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Developing International Business Leadership Skills Essay


Introduction

Personal development is an important part in an individual’s life because it is from careers that people derive their living. In the path towards achievement of an individual’s chosen career, skills development is necessary in achieving a person’s plans and goals.My names are Steven Chan and I am a Chinese national born on the 22nd of December, 1986.

I was raised in a small family together with my parents and brother in Shen Zhen, a large city in the People’s Republic China. My father works as a manager in a decoration engineering firm while my mother is a housewifewhereas my brother is studying in high school.

I attended a large private school at Shun De city for my formal and high school education. I am currently a master’s student at Swiss Hotel Management School undertaking a Master course in International Business. I joined this institution in the year 2008 after working two internships at different Chinese hotels.

My first internship was at Sheraton Haikou Resort where I worked as a front office attendant for a period of 4 months. At my second internship, I worked as a starter chef and dish washer at the Kwong Ming Chinese restaurant in Martigny for a period of six months. The hotel industry in China has one of the best potentials in terms of job prospects and growth. Moreover, this provided the motivation for me to study and work in the hotel industry.

Five Year Plan

During the stages of planning, a lot of factors are taken into consideration in order to come up with a good and sound plan. The development of a plan or strategy requires the skills of decision making, reflective thinking and a lot of motivation. My five year plan focuses mainly on educational development and gaining work experience. My five yearplan will be divided into two stages namely study and work.

During the first stage of my five year plan, I intend to continue with my studies for three years,so this is dependent on the results of my current study. Upon successful completion of my studies, I would love to look for an internship position at a sales and marketing department in a hotel (Hesselbein, 2006).

The internship should last for a period of 6 months to one year. The internship will make me actualize the skills and learn more on the job as part of my study enrichment. Once I end my internship, I would love to continue with my studies in the United States of America especially in the sales and marketing department.

My long term career plan is to learn and understand the marketing aspect of business in particular within the tourism and hospitality sector (Bell, 2004). My passion and ambition in the hotel industry is motivated by the growing Chinese hotel industry which is in need of marketing for the sector to realise its full potential. I plan to major in marketing and gain enough skills in marketing especially from Americans who are good at marketing.

After attainment of my marketing Master certificate and skills, I would love to go back to China and start my career for a period of two years. I would love to begin my career in a Chinese five star hotel, beginning at a low job entry level.

My decision to work as an intern in the US and thereafter to pursue a marketing course is to gain an all round perspective of the hospitality industry. Countries such as the United States have some of the best and finest hotels which are a rich learning ground for an International Business student like me (Achua, 2010).

The last two years of my five year plan, I would love to work in a Chinese five star hotel since I am optimistic that I will secure employment in such a hotel. This is due to my educational skills, knowledge and experience that I will have acquired from different educational institutions and hotels.

The emergent Chinese hospitality industry will aid in the achievement of my plan since many hotel establishments will be opened whereas experienced skills will be required in these hotels. Many Chinese nationals tend not study hospitality or tourism based courses making the industry flooded by foreign employees. This anomaly will provide an opportunity for me to secure employment easily.

The last two years of my five year plan, I would love to work in different departments to understand the challenges of each position or department. Working at different departments will empower me to find management solutions to these challenges/problems (Megginson, 2007). Eventually at the end of my five year plan I want to end as a department manager in a five-star hotel.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT is the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses are a measure of the internal factors that affect an individual or organization. Opportunities and Threats are external factors that favour or disadvantage an organization’s in the undertaking of its activities. My personal SWOT is reflected below:

