If anyone succeeded in capturing and bottling the essence of leadership, they’d enjoy a meteoric rise to the top of the Sunday Times rich list. But leadership comes in many guises: think Larry Page, Aung San Suu Kyi or Winston Churchill. All very different and yet all respected leaders.
Because leadership is a critical success factor in business, it’s a topic that I enjoy reading about and discussing with industry peers. Despite the fact that leaders come in all shapes and sizes, there appears to be some commonalities that are prevalent among top leaders. Would you agree with my top 5?
- Having a vision and communicating it in a way that makes it real
- Challenging the status quo (with gusto)
- Creating and celebrating diversity
- Welcoming change and adapting to it
- Being willing to take control – even of the seemingly uncontrollable
Having been in the role of Managing Director of Amadeus UK and Ireland for a little over a year now, I’m enjoying it more with each passing day. There’s so much to learn – from customers, employees, and industry leaders. For me that is hugely exciting and a great motivation to spring out of bed each morning!
A key achievement that relates to point on in my list has been to crystallise Amadeus’ aspirations for the UK and Ireland; it is a huge focus market for the global organisation. Having worked closely with key stakeholders, we now have a clear vision of the success we are working hard to achieve, which is great news for our employees, our customers and investors.
Another common belief among successful leaders is that desired outcomes cannot be achieved in one’s own strength. Yes leaders can orchestrate and they can help drive momentum, but it really must be a team effort. That’s why I was thrilled when Amadeus UK was awarded Top Employer status in 2016.
Whether we like it or not, change is happening all the time. The pace of change is accelerating – especially when it comes to technology, which is exciting for a tech-focused company like Amadeus. It means we must diversify and work with customers in new ways to solve even more of their business challenges.
From what I’ve read on the subject, embracing change requires leaders to proactively seek insight into customer pain points and help customers understand the lifestyle trends that are influencing buying behaviour. It means learning from other sectors such as Retail and applying the lessons in travel, which is what Selling Platform Connect is doing very well.
Throughout the organisation, the one message that is being amplified more than ever is this: Amadeus is more than a GDS. It’s a message that’s clearly resonating in the market as we deliver new ways for customers to generate revenue, such as our virtual card solution, Amadeus B2B Wallet, or Amadeus cytric Travel & Expense which is GDS and content agnostic. Watch this space for further innovations to be launched in the second half of 2016!
Fresh thinking in different flavours
As a woman who has the privilege and responsibility of leading a travel technology business, I recognise that I might be regarded by some as an oddity. So when I’m asked to comment on diversity and women in business, I’m keen to champion the role of diversity of thought. That does tend to come with greater diversity of background, gender, lifestyle and ages represented within an organisation.
Perhaps more than experience, it is the skills and attitudes of employees that are crucial in ensuring that a company keeps ahead of its competition. That’s why I am delighted to have added a new Head of Sales, Liz Emmott, as well as a new Head of Product and Innovation, Clare de Bono, and a Head of Account Management, Amanda Kotenko, all proven business leaders in their own right.
Throughout my career, I guess the number one lesson I’ve learnt regarding leadership is this: it isn’t solely about getting hold of the correct ingredients, it’s what you do with the ingredients you’ve got that matters.
The same brightly coloured plastic Lego bricks can be used to build a miniature New York skyline, or a life-size model T-Rex dinosaur. Likewise, the building blocks of leadership can be combined in countless combinations to create something that is truly unique to your business.
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