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Are you a boss or a leader? | Tina Hollis

August 31, 2022

Tina Hollis, aka The Lonely Boss Lady, runs courses in business and colour as well as mentoring salon owners to get the most from their business.

A passionate and experienced colourist, Tina holds the Wella Master Colour Expert qualification and a giant waiting list – it’s a 6-month wait for a weekday appointment while those wanting to see Tina on a Saturday are currently booking for 2023! This month Tina asks, Are You A Boss Or a Leader?

I ask this a lot, not just to salon owners/managers but to anyone who has their own business or a management role. It’s something that really gets people thinking, and makes them question if they are either or a mixture of the two. In some cases they realise they aren’t wearing either of those hats at all. I think there’s a key difference between the two roles which impacts both your team and the running of your business.

When I first went into business I openly admit I didn’t really think of myself as either a boss or a leader, I was a busy stylist who had a lovely salon to work in that just happened to be mine! I was very naïve to the world of business, I went in, worked with my clients and did my best to pay the bills. Being honest, that was probably fine for the first 12-18 months, and then reality hit, I had a member of staff causing a few issues and the bills were piling up, I needed to address it all.

But business is scary…

I used to stick my head in the sand, pop a bill in the drawer I couldn’t afford that week and pretend it wasn’t there! And I know I’m not the only one to have done that…

Staff issues were ‘sorted’ with a quick informal chat in the staff room and the hope that me saying please and thank you was enough to plaster over anything.

Staff meetings……cringe! I was too scared to upset my team with the fear they’d go elsewhere so I used to just fill them with positivity and training on things I thought they’d like and avoid the things I really needed to discuss, like targets/retail and rebooking. In my head I was still doing a staff meeting so that’s acceptable right? Wrong!

The turning point for me was when I woke up after another night of hardly any sleep and just sat on my stairs and cried, I mean REALLY cried, I felt lost with it all and out of my depth, I had no one to turn to that would understand. I was living and breathing my salon 24/7, I was exhausted, and I was too proud to admit out loud that I was struggling. I had to do something about it. I didn’t know where to start at first, so I got some business books, attended some courses, and investing in a mentor was the real turning point. I’ve not looked back since! 

A good friend of mine hit the nail on the head when she said “no one will look after or respect your business like you do” and it’s totally true. Yes we can have great employees/managers but at the end of the day the buck stops with the business owner, we don’t get to just switch off. 

I set about encouraging my team to see their column as their own business, to see that they were able to give themselves pay rises by hitting targets and earning their commission. But most of all I led by example and from the front, I showed them how to respect and grow their business by doing exactly that with mine! 

Wearing both hats of a boss and leader….

As salon owners we wear a lot of hats – stylist, friend, team leader, accountant, educator, BOSS!

I actually hate being known as the “boss”, when I’m on the salon floor I want to be part of the team still, I want the camaraderie, but I want to encourage and motivate the team too by being a good leader, I don’t expect my team to do anything I’m not prepared to do myself. If I have time I shampoo my own clients, I sweep the floor, I make drinks and so on. So when I ask the team to do the same, to chip in with salon jobs and help out, they do. (I mean there’s always one, but there’ll ALWAYS be one!) And when I accepted there would always be one that would test me, I stopped focusing all my energy on them and concentrated on my team leaders and middle of the roaders (you know, the ones that come in one day motivated and the next wanting to just sit and drink tea…) By doing that, everyone ended up on the same page. I do wear my “boss” hat when I need to, it’s just for me I don’t wear it all the time, I wear it at the right times.

So what’s the difference between a boss and a leader?

You shouldn’t really confuse leadership with management/being the boss, because every business needs a “boss”. A boss is someone who sets targets, rules and standards and they have to manage these and the staff in order to deliver the results needed. This is essential to have a successful business and team, it’s a very important role. It’s one I feel needs to be respected, but not feared.

Leadership is about vision, for instance, you have your goal that you want to reach for your business, but that’s a vision only you can see, so you have to develop the art of persuading others to believe in your vision. That’s going to mean you ensuring you can lead and show others how to hit those targets/results required to get you where you want to be. For instance, I want my team to work columns that are busy but lucrative, so I’ll teach them how to upsell certain services that have a bigger profit margin and that might not need as much time, freeing up their column for another client or dare I even say it, a lunch break….

Some staff members are motivated by rules and structure, others aren’t. So it’s about knowing your team but also what works for each individual. For me it’s a balance of wearing both hats – at the right time, I NEED to be the “boss” because my business requires this but I can “lead” my team by being the motivator.

At team meeting I address the good AND the bad, but I always finish on a positive.

Appraisals, well we all hate doing them but I turn it around, I get them to tell me what’s good and what’s bad and we have an open conversation and put a plan in place.

There’s no right or wrong, we all have different personalities, and that’s why I think it’s a good thing to know when to be the boss and when to be the leader.

My team run busy columns, they are motivated and most of all I don’t have the scary boss reputation!

If you’re struggling or just want to feel supported – because it can be lonely being the boss – my course “Mind Your Own Business” could help you, it’s a 1-day course touching on all of the above. Or get in touch to see how I can help you with some coaching, I promise you won’t look back. Change is scary, but it can be fun too!

For more information on Tina Hollis or upcoming Lonely Boss Lady courses: