My shout: offer support by taking the lead

By Nick Bish

- Last updated on GMT

Crucial skill: 'Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.'
Crucial skill: 'Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.'
Nick Bish, trade consultant to the hospitality industry at NB Consultants, discusses support, leadership and the role of BDMs.

It was very good to see the spotlight recently shone on business development managers (BDMs) in our industry and particularly on the three individuals that have featured as finalists in the Operations Managers Awards competitions – Adam Sykes from Fuller’s, Anna Clissold from Admiral and Craig Nevins from Star Pubs & Bars.

In this world there is only room for consummate professionalism. In the industry’s leased pubs this is achieved by independent entrepreneurs who have a 24/7 challenge, but who can sometimes feel isolated in their business. This is where BDMs come in. 

BDMs are the crucial link between the strategic resources of head office and the pubs where retail happens – the customer connection where the business is done and the money is made.

A regional operations manager’s main role is to guide and support. There are contractual issues in landlord/tenant relations and these have to be managed with consistency, fairness and understanding. The BDM will be best equipped to navigate a path through the lease conditions, to mutual advantage.

There are two strands of support for the lessee. First is the quality of the leverage from head office to support the business. The best BDMs recruit allies in specialist departments – marketing, technical support and accounts – and focus on what the pub needs. Then personal confidence is built between the BDM and the lessee so the business benefits.

Leadership is a crucial skill, looked for but not always understood; it is certainly not about power. Leaders help themselves and others to do things that include building vision, setting direction and inspiring teams.

General Eisenhower said: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” And philosopher Lao Tzu said: “But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, we did it ourselves.” 

The essence of all this is knowing yourself, and that is why the Ops Awards MasterClass encourages reflection and self-assessment at every stage – to tease out lessons to improve performance.

So there’s support and there’s leadership. The traditional pyramid of authority and power should be turned on its head. Every promotion, every increased responsibility is intended to support and sustain those who are closer to the customer and the income stream. The boss gets his status and salary because of the skill, effort and responsibility of being the fulcrum on which the success of the whole organisation depends.

The army’s officer school at Sandhurst has its motto “Serve to Lead”. It may well be right. 

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