of Marketing for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, said that the risk is that people will mistake kindness for weakness...'Nice girls do not get the corner office' she concluded.

Leadership Insight #2

Jo Rzymowska, MD for UK and Ireland at Celebrity Cuises, suggested that it is crucial for women to lead a diverse team and that team diversity is more important to the leader than recruting the right person for the job. Great Goals are achieved through great teams, thus it is essential that the 'sum of the parts' becomes bigger than the individual components if we are to succeed in business. We need to recruit from a wider pool, from a least-obvious pool, in order to incorporate a wide variety of skills, background, gender, races and perspectives to create the 'winning team'.

Leadership Insight #3

All speakers agreed that Emotional Intelligence is a critical aspect of leadership. It was also said that women generally demonstrate great EI traits but to be a great leader emotional intelligence has to be used in an authentic, non manipulative way. Authenticity, with passion and tenacity, were identified as key leadership traits.

Leadership Insight #4

Mentoring, networking and role models were identified as very important tools for women. 'The more women there are in leadership roles, the more inspirational role models there will be' said Julia Lo Bue, MD of the Advantage Travel Partnership. Women leaders must identify young women and support them through their career journey. 

Leadership Insight #5

To achieve great leadership positions women have to help themselves. This also means gaining greater knowledge, learning all the time. Knowledge supports self-confidence and self-esteem and helps build our reputation, thus never stop learning!

These leadership lessons are highly applicable in my opinion and potentially valid for most if not all industries. What are your views and what is your experience as women leaders? Share your view with me by leaving a comment below or writing to me, thank you! 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

1 comment:

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