Five core leadership competencies spa managers must develop

With about 121,595 spa leaders, each, on average, managing a team of 17 staff members and generating an annual turnover of $625,000, it becomes even more important to provide our leaders with the right training to achieve success.

According to the GWI, in 2015, the spa industry generated US$76bn in revenue through 121,595 spas and 2.1m employees*. When we break down these statistics, this gives us at least 121,595 spa leaders across the globe, each, on average, managing a spa with an annual turnover of about $625,000 and a team of 17 employees. Hence, on average, we’re looking at quite sizeable operations, not only in terms of complexity, but also in terms of human capital and revenues. Are our spa managers well equipped to lead such operations? If not, how can we ensure our leaders are successful in their jobs?

 

Hard skills vs. soft skills: What determines job success?

85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills and people skills, and only 15% from technical skills and knowledge.

According to research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center, “85% of job success comes from having well-developed ‘soft’ and people skills”, whereas only 15% of success is the result of technical knowledge and intellect (‘hard’ skills). However, most leaders are generally hired and evaluated by their hard skills even though only 15% of job success comes from those skills.

 

The-Soft-Skill-Disconnect-Research-by-Harvard-University-the-Carnegie-Foundation-and-Stanford-Research-Center

 

Additionally, companies invest more resources in developing these less important skills. Research across various sectors demonstrated that although 85% of job success comes from soft or social skills, employers spend only about 28% on soft skill development. And the spa industry is no different.

 

What core competencies does a good leader have?

Considering the current state and imbalances that exist between hard and soft skills, we need to prepare and train our leaders in core competencies aimed at improving their soft skills. But, what are those skills? What are some of the measures that good managers implement in the workplace? And, what makes an effective leader?

 

According to an extensive survey conducted by Sunni Giles, a leadership development consultant, where Giles interviewed 195 leaders across 15 countries, there were a series of key abilities they all affirmed successful leaders to demonstrate. Let’s take a closer look at these top five highly rated competencies.

 

1. Create a work environment based on safety and trust

The most highly rated leadership competency was having high ethical and moral standards.

The ability to build a healthy work environment was considered the number one job of a leader. The two most highly rated attributes were “high ethical and moral standards” and “communicating clear expectations”. A leader who has high ethical and moral standards demonstrates fairness and instils confidence within his or her team. Additionally, when a leader clearly communicates their expectations, they ensure that all their team members are on the same page and working towards the same objectives. And when employees feel safe, trusted and in a fair environment, they are more relaxed and confident and able to unleash their full capabilities.

 

2. Empower and encourage autonomy among the team

Leaders who in contrast empower their team members by providing a clear focus while allowing them to organise their own time, promote more productive and proactive teams.

Most managers who are new to leadership fall into the common trap of trying to control their entire team, albeit with good intentions of ensuring spa operations run perfectly (in their eyes). However, this level of control can often times be counterproductive. Leaders who in contrast empower their team members by providing a clear focus while allowing them to organise their own time, promote more productive and proactive teams.

 

3. Foster a sense of connection and belonging

As a social species, we want to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging.

According to the survey leaders who “communicate often and openly” and “create a feeling of succeeding and failing together as a pack” build a strong foundation for connection. As a social species, we want to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging. Good leaders are able to connect with people and foster a sense of belonging among employees, thereby encouraging team commitment, loyalty and happiness in the workplace.

 

4. Stay open and promote organisational learning

If organisations want to move forward, they need to be ready to learn and treat failure as an important ingredient of their learning process.

Today, more than ever, leaders are required to have an open and flexible mind that enables them to take risks. If organisations want to move forward, they need to be ready to learn and treat failure as an important ingredient of their learning process. This is exactly why “flexibility to change opinions,” “being open to new ideas” and allowing room for “trial an error” came out as some of the most important competencies listed in Giles’ survey regarding leadership.

 

5. Promote growth

When leaders show a commitment to our growth, employees are motivated to reciprocate, expressing their gratitude or loyalty by going the extra mile.

This is another crucial core competency that our future leaders need to implement in their spas and wellness centres. Nurturing growth among employees is another way of addressing one of the most vital needs of any human being. As stated by Sunni Giles, “when leaders show a commitment to our growth, employees are motivated to reciprocate, expressing their gratitude or loyalty by going the extra mile.”

 

Change in mindset

As we have seen, these core competencies have nothing to do with things like confidence, authority, knowledge or experience. Instead, they are focused on the ability to foster harmony and positive human interactions in the workplace through a series of actions aimed at fulfilling our own human needs.

Adopting these five core competencies is a challenging task not only because of the unnatural balance that exists today between soft and hard skills but also because so many managers do not have the mindset to adopt some of those competencies. As stated by Sunni Giles, improving those skills “requires acting against our nature.” This may sound difficult but it is certainly a challenge worth to take if we truly want to improve the leadership of the spa industry.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/sonaluberoi.

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