How to be a great salon leader

How to be a great salon leader

To run a great salon you need to be a great leader.

Behind every great salon there’s a great team. While great teams come in all shapes and sizes, they all have one thing in common: they have great leaders.

No two leaders are alike. You, like every leader out there, have your style. Maybe you’re hands on, or maybe you prefer your people to have more freedom. Maybe you rely on your charisma to get people to follow you, or maybe you try to cultivate personal relationships with your staff. Maybe you get your message across most effectively in a 1v1 conversation, or maybe you’re better in a group setting.

Whatever your style, whatever your strengths, there are certain timeless principles that you must follow if you want to be a great leader.

In this article, I’ll go over 5 things every salon leader must do effectively to run a great salon business.

Why is a great salon leader important?

The success of your salon relies on your staff members.

Think about it, even if you have a relatively small team of three working side by side with you, the work you do only accounts for 25% of the work that gets done inside the salon. Your team actually does the majority of the work.

Thus, helping your team become a bit better is in all likelyhood a more effective way for you to get more out of your business than you necessarily improving a lot on your own.

And that’s exactly what a leader does. A leader makes her team better.

A leader should measure her performance by measuring the performance of her team.
– Andrew S. Grove

1. Build trust

You probably have had a couple of great leaders in your life. I’m willing to bet that you felt you could always turn to them whenever there was something on your mind.

To become someone people feel comfortable turning to you have to build trust. The purpose of trust is to to increase the amount of honest conversations going on between you and your team.

Honest conversations are the lifeblood of a great team. Honest conversations reveal what might be going wrong, and give you a chance to fix the mistakes being made before they become any bigger. Honest conversations make us better.

But speaking up about difficult subjects is hard. Especially for your team members that in all likelyhood want to impress you rather than be the bearer of bad news. You can’t rely on them proactively reaching out to you. To build the foundation for trust, you’ll need reach out to them.

To get the ball rolling I highly recommend booking regular meetings where honest conversations are the expectations of the meeting.

I’d recommend a monthly 1v1 meeting with each team-member, as well as a quarterly all hands post-mortem where people can talk openly about what went well and what can go better.

Both types of meetings give people a safe space where they can share their thoughts and feelings without judgements, an absolute must for honest conversations to ensue.

If done well, those meetings will build a bridge between you and your team, creating the trust for your team to become effective and improve faster.

Trust is fundamental for you to be able to be a great salon leader

2. Help your people grow

As we talked about above, your performance as a leader is tightly linked to the performance of your team. Thus, to improve as a leader you must help your team to improve.

There are several ways you can help your people grow.

An effective one is to slowly but surely increase the amount of responsibility each individual has inside of the salon. Maybe someone wants to get better at managing social media. In that case, you could make that individual responsible for the social media of your salon.

Another good way is to set goals for your people that they should be focusing on reaching to improve. Maybe someone isn’t selling as many products as the others in the salon, so during your monthly 1v1 meetings you could set product-selling goals for that individual and review that goal during the next 1v1 meetings.

And of course, when trust has been established, you must be willing to give your people honest feedback about their performance. Without feedback, people won’t know what they’re doing wrong and how they could be better.

3. Hold your people accountable

With increased responsibility, with specific goals and through honest conversations and feedback, you create new avenues for people to fail.

And people will fail. Your social media guru might forget to post for several weeks. The individual that wanted to get better at selling might not reach her selling goals. The feedback you give might not have registered, and the individual you gave the feedback to did not turn that feedback into changed behaviour and improvement.

Failure is ok, but only if people learn from their failures. To learn effectively from failures, your people must be held accountable. This is where feedback comes in, and again the monthly 1v1s. During 1v1s, the expectation is for you to evaluate the performance of your team members, and it’s your avenue to hold people accountable.

During the 1v1s, I do not recommend the blame and shame tactic. But rather, I’d recommend you ask questions. Here are a few examples:

  • How do you feel like you did with X?
  • In the previous month, we agreed that you’d post on social media 2x per week, but you didn’t follow through. Why do you think that happened?
  • You did not meet your selling goals. What do you think you could do to improve?

4. Reward great performance

People tend to repeat behaviours that they’re rewarded for. It’s human nature. So if people are doing something that you want them to do more of, reward them!

If people reach their goals or grow into their responsibilities in ways that you’re happy with, a small reward can go a long way.

Everybody loves to feel seen and valued. A reward makes people feel that way. It doesn’t need to be a big reward, unless you want it to be. It might just as well be something simple. The gesture is usually what counts.

Here are a few ideas that you might want to ponder:

  • A raise or a bonus
  • A dinner or lunch on you
  • A small married.

Then, to take it full circle, you should add more responsibility to the individual that is performing in a way that you appreciate and make that individual want to reach that goal as well.

Rewarding good performance in your salon makes sure that people want to keep doing the good work. Even a small gift can go a long way.

5. Lead by example

This is perhaps the most important point I will make in this article. If nothing else, you must lead by example.

People emulate their leader. They watch their leaders behaviour carefully to learn what is okay and what is not. The leader always sets the standard.

If you’re often late to work, your team will think that it’s okay for them to be late as well. If you often go to your phone during work, your team will go to their phones as well. Your behaviour creates the guidelines for your team

Nothing creates more friction inside peoples minds as a leader that requires certain behaviours from their team members and then goes on to not follow their own advice. It’s the hallmark of a bad leader.

At the same time, nothing resonates more than a leader that asks people do do certain things they do themselves. A leader that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.

This applies to everything said here above. To encourage people to own up to their mistakes, you must do so as well. To help people grow, you must first learn how to grow yourself. To hold people accountable, you must hold yourself accountable as well.

Every great salon leader leads by example

Rome wasn’t built in a day

The role of the leader is one of the trickiest roles you can have. You won’t be able to avoid making tons of mistakes along the way. Nobody can.

But as long as you focus on building trust, helping people grow, hold people accountable, reward good performance and always lead by example, you’ll eventually find your way. Whatever your style might be.

If you have any questions, or if you have some ideas you feel like I should include in this article, feel free to reach out to me at

Good luck on your leadership journey!

Article Credit:
Jon Hilmar, CEO @ Noona, Cat Lover & Salon Enthusias

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