Hakan Ozel, General Manager Shangri-la Dubai, UAE
There have been many valuable luxury brand founders, creators, designers, and leaders in business. The personalities who created difference, changed the game in many instances and drove the success of luxury in hospitality and other luxury sectors have either retired or are close to retirement.
Therefore, it is inevitable that the luxury brands need to develop and cultivate new talent with desirable characteristics as competencies, while revising the customer service to remain competitive and lead. This should be the management pillar of luxury business.
Which competencies would differentiate luxury professionals working in high performing luxury brands from those who are working outside the luxury industry? Are these competencies particular to luxury industry? Are they adopted to tackle upcoming luxury challenges and issues of the future? Do all luxury leaders have the similar leadership profile? Are luxury leaders transferable to other luxury industry brands? Are these particular competencies taught or developed in existing business or creative schools?
‘Luxury Leadership’ employs certain luxury characteristics as competencies to help the brands and its ambassadors to fulfill the brand promise. Tomorrow’s luxury leaders’ profile offers relevant luxury knowledge, luxury leadership styles and specific transferable know-how.
Considering the top characteristics of luxury leadership competencies, the luxury brands must identify and have new leaders or talents that present a balanced leadership profile. This profile should blend creativity, intuition, rational and socializing in an efficient manner. Leaders should have experience in different geographical regions, such as Asia, Europe, and Americas, which would help to understand the different cultural characteristics of both employees and customers. They should have an ability to switch from short-term operating solutions to long term thinking.
Leaders should understand, and at the same time bring change management skills to organization to re-invent the business models while protecting the DNA of the brand. They should have great attention to each product and service details for customers as the central role. Luxury leaders should represent the brand as its ambassador with a great cultural ability to interact well with highly demanding diversity of customer profile. They should have specific behavior skills to work efficiently and in collaborative partnership manner with brand owners and discipline leaders.
Leaders must also understand the brand’s organizational culture. They should possess the cultural background from their family values and education that allows them to master a very cultural and behavior-related business. Most importantly, they should fit in with the founders as well as the family vision.
How can the acquiring of the right leader and talent be achieved? There are certain ways to achieve this. To have and employ high caliber leaders and talent in a luxury organization, aside from hiring from external similar league resources, luxury brands need to address this issue very seriously with a newer mind-set. They need to consider a very strong and passionate succession planning as a proactive and continuous cultural element, rather than a reactive process.
This succession planning must be considered as a long-term process and should be run patiently. Developing from within through variety of systems such as in-house academy or learning and development system will be stronger than any other strategy whilst appreciating that talent sourcing is a major issue for the luxury industry.
Luxury brands are in search of excellence of quality and innovation to serve the needs of the clients in this ever-evolving world. From the business perspective, the major objective of the luxury brand is to ensure that the whole organization is consistent in fulfilling the brand promise. Luxury leadership with required competencies plays a critical role to make it happen.
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