Leadership in Your Spa

Leadership in Your Spa


I recently read, “Confronting Reality, Doing What Matters to Get Things Right.”  Authored by Bossidy and Charan, who also wrote the New York Times bestseller, “Execution,” the work echoes the wisdom of an elder tribesman, a shaman or a well-honed mentor.

As leaders, no matter how successful, we still fall into the unrealistic trappings of success or of sheer exhaustion from the various operational problems that can seem without end. Even for those who have rescued a business from peril and turned a profit, facing the next battle can be paralyzing.  Just as calm waters are all in sight, a storm whips up and any progress attained is lost. Back at the drawing board, or worse, the spa director, owner or corporate manager is handed a new crisis.

Habits displayed by unrealistic leaders are all too recognizable:

  • Filtered information from like-minded staffing
  • Selective hearing
  • Wishful thinking
  • Fear:  Financial, staffing, customer complaints and a cancerous negative attitude sometimes takes over.
  • Fatigue:  When analyzing “heroes” that have helped to build nations, movements, or who have achieved self-actualization there are typically barriers to overcome both operationally, fundamentally, managerially and within the mindset of the leader.  Inner strength, vision, execution and clarity of the end goal are further built during these challenging times.

Interpretation of Information

After months, years, and decades of tumultuous business dealings, leaders can become either overly positive or beaten into submission.  Many are brilliant at their craft, attentive leaders, thoughtful creators of their vision to help others and offer expansion for their people and expansion for their channel.  Such leaders tend to trust their gut.  Often, the same leaders lose faith in themselves as employee enhancement gets out of hand.

Filtered information with like-minded staff is rendered useless when leadership bites the false bait. Moreover, there is the tendency to succumb to the scrutiny simply because of one’s workload and the tasks set before them.

These problems are so severe that the spa’s leadership is rendered useless and the spa staff is without the skill-sets, emotional maturity or self-motivational skills to move forward towards expanding rather than imploding.

After fear and fatigue set in maneuvering in a hostile climate can render one diffused from the duties at hand and inept at managing a spa on a day to day basis.  Throughout this entire process the staff is disparaged to the point where they are no longer willing to follow the rules and raise the flag for their people.

Saturated Market

Like it or not this is a buyer’s market.  The cycle of growth of the spa industry went from uneducated and reluctant consumer to an interested and educated consumer faction.  However, the ease of entry into a micro spa has made a fair amount of the market saturated.  There is confusion over what qualifies as a “medical spa” and the scope of practice for many categories of licensed professionals.  The retail or products market is even more crowded with entry of the mass channel competitor such as Walmart or Amazon.  

The primary culprit that kills the deal for many spas is the lack luster they display in technical ability and customer service.  The value sought by “deal of the day” hunters will be had by another vendor on another day and isn’t worth the time.  In fact, these shoppers often waste your best talent’s time gathering technical and use information and then taking their meager spend elsewhere. 

The competitive nature of the industry is all the reason necessary to hire the most experienced talent and allow them the freedom to steer the ship into unchartered territory.  Experience is the backdrop onto which leaders throw, dabble and exact their own formula for success.  Fluidity of navigation with knowledge and experience is what talented leadership brings to the corporate engine.  Daily adjustments to the course are to be expected and learned from along with the occasional fall.  The expectation is constant improvement and development.


We are living in a dynamic time of change.  For example, digital methods of communication and technology exchange has vastly changed industries that utilize a printing press.  As industries are transformed and individuals displaced there is an increased tendency to worry about many things including one’s occupational station and the yet unknown competition.  The author Steven Covey translates this division of emerging economies as trust based.  That is, those businesses with levels of high trust, both internal and external, are free to race to the front of the line as competitors.  They are more apt to have systems of free flowing communication taking less time to achieve intricate goals.  Historically we have viewed this as a free market system.

Within the spa transparency has never been more important.  Rather than a fear-based level of unspoken qualifications, performance expectations and pay systems, let everyone know exactly what your organization expects and how employees can expect in return.  Encourage an open border policy between departments, individuals and managers.  Set your team up for success by organizing dialogue and benefiting from one another’s victories, failures and common ground.

In this new paradigm of industry growth the successful management team will not merely act from data nor instinct but will continuously adjust their financial and business plan.  Not merely an exercise for MBA students a well-honed and executed strategy will be as strong and flexible as a bamboo reed and just as easily transformed into multiple use applications.  Linking and iterating the financial targets, external realities and internal real time activities will allow for your machine to find the right mix within your business model.  The only secret is that success is not a secret.

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