How to Move to Full-Time Leadership and Retain Your Self-Worth

December 1, 2019 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Your passion has always been performing services and caring for clients. However, your salon/spa is growing in size, number of employees, and complexity.

You’ve been reducing your service hours but still find it a challenge to keep up with your business and leadership responsibilities. Something’s got to change.

After years of performing services, it’s time for you to become a full-time leader.

Decision made. You hold a team meeting and reveal your full-time leadership plan. You’ll finally be able get all that business stuff you’ve been stressing over done. Yay! Your team totally supports your decision.

Now comes the announcement you’ve been dreading — telling your clients that you are no longer doing services. As expected, your clients are not thrilled, but most are willing to try other service providers.

Fast forward six months…

You survived the transition to full-time leadership. Even though you checked off many of your business projects and to-do’s, your sense of accomplishment just isn’t there. Something is missing.

The more you think about it, the work of business and leadership feels, well, like work.

When you were performing services, nearly every hour a client would tell you that you did a great job and made their day. In leadership, the accolades are far and few between.

When you were performing services, your service revenue totals at the end of each day reflected your hard work and financial contribution to the business. As leader, seeing your employee’s revenue numbers is a mixed bag of appreciation in some and frustration in others.

And then it finally hits you what’s missing. As a service provider, your feeling of self-worth was abundantly fed by the magic you created with your own hands and praise from your clients.

The scenario you just read is a real and accurate depiction of what many owners experience when they transition from service provider to full-time leadership.

If you’re planning to become, or recently became, a full-time leader, here are my six No-Compromise Leadership strategies to ensure that you find and retain your self worth:

  1. Your daily calendar/planner must replace your appointment book: Coming to work with your column filled with one client after another means your day begins with your first client and ends with the last. The appointment book ensures your productivity. In contrast, if you come to work with an empty or partially filled daily calendar, your time will evaporate faster than you can say, “I fought a bunch of fires and got nothing done.” KEY: Fill each day with projects, tasks, meetings and scheduled time to oversee operations. And just as you had to run on time servicing clients, you must be committed to stay on time for each and every item on your calendar.
  2. Your clients will get over it: Perhaps the hardest aspect of transitioning to full-time leadership is engaging with clients you once serviced. Yes, it’s going to be awkward seeing your clients. To your clients, you were “their” service provider. If you weren’t working on them, you were busy working on other clients. They’re going to ask if you can take care of them. You can, but only through the talented hands of your employees. KEY: It’s going to take time for your clients to view you as the owner of the business and not a service provider. Don’t hide in your office or avoid being visible. Remember #1 above. You have a very busy day full of projects, tasks, meetings and responsibilities.
  3. Office-itis is a bad thing: If you’re lucky enough to have an office in your company, don’t make it your jail cell. As a service provider, you days were filled with people, activity and conversations. Sitting in a quiet office all day, probably one without windows, can be a shock to your social system. KEY: Build time into your daily calendar every hour or so to practice “leadership by wandering around.” You finally have the time to observe your employees, systems and procedures, so do it. Getting stuck in your office working on spreadsheets and QuickBooks is not why you moved to full-time leadership. You goal was to be the best leader you can be. You can’t be the best leader while locked away in your office.
  4. Don’t major in the minor stuff: You didn’t become a full-time leader to run errands for supplies or to clean. KEY: Set priorities every day. Busy work doesn’t grow your company. Without question, your days will be consumed with fire fighting if you major in the minor stuff.
  5. Build your plan — work your plan: WOW! You finally have the time to plan ahead, so do it. One of your first projects as a full-time leader is to plan out your company’s calendar for the next twelve months. KEY: Plan out staff training, development and skill certification. Plan out your marketing calendar for the year. Plan out one-on-one’s and performance reviews. Plan out the design and implementation of new customer service procedures. Plan out enhancements to your brand. That’s the work of being a full-time leader.
  6. Grow your people and your brand: Too many owners are afraid to take the leap to full-time leadership because “their clients” are their security blanket. It sounds like, “If everyone leaves, I still have my clients.” KEY: As the owner of a salon/spa, your job and responsibility is to develop and grow your people and your brand. The more committed and aggressively you grow your people, the more you reinforce your culture and solidify your brand. A leader’s self-worth comes from the company and people they build with their heart and mind — not with their own hands servicing clients.

Here’s my challenge to you: If you made the jump to full-time leadership and struggle to find the self-worth that you once enjoyed servicing clients, it’s time to check the boxes on these six strategies.

Categories: Leadership

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  1. Neil,
    It took me 4 years to move from behind the chair to full time manager/owner and another 4 years from manager/owner to owner/leader. I moved from my salon owning me to me owning my salon. That made it much easier when it came time to transition to a new owner.


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