  1. Strengths: I do posses several strengths that will see me through to completion my Master course international business. First of all, I am a sensitive person with a keen concentration on career development. I am also hardworking, responsible and diligent person, my hard work enables me to anticipate and learn more from my course. In addition to my hard work, I have a focus and passion for hospitality management that enables me to concentrate on my studies. In my own assessment, my biggest strength is my background study in Business Administration and relevant work experience from China. I have studied and learnt on management especially in the hospitality industry (Achua, 2010). My personality is that of a humble introvert who is easy going and thus I do get along with all kinds of people. I have the flexibility to deal with different situations and to adapt to different environments. I have studied in two different countries,so I have a better world view necessary in hotel management in an international industry like the hospitality industry.
  2. Weaknesses: My weakness has to do with my personality since I am a bit shy and less talkative person. As a result, I cannot network easily and maintain a lot of friends. Another weakness I do posses is moodiness, I cannot hide my emotions when my mood is not good. I have a language weakness since my English language is not good enough, whereas this presents a lot of challenges during classes. Another weakness that I do posses is impatience, many a times I do get angry due to small issues or problems. My lack of experience in the management and hospitality industriescompared to other people hinder the achievement of my five year plan.My poor English and shyness has created a weakness for me in that I am not able to build new friendships or networks (Gill, 2008). As a result, it is difficult for me to exchange ideas with my peers in the industry and gauge my level of understanding of the industry. My communication skills are poor and this weakness prevents me from sharing ideas with other colleagues or peers.
  3. Opportunities: There are several opportunities in the Chinese hospitality industry; the growing Chinese economy presents an opportunity for me to get a job in Chinese hotels. Due to the increased economic growth in China, many businesses have such as hotels set up shop and started operations in the country. This has provided an opportunity for me to study International Business in Switzerland (Li, 2007). My previous work experience provided an opportunity for me to make new friends and build a small network of colleagues. I could tap on this network during and upon completion of my studies to achieve my five year plan. My education obtained from different learning environments could provide an opportunity for me to apply my skills in different work environments. My previous work experience at different low positions in the hotel industry is an advantage in that I could easily adjust into any position in the hotel industry. The foreign learning environment in the Switzerland provides an opportunity for me to secure employment due to the high international standards of learning in Switzerland (Henry, 2004).
  4. Threats:The growing Chinese economy has created numerous jobs forlocal professionals. This has created a lot of competition for jobs from Chinese people who have gone abroad to study. A large number of foreign firms operating in China create competition for local jobs from foreigners. The learning environment in Switzerland is different from that of China, so this disadvantages me from other students who are used to the Swiss environment. One of the biggest threats to my career plan is competition in the tourism industry that might not favour the Chinese market compared to well known tourist destinations. The global financial crisis that has hit the world lately has slowed down economic growth in China (Hesselbein, 2006). This scenario presents a threat to the emerging tourism industry in China which could be hard hit. The effect of such an economic meltdown might prolong the achievement of my five year plan. The opening up of the Chinese economy could witness a rise of experienced foreign workers in the hotel industry seeking employment in China. This move could threaten the actualization of my five year plan due to the scarce opportunities in the hotel industry.

PESTLE Analysis

Personal career development is affected by many individual factors but external factors also have a great role in influencing personal development. PESTLE analysis looks into external factors such as political, economic or social influences that affect the achievement of an individual’s plan.

PESTEL analysis is important in the planning and implementation of the personal strategy used in the achievement of the personal plan. Chinese reforms started in 1973 and the political, economical, social, technological, environmental and legal situations changed a lot to adjust to the new state of affairs.

