Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Does Your Leadership Attitude Affect Your Management Style?

With all the disharmony happening in our country right now, you’d think that Americans would be miserable. And yet, a survey conducted in December 2009 revealed that more than nearly 80% of Americans said they are happy or somewhat happy when asked “think about how things are going in your life in general.” Click here for poll

I wasn’t very surprised by these results, but I suspect you might be. The respondents to this survey clarified this landslide consensus by revealing the criteria they’d used to answer the question. It wasn’t about how much money they were earning, or their predictions for the future, which is what our nightly news syndicates are basing their programming. The respondents’ positivity was due in large part to their lifestyle and their attitude. Wow!

What would Mr. Jefferson say?
I’m a big history buff, so of course I looked back to see other patterns of great sea changes in our society. Our founding fathers, faced with enormous, unstructured change issues as they broke away from England knew that what they had to accomplish was both improbable and dangerous for every stakeholder involved. It took decades for every change leader of that time to achieve one victory after the next, to survive set backs and daily discouragements, to develop skill sets they’d never heard of in order to communicate with people they had never encountered. Every day was treacherously long, exhausting, and spiritually draining. Yet at the end of his life Thomas Jefferson looked back over his time here and said that the best of his life was spent in the worst of times.

You’ll see that same phenomenon across the millennia of our country’s history, and perhaps even in your own. Was it more fulfilling to stand at the point of arrival, or does your heart leap as it remembers the struggle and growth required to get there? Can a mother truly ever forget the joy in the pain of child birth? Can a college student leave a community in which they’d lived and grown for four years, without the knowledge that these were the best and perhaps most difficult years of their life? So it is the same with our country now, as many business owners struggle to stay afloat, or begin again. The pain of failure is quickly subdued by the excitement of the journey ahead. Which leads me to question how our leadership attitudes can affect our management style and what are the three things you need to consider when assessing your own leadership attitude, which will inform how you manage the life inside your salon/spa:

1. How well do you know yourself? People and businesses that try to be everything to everybody achieve only one thing – invisibility. Being clear about who you are and what you do and don’t do, will attract those people who want to be with you as employees or clients. Yes, you’ll have to say so long to another group of people. But the new group will be larger, and far more loyal. Don’t be afraid to put your flag in the ground and continue to ask yourself and the people around you: What more do I need to be my best me? What else should I be doing? How well do I accept feedback?

2. How transparent are you? There’s that adage “Only the guilty need a lawyer.” In the world of business, especially ones built with healing in mind, the more open and revealing you are about yourself and your motives, the more likely you are to grow fast, personally and professionally. When past clients have contacted me with stories about missteps they’ve made, and were literally caught on tape, their regret is obvious and deep. But the next part of their story is usually about what they learned, fast, and the mechanisms or intentions they’ve put into place to make sure it never happens again. That’s a true victory.

3. How well do you communicate? A communications professor once told me that the responsibility for clear communication is 100% on the shoulders of the speaker. That blew my mind when I was younger, and since then I have collected several instances where I confirmed this dynamic, in business, personal relationships, and parenting. 10 years after hearing this mandate, I learned in graduate school that most ideas are never born, and if they are and become a project, will fail the majority of the time due to poor or insufficient communication. If you put these two mandates together, as a leader, you should realize that communicating is 100% your responsibility, and the successful outcome of your initiatives is 100% your responsibility. This may not help you get to sleep faster tonight. However, if you’re like me, at least I know I can’t blame anyone for failure and that gives me more to start with than when I believed I could share the outcome with someone else!

So, up and at 'em, shoes on again! The good news all the way around is that the best time to get into the market is when the market is down! And BOY is it down! Celebrate! Put on your best leadership dress, and get to the drawing board. You get to build whatever you want, starting NOW.

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