How many of us are not reaching our full potential? Even worse, how many employees are working for us that are not reaching theirs, and not because they don’t want to, but because we are in their way? When do we let go? When do we give them the opportunity to make discoveries? How often are we making them feel less empowered and more micro managed?

I know when I was starting my business 14 years ago, right up to today there wouldn’t be a chance I could have been where I am without making mistakes. Seven years ago I had a staff member walk out; this was the best thing that ever happened to me. They say “people don’t quit businesses, they quit leaders.” I looked very deep into myself at this time. I reflected on many things that happened through the years of my relationship with my team.

I made many mistakes. I opened a retail store at the time my Salon was doing its best. I took my eye off the ball and my team at the time they needed me the most. I never realized my job was to lead them to victory; I thought my job was to lead the salon (myself) to victory and that they should be helping me. WOW, I said it! Until recently that is how I thought. Why don’t people want to work hard? Why do they want to work and go home with little interest?

What would it look like if we got out of the way? I believe in my team and I will tell you why. If they have stuck with me through all my leadership mistakes and they have been able to just hang in there and follow me while I am going through all my discoveries, I truly trust that they are committed. What would it look like if I let them unleash their true potential and genuinely help them to their own personal growth? Maybe one wants to be a creative director, maybe one a manager, maybe one the best colorist. Isn’t that what we all want?

We have to help them get there. The question for us when our feet touch the ground in the morning before we get to work is how can I help them get there? Who on my team needs me and my time to help lead them to their goals? This all seems like common sense. What most people think is I am the owner, I make the decisions. They work for me, I am the one that leads this business. Are you really? Are we letting them make the discoveries that we all made to get to where we are?

A couple years ago I had an employee that left to go to a salon around the corner. She was honest, direct and up front with me. She wanted change. She wanted to see what other opportunities are out there. I understood and wished her well. We always remained friendly and then one day we had a great conversation and I invited her back. She is a gift in many ways to my leadership learning. She sees the other side that I don’t see. I don’t always like it! What I am starting to realize is this person was shutting down, being negative and seemed unhappy. I believe it came from the lack of empowerment on my side. I never gave her the permission to run and use her full potential, until now.

Recently I gave her a project to lead. She led a creative collection, the first ever for us in the salon and almost the entire staff was involved. I saw the excitement and the momentum of the team with her leading the project. It is way more powerful than if I were leading it. I got out of the way and just let her know I was there if she needed me. After it’s is over we can talk about things she might want to do differently next time. We will debrief and find the pain in the process. I am letting her have her own discoveries and just showing up as a coach. It has been the most rewarding experience. I feel like a proud mother.

I challenge you to get out of the way and let your team have their own discoveries.

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