Do not over-inspire your people. (Episode 61)

Do not over-inspire your people. (Episode 61)

Interview with Kai Dieckmann, General Manager of the Regent Porto Montenegro.

Kai Dieckmann is the General Manager of the Regent Porto Montenegro beautifully situated next to the marina in Tivat, Montenegro. He has worked in hotels all over the world (or as he put it “In hospitality, you travel”) and worked himself up to the top as General Manager at this stunning hotel.

On a recent trip to Montenegro, where I stayed at his hotel, I took the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about creativity from the perspective of a General Manager.

I asked him what the biggest different was to his creativity as a General Manager compared to the other positions he had held. He replied:

“Virtually all General Managers in hospitality have worked themselves up in the organisation. That means that they know well one or a couple of the different disciplines that exits in a hotel, like sales and marketing, food and beverage, reception, room service etc. They are the experts in that area. But as a general manager I am not the expert anymore – I am responsible for everything.”

Kai told me that his job is not primarily to come up with ideas any more, but to encourage others to have them.

That his job now is to listen to ideas and balance risk management with creativity precisely because he does have that overall view.

And that he has to be aware of the risk of himself becoming too averse to risk now that he is older, has more experience and has more responsibility (all things that can dwarf our willingness to create or change.)

But the one think I found extra interesting from what he shared was Kai’s observation around one specific risk with being the General Manager. The risk over over-inspiring.

He said: “As a General Manager my job is to have the overall responsibility. One important part of that job is to look out for where the industry is going, to have an ear to the market and pick up new trends, changes and innovations – and to share that with the people in my organisation. That is all well and good, but I somehow have to remind myself to not overload my people with too many ideas.”

Kai had put a finger on one important different between the General Manager and other managers. Since the General Manager does not, in the same way, have to implement ideas he, or she, might not appreciate how too much ideas and inspiration can stop people from executing on the right ideas.

Kai: “At the top you always want to be at the forefront – and you should! – but an important part of your job will have to be to filter out most of the new ideas you pick up to give the people in the organisation time and peace of mind to actually implement the ideas you, together, have decided to go ahead with.”

Remember: the original meaning of the word “inspire” is to “breath in” and if you constantly shove new inspiring news and information down the mental throats of your people there will never be any possibility for them to create, or to “breathe out”. If you constantly breathe in, you die…

Let’s call it “Inspiration Overload” – the risk of a top leader to share so many new ideas and trends that the people below him/her (who’s job it is to execute) get overwhelmed.

Kai clearly has the self-awareness to realise that as a General Manager he has the freedom to look further – but that with this freedom also comes a responsibility to not come back to the organisation with too many ideas and inspiration just because he can.

As a General Manager: Inspire, but do not over-inspire, your team.

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