Becoming a Strong Leader: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Ask


It can be easy to make comparisons between salon owners and coaches. As a salon owner, you are the one your team looks to when things get complicated or when the salon has seemed to have lost its sense of direction. What many salon owners find difficulty with is telling their team to do something and then having their team not follow through on the request. We partnered with one of our favorite Beyond The Technique podcast guests, psycosmetologist and author Jay Williams, to help salon owners find better ways to communicate with their team. 

Jay believes the secret to good communication is not telling your team what you want as a salon owner, but rather asking your team to work with you on achieving the goals for your salon, as it will benefit everyone. If this sounds like advice you could use, keep on reading! 


Shift Your Thinking

The first step to becoming your team’s coach – and being mindful of how you speak to your team – is by shifting your mindset. Jay believes the first place to start the shift is by changing your behavior. But in order to do that, you need to  find out what drives your behavior and emotions, and how can you make them better. As a salon owner, by changing  your performance and behavior, you can shift the thinking of your team by leading by example. This will help make it more of a collaborative unit.

One way to accomplish this is to sit with your team and ask them what their goals are instead of telling them. Ask them things like, what services they would like to start offering (or stop offering)? What their goals are for retail, or do they even have a goal for retail? By asking your team to help you set your salon’s goals, you will start to create a collaborative process with your team. And by doing so, your stylists will be more committed because they had buy-in from the beginning. 

Jay believes that people will commit to what they help create. So if you take the time to ask your team what they’re thinking and feeling, you will have overall better communication. 


Practice Patience with Your Team 

While having the ability to shift your personal thinking as a salon owner will help you better communicate with your team, practicing patience with team members who may not have the same goals as you is an important step in making the transition from dictator to coach. Jay shares that many salon owners will run into issues with their team when they don’t share the same goals as their stylists, or the owner has the perception their stylists are content operating alone more than as a team. 

Jay encourages salon owners to take a step back and assess the situation. Are you helping your team become better by getting upset? Or can you be a better leader with some patience? Does your team not care? Or do you need to take the time to help them reach their goals? 

Practicing patience will take integrity, compassion and detachment from the situation, not your team. 


Thinking, Listening and Speaking

Jay believes a key task for a salon owner who wants to improve the way they communicate with their team is to practice how you think, how you listen to your team, and, most importantly, how you speak to them. 

Jay shares that, “It’s not what you’re saying, but what you get them to say. You want to ask for permission and placement because the brain likes permission and placement, it doesn’t like anything forced on it.”

By allowing your team to know you are listening to their needs and finding the best solutions for what they find to be problems, you will see a tremendous change in your business. 

“You have to adopt it and integrate it into everything that you do,” Jay said. “The only way to build these things is to ask questions and nothing will happen by telling people what to do. What happens after self-accountability and self-awareness is self-belief.”

To listen to the full episode of that inspired this blog, click here. Also, be sure to check out Jay’s previous episodes 122 and 130.

Emily Kelly