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9 ways to be an aware leader

Updated: Jan 25 Link to article published in HOTELS Magazine July 21, 2020

As the world is continuously being challenged, shaken up and in many places reopening and reconnecting, there is talk about “going back to normal.”

Leaders thrive off of growth, expansion and improvement. It’s our choice to shape a better tomorrow, a bigger vision and uphold a collective responsibility for our world, our industry, our companies and ourselves. Instead of back to normal let’s move forward to better.

Contributed by Kelly Gardner, Connected Travel & Hospitality, Amsterdam

Moving forward is progress; better is more desirable and effective. Going back reflects a time that no longer is. Normal is conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. Do we want to go backwards, to a typical experience that no longer exists? Let’s think in terms of expansiveness, using language that reflects improvement and evolution. The language we use trains our subconscious mind and belief systems, language that reflects the growth and positivity we wish to be is fundamental.

Forward to better is an elevated state, perhaps more clarity, awareness, compassion and meaning; less rush, noise and nonsense. Fortunately, this shift is happening, collectively.

Areas to consider, as an aware leader:

1. Self-care The basis and most crucial for our capacity to lead is taking full responsibility for ourselves; our mental, physical and emotional health. The misconception of self-care being selfish is quite the opposite.

“When you take time to replenish your spirit it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You can’t serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brown

We are the leaders of our choices, lives, body and spirit. We only have one vessel and it deserves the most care and respect. Our self-care equally effects all around us. Your family, friends and teams deserve a clear, healthy, energetic, compassionate being that has space and energy to lead by example.

2. Mental Health Your team and perhaps yourself have likely been in isolation for a few months and in need of support to feel good. The impact of isolation on mental health is underrated.

Normalize mental health check-in’s. Eliminate the stigma of there being a problem when mental health is addressed, instead realizing it is a necessity. Even opening up that dialogue is a compassionate step.

3. Provide nurturing sources of food and water How is the quality of the water and food you are eating as well as what you are providing to your team and guests? Food is medicine, unfortunately nutrients are often overlooked and food is made overly ornate.

Is the water clean and not served in plastic?

Is the food fresh, local and organic? Is it fairly priced?

Offer nourishment, immunity boosting and vitality in your food to keep yourself, your team and guests feeling energized.

Look at the impact of food choices on the Earth and humanity.

Eliminate plastic, disposable items in F&B are creeping back in and must stop.

Have conversations with your team about these topics to find better solutions.

4. Check air quality What is the quality and purity of the air you breathe in your home, office and anywhere you accept guests? Where can improvements be made?

5. Eliminate (or at least lessen) toxins in cleaning, disinfecting agents and materials. Toxic chemicals cause bodily distress and illness, especially pertaining to the lungs. For more on this

Research cleaning agents and disinfectant ingredients beyond what is stamped as approved by other organizations, such as the EPA.

Find out if there are toxins in furnishings, air fresheners and in staff uniforms.

6. Listen and adjust Let's listen closely to our team and guests about what they need. Especially in regard to COVID-19, there is a full spectrum of perception, from very fearful to not worried at all.  

Have trainings with your team about how to better operate with new protocol, wearing a mask is an awkward adjustment that effects service, it needs stronger eye contact, body language and a strong clear voice.

It’s valuable to ask and listen to what your guests expect and prefer in regard to safety protocol, in order to offer them personalized care and maintain trust.

7. Stand for equality Are the pillars of your company and of your own belief systems built on equality? How equal and diverse is your team and your suppliers? Where do you look for job candidates and do they also support diversity and equality? 

There is a lot being done, however, equality is an ongoing daily process of education, improvement and awareness. To operate in societies that largely were not built on equality takes full awareness and conscious action of leaders to improve.

8. Provide safety and trust Be in the position to ensure you feel safe, compassionate and clear yourself.

Safety has many layers, it is trust, compassion and caring for each other’s needs. Genuine leadership is needed now more than ever; your clear compassionate ways are reflected in your team’s behavior. Building trust takes being consistent with communication that aligns with action.

9. Circulate money to a better world When a guest spends 1 dollar or euro in your organization, to where does it circulate? Yes, this is a devastating time financially and in most cases every cent counts to keep business afloat. Nevertheless, responsible business is crucial in a new better world. Is monetary circulation going to the local community, to initiatives, companies and suppliers that support humanity and healing the world? Or is it circulating to companies that support the opposite?

Let’s take a close look with full self-awareness and responsibility to these areas and beyond. Can we proclaim that our personal and business choices are leading the path to a better world? We are all enough exactly as we are, at the same time we can continue to grow, be more aware, more responsible, to heal, to elevate our vision, beliefs and actions to move forward to a better world.

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