“To become truly great, one has to stand with people not above them” – Charles de Montesquieu
When I first became a manager at the tender age of eighteen, I found the whole experiencing very exciting but also extremely daunting. What I lacked in life experience I certainly made up for with enthusiasm, and as I grew and improved as a person, so did my managerial skills.
For some, leadership comes very naturally but for others it proves to be quite challenging. Over the past 20 years of being in a managerial role of some form or another,I have done some things well and others not so well. The stress of meeting targets, working very long hours, having responsibilities and managing staff with an array of different personalities, strengths and weakness, can often prove exhausting but also very exhilarating. The biggest lesson I have learned over the years, is that a good manager always continue to keep learning themselves. It doesn’t matter how many years experience you have, things will continue to be sent your way to teach you and help you hone your leadership skills even more.
For me, a good leader should be knowledgeable at their skill, confident, a fantastic communicator, hardworking and above all, they should be kind, compassionate and supportive of their team. As a leader you set the example to your staff, respect should be gained through your interaction with your colleagues, not simply through the job title you hold.
Always be mindful of the fact that being skilled and knowledgeable at your trade, doesn’t automatically make you a good manager – I am very lucky in the fact that in my job role I get invited into other people’s beauty businesses, to asses and offer advice on how to improve the business’s performance as a whole. One of the first things I always do is assess how strong a manager the business owner is. In our careers we have all been managed by some good leaders, one’s that have inspired us and made us want to work harder simply through our respect for them. And then there have been others that we have considered to be weak leaders, or aggressive and domineering, or just plan lazy and uninterested in what we do or what we have to offer. Yes, of course good managers should be good at what they do on a technical level, but managing a business or team, goes so much further than that. Once we acknowledge and accept this is an integral part of how we perform on a managerial level, we can begin to start looking honestly at our own strengths and weaknesses and see where we can improve and learn from them.
Acknowledge the fact your business is as much about your staff as it is about you – The more we focus on helping our staff grow and develop, the more we grow and develop alongside them. It’s very easy to get bogged down with what we want to achieve in our own career path and in our own business, that sometimes we forget, as managers, part of our role is to actually help others grow and progress too.
Always be truly present – it’s so easy to get distracted with all the responsibilities a managerial role entails. We have emails to answer, phone calls to take, business meetings to attend, targets to reach and clients to see. Ensure you take regular moments out throughout the day to remind yourself to be truly present. For me, I like to get outside in my lunch break and sit by the local river near my spa. I take time to focus on my breathing and tune in to the sounds of nature around me. This helps to keep me grounded, connected and truly present.
Find out what motivates your staff – People are motivated by very different things. For some its money, a good financial reward or goal will keep them happily plodding along each day, working at their best. For others it could be recognition, or their own personal career development. Some may find motivation by being given responsibility or even having the opportunity to teach others. Don’t assume that everybody is motivated by the same things as you. Once you have discovered what motivates each and every member of your team, you can then set tasks, goals and rewards to keep everyone working towards something that is actually important to them.
Always be kind and compassionate – This may sound like the obvious, but at times, some find that remaining calm and compassionate in challenging situations at work, can actually be very difficult. As a manager, you will no doubt sometimes come across staff who you may deem as being difficult or challenging. How many of us have seen those hot-headed type bosses, the ones that raise their voices a lot, and feel like there is nothing wrong in being openly irritated in certain people’s company? When ever you find yourself in a challenging situation, remind yourself you should be setting an example to other members of your team. Take a moment to step back from the situation and view it from all angles. Why does this staff member behave like he or she does? Is it a regular occurrence or fairly rare? How will your handling of the situation affect everyone else in the office? Easier said than done sometimes I know. But possessing the ability to always be calm, collected and compassionate, no matter what is thrown at you, is a great attribute to bring to the table.
Don’t take the actions and wants of others too personally – When I first started out as a manager, this was something I found really hard not to do. I wanted everyone to be as passionate and enthusiastic as I was. I longed to create a working environment for my colleges that would help them want to achieve the best they could in the company, and help obtain the same motivation and drive that I had. Obviously, this would often leave me feeling frustrated and disappointed. The fact is a good manager has to be respectful of the fact that everyone is on a different journey and everyone has different goals, motivations and ambitions to where their life should be going. As a business owner, it can be difficult to see staff come and go, especially when you feel you have worked so hard to create something that you think is truly special and you believe to treat your staff well. But life is life, things and circumstances change, and what once suited your employee’s one day, may actually change the next. I always tell my staff the same thing, that they will be with me as long as we still both need to learn something from one another, and we can continue to grow from that knowledge and our relationship. And at the time someone decides they want to leave my spa, I will wholeheartedly respect and support their decision, because it is obviously the right decision for them and it is at that point, our mutual lesson has been learned.
Be aware of your personal energy – Happy, enthusiastic and joyful leaders, in general, promote the same kind of feelings of happiness and joyousness to their staff. How hard is it to be grumpy and unmotivated by someone who can continually make you smile or even laugh? It’s in our nature to want to seek and experience happiness, it is a natural human desire. So every time you walk into your office or working environment, no matter what is going on in your personal life, try to exude the same positive, happy attitude you would love your staff to reflect back at you.
Always make time to listen to your staff – Many of my staff have been with me for years and no matter how well I think I know them, I always schedule in personal one on one time throughout the year, to give them the opportunity to simply talk to me and for me to simply listen. It may be in my office, over coffee or lunch, or even in the pub (if they are lucky enough!). Letting your staff know you have time for them, and that you truly do care about their happiness within the work place, goes a long way. It’s simple, happy staff are more productive and more loyal staff.
Give praise when praise is due – When my staff have done well, or have gone above and beyond the call of duty, I will always ensure it is acknowledged and let them know that I am grateful for it. It may be a simple thank you suffices, or a small gesture like a box of chocolates or bottle of wine shows an extra element of appreciation. We are now in an age, where too many people are working longer hours, with more responsibilities and are receiving very little thanks in return. The global recession has left many people fearful of losing their jobs, and it has most definitely increased the pressures that we have all experienced at some time in our working careers. It doesn’t take much to let your staff know you have taken on board how hard they are working, or that you have noticed that they have stayed late a few nights to get a job done. People need to know when their efforts have been noted, a heartfelt thank you can mean a lot to someone sometimes.
Be the inspiration – Great leaders inspire people. Be passionate, be ethical and be kind. Share your knowledge to the best of your ability and have a deep-rooted desire to help everyone that wants your help, to be the best they possibly can in life. A great leader teaches the pupil, with the hope that one day, that pupil will go out and far surpass everything he has been taught. Support, motivate, encourage and then sit back and with joy, watch them spread their wings.