Is it TIME for you to become a travel industry leader?

By Judith O’Neill

travel managementLISTENING to the graduating mentees at the Travel Industry Mentor Experience (TIME) graduation last week was, as usual, awe-inspiring.

The changes wrought over the six month program for the individual mentees were nothing short of amazing – thanks to the dedicated mentors and the will to succeed of the mentees.

However, too many aspiring travel and tourism industry leaders are missing out on the opportunity that mentoring, and in particular, TIME can provide.

An article by John Coleman and Bill George in Harvard Business review underlines the need for purposeful action by hopeful future leaders.

Bill George is professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and the author of five books, including True North and True North Groups. John Coleman, HBS ‘10, is the author of Passion and Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders.

I quote directly from the article which proposes a number of resolutions for those thinking seriously about developing their leadership potential –

• Find a trustworthy mentor: Mentorship is a critical component of your development as a leader. Studies showed that young leaders with mentors were more likely to succeed professionally and experience career satisfaction.

The essence of effective mentoring is developing a trusting relationship between the mentor and mentee. Although many mentees do not realise it, a sound relationship is a two-way street that benefits both parties — not just the mentee.

Form a leadership development group: Most of us have little time to reflect on the values and characteristics we want to define us as leaders, the difficulties we’re facing, or the long-term impact we hope to have.
Forming a leadership development group can give you the space you need to think deeply about these subjects.

Leadership development groups are groups of six to eight people who meet to share their personal challenges and discuss the most important questions in their lives.

Volunteer in a civic or service organisation: Have you served your community this year? In the Facebook era it’s easy to lose touch with our real-world neighbours.

Volunteer opportunities and participating in local organisations can give you early leadership experi-ences, provide real connection to your neighbours, and offer opportunities to serve others.

It adds a dimension to your life that work can’t, and helps you develop and solidify your character while giving back to the community.

Work in or travel to one new country: “The world is flat,” as Tom Friedman puts it, so it has never been more important to get global experience. In the future cultural sensitivity will be a more important characteristic for leaders than pure intellectual ability.

John’s survey of more than 500 top MBAs found that on average they had worked in four countries prior to entering graduate school and expect to work in five more in the next ten years.

Having a global mindset and the ability to collaborate effectively across cultures are essential qualities for aspiring leaders of global organisations.

Finally, ask more questions than you answer: With the high velocity of change in the world, it is impossible to have answers to all the important questions. Much more important is a deep curiosity about the world and the ability to frame the right questions in profound ways.

The world’s toughest problems cannot be solved by you or any one organisation. Your role will be to bring the right people together to address the challenging issues you raise.

Our research demonstrates that the biggest mistakes result from decisions made by people without deep consideration of thoughtful questions.

Young leaders will, hopefully, soon be asked to take on major leadership responsibilities in their organisations and their communities. We believe it is essential that they take steps like these in order to be prepared for the difficult leadership challenges they will face.”

The good news for Australian travel industry workers is that TIME can find you a trustworthy mentor.
To quote several graduated mentees from the program:

“The Program works so well with the careful selection of Mentors who provide us with such fantastic guidance from their experience.” – Ryan Montgomery.

“By the end of each session with my Mentor I had a clear line of sight and knew exactly what to do.” – Simon Woodward.

“Extremely worthwhile process and incredibly rewarding on a number of levels.” – Meg Hill.

“I feel I have grown and developed through the TIME Program.” – Felicity La Terra.

“The TIME Program has provided me with the strength to realise that I can and will achieve everything I want.” – Sarah McMath.

Within the next 6 months, TIME will launch two new programs with emphasis on leadership. Leadership development doesn’t just “happen”. Workshops for leaders by leaders and with leaders are in the pipeline. Watch this space!

• Judith O’Neill is a founding director of TIME.

*Judith O’Neill is a management consultant, business and corporate coach. She is the principal of Aspirations Consulting and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Judith can be contacted on telephone (02) 9904 3730 or email: or visit