  1. Political: Over the past decades the Chinese government has been investing a lot in infrastructure development including the tourism industry. According to World Bank reports, the political stability in China over the two decades has contributed to steady economic growth. In the recent years, the Chinese government has concentrated on the development of the tourism industry through maintaining and protecting historic sites. The Chinese government’s policy of openness towards outsiders has seen the country host international events like the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Shanghai Expo 2010 and Shenzhen World University Game 2011 (Ward, 2008, p.45). Visitors to these events contributed to the growth in the hospitality industry while creating optimism for future growth. The Chinese government has been offering tax incentives to foreign firms investing in the hospitality industry and thus attracting international hotels such as Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriot.
  2. Economic: The Chinese economy has been growing steady for a long period of time creating a huge spending power for Chinese nationals. Growth in the Chinese consumption has seen growth in the hospitality industry with provinces like Macau enjoying phenomenal growth. China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001; this move brought great business opportunities to the country (Li, 2007, p.183). The fast growing Chinese economy has attracted many players in the hospitality industry including hotels like the Starwood hotel and Marriot group who intend to open 86 and 61 new hotels respectively in the next 5 years.
  3. Social: China has the largest population globally with rich cultural history spanning over a period of 5,000 years. So people have many places to visit and enjoy themselves. Economic growth in China contributed to lifestyle changes whereby people find more time to relax.
  4. Technological: Technology makes life easier and recent changes in technology as reduced time and space (Moon, 2004). These days with the click of a button, a person can easily book for a plane ticket or a hotel room. Technology had an enormous impact on the hospitality industry in China. Technology has also enhanced the management of hotels with systems such as Opera and Fidelio being deployed. Technology has also enhanced communication thorough mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPads.
  5. Environmental: The economic success in China has had a complimentary effect on all business sectors. Also, the tourism industry has benefitted from the boom even though the industry is still new. More and more hotels are being opened in China making the Chinese hotel industry more competitive.
  6. Legal: The Chinese legal system is heavily controlled by the government and seeking justice in China is very difficult. However, the situation is improving noting that China is a young country whereas legal situation is improving especially in the business front.

Study Progress and Development Report

In the development of a career, acquisition of skills and knowledge is critical in the achieving the set career targets. Academic courses are designed to make a personal obtain the necessary skills necessary for personal development. The Swiss Hotel Management School has designed course important for personal and professional development.

At the end of each course period, a reflective report should be produced to track the performance and development of the student. The factors below explain the importance of the course content in the pursuit of personal and professional development.

Motivation

The business field is very competitive nowadays given that increased competition is evident in every economical sector or business globally. During the course development, motivation is important in assisting me to achieve my course goals over the nine week period. Several factors help and inspire me to work hard during the International Business course. My biggest inspiration is the acquisition of knowledge necessary in the development of the hospitality industry in China.

The lacklustre performance of Chinese employees in the hospitality industry due to lack of hospitality knowledge is a driving actor motivating my studies. According to Vroom’s expectancy theory, motivation has an effect on the behaviour of an individual. This makes an individual act in a certain way with the expectation that the act will be followed by a good outcome(Pardey, 2007).

Based on this theory, I work hard with the expectation that the skills and knowledge obtained will empower me to obtain a competitive edge over others. The Hotel industry in China is growing at a steady rate while potential for growth is still tremendous. However, the industry is hampered by lack of professional skills or management knowledge necessary in spurring growth in the sector (Li, 2007).

The young hospitality industry in China gave a good opportunity for me to study hotel management in Switzerland. Switzerland is famed as having the best hospitality institutions in the world as well as being a top global tourist destination. My passion and diligence made me to choose the international business that I am currently undertaking.

The future of the hospitality industry in China has motivated me to work hard and gain knowledge on management of the hotel industry. Based on my past work experiences and SWOT analysis, my expectations will come to fruition (Payne, 2006). The knowledge gained from my studies at Swiss Hotel Management School has motivated me to work hard in the expectation that my five year plan will eventually be implemented.

Power

In the development of personal career, several strategies are deployed to achieve the set goal. Power and leadership go hand in hand because leaders are supposed to wield a certain amount of power. Power is important in undertaking the task of leadership and power is exercised in different forms and situations(Evans, 2008).

Some of the various forms of power include legitimate power obtained through a user’s position in the organization. But the most important forms of power include expert, information and connection powers. Expert power is derived from an individual’s skill and knowledge,making others to be more dependent on him/her. The changing global economy has made experts to be more useful in the economy and to maintain their skills; these experts undergo training while staying in touch with the latest technology.

Informational power is also vital in the business field; this power is based on the data desired by many other people. Persuasion is an essential skill in the process of business negotiation or marketing, in such circumstance wielding connection power can be very useful. Connection power is obtained from having close ties with people in power or people with legitimate power. In some instances, connection power can be obtained from expansion of one’s network to include people in power.

