Hello again! Today we begin part three of our salon leadership series, and we can all agree on this topic—nobody said being a leader was easy. In part one we learned that Leaders Are Influencers. In part two, we learned that Leaders Serve. Now we’re going to dive into today’s topic of why it’s not easy to lead and how we can overcome those obstacles.

(Miss one of Kati's first two blogs in the leadership series? CLICK here to access the first one, CLICK here to access the second.)

Before we dive into the challenges, I want to bring up an important leadership skill—relationship management. Being an awesome leader means you’re awesome at managing relationships and personalities. If you’ve discovered Emotional Intelligence, then you’ve learned about relationship management. It’s your ability to use your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully. It’s also a bond you build with others over time. If there is one takeaway from today’s topic, it’s working on your relationship management skills. And here’s why managing relationships can be a struggle.


The first reason that it’s not easy to lead is because everyone brings their own values, goals, and growth expectations to the salon. And more often than not, these are unique from our salon values. These are the values that drive an individual’s life and can include values such as accomplishment, change, adventure, faith, independence, marriage, nature, security, solitude, travel, and the list goes on. The point is, we all have unique personal values and then we come into a salon with a bunch of other people who have their own personal values. And they may or may not be aware of it!

Someone may have a goal to move up the level system every year, and another stylist may have the goal to open their own salon after two years. There are some people who want to move fast and expect advanced training every week, and there are others who want to assist and take their time learning before they go on the floor full-time. The tough part here is that every single person you hire is an individual and they require an individual approach to the way you interact, manage, relate, and communicate with them.

DISC Personality Test

The second reason leading isn’t easy is because we all have unique personality types! One great way to identify your team members personality types (and learn to work effectively with them) is through the DISC personality test. The DISC personality test takes individualism to a deeper level. It identifies our dominant forms of communication and behavior tendencies. For example, are you fast-paced or methodical? Are you driven by people and relationships or by tasks and responsibilities? DISC is broken down into four major categories. Ds are dominant, driven and task focused. Is are inspiring, magnetic, and popular. Ss are supportive, calm, and caring, and Cs are cautious, analytical and logical.

Recently, Andrew Carruthers and I launched a video podcast, Dive Into DISC where you can learn all about how this is an important way to identify which team members are going to be a good fit for the different positions at your salon, and also their communication strengths and weaknesses. I highly recommend taking everyone through a DISC assessment in order to affectively lead them and position them!


The third reason it’s not easy to lead is because people are selfish by nature. Now, I understand this comes off negative and we don’t want to see people through an unfavorable lens going forward. But it’s important to understand that we are innately designed by nature to think, “What’s in for me, or how will this affect me?”.  That is where the mind typically goes first. Knowing this can be used to our advantage, before we launch a new anything at our salon, we want to bounce the idea or policy off key players on our team. It’s important to share your rationale behind your decisions and to let your team in on your thought process for why you are moving in a certain direction – make sure to share your vision and get your team’s input. You can do this by asking some of the questions below.

  1. What are your thoughts on this new thing we’d like to do?
  2. What fears would you have or fears you think others might have?
  3. What are positives for the salon/team/guests if we do this?
  4. What are the possible negatives for the salon/team/guests?
  5. Is there anything we may not be thinking of that could be important now or a couple years from now?

By engaging with team members individually about changes you’d like to make, it will prevent trust issues, and in turn it will build loyalty and a connection with your team so they’re more likely to buy-in to your ideas.

Our Issues

Finally, the reason leading isn’t easy is because we have our own insecurities and judgements of others. I had Alex Dorr on the Beyond The Technique podcast to talk about the topic, Ditch the Workplace Drama. He shared that judgement is the root of all evil in the workplace. In fact, we lose an average of 2.5 hours per day to workplace drama! Where does judgement stem from?

While there are many psychological layers at play, it usually boils down to fear, which ultimately makes us feel unsafe, which turns into insecurity. That could mean we feel threatened if someone’s personal Instagram is more popular than ours. It could be that others have caught on quicker to things than we have. You might feel someone is getting more limelight than you and you feel it’s unjust. We have to become aware of triggers that make us feel unsafe and insecure because deep down we know that fear is a liar. The acronym for fear is, false expectations appearing real. But in the moment when our own emotions are at play, we place judgements on others because we’re not secure in ourselves.

Another reason is that we are scared to change! We can become set in our ways and not want to make changes when life is comfortable. Why fix it if it’s not broke, right?! Well, that’s not the mentality that got us here. We continued to grow because we continued to place ourselves outside of our comfort zones. And then maybe at some point we talked ourselves out of going to the next level—back to that fear component. If that’s happened, we may project our fears of change on to others and as a result, it’s going to bring others down. They’ll want to progress, and we’ll be too rigid to allow it. The way to conquer fear, insecurity, and judgements is to recognize your feelings and call it out, “This is just fear! It’s not reality!”. You also need a high belief in others and rock-solid security. So, how do we work on that? By making it a priority every single day.

Every day we have to choose to see our team members as unique humans with their own values, unique personalities and goals. We have to trust them if we want them to trust us. And in order to build self-worth and self-confidence, you have to make healthy and positive decisions for your lifestyle, you have to serve others, you have to see yourself through a loving lens (as your Heavenly Father sees you), and you have to stretch yourself. Be gracious with yourself—you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be right now, and you can always get better. In fact, our fourth and final leadership topic is coming up next month and we will dive into, Leaders Never Stop Learning. But until then, remember – being a leader isn’t easy, but if you work on it every day and extend grace and understanding to your team members you will continue to rise as a strong leader for your salon.

About the Author: Kati Whitledge opened Be Inspired Salon in 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Her passion for salon marketing and business grew tremendously and encouraged her launch of Meet Your Stylist, a matchmaking marketing tool used by salon owners throughout North America. She’s also the beloved host and founder of The Beyond The Technique podcast—where valuable education is provided on the vast topics of salon business. Kati’s mission is to equip salon owners and their teams with the most innovative business marketing strategies.


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