I have three top tips for leadership trainings. The first is to hire leaders, second is to share and embody a vision, mission, purpose and values and the third is to lead by example. Let’s talk about a company that I believe do all three very well and embody good leadership training and that’s the Six Senses Company, they started out years ago by going to the Maldives. At that time there weren’t any luxurious resorts there, there were places that were doing things in a way that owners Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva Malmstrom Shivdasani thought it could be done better. They decided to actually set-up a resort there and it was groundbreaking in many ways at that time.
The things that they did were the things that they truly believed in and nowhere else was doing at that time but now almost every other Maldivian island is doing something that originated at Six Senses. For example when people turn up on the island they would voluntarily give up their shoes and they would be put in a bag that said “No shoes, no news”. They didn’t have any newspapers on the island and no televisions reporting on the news. The idea was very much to get back to basics but in a luxurious way.
They knew who their target groups were; they knew that these were busy professionals from around the world, people with very demanding jobs potentially politicians and people for whom their role involved being famous in some way. When they wanted a holiday, they wanted something different, they wanted to relax but they didn’t want to relax in a New York hotel with all of the luxurious trimmings, again. They wanted something different so at Six Senses they would grow their own vegetables, they would have freshly picked salads for people to enjoy at meal times.
People would be able to sit down at night and look at the stars and they can go to the observatory and look through their telescopes at the stars rather than watch endless hours of televisions or films. Everything that they did was in alignment with the central core of who they were. This is the key bit for leadership training. The leaders at that time and the people that own the company are really driving things forward. Everything that they did was an alignment with this very strong vision and strong purpose for which they existed.
When Six Senses hire people, their managers go through a 360-degree interview process and in this they meet about 40 members of staff. This really gives people an opportunity to see who these people are and make sure that they fit in. As managers in these roles, they do become leaders; this is wonderful from a leadership training perspective. I believe this company sees everyone within the company as leaders and everyone has a key role to play and it’s important that each of them lead other people in the vision and in the process within the company. In leadership training you’ll often hear ‘hire leaders’ and they absolutely hire leaders who they believe can bring something to the table and can take the company forward in alignment to what it is they’re trying to achieve. What they’re trying to achieve is so saturated in everything that they do, everything is oozing who they are and what it is they’re doing. Then it becomes very easy to people from outside to say “Do I want to go and be part of this?” or “Is it not for me?” to the extent that when people visit the island if they find it’s not for them and they’d be better off elsewhere, the owners that have been known to fly people, at their own expense, to other hotels or resorts that could be far more in keeping with what those individuals are looking for.
Such is their belief in what they do and their certainty on who they want to attract to what they do. They are really great examples of our top tips for our leadership training today and there’s a lot that we can learn from other companies on how they do things. We haven’t even got into the depths from a neuroscience perspective of what is actually going on here but certainly the cohesiveness of what they’ve created and the results give them a very strong foundation from which to operate.