For effective leadership power has to be used to control the activities o other people either within an organization or government. According to Routledge (2007, p. 97), power is the only factor that creates order and respect among people in the society. A personal strategy contains the plans initiated by an individual to be undertaken within a set period of time.

My five year plan includes positions in leadership and within the five year plan; there are stages where the use of power will be necessary. Power and influence can be increased through rational persuasion whereby objectives are set and presented to different parties for perusal(Payne, 2006).

The objectives must be rational, can be easily met while explaining how potential problems and concerns could be handled. The art of rational persuasion takes time and patience is required in coming to a conclusion. Different philosophers have tried to explain how power works but the two most convincing people are Paul-Michel Foucault and Max Weber. Weber believes in hierarchical power with rewards and punishments.

This is in contrast to Foucault who believes that power circulates and that no person posses power. His believe in power is that the society brings itself into order based on time and culture. Order is maintained in the society by doing what is culturally and socially accepted. I do agree with his assertion that no person has absolute power and that power changes from one source to another over time.

Decision making

In the course of learning, we learn the special skill and art of decision making in several scenarios. Decisions are made every day from simple to complex decisions, but on most occasions, decisions are made to solve problems.

Problem solving skills are necessary in any business, for instance the hospitality industry is made up of many employees where problems are bound. According to Browaeys (2011, p.124), problem solving techniques rely on the knowledge base of different people. Computers and machines could be used in problem solving even though their accuracy is sometimes wanting.

There are obstacles to solving problems using human beings knowledge base; people do face the problem of automation. The knowledge base stored by people may sometimes be limited and it becomes an obstacle to solving these problems. However, sometimes our knowledge may be inadequate in solving the present problems facing us. Another obstacle to problem solving is our inability to see other characteristics of an object other than the well known characteristics(Evans, 2008).

This obstacle is referred to as fixation which resists ideas from other places or sources. In the process of decision making, people do rely on experimental knowledge, practical experiences of guesswork. This approach to decision making is referred to as heuristic planning since decisions are made based on weighing options against others.

Using representative heuristics in decision making is flawed since tendencies are used to reflect similarity of outcomes or instances in basing their decisions. People seem to assume that scenarios that happened in the past could repeat in the future. However, this technique is based on chance and may be used in identifying patterns in data in an effort to save on computation.

This technique might be precarious to investors especially in the hospitality industry which is very dynamic(Evans, 2008). Other factors that are used in decision making include making decisions based on what we could remember. This technique is referred to as availability heuristics where frequency of events is important in decision making.

The problem of this technique is the fact that people tend to remember what only attracts them or scenarios that left a vivid memory in their minds.During the planning and implementation of my five year plan, it is important for me to consider the different decision making skills.

Reflective Thinking

During the development of my five year plan, a lot of research was conducted to determine the necessary information needed in planning. Reflective thinking is necessary in coming up with sound and practical solutions to several problems. Reflective thinking is usually used in analysing or evaluating situations and making judgements on past events. From past events, decisions can be made on how to map the future basing on our past successes and failures.

Management decisions and processes rely heavily on reflective thinking to come up with principles and concepts that define standard methods, rules and procedures. Intellectual development is used in reflective thinking; the process of intellectual thinking helps an individual to form strong opinions on world view (Ho, 2009, p.16).

Intellectual development is categorised into three distinct stages which include Dualism, Relativism and Reflectivism. Dualism is the earliest form of intelligence exhibited by human beings because it is exhibited among young children where right and wrong is differentiated. However, as children grow they come to learn that there is no single right answer and that some questions have no answers.

In the stage of relativism if there is no truth in one situation, then all opinions are good as the other. If students or young people learn and are taken through relativism in the proper manner, they will eventually learn that some opinions are better than others (Ho, 2009, p.18). Some philosophers such as John Dewey proposed that people engage in reflective thinking when they undergo problems. He further states that uncertainty or belief in the uncertain is essentially what leads to reflective thinking to occur.

