Cluster General Manager, Kathmandu Marriott Hotel and Fairfield by Marriott
In his 27 years of hospitality career, Vishal Mehra, Cluster General Manager, overseeing the Kathmandu Marriott Hotel and the Fairfield by Marriott, has learnt to stay calm in the face of challenging situations, to keep the focus on what matters, and to deliver consistently. He says that ‘A hotel never sleeps’ and believes a shift is incomplete without preparation for the next day. “Every successful event is a stepping stone to the next, and every satisfied guest is the best cheerleader of your efforts,” elaborates Mehra.
Through his career, the majority of which has been with Hyatt hotels, Mehra has helped open six hotels and converted two properties in five cities across the Middle East and Asia. A career starting at the Front Office in Hyatt Regency Delhi took him to hotels like the Burj Al Arab, Grand Hyatt Dubai, Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, Park Hyatt Maldives and Park Hyatt Chennai, among others. Mehra is also credited for the successful launch of the Hyatt Place branded hotels in the Middle East.
In this edition of Business 360, Mehra shares his thoughts on leadership.
How would you define a leader?
Leadership is about leading responsibly. For me, leadership has three pillars:
- Development of self and others
- Trust in self and your team
- Ability to fail fast
Is leadership ‘in-born’ or ‘acquired’?
Neither! Leadership is earned through knowing what matters. Helping the team find their ‘Why’ is the starting point. There is working on building trust; serving with generosity; inspiring through actions; and finally having your team’s back at all times.
Who comes to your mind as ‘an ideal leader’?
MS Dhoni, renowned Indian cricketer, known for his wicket-keeping and batting prowess on the field and his leadership of the Indian cricket team. The original ‘Captain Cool’. Someone who is always calm and composed, yet has fire in his belly. His words that I live by – “The process is more important than the results. And if you take care of the process, you will get the results.”
Could you share with us any incident that tested your leadership ability?
There have been a few. I think more than the incident, what is important to remember during tough situations is where is the leader coming from, i.e. Accusing or Understanding? Taking the understanding and exploring approach always has a greater impact, and can always lead to a very fair outcome.
How important is it to have a good team to work with?
Absolutely important at all times! However, a good team can become good in two ways. They are naturally good and have potential; and as a leader you have inspired trust in them.
When should a leader hand over the leadership position?
What is a leadership position? It’s not like the K2 and Mount Everest discussing who’s taller? When you come with a mindset of ‘One Team, One Goal’, then the team delivers and the leader inspires. There is no trade off.
What changes has the business made during and after the Covid 19?
Post Covid 19, our customers are a lot more aware and a lot more understanding. The service needs more heart than head. Setting processes in place that make it easy for all and ensuring that compassion remains top priority for everyone. It has moved a few notches up.
How have your leadership qualities contributed to Marriott or your career?
You have to ask Marriott. I think it’s about relationships and dependability as a leader. Together we have done well.
What do you consider your most significant accomplishment as a leader?
Winning Gallup’s Global Manager of the Year – Great Workplace Award. The Gallup Great Workplace Award recognises and celebrates the most elite workplaces in the world. These best-in-class companies holistically optimise their cultures and develop unstoppable workforces that fully embrace a culture of engagement.
How can a leader prepare for the unknown?
One can never prepare enough. However, if the processes are strong, efficient and well-practiced, more often than not, they cover the unknown.