Finding My Leadership Style

Finding My Leadership Style

This week’s guest blogger is Rebecca Maffeis, the UK MD of Lagrange Holidays. Rebecca took the helm of the UK company while still very young but has not looked back since. On the contrary she was identified as one of TTG’s ’30 under 30′ and no doubt she will go on to even greater things. Here she reflects on her leadership journey and provide valuable tips to young and aspiring female ( or male!) leaders out there. Rebecca is also on the leadership panel at the Women in Travel meet up at World Travel Market 2015 and judging by this blog she will have plenty of helpful advice to share… so make sure you join us on 3 November 2015 in London for a very inspirational afternoon!

Switching from a role where you are part of a team to one where you are leading a team can be daunting, but it is very rewarding. It begins a process which challenges you, and teaches you a lot about yourself and what you are capable of.

For me, this journey began three years ago. I had been working at the UK office of Lagrange Holidaysfor four years, in two different roles, and was part of a close-knit team of five which included my manager. My manager then decided to pursue a different career path and I was offered the opportunityto replace him to become the UK Managing Director.

I knew that the position was a big step forward for me and that there would be a steep learning curve, but I was ready to take on a new challenge and I felt I had built up a solid foundation of knowledge about the business and about the industry.

In addition to learning a whole new set of skills and suddenly acquiring responsibility for the business, I also had to adapt to the position of “leader” amongst colleagues who I had worked with for years on a more neutral level. I do admit I felt uncomfortable at first with the change, but I soon figured out the leadership style that felt comfortable for me and which also worked well for the team.

I now believe that the style which I found myself following is the style I will probably continue to use for the rest of my career. These some of the principles that I follow:

– Speak to your team members individually on a regular basis so that they feel free to voice their concerns and ideas.

This keeps me in tune with the parts of the business that I am not dealing with as closely, and ensures my team members feel their voices are heard and their opinions are important. It can also flag up any problem areas.

– Keep your team updated on any news pertaining to the business, and discuss and debate any new ideas and strategies as a team before rolling them out.

This ensures that the team is always aligned and fully-informed so that they can make individual decisions pertaining to their tasks and responsibilities with the bigger picture in their mind. I’ve also found that this motivates them, and gives them a more pro-active mind-set because they are involved in the decision-making process. It also provides me with a variety of opinions to consider, which may be different to my own.

– Manage yourself as you would one of your team members.

I have heard stories of managers who are easy on themselves, while managing their team with an iron fist. I strongly believe that it is important that I manage myself as I would one of my team members and that I do not take advantage of my position. Even if my team would never say anything, they would notice if I treated myself differently, and this would be de-motivating for them.

For those of you just starting out in your careers, thinking of the next step into management or just feeling unsure of your leadership style, I hope you have found some of my insights helpful. I hope to see you at ‘4G Leadership: 4 Generations of Travel Women Share Their Leadership Lessons’at the WTM Women in Travel meet-up on Tuesday 3 November 2015, and please feel free to ask me any questions on the day!

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Alessandra is founder of social enterprise Women in Travel CIC which she launched in January 2017 to provide communities in key regions (for example UK, Middle East, Africa and Latin America) with a sustainable livelihood by enabling women to become economically independent through entrepreneurship and a thriving career in the travel and tourism industry. Alessandra is also Chief Mentor & Consultant at Everyday Mentor, where she provides mentoring, coaching and consulting services to a range of clients in the commercial and public sector. Alessandra also collaborates with a number of Universities, including Hertfordshire, Normandy and Surrey. Alessandra is passionate about gender in tourism and has written and spoken extensively on the subject over the last 12 years, including at the United Nations World Tourism Day. She is well known as co-founder of Shine People and Places – a boutique outfit dedicate to supporting women in the workplace - and The Shine Awards for Women Achievements in Travel Tourism Hospitality and Events, which she ran between 2004 and 2010 before Sector Skills Council People 1st took them over. Prior to Shine Alessandra worked at KPMG, where she built the Travel & Tourism division, and the World Travel and Tourism Council. Alessandra has an executive MBA from the University of Ediburgh/Grande Ecole Pons combined; she is a qualified coach/mentor for performance in the workplace and she is a member of several industry bodies including AWTE and the UK Tourism Society.

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