With many employers struggling with staff retention and research showing that around 65% of employees would prefer a better boss over a raise, great leadership is more important than ever before.  To build the business of your dreams, you need great staff who wake up every day and choose to work for you.

So how do we be the kind of boss great staff want to work for?


Share your big picture. This is not about doing haircuts; this is about changing lives. More than almost any other occupation, we have the opportunity and privilege of building the confidence and self-esteem of every client in our chair. They can get a haircut anywhere.  This has got to be about so much more.

Have you heard the fable about the 3 bricklayers?

A man walking past a construction site asked 3 bricklayers what they were working on. The first said “Can’t you see? I’m laying bricks!” The second said “I’m building a wall”. The third bricklayer said “I’m constructing the most magnificent cathedral I’ve ever seen”. Who would you want building your wall?

It’s worth noting that Millennials (15-30 year olds) are more socially conscious than any other generation in history. Not only will they be inspired by your goal of impacting other people and creating a better world, they’ll actually EXPECT you to have an inspiring vision and ask which charity/community causes you’re supporting! If you’re just turning up to ‘do’ clients and make money, they’ll likely get bored and keep looking. Money has come easily to most of these guys, so they’re looking for what else you offer.

Get them inspired. Give them goosebumps with your big, scary goal; your reason for doing what you do. Show them how what they do will make a difference to those they touch


Once they ‘get’ your vision and know what they’re here to do, they’ll need some specific action steps. These are the day to day tasks, the systems and the ‘how we do things around here’. Don’t let it get boring. Underneath everything you do is a reason, a value or a story– remember the bricklayer.

  • Why do we present refreshments exactly like this?
  • Why do we answer the telephone exactly like that?
  • Why do we cape up in this particular way?

You’re not laying bricks; you’re building that cathedral. People are relying on you.

Consistently great businesses are highly systemized but definitely not robotic and your staff need to know when to follow the plan and when to use initiative. If they know the reason or value behind every system, they’ll make better decisions when the situation demands.

DELEGATE: Learn to trust your team

Once you’ve given them the mindset, the skills and the tools, get out of the way and let them do their thing. I know this is your baby and it’s hard letting go, but employee surveys show there are few things more demotivating than a micro-managing boss who squeezes the life out of every single day with their vice-like control. That’s just no fun at all. Your staff want to show you what they can do and they’re looking for an opportunity to contribute. Trust your training and trust the person you’ve selected.

Speak clearly and directly when giving instructions. Sure, be positive, respectful and polite but don’t apologize for asking for cooperation or you’ll likely lose resect and give your power away. Your team want to work for a positive and encouraging leader, but make no mistake, they want to be led by someone who is comfortable with that role. No doormats!

Sure, they’ll make mistakes and they’re going to need your guidance to get it right at times but no one likes an angry coach! When you’re giving feedback, thank them for their effort, focus on what they did right or how far they’ve come initially, not what they messed up or how far they are behind. Your acknowledgement, feedback and guidance will help them do it better next time.


The lifeblood of any successful team, communication is essential, before, during and after everything! At the start of each week, on the morning of your big day or when you’re planning a big project or goal, you need to discuss:

  • ‘The Goal’ – what needs to be done;
  •  ‘The Method’- the best plan of attack to achieve your goal,
  • ‘The Obstacles’- what you might encounter to throw you off-course (and what you’ll do if that happens), and
  • ‘The Reward’- how you’re going to feel when you pull it off!

Once you’re off and running, take note throughout the day to check if your troops are OK. In the best teams, no one gets left behind and team mates commit to getting each other through it, no matter what.


In today’s ‘Photoshopped’ world, we’re growing tired of fakery, buzzwords and trying to live up to impossible ideals. In fact, most of us will take ‘messy and real’ over ‘flawless and fake’ any day. So what does authentic mean?  The courage to be imperfect; to get it wrong sometimes and be ok with that in order to do better; to apologize when you’ve let someone down. Real loyalty won’t come from never being wrong, it will come from saying “Sorry guys, that was my fault. What did we learn?” Show them you’re human too; model how to make mistakes and move on. Real connection is rocket fuel for a high performing team.


A great leader is enthusiastic, which is closely linked to morale. Positive, inspiring workplaces bring out our best and are just more fun to work in. High performing teams are often led by people who ooze enthusiasm out of every pore of their skin.

Money goes where energy flows. If the atmosphere in your salon is flat, results will follow. Manage the energy every day from start to finish and don’t let anyone drag the team down with their mood. Change the music, do something fun or hold a competition on a key focus area for the day. If all else fails, try chocolate!

Some days even you won’t feel like the Energizer Bunny, but as the leader, you set the direction and the pace so even on your flat days, your energy sets the standard. Notice it and change it if necessary. Crank your favourite song or play some funky 70’s disco beats in the car on the way to work. Impossible not to laugh! Every day your team have a choice. There’s always somewhere else to work and always someone who will pay them more. Staying with you is a choice made as a result of a thousand little interactions throughout the day and your team are always watching what you do.

Thinking about each of these qualities, would YOU work for you?

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