Action Plan and Conclusion

Going ahead, a lot challenges will emerge that will need proper and urgent attention for my two yearcourse to complete successfully. In the coming year, I anticipate to work on several issues including confronting my weaknesses and building my strengths. For instance, I would like to work on my English and improve my language skills.

In the following year, I would love to familiarise myself with the Swiss way of life and improve on my communication skills and become a bit more loquacious. The important part of my action plan is to work hard in my studies because I have to pass my Master programme for me to continue with my studies as outlined in my five year plan. My action plan will rely heavily on my experiences and educational background from China. In the coming year, I will focus my energies on improving my education.

From my SWOT analysis, I will try and eliminate some of the threats posed that could destroy my plan. I intend to be versatile with my education so that in case competition in the Chinese hotel industry does not favour me, I can find work elsewhere.I would also love to work on my emotions and become more patient when it comes to handling people.

The hospitality industry is a people’s industry thus I have to be more patient and understanding (Pardey, 2007). Apart from developing my education, in the next year I would like to build more friendships as part of building a wider network of colleagues in the hotel industry.

Over the past nine weeks, I have learnt a lot in terms of management of skills necessary in the planning and development of a career. Over this period, I have mapped out a strategicdevelopment plan that I will use in developing my career as I move into the future. From the SWOT analysis, I was able to find out the factors that might aid or hinder the development of my career as I go into the future.

In the pursuit of personal development, a strategy or plan must be developed to act as a guide towards where your efforts will be channelled into. Your personal development plan should be clear, concise and realistic for the goals and objectives to be met. Challenges and threats that may hinder an individual’s personal development should be overcome through development and harnessing of individual’s strengths and opportunities.

Acquisition of power in the development of a career is critical because it helps in the hastening of strategies and realisation of the set goals. One of the most important lessons I learnt over the past nine weeks was personal reflection. Reflection is a good skill since it affords one an opportunity to analyse decisions and activities conducted in the past and learn a lesson from those decisions (Megginson, 2007).

Through the use of this skill, an individual learn from the mistakes of the past and plan the future easily without repeating the mistakes of the past. The last nine academic weeks I got the opportunity to study and met new friends or colleagues with whom I exchanged and shared ideas.

References

Achua, C. F. and Lussier, R.N., 2010. Effective Leadership. 4th ed. London: Cengage.

Bell, A. Hilb, M., and Witte, A. E., 2004. Understanding Leadership: Paradigms and Cases. London: Sage.

Browaeys, J. and Prince, D., 2011. Developing Cultural Adaptability: How to Work Across Differences. Lowell, MA: John Wiley and Sons.

Evans, P., 2008. Teaching in the global business classroom. Chicago, IL: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Gill, R., 2008. Theory and Practice of Leadership. London: Sage.

Henry, J., 2004. A Handbook of reflective and experiential learning. London: Routledge Falmer.

Hesselbein, F. and Goldsmith, M., 2006. The leader of the future 2: visions, strategies, and practices for the new era. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Wiley.

Ho, Z., 2009. Establishing Effective Management Culture in China: Organizational Difference or National Difference?.Harvard Business Review, 1 (1), p. 14-19.

Li, X. & Richter, F., 2007. Advances in Tourism and Hospitality Management in Asia. Tokyo: Palgrave.

Liu, C., et al., 2005. An Investigation into the Hotel Industry in China. The Journal of Tourism Affairs, 35(2), 181-184.

Megginson, D. & Whitaker, V., 2007. Continuing professional development. London: CIPD Publishers.

Pardey, D., 2007. Introducing Leadership. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Payne, E. & Whittaker, L., 2006. Developing essential study skills. 2nd ed. Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.

Routledge, C. & Carmichael, J., 2007. Personal development and management skills. London: CIPD Publishers.

Ward, J., 2008. Emerging China: A look into Chinese Tourism Industry. Harvard Business Review, 9 (1), p.45.

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