Transformational leadership for today's tourism environment

Human resource professionals from across the Caribbean region recently gathered at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort for the 9th Annual Tourism Human Resources Conference.

The conference, organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT), comes at a time when the Caribbean faces increased competition in the global, high-tech, innovation-driven industry, and amidst increasing calls for a total rethink of the way tourism leaders engage with the workforce.

The conference theme “Building a Resilient, High-Performing and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Workforce For Global Competitiveness” featured experts in human resources, tourism and labour. Juliet Du Feu, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Dart, shared her insights on the need for transformational leadership for today’s tourism environment.

“Transformational leadership happens when leaders affect positive change and growth within themselves, their employees and by extension, their organisations,” said Ms. Du Feu. To facilitate this, businesses and HR professionals need to create opportunities for their leaders to: foster better relationships with their employees; provide development opportunities for employees – regardless of whether they stay or move on; and focus on their own journey of continuous, incremental and real leadership development.

Relationships Matter

 “Within our industry, we recognise how important relationships with our customers are to business returns. However, what is even more important is fostering positive relationships within our business. Relationships matter,” said Ms. Du Feu.

It is essential, she explained, for organisations to create better opportunities for developing positive relationships between employees and their managers, as well as foster an environment built on trust. She shared the results of a Google study where one of the traits within their highest-performing teams was “Psychological Safety” – when team members feel safe to take risks and feel vulnerable in front of each other.

Helping Employees Achieve Their Next Play

At Dart, creating opportunities means investing in, and helping employees to achieve their “next play”. “More employees are expecting development opportunities to help prepare them for their next play – whether that’s with our organisation or another,” said Ms. Du Feu.

Current approaches include developing a coaching culture and a conscious move away from the traditional year-end appraisal to more frequent check-in conversations which facilitate more informal and continuous communication between managers and employees.

Future goals for Dart include creating more opportunities for mentoring, experiential secondments and networking with strong performers who have left - “Dart Alumni”.

Reinvent Yourself

In today’s high-tech world where change is constant, leaders must embrace a mindset of reinvention, one that is open and supportive of change. As businesses adapt to changes in consumer needs, they must also be agile in their approach to leadership.

“Transformational leadership requires leaders to undergo continuous upgrades that are incremental and real,” said Ms. Du Feu.

Such small, incremental changes can have a large impact, setting the stage for a more open and honest environment that values relationships and encourages and supports employees in their pursuit of professional development.