Subrata Banerjee is the newly appointed General Manager of Radisson Hotel Kathmandu. He brings wide experience in the hospitality sector having already worked as GM of Radisson in Hyderabad as well as with Park Plaza in Kolkata and Jaypee Hotels in Greater Noida. In this edition of Business 360, he shares his perspective on leadership. Excerpts:
How do you define leadership?
Leaders are people who, through their experience and knowledge, can lead from the front and take employees along with them. They teach skills and share experiences and also learn on the way.
What are the main skills and values you wish to pass on to your employees?
In our industry, especially in the case of five star hotels, we keep meeting people; those from the upper strata of society. Each one of them is special in a way and your personality has to be such that you are able to click with them instantly. That is the first thing I try to teach my staff.
In Radisson we always try to engage our guests; we communicate with them, find out how comfortable they are during their stay, address any little problem or guest concern instantly. Engaging the guest is something we always insist on. Having said that, we do not neglect our own associates either.
Potential skills and values you look for when hiring?
Basically, a hotel can be divided into two main areas: front and back. People who work in the front are people who are constantly interacting with guests and those working in the back are constantly working towards helping the front area people so that they can deliver the best.
When I am looking at the front area staff, the first and foremost thing I look at is the attitude – whether they have what it takes to survive in this demanding profession; whether they can take on 10-12 hours of standing on their feet and still be smiling and hospitable. Then after comes the skill.
When I am looking at the back area people, they are also given due importance. Skill is very important. At the same time, they need to be hospitable with the front area associates.
Do you have any role models who have instilled in you the value of leadership?
Some of my bosses whom I have worked under have taught me immensely. Out of them, one gentleman in particular I want to mention is Ajay Bakaya, the MD of Sarovar Hotels, a homegrown Indian group. They started out in 1994 and this man catapulted its success to greater heights. They now have over 75 hotels in 50 destinations spread across India and Africa. I have worked with him very closely and always keep this gentleman as my role model.
What challenges do you face in your vocation?
Human beings do not feel motivated enough to work unless there are challenges. In Nepal, it is a different set of challenge altogether. The first time I came to Nepal was eon years ago, in 1974. The Nepal I saw then and the one I am witnessing in the present are, of course, not the same.
As far as tourism is concerned, I consider it an issue that the airport is still not modernised. Additionally, I would definitely find the road conditions a challenge followed by the pollution. Moreover, the number of hotels coming up in the near future is far too many for the kind of pie that we have to share. When we are expecting the pie to be sizeable, we need to improve all these aspects and promote Kathmandu aggressively. But we need to work on these challenges together along with the government. I wouldn’t say it is only the government’s duty, we also have to contribute.
What are the core values at Radisson and how do you get your team to communicate these core values?
Core values that we try to impart on our team members are:
- Whatever you do, do with integrity
- wherever you go, go as a leader
- whomever you serve, serve with care
- when you dream, dream with your all, and
- never ever give up
We communicate our core values through regular brand standard orientations and signature trainings.
What is the one quality every leader should possess? And one they should try to avoid?
The leader should be the best example available for the particular industry s/he is working for as the rest must follow only the role model. S/he should never be partial to any members of the team and treat everyone equally.
How do you challenge yourself to grow as a leader and also to create innovative ideas within your organisation?
Every single day of a leader is full of challenges and problems so the first thing that I do before leaving for office is to think of a lion who whether young or old needs to chase a deer to stay alive. So I challenge myself to turn every problem into an opportunity to prove myself as a leader.
And each of those experiences helps me to grow further as a better leader.As a leader you must own your hotel and dream to make it the best in town.
What was the most important decision you made as a leader and what was the outcome?
In my first assignment as a General Manager of Holiday Inn, the mandate was to turn around the hotel to a profit making one or quit within a year. Though I was in a settled job in the Taj group of hotels, I took up the challenge and managed to showcase positive outcome within a year and started showing profit from the second year.