Interview with The LaLiT Suri Hospitality Group CMD Jyotsna Suri printed in Hindustan Times – December 26, 2013.
A leader must be unbiased and patient
Dr. Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson and Managing Director, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, has been associated with the group since its inception in 1987. Ever since taking over as chairman and managing director in 2006, Suri has been the driving force of the group’s operations across India. She spoke to HT on a range of leadership issues. Excerpts:
How do you define a leader? A leader must have a clear vision and the ability to lead his/her team towards achieving it. He/she should be able to overcome adversities and guide the organisation through bad times. What are the three most important traits of a leader? A leader must be unbiased, patient and should possess people management skills. As a leader of your group, how do you cultivate leaders? By recognising capabilities and delegating responsibilities accordingly.
Can a manager become a leader? Leadership is inherent. However, it can be honed over a period of time. For a manager to become a leader, he/she should give equal opportunity to all; be patient and unbiased and recognise and nurture the strengths of team members as well as help overcome their weaknesses. What leader is in the a privately-promoted role of a professional and a government-owned company? Whether it is a privately-promoted or a government-owned company, the role of a leader remains the same — to have a clear vision and lead the team to achieve that vision. Since September 2008, the world has seen a number of crises. What is the role of a leader in these times? The role of a leader is to keep the morale of the employees high always, particularly during critical times and steer the organisation out of the crisis. What has been your biggest leadership challenge? My biggest challenge was to give our brand a very strong and distinct identity. On November 19, 2008, I charted a brand change for the company. All luxury hotels now fly “The Lalit” flag while the mid-segment Hotels are branded as “The Lalit Traveller”, under The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group. Leaders have to often carry the cross of other’s wrongdoings and inefficiencies. What role can good leadership play to counterbalance this image? A strong and successful leader should be able to take up challenges and guide his team irrespective of the wrongdoings and inefficiencies of others. What is your one-line leadership mantra?
Never give in. Who are the leaders who have inspired you? Mahatma Gandhi — a man who rose to become a force that singlehandedly changed the history of India. Aung San Suu Kyi – a frail yet mentally-strong woman who relentlessly fought for what she believed in. Who is a leader in your industry whom you respect? There is something to learn from each person I come across. What is the biggest leadership lesson that you have learnt? To stand for what you believe in, fearlessly. Also, leaders must give back to the society. As a hotelier, I believe in “developing destinations”, not just hotels. It is the people at the destinations that account for the success of the group’s hotels and therefore our initiatives involve the local population, their handicrafts, culture, food, thereby giving them training and employment to boost the economic environment. What is the best leadership decision that you have taken? Rebranding the chain and initiating the “developing destinations” concept. What has been your worst leadership decision? Out of thousands of decisions that one takes, there will be few which may not prove to be the best. However, I have no regrets.
Source: Hindustan Times (12/26/2013)