5 Must-Have Leadership Lessons for Franchisors

Angela Cote

This article was originally published on franchisewire.com

I used to think of leadership as a CEO proudly leading their team to success with loud speeches and clear direction. But after more than two decades in the franchise industry, I am proud to say that my definition of leadership is quite different.

I have seen leaders emerge at every level of a company, and in all areas of business and life. My new and improved definition of leadership is all about…

● Having a mission.

● Taking courageous actions in support of that mission.

● Inspiring and supporting others in that mission.

Franchising makes people rethink leadership. Mostly because as soon as you get that first franchisee, you are no longer in the business of business. You are now in the business of supporting people. Specifically, you have to shift your focus to your franchisees, clients, customers, and corporate team.

The following leadership lessons are what, over many years, I have seen successful franchisors do to create thriving franchise systems. In my own experience as a leader on the franchisor side, these are the key leadership lessons that helped me create growth-minded teams with an aligned mission and positive culture.

Collaborate to create a plan

Let me ask you a question – do you like to be told what to do? I hear over and over from those in leadership roles about how frustrating it is to give direction to their franchisees, employees, or co-workers only to have them not follow through.

Well – this is probably because people are not generally motivated by being told what to do. As time consuming as it might seem, there is huge value in slowing things down and building a plan directly with those involved.

Taking the time to collaborate and ensure your team’s ideas and voices are heard leads to more buy-in and a higher probability of action being taken. Plus, the collective wisdom of the group usually brings forth the best ideas!

Empower people on your team

Collaborating with your team is a great way to have everyone feel heard. On top of collaborating, there are a few other ways to empower your team…

● Ask your team what they think they can do to accomplish the goal in question, and then help them determine the action steps to get there.

● Help people tap into their unique skills. Find out what they are good at and help them focus on that to build their confidence.

Learn to delegate

Have you ever struggled with the self-sabotaging idea that you have to do everything to create success in your franchise?

This thought, although not very helpful, can still come from a good place – you may feel responsible for those who you’re leading and want to take on everything to not let anyone down.

However, leadership is not about being an authoritative figure and making all the decisions. Leadership is all about empowering people, trusting others in their superpowers and expertise, and creating a cohesive team all united in one mission.

Demonstrate empathy

Leadership is evolving. It is all about soft skills – vulnerability, empathy, and compassion! Effective leaders show they care when someone opens up and shows emotion, even when their concerns seem invalid.

We often jump to our own conclusions and internally make judgments without stopping to understand the other side of the story. Try exercising empathy even when someone’s fears may seem unjustified from your perspective.

For example, a franchisee may have a fear of investing more money into their business. Instead of reminding them, “Well, this is what you signed up for,” how about something like, “It must be scary to invest more money without knowing when the ROI will come. Let’s work together to create some projections, so this feels less risky to you.”

Focus on the people issues

Something we share with all of our franchisor clients is the importance of focusing on the people issues in your company. The more you focus on the people issues, the more the business issues seem to work themselves out.

The reason for this is because motivated, happy people are more likely to contribute to solving the problems in front of them. As a leader, your goal is to help people feel more meaningful, less stressed, and more clear to make good decisions towards the collective mission.

And those are five key leadership lessons that I have witnessed countless times in successful franchisors. Hopefully, this will inspire you to take action. Which of these will you carry into your role this week?

The most important takeaway from these lessons is that your job as a leader of a franchise system is not to have all the answers or do all the work. Your job is to create an environment and culture that nurtures those around you so you can all better accomplish your goals and carry out your aligned mission.