One of the toughest dynamics in the workplace is managing people.
Employees are an integral part of a business and when their skills are leveraged, they can help your business to achieve its full potential. But for your employees to be motivated and engaged in their roles requires more than managing – it requires that you employ effective leadership strategies.
What your employees are experiencing will transcend into what your customers experience. At Vent Blow Dry Bar the customer experience is paramount. To achieve that we place a tremendous focus on our employee experience to ensure our team is engaged, have autonomy to make decisions and are provided with coaching that consistently challenges team members to develop their skills through personal growth.
By providing an environment for our team members to be successful, we put them in a position for them to demonstrate their full capabilities and we are often amazed at their success.
While creating such an environment sounds easy, it is not inherently present in many businesses. But it could be if effective leadership behaviors became a bigger part of daily practices. Unfortunately, in many businesses control over others, focus on profit above all else, lack of trust and self-interest (ego) become the primary drivers of behaviors that form part of the leadership culture.
When these elements are present, there are predictable related negative impacts on team performance and ultimately customer satisfaction. Effective leadership is the channel through which business sustainability and success can be attained and the following 5 behaviors will help chart the course to success.
5 Practical Leadership Behaviors That Will Lead Your Team To Success
When was the last time you spoke to a call center that was unable to assist? You knew what needed to be done to fix your issue but the person on the other end of the line was unable to help.
Controlled by a script and a lack of autonomy to make decisions, it ultimately affected your satisfaction. In response, you were forced to fight your way up the chain to a manager who had the ability to help.
Provide your staff with the information required to make decisions, demonstrate the values to guide their decision-making in your leadership and provide coaching as a follow-up to their decisions, good and bad. Providing autonomy leads to employee engagement and better service for your customers.
At Vent, our staff have the freedom to make decisions, and the more often they make them the better they become. Autonomy fuels their engagement, personal growth and Vent’s high rate of customer satisfaction.
The best way to build a culture of trust is by trusting your team members. After all, much of leadership is demonstrating the behaviors you want your team to emulate in their performance.
- Trust is an important component in your business. If you lack trust you likely also lack autonomy and the development of good relationships.
- Trust fuels engagement and requires giving up some control to achieve. This may feel unnatural but it is critical as it impacts the success of each of the 5 leadership behaviors discussed.
At Vent, we build trust with our team members by encouraging them to be part of our business, being open and transparent in our communication, giving, rather than taking credit and owning challenges or problems as leaders. Nothing destroys trust faster than blaming others for leadership failures and taking credit for a team or individual’s success.
3. Emotionally Intelligent Communication
Consider the parent who yells and screams at their child when they do something wrong. The result is the child is more likely to lie to avoid the negative interaction in the future.
Now consider the boss who does the same thing.
The employee knows the boss’ conduct is unprofessional, likely contrary to the company’s values and just plain wrong to achieve any positive outcome. It also runs contrary to effective (and ethical) leadership, yet it amazes me how often leaders fail to consider their delivery and the perspective of the person receiving their message.
As you will notice, the 5 practical leadership behaviors are closely linked and ineffective communication can seriously hinder efforts in the other areas. Autonomy, trust, relationship building, coaching and the service of others cannot be achieved without effective, emotionally intelligent communication.
Emotional intelligence is often credited as the most important and predictable factor for CEO success. If you want your staff to practice it with your customers, demonstrate for them how it should look by perspective taking and anticipating possible interpretations to your messaging.
4. Relationship Building
Another critical practice for the 5 practical leadership behaviors is relationship building. A relationship helps to establish trust and connect the 5 behaviors in practice.
Thinking back to some of my favorite employers and coaches, the most memorable ones were those that I had developed a relationship with. The ones who would go above and beyond to help or provide advice – to coach me, place my interests before their own, by trusting me and placing my growth and development first before their need for self-recognition for their actions.
They motivated me to do my best and encouraged my success, in turn, I was motivated to perform as I knew my efforts would be recognized and I didn’t want to let them down. This is the role of a leader and the development of relationships is a non-negotiable role for any effective leader.
At Vent Blow Dry Bar we pay special attention to developing and maintaining relationships amongst the entire team. From welcoming new members, engaging significant others in workplace events and creating an extended workplace family, we strive to develop relationships with and amongst our team members.
5. Service of Others
It would seem obvious that in the service industry, leaders would lead the way to superior customer satisfaction by practicing servant leadership. Sadly, this is not often the case as serving others requires checking the ego and self-interest at the door (not an easy thing for some).
Servant leadership is just as its name suggests, the service of others as a model of leading or placing the needs of others first. The practice requires those in leadership positions to carefully consider the impact of decisions on others and seeks to share power thereby supporting building of trust, providing autonomy and emotionally intelligent communication. If broadens the areas of consideration in decision-making beyond that of the business alone and helps to develop better relationships with employees.
At Vent, while we cannot implement work from home programs or other similar benefits, we do our utmost to remain flexible with our team members. Vent engages team members in scheduling through advanced schedules that not only consider Vent’s scheduling needs but those of our team members as well. The result has been staff members who step-up to fill shift vacancies when needed and support one another when sickness or time-off is needed.
Has this practice meant that we have been short a team member on the odd day and had to make adjustments, yes it has. However, the payoff has been the development of motivated team members who are genuinely engaged and in-turn consider the businesses needs and not just their own. This has proven to be a small yet powerful practice towards employee engagement and retention.
As in servant leadership, where the leader exists to serve the people, at Vent Blow Dry Bar we believe that the business exists not just for the benefit of the business owners but for the benefit of its employees as well. We recognize that Vent’s vision cannot be achieved without exceptional, engaged team members who are dedicated to being their best each and every day.
To achieve the outstanding customer service and success we are proud of, we have implemented the 5 leadership behaviors in our business and watched as our staff retention, team and customer satisfaction and team performance has surpassed expectations.
By following these 5 practical leadership behaviors, any businesses can realize improved performance that positively impacts growth, customer satisfaction, employee retention and ultimately business success.
Natalie James is the CEO and founder of Vent Blow Dry Bar located in Toronto’s Liberty Village. Natalie is a mother of three who at 40 years of age decided to leave the stability of her career to chase her dream of entrepreneurship. You can follow Natalie @ventblowdrybar and @im.nataliejames.