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The Dangers of Being a Reluctant Salon/Spa Leader — and What to do About It

September 3, 2018 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

A reluctant salon/spa leader operates in what is best described as a protective bubble.

Inside the bubble, it’s safe. Employee challenges don’t look so bad. Productivity and cash-flow issues don’t appear as critical. Customer service breakdowns will probably fix themselves.

Outside the bubble, there’s a pile of unaddressed leadership responsibilities.

  • It’s where conversations that need to happen don’t.
  • It’s where productivity and performance issues are viewed as “is what it is.”
  • It’s where one cash-flow leak gives birth to another.
  • It’s one opportunity after another remaining out of reach.

Being a leader doesn’t mean dealing with tough stuff all day, everyday. It means engaging with fairness and integrity. It means taking responsibility rather than avoiding.

FACT: Leadership has its rewards — but those rewards have to be earned.

Here are my eight No-Compromise Leadership strategies to stop or never become a reluctant leader:

  1. Be an influencer: Leaders can’t fly under the radar. As leader, your presence always appears on the radar. Why? Because your primary role as leader is to be an influencer. That means coaching and shaping the right behaviors for all team members. That means coaching each and every team member on the disciplines of success. Being an influencer in the success of your company and to those you lead is not just a responsibility — it is an honor. You can’t achieve success and honor when you’re stuck in a bubble.
  2. Be present mentally and physically: Leaders can’t “check out.” The very moment you check out, your company and your team start drifting off course. Why? Because “checking out” means you gave up. You threw in the towel and just stopped leading. It doesn’t take long for employees to figure it out and dial their performance back. And when they realize the company is drifting off course along with their future, they seek out and find new opportunities. Leaders that check out are the root cause of the employee turnover they fear. Leaders can’t “check out.”
  3. Get the tough decisions over with: Avoiding a tough decision is more stressful than actually making it. Repeat. Avoiding a tough decision is more stressful than actually making it. The stress of holding on to a problem employee that’s wrecking your culture is ten times worse than firing that person. Got it? Month after month of negative net profit is more stressful than creating a budget and cutting every unjustified expense. Got it? Not implementing essential systems to improve productivity, revenue and profits because they may be “unpopular” is a heck of a lot more stressful than implementing systems to grow your company. Got it? If it needs to get done — get it done. Got it?
  4. Listen to that “little voice”: When an uncomfortable situation says it’s time to engage as leader, understand that “fight or flight” is a natural human tendency. In that very moment you’re deciding to engage or run for your bubble, that little voice of reason is telling you exactly what to do. In almost every case, it’s telling you to regain your composure, step up and engage. It’s telling you that running for your bubble is going to make things worse. That little voice in your head is brilliant. Listen to it and do what it’s telling you to do.
  5. You have a leadership voice — use it: Some leaders have a voice that is loud and brash. Others are soft spoken. One leadership voice is not necessarily more effective than the other. But, everyone has a leadership voice. Some find it naturally, while others have to try on different voices until they find the perfect fit. The best leadership voices are firm, focused and respectful. The worst leadership voices bark orders and demean those they’re supposed to be leading to a better place. Getting comfortable with leadership takes practice. Very often it requires coaching to help shape it into a voice you’re comfortable with. No matter what, you must find your leadership voice and use it.
  6. Invest heavily in appreciation: Nothing reinforces a culture and the human spirit more than a simple “thank you,” telling an employee “great job,” or just acknowledging an employee’s hard work. Too often leaders get so caught up on solving problems that little wins and accomplishments go unnoticed or unacknowledged. People work hard for leaders they respect. People work harder to please a leader that inspires and encourages them to be their best. Hard work, respect and loyalty flow both ways. Authentic leadership appreciation always yields the highest return on investment.
  7. Honor your company and vision: Sure, every owner and leader has a bucket full of “blood, sweat and tears” stories to tell. Overcoming adversity is part of leadership. Succumbing to adversity because you were hiding in your reluctant leader bubble is surrendering and dishonoring the company you worked so hard to build. Leaders fight to protect their companies and their employees. Employees will rally for a leader that’s fighting for them. They won’t fight for a leader hiding in a bubble. There’s nothing honorable about going down without a fight. Being tenacious and courageous is what being a leader is all about.
  8. Balance personal and business: Too many owners and leaders talk about how difficult it is to find balance. The simple truth is that working your butt off for extended periods of time is stressful and can definitely cause burnout. A burnt out leader is essentially stuck in his or her own reluctant leader bubble. They’re stuck in a daily routine that appears to have no means of escape. Finding balance is about changing your approach to work and leadership. It’s about resetting your priorities and learning how to work smarter not harder. It’s about taking time to smell the roses, breathe fresh air and enjoy precious time with family and friends. Again, this is where a business coach can help.

Here’s my challenge to you: In my many years of coaching, I’ve seen too many reluctant leaders stuck in their bubbles. Everyone pays the price including their salon/spa companies.

If you’re a reluctant leader, it’s time to get yourself on a better, happier and healthier path. I provided the eight strategies here to both inspire and instill a sense of urgency to take action.

You have everything to gain by taking action and everything to lose by hiding in your bubble.

Now, go back and read strategies three and four. Got it?

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