Leadership as a Wedding Planner + Entrepreneur

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yesterday we talked about how to determine whether your staff is a team or an entourage, and I mentioned that generally this is directly related to the boss's leadership style.  I wanted to explore that a little more today.

The very nature of wedding planning appeals to people with a meticulous attention to detail and the ability to create order and processes that allow tasks to get done on a very finite timeline and often under a lot of emotional pressure.  There are no do-overs or second chances in weddings and the success of our company and brand, not to mention each of our clients' weddings, depends on getting it right the first time, every time. 

One of the drawbacks, however, to the types of personalities that this job attracts, is that many planners tend to be control freaks.  It is easy to buy into the misconception that in order for all of the above to get done well, you must have your personal thumb on everything.  In fact, the opposite is true.

Have you ever found yourself thinking or believing any of the following?

  • Training the new employee or intern will take too much time and/or energy. It's just easier if I do this task myself.
  • If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.
  • I have very high standards, and no one else can understand or do things the way I really like.
  • I'll let my team handle these tasks, but I'll leave enough time to re-do them myself (entourage alert).  
  • There's nothing I can learn from my employees or interns.  I am here to teach them; after all, I have been doing this longer and am the leader.
  • Being a control freak is my personality, and it is just the way it is. I've tried for years to change it and it is just impossible.
  • I have a strong work ethic and because of that I need to oversee each detail personally. Anything less would be me being lazy or a disservice to my clients.
Recognize yourself in any of the above statements?  Not to worry, you're in good company.  I have struggled with all of these and still struggle with some of them.  The process of growing and maturing as a leader and entrepreneur requires constant self-evaluation and the willingness to relinquish certain areas of control.  And then, when you feel you have arrived, you learn that there is even more you can continue to delegate and let go of so that you can focus on tasks that grow your business in better ways.

Good leaders have an element of genuine humility about them. They recognize that they do not know everything, are open to feedback and always continue to seek new opportunities to learn and grow, both personally and professionally.  Good leaders lead by example and treat others as they'd want to be treated.  They respect their team and allow them to have their own opinions, even if they disagree.   Because they surround themselves with talented people and allow each of them to operate in their giftings, good leaders are more flexible and roll with the punches more easily because they are not trying to control or micromanage everything.  Good leaders have more time to focus on the big picture because they allow their staff to handle the day to day production and running of their business.

The number one book on leadership I recommend is one by Henri Nouwen called In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership.  Whether you are a Christian or not doesn't matter, so please keep an open mind and don't write it off because of the title.  This book explains and presents leadership principles in a way that are applicable right away and to any situation.  I am a huge Seth Godin fan (if you hadn't noticed by now), but this book trumps any of the books on leadership that Seth has written.  If you apply the principles Nouwen lays out, again regardless of your religious affiliation, you will notice beneficial changes in how you and your team operate. 

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