Pat McCann has nearly 50 years of experience in the hotel industry, having embarked upon his career in 1969 with Ryan Hotels plc. He left Ryan Hotels plc in 1989 to join Jurys Hotel Group plc as General Manager of its flagship Dublin hotel, the Ballsbridge Hotel. He was appointed Operations Director and to the main board of Jurys Hotel Group plc in 1994 and, subsequently, had responsibility for the integration of the Doyle Hotel Group following the acquisition of that company by Jurys in 1999. In 2000, he became Chief Executive Officer of Jurys Doyle Hotel Group plc, a position he held until 2006. Pat then worked as an independent consultant until August 2007. Pat founded Dalata Hotel Group Ltd in February 2007 and became Chief Executive Officer of the company in August 2007. He is a non-executive director of a number of private companies. His most recent appointment was to the board of IBEC as Deputy President, Irish Business and Employers Confederation in 2017. Pat has held a number of non-executive positions within the hospitality and other industries, including state and public company entities. He was formerly a director of EBS Building Society, Greencore Group plc and Whitfield Private Hospital Waterford. Pat has served as National President of the Irish Hotels Federation, was a Member of the National Tourism Council (Ireland) and a Member of the Irish Tourism Review Group (2003).
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Leadership can be taught, however the individual needs to be the type of character that can adapt. Leadership is about confidence. It’s about one’s ability to stand alone. It’s about inspiring people to follow your vision. A good leader is a driven individual with vision and charisma. You cannot drive people to follow. You have to be a good decision maker and get on with things. Remain calm under pressure and be supportive.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
Management is the technical part, leadership is the vision part. We get confused by the two. Many people will assume that someone who is technically brilliant will make a great leader. This is simply not true. You see this in sport where you have a fantastic footballer who will not be a great leader.
The world around us is changing faster than at any time in human history and we need more leaders to emerge. How do we make this happen?
Today’s leaders are under constant scrutiny. Everybody has an opinion and with social media, everyone has a platform. Rather than face the invasive scrutiny, many potential leaders are shying away from leadership roles. As we become more familiar with this new world you will see how leaders emerge but it will take time. Everything goes through phases but eventually, everything normalises.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
The big mistake is the inability to make decisions. If you want to lose your followers become indecisive.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Step back, give yourself space which is never easy to do. Have someone you can talk to. Issues don’t go away and sooner or later you have to deal with them. Remember the piece from Hamlet… “To be or not to be” etc… “To take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing them, end them”
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
There is so much in this space some of it confusing and contradictory. My advice is to learn on the hoof and don’t confine yourself. You can learn from sport, business and politics and a host of other ways. I sometimes jest that I base my leadership style on the “Godfather Movies”