Developing hospitality leadership from within

Strong leadership pipelines benefit both hospitality organizations and the hospitality professionals that support them.

The hospitality industry is demanding, with management busy navigating changing day-to-day operations in both front and back of house while also trying to forecast an uncertain future. That's always important in a world where, for instance, the average life of a new casual dining concept can be only four to five years. It’s particularly important in the days of the current pandemic. In a world where change and uncertainty are the norms, having the leadership talent required to successfully adapt and change direction is crucial.

Developing a robust leadership pipeline is a key way for hotels, restaurants, seniors living and other hospitality organizations of all sizes to intentionally and mindfully develop leaders from within, delivering benefits in many areas. Developing the pipeline helps prepare employees to rise to the next level of responsibility, and helps the organization identify and retain rising stars. It also helps the organization identify changes in needed skillsets. As an example, Earls Restaurants focuses on leadership development as a philosophy of personal mastery. This is particularly important as restaurant leaders have to manage hundreds of part time, transitional staff with widely varying goals.

At its core, a leadership pipeline has people at every level who are involved in a structured development program and are being groomed to be ready for their next step. That gives the organization team members who are ready to step into more senior roles with a solid understanding of the business in multiple areas. It removes the delay that can come from having to recruit and train someone new.

Most employees, regardless of where they are in an organization, are looking to develop their careers. Offering valuable, relevant professional development opportunities is a way to reward them, while cultivating leaders from within. The organization benefits from building a team of knowledgeable leaders with a deep understanding of business goals, and what it takes to deliver on them.

There are numerous ways to develop leaders within an organization. Mentoring programs allow younger employees to be guided by senior leaders. For instance, Fairmont combines theirs with dedicated social media channels, webinars, conferences, group meetings & one-on-ones, progress maps and even a “Career Concierge” as part of their SUMMIT Leadership Development Program.

Regardless of the specific structure of the development program, the Harvard Business Review noted that five major characteristics of companies with strong leadership pipelines and strong financial performance are:

  • A focus on company culture; they live it and reinforce it in everything they do. When employees have a deep understanding of what the company is about, they are more likely to make decisions that fit with the organization as a whole.
  • A belief in matrix management and risk-taking. By encouraging collaboration beyond the boundaries of narrowly defined roles, and exposing employees to all areas of the business, the organization ensures they have a deeper understanding of the business as a whole.
  • A belief in learning through exposure. Leaders are developed through interactions and relationships with colleagues, subject matter experts and customers, as well as working in new contexts.
  • They share knowledge, experiences and insights to create a learning culture. Knowing they are part of an inclusive organization that encourages people to speak up, and is willing to listen, empowers employees. It also ensures that any problems that might arise can be addressed quickly.
  • Leadership programs are embedded in the business, and HR itself works with the business as a partner. That can go so far as to rotate HR partners into and out of individual business units so they all have line leadership experience.

As Canada’s leading hospitality recruiting specialist, we recognize the importance of leadership development within hotels, restaurants, seniors living and other hospitality organizations. We consistently work with leaders who bring great value to their organizations along with the desire to learn and grow personally, as well as to develop other leaders. These are the kind of leaders who can help build and be a part of a solid leadership pipeline.

We’re happy to share our experience sourcing exceptional hospitality leaders from across the country. The candidate profiles below represent some of Canada’s top hospitality leaders. They show the kind of skills and experience that hotels, restaurants, seniors living and other hospitality organizations look for when building and maintaining robust leadership pipelines. They may match yours, or you may discover you have transferrable skills. These profiles may give you some ideas regarding where you can add value as Canada’s hospitality industry navigates today’s challenging business environment.

VP of Operations – Fast Casual/QSR - Calgary

If you’re looking for a leader who can increase same store sales growth by maximizing customer count and retention while providing an optimal customer experience in every location, look no further. This highly productive brand and business builder has extensive background in both corporate and franchise environments. They’ve steered start-up operations, scaled up established brands and helped legacy brands reposition themselves to remain competitive. While overseeing a regional portfolio of 200-300 franchise and corporate locations, they’ve managed a team of 10+ Regional Managers throughout Canada, and been responsible for the implementation of company initiatives, restaurant operations and profitability of all food service operations. They’re both tactical and strategic, currently executing a turnaround strategy, and making sure that high level vision is translated into clear, executable actions and metrics at store level.

Restaurant General Manager – Vancouver

With only three employers during a successful career of 15+ years in food & beverage operations, this highly experienced candidate is a rarity in the highly competitive British Columbia market. Fiercely loyal, and not one to just change jobs on a whim, this accomplished General Manager of a $10+ million high profile upscale casual dining operation in Vancouver is now ready for a new challenge. This unique operator is a life-long learner and is always looking to increase their skill level through education – they’re constantly focused on being a knowledgeable and credible leader. A self-described agent of change, this proven operator stays right on top of culinary advancements, industry trends and innovations, and is ideal for a corporate brand. They’re currently seeking an opportunity with an organization that’s forward thinking, people focused, and one that values personalized guest service.

Manager of Food and Beverage – Hotel - Toronto

As an executive member of the opening team at several 3-4 Diamond properties, this seasoned F&B operator has worked in virtually every aspect of the restaurant industry. In their highly successful career, they’ve risen through the ranks from server, through banqueting operations to full F&B accountability for $5M+ operations. This operator’s skills go beyond managing day to day food and beverage operations - they’re a true leader and driver of this profit centre, with a track record for successfully combining the creativity of the kitchen with the nuts and bolts business of running high volume, complex food and beverage operations in both union and non-union settings. With over eight direct managerial reports, this leader has a track record of constantly achieving solid revenue and profit contributions through staff development and strategic planning. Here you have a solid operator with the demonstrated ability to turn around existing operations, one with direct involvement in building new restaurant and bar concepts from scratch.

To learn more on this and other hospitality trends and insights you can check out our blog.

Written by Patricia Viscount and Rob Fisher