“Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up.” – Sébastien Bazin, CEO, AccorHotels
Leading one of the largest hospitality groups in the world, especially one known for its innovation, comes with its own set of challenges. Adding to that fact are AccorHotels’ nearly 300,000 employees around the world, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds and cover multiple generations. As the workforce changes to include a wide variety of ages, leaders will be faced with the challenge of engaging and inspiring a wide range of employees. Sébastien Bazin, CEO of AccorHotels, prioritizes diverse teams and knows how to lead across generations.
As part of the research for my new book, The Future Leader, I interviewed more than 140 top CEOs from around the world, including Sébastien. I was blown away by his bold take on leading across generations and creating teams that leverage and highlight demographic changes in the workforce.
From my interview with Sébastien, here are three takeaways of how he leads across generations and encourages everyone in his organization to do the same.
Adapt to Lead Diverse Teams
As the workforce changes, leaders will find themselves working alongside people of different ages and backgrounds. These diverse teams are not only more innovative, but they reflect the diverse population. Sébastien says one mark of a future leader is their ability to work across these diverse generational teams, especially navigating the differences in workplace preferences between millennials and older generations. He said this:
“One mark of a future leader should be the ability to work alongside people of different ages and with different backgrounds. Millennials for example, they have been changing the workplace ever since they started arriving on the scene nearly a decade ago. Craving autonomy and flexibility, millennials tend to be more confident and more adaptable when it comes to new concepts, new technologies, etc. But their older generational counterparts also have many things to teach these new hires: knowledge about the industry/company, interpersonal skills, how to deal with failure…Education, as is always true, is a two – way street. Great leaders must have the adaptability to lead diverse teams, coalescing different ages, personalities and cultures around a common vision.”
To be successful, future leaders must adapt with their teams and create a cohesive environment with all employees working towards the same goal.
Think Outside the Norm
Too many leaders are stuck in an old way of thinking and are scared to try anything new. Sébastien says it’s important to have the boldness to break out of the norm and think outside the box. That could mean creating unique teams, trying something new, and not being afraid to innovate and break out of the status quo. This means not penalizing employees who do this as well.
Encourage Diversity and Innovation
Sébastien says Accor considers itself to be more than just a hotel company. The organization is undergoing a dramatic transformation culturally, technologically, and physically in its hotels and with its employees. The company promotes diversity and inclusion and champions innovation. By encouraging employees to discover new opportunities, Sébastien and his team push the boundaries. Sébastien recognizes that all employees, no matter their age or background, have the ability to create something new and exciting and gives them the resources to make it happen. According to Sébastien:
“Accor has been so unique because every-time we welcome a new partner, we embrace wholeheartedly a new culture, a new way of thinking. Accor is never one single culture, no matter when it comes to clients, partners or employees”
Sébastien shows how important it is for future leaders to know how to lead across multiple generations. Leaders can follow in Sébastien’s footsteps to create diverse and innovative companies that celebrate employees of all ages.
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