The growth and evolvement of your massage therapy career can look different to different people.
Maybe you will grow to create your own thriving practice with multiple team members; perhaps you will evolve into the person who leads a team for a spa or massage franchise; or maybe growth looks like educating future professionals.
Whatever this opportunity looks like to you, knowing how to lead, and lead effectively, is a crucial skill to have and can be the key to how successful you are in your career.
Most people like to describe the qualities of a good leader or the effects that a good leader can create, but what is the true definition of leadership? What does leadership specifically mean to you? If you can provide a clear definition of this, for yourself, then you can begin to define how you will lead.
My personal definition of leadership is the ability to get people to think from the mindset of the brand that I work with to be successful. Important leadership success factors to include are the processes we take, the words we use, and the trust and rapport we build along the way—these are what create the roadmap to leadership success.
It’s important to understand that creating and building a team that has the same or similar values and vision as you will allow an organization to flourish more easily. If there are some staff members who don’t share that similar vision, then look for qualities that potentially work in symmetry with this vision and focus on them.
Keep in mind, you will never be able to force someone to be something they are not, and if you find that a person’s abilities, attitude or personality just aren’t in alignment with your leadership success goals, it may be best for both parties to part ways. Leadership success requires knowing when to make that decision, because when looking at the bigger picture, it will be the best choice for both parties.
Set the Tone
Effective leadership is also so much more than just being a nice personality. Once a leader puts vision and values above likability, these decisions may not be liked, but this action will create the trust and respect that is needed for leadership success. With that said, understanding how to communicate and the specific language necessary to communicate can set the tone.
Communication is both shared meaning and shared understanding. Shared understanding is the easy part; it’s the what, or the content of the message; however, the shared meaning is the why. Shared meaning is the emotional understanding and knowing why we do something, why it’s important and the impact it has on results. Once you are able to communicate the meaning, or the why, implementation of the shared understanding should come naturally.
Knowing what it takes to truly listen to another person is an additional important component of leadership success. Listening is the key to all effective communication; without it, the messages that you send can easily be misunderstood and any communication sent can break down.
When you listen properly, not only are you paying attention to what is being told to you, but you are also paying attention to how it is told. How the person speaking uses his voice and body, and being aware of both the verbal and nonverbal messages that he may send.
The ability to listen can depend on how well you are understanding and recognizing these messages. Mark Twain said it best: “If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear.”
Building trust and rapport is essential to leadership success, and you know you’ve mastered this once the person you are leading works with you as opposed to against you.
We all know the old adage that there is no “I” in team, and working together will allow the people you lead to believe and trust in you. In order to build this relationship, it’s important to start building a common agenda. By doing so, it will focus both parties on what is important; it will help to clear everyone’s mind for listening; and it will also help gain commitment to the end result, or your goal.
Whatever path you choose to take in massage therapy, you may be put in a position to lead. It is not an easy road, and there are many moving parts involved to create a truly successful leader, but focusing on these key elements will help keep you on the right track and ultimately create a more effective path for all involved.
About the Author
Nichole Velez, L.M.T., is training and development manager for Massage Heights. She wrote “3 False Beliefs About Massage Sales Success” and “Master These 3 Steps to Please Even the Most Unhappy Customer” for massagemag.com.