Articles > Why YOU Need to Lead
August 21, 2014

Why YOU Need to Lead

Why YOU Need to Lead
Neil Ducoff’s Strategies




Before you sign the lease, complete the loan documents, phone the contractor, run the “help wanted” ads or do anything else to launch your new salon or spa, there’s something very important that you have to think about. If you intend to leap into ownership, you must understand the meaning of LEADERSHIP.

If you don’t, it might mean the difference between having a successful business with great employees or dooming your venture to failure. To move your business forward, you must move your people forward. That’s leadership.

Your vision, values, strategic objectives, communication style, standards for performance, motivation, inspiration, steadfastness, flexibility, compassion, good judgment and the ever-present quest for opportunities—all are the fibers woven together to create fine leadership material.

Leadership is a State of Mind
Understand this: as a leader, the buck stops with you. You can delegate, collaborate and seek consensus, but the ultimate decisions regarding the future of your business are in your hands. In this regard, you can view leadership as either a burden or a privilege of the highest order. True leaders rise to the challenge. They stand above the crowd. Leaders relentlessly pursue the top rungs of the success ladder. Their nature is to create and lead, not follow. Their reward is progress and accomplishment. Their nemesis is stagnation.

Leaders Embrace Change
A caretaker’s job is to maintain the status quo. Caretakers keep things neat and tidy. Caretakers weed and prune. They maintain a standard.

Leaders, on the other hand, thrive on change because they understand that in business, change is relentless. Without it, there is stagnation. Trends come and go. Markets shift.

The salon industry is usually in the eye of the storm of change. Think about what happened to barber shops when their owners failed to respond to shifts in the marketplace. Wash-and-set salons met a similar fate in the early 70s when those with the caretaker mentality failed to recognize that the haircutting boom was a permanent shift in the marketplace, not a passing trend. The day spa concept represents another shift, as consumers look to salons for services and products that focus on beauty and wellness from head to toe.

Change is relentless. It’s the energy that drives the leadership spirit and keeps it fresh.



Leadership is Earned
Too many salon owners cling to a fatal assumption that “leadership” is somehow a preordained fact of salon ownership. It isn’t. In fact, there is no connection between salon ownership, or having the title of manager, and leadership. It doesn’t matter if you are a stylist, colorist, nail technician or spa therapist. You earn the status of “leader” through your deeds and actions. Even non-technician salon owners quickly discover that their ability to lead isn’t preordained with the title of “owner.” Employees don’t follow a title. They follow the individual who can take them to a better place, the individual who offers opportunities and prosperity. A leader earns respect and authority. Likewise, leaders lose respect and authority by being dictatorial, egotistical, abusive and simply by failing to lead.

Without Leadership There is Chaos
If you abdicate your leadership responsibilities, the culture of your business will free-float into unfocused chaos. Some owners claim that they feel “held hostage” by their employees. This sentiment is hard evidence that they have, for some reason, neglected their leadership responsibilities.

Perhaps they don’t have sufficient leadership skills. Perhaps they have a passive personality. Maybe they just perceive certain aspects of leadership as disturbingly confrontational and avoid them altogether. Whatever the reason, remember: no business can move forward without the guiding influence of leadership. Without it, the salon’s culture can be irreparably damaged as anarchy ensues.

Leadership and Salon Culture
Leadership creates structure and focus and culture. It’s a beacon that guides your staff towards the achievement of your vision and strategic objectives. Culture is everywhere in our lives. It is in our homes, schools and religions. It’s on the Little League field, in the PTA meeting, at the nightclub and in the Army. Whenever a group of people comes together, a culture evolves.

From the very moment you conceive your new salon business, its culture begins to form. As new staff joins your team, their personalities, behaviors and beliefs further shape its culture. If carefully maintained and nurtured, this culture will quickly evolve into a collection of governing values, belief systems and standards of performance which make the salon strong and fill it with vitality. Left unchecked, it will become contaminated, until all forward motion stops.

You “See” the Culture Your Leadership Creates
The issue of culture has more to do with your salon’s success than you realize. Much of what we do in the salon and provide in our services is behavior-driven. Culture defines behavior. You can observe, experience and, especially in a salon, feel behaviors in the form of applied technical and interpersonal skills. Let’s take a look at the impact of salon culture. Suppose you introduce a new promotion to your staff. You explain it thoroughly and ask for feedback. What kind of culture do you have if the responses are, “I don’t want to do that because I’ll lose commission,” or, “Let the newbies do it,” or, “We’ve tried it before, it will never work here?”

Leadership skills play a pivotal role in shaping and nurturing your salon’s culture. Without constant attention, coaching and support, contamination takes hold. Building a positive, growth-driven culture is no different than growing a vegetable garden. If you allow weeds to germinate, your tomatoes are doomed! Sometimes a staff member doesn’t fit your culture and has to be removed before the balance of the salon is disturbed. Likewise, a strong positive culture can weed out those who do not fit in.

A positive culture is a powerful force. A positive culture defines what is appropriate and acceptable behavior in your salon. It sets standards of strive for and protect at all costs. A positive culture gives the salon the stamina to overcome adversity and problems that are part of the process of building and sustaining a business.

So, ask yourself: “Do I have what I need to lead? Can I make the commitment to guide and mold and shape my staff and its culture with compassion and responsibility? Am I ready to step out from behind the chair and lead my team to success?”

If the answer is “no,” then stop! You’re probably not ready to own a salon. If the answer is “yes,” go ahead and sign the lease, because you’re well on your way to providing your business with the vision it needs to thrive.

Keri Manuel is Director of Education of “Salon Business Strategies” Magazine. Keri, a former salon owner, is also an educator and in-salon consultant for Strategies. Strategies is a monthly, all-business, non-advertising publication for salons and day spas. For more information on “Strategies” Magazine, seminars and on-site consulting services, call 800.417.4848 ext. 117, or visit online. Also, feel free to email Keri.

Copyright © 2000 Strategies Publishing Group, Inc. Used with permission in behindthechair.com.