New Leaders – what are their qualities (part 3)

COREcruitment remained open for business through the pandemic. It has been a very interesting time to be a recruiter. The needs and expectations of both clients and candidates are drastically different to three months ago. The best leaders are adapting fast to the new world – they are looking for a very different profile of person to operate within their businesses moving forward. The pandemic will, of course, end. But the world will look like a very different place.

Along with our weekly webinars and interview activity, we are going to be writing a series of articles as the crisis unfolds (and hopefully normalises) with input from key industry figures. These articles will focus on different areas of leadership and are very much created to share best practice and support business leaders through these challenging times.

We have had a massive response from some great industry specialists so this week we are sticking with new leaders. Here are the top quotes – enjoy!

Jason Danciger, Managing Director - HANA GROUP

New Leaders – “new norm will embrace hospitality leaders who are agile and have humility to learn from CV crisis and re-think and refine their business model whilst putting people at top of agenda”

CV19 has taught us we can work in different and often more efficient ways – these can be brought in to existing businesses.

2021 this current pandemic will be all but forgotten, some of lessons will be invaluable to deal with next disaster whilst ultimately eating out/in will continue to prosper for generations to come.

Nick Vadis, Culinary Director - COMPASS GROUP

I think there will be a look at new qualities in areas of food service as we adapt to a new way of working, not only in clients’ sites but also in possible new places of working. we are hearing a lot about dark kitchens and CPUs and these will need a different approach to the labour platform to support but also the operating leads will need to be skilled in different ways of working.

There will also be a need for probably more flexibility on working hours as evening and possibly night production may way well play a large part in the comeback.

I would like to think that they will redeploy people from within the sector in the first instance, but if the role is something new to the sector then perhaps, they would look outside. Our business is and always has been a diverse and varied business which is very proactive and reactive to change in the demanding market we operate in. So, re-skilling is a clear way through and the best option rather than make people redundant than have to re-recruit for the sector.

Whichever way you look at it there will be some huge changes within the foodservice sector, not only in the head count in the restaurants and the coffee and cafe bars. Our operating model will change but I believe we are resilient and adaptable and can overcome whatever the throw at us. i believe that clients will be looking for leadership in this area and it is down to us make it happen.

Gavin Drew, Founder - URBAN VILLAGE PUBS

I guess like most pub / restaurant businesses we will unfortunately have to look to flex the number of staff we have to suit the immediate business needs when we re-open as we don’t envisage a ‘normal’ level of trade for the next 12 months.

Therefore, looking forward post July, and assuming we continue to trade in some form thereafter, staff who can demonstrate flexibility in their work requirements, a positive attitude, willingness to learn and adaptability will be very valuable to us.

We believe we have these people internally already albeit a little retraining will be required in some areas, but we don’t envisage looking externally for a quite some time.


Leaders have always needed to represent the values of the business within which they operate. The behaviours linked to those values should be visible to their team and to the customer.

While previously some companies have not promoted some of the more caring qualities in their leaders, these are the ones that are to be encouraged. In particular the human qualities of kindness, empathy, understanding, and patience.

A leader who is able to deal with ambiguity and navigate through complexity and rapid change will be vital.

Vicky O’Hare, Managing Director - PARTY INGREDIENTS

I think the characteristics of the businesses that come of this will need to be mirrored by their people, whether they are in the existing team or looking to join it. For me, the characteristics of successful businesses are resilience, flexibility and the ability to be spurred on, rather than defeated, by a challenge.

At PI, we are ready to provide events as soon as we are able – with new processes, products, safety systems, communications in place to ensure the safety of all against our new social backdrop.  We have been running a volunteer operation throughout lockdown (as many others have) providing 500 meals a day to the Bats and The London Trust Hospitals in the East End – we have very robust systems in place and our team have contributed greatly to the success of this, often in roles that they don’t usually occupy.  Of course, it also means that we are able to operate confidently and safely now, rather than waiting for lockdown to lift.  We have focussed as much on building the confidence of our team as our clients as I believe that the service team will be the pivot in delivering a successful experience or a liability! So service training, communications, PPE, all lined up ready to go!

In terms of re-skilling, the adjusted furlough scheme from July 1st onwards provides the perfect opportunity to upskill the existing team.  We are hoping to retain more people than we will need this year, in order to be ready to capitalise on a proper return to trade next year, and they will work in teams (one on one off), for possibly only half the week for the remainder of the year.  For the other half, I am actively incentivising them to volunteer, retrain or work elsewhere part time to remain busy, challenge themselves, (supplement their incomes!) and be more resilient in the future as individuals.  Those behaviours in the team will be an asset to the business going forward and we are fairly unanimous as a team in our determination to use this time to achieve things that might not otherwise be possible in terms of personal growth.

Guillaume Marly, Managing Director - HOTEL CAFE ROYAL

The ability to inspire and motivate their people daily by being visible, clear in the direction they want the business to go, approachable and uncompromising regarding excellence and quality.

Which behaviours will employers be looking for?

Embracing whatever the new normal will be. It is tempting to go back to what we know however changes will be required in how we deliver an experience. The new leaders will have to define this again, to some extent.

Will employers be more open to looking outside of sector?

We will have a healthy supply of people within the sector once this is over therefore attracting the right people will be key.

Will employers re-skill existing teams or look externally?

I would suggest that a mixture of both will be key however our current workforce will need to be trained on new skills and aptitudes which will actually be quite an exciting time for all concerned. There is always a willingness to learn in this industry therefore I feel existing teams will benefit from this.


I think the “new leaders” will be able to inspire their teams to ‘cross train’ to go beyond the standard job description - this feels like a full circle approach before job roles became very “purist’ - I am certainly excited by this - having a team of people that can move across the business can only benefit a guest.

Behaviours that will excite employers I think will be those that embrace learning and want to be challenged into working in new ways.

I have always been excited by employing outside of the sector as I think it provides a stronger culture of diversity in a business and culture is key in a business - never more so than no.

However, I think because there will be casualties in the sector that operators may find it too easy to employ within their own sector which sets us back in my opinion.

Hopefully employers will look to re skill their loyal workforce first as again they have the cultural grounding of the business and this is priceless

Aoife Dannatt, European HR Business Partner – CHIPOTLE

Tomorrow’s leaders will need to have a growth mind set. They must be adaptable, flexible and open to innovation. Now, more than ever, great Leadership requires one to be solutions focused and on the pulse of change while inspiring the people around them to move with purpose towards a common goal.

The generation working in our restaurants today are serious multi taskers. There is an appetite to learn and up-skill at pace. Providing the means to enhance knowledge through online education, in-house training programs and apprenticeship schemes should play a big role in the Employee Value Proposition.

Marcus Watson, Managing Director – GROUND CONTROL

“...And so we must rebuild better, a greener more sustainable economy that cares for our environment, allowing us to live fun, prosperous, fulfilling lives without mortgaging our children’s futures.”

Some great insights there for other businesses.

Thanks to all who took part, next topic out next week, if you have any suggestions on topics, speakers or you would like to get involved in these articles then please reach out


Date Published: 10th June 2020