5 Leadership Tips for Franchising Executives
By David Wescott, Transblue, CEO
I have spent the last two decades of my career in top-level positions, overseeing both brand and personnel growth. When playing this role for any given company, people inevitably turn to you for advice. How did you get to this point in your career? What would you have done differently?
I think there’s a limitless amount of advice any person in this position could give. Yet truthfully, I don’t know if there is any guidance out there that carries the same value as leadership advice. For any position you interview for, your skill set is what brought you to the table. But, your ability to act as a leader and lift others up will set you apart and give you the longevity needed for a successful career.
Tip 1: Know your values
My first piece of advice is one that I wholeheartedly believe is foundational to every other aspect of your career, and that is the importance of knowing your personal values. Those values, whether you think so or not, will infiltrate every part of your career just as they do your personal life. I’m a firm believer that the two cannot be entirely separate, and because of this, it’s crucial that your values align directly with the company you work for, the people you work with, and the product or service you provide.
In my experience, I’ve been able to clearly identify and define a well-rounded grasp of what my values are. I know I’m a community-driven, philanthropic, and growth-oriented leader. If my team doesn’t align with at least one of those aspects, we won’t be working as an entirely cohesive unit, ultimately setting us back.
Tip 2: Defining your personal leadership style
In conjunction with knowing your values, it’s imperative you use those to help you craft a personal leadership style. What traits do you value in the people who work under you? How much control do you want over the daily operations? Do you prefer a team that matches your leadership style or complements it with something different? There is a whole suite of questions you should be considering as you enter any leadership position.
For me, I’ve never been fond of micromanagement. It never worked well with me, and I never wanted my employees to feel like I didn’t trust them to do the job they had been hired for. This led me to take quite the opposite approach, and be very hands-off with my team. I believe that if each individual cannot hold their own weight, you’re inhibiting your employee’s growth and in turn, holding back the entire team.
Tip 3: Managing your team
In saying that I take a hands-off approach with my team, that often garners a few questions. I think a lot of people assume that the more involved you are in the day-to-day nitty-gritty, the better off your business will be. I’ve found what works for my business is to set aside one morning every week, where I sit down with my team and we discuss everything that needs to be accomplished by next week’s meeting. Everyone on my team leaves with an extremely clear idea about what is expected from them in that one-week timeframe.
I like to say that running a business is akin to playing a game of Monopoly – if you were to start playing the game, and the person sitting next to you played by entirely different rules, you’d both be upset. Why weren’t we told what rules the other person was playing by? That’s why it is so critical that prior to playing - or prior to starting your work week - everyone in that room knows exactly what is expected of them.
Tip 4: Mentorship
My next piece of advice is potentially contradictory to writing this entire piece, but nonetheless a piece of advice I hold closely to my heart. I’ve often been asked if I have any business leaders or “gurus” that I look up to, and the simple answer is that I don’t.
I’ve had my fair share of guidance throughout my career. But, at the end of the day, there’s no one outside of myself and my own father that I often trust with important advice. The way I see it, unless this mentor is extremely skilled in the field that I’m seeking advice on, I trust my gut over almost anything. An outside counsel can often cloud your intuition, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two decades, it’s to trust your gut instinct.
Think about it – and I mean really think – when you seek mentorship, are you asking for advice, or are you hoping they will confirm that what you want to do is the right path to follow? When we go to these mentors, we often don’t know if our values align in the way they need to. If they don’t, we’re inherently making decisions from different places, and coloring each other’s view of the problem or question at hand. We often just want someone to support our way of thinking and be our cheerleader, regardless of what they actually think. I’d never say mentors can’t be valuable, but I do think you need to be selective with who you go to for advice.
Tip 5: Never stop learning
My fifth and final tip is perhaps the simplest and most effective tool for furthering your career, especially as a leader: never stop learning.
When I entered the professional world, I had such an eagerness to better myself and provide a service that would make a positive impact on people’s lives. In the last two decades, I’ve made every effort possible to never lose that sentiment – and along with that, comes an eagerness to learn and grow at every turn. I’ve taken every success, every loss and every moment of growth as an opportunity to sit back and learn what I did well for my team and what I could have done better. I truly believe this self-analyzation combined with a will to learn and do better is a key factor in my success.
Conclusion: Advice to new executives
All of this being said, I do have one last piece of advice for any first-time executives out there, and that is to take your time. People often get caught up in growth and becoming the leader they’ve always wanted to be, but it’s important to sit back and learn the business while you’re young.
Part of being successful and reaching this place of leadership is knowing when to stand back and learn and when to make educated decisions once you know the business model, the team culture, and so on. Focusing on learning your role within the company will afford you the opportunity to see the bigger picture rather than get caught in the weeds of things you can’t quite grasp. That’s a piece of advice that probably would have saved me quite a bit of time, and I hope it does the same for any readers right now.