This leadership model puts the team above the boss

More and more companies are using an inverted pyramid model where leaders are inclusive and empower their operating team.

11 min read

This story appears in the January 2020 issue of Mexico . Subscribe »

This leadership model puts the team above the boss
This leadership model puts the team above the boss

The world belongs to the cunning, says Israel García, founder of Gallantdale , a brand of manufacturing and marketing of high-end uniforms, with 25 units (17 of them are franchises). When I ask him: How do you choose your franchisees? The first sentence that comes out of your mouth is: “We want people who have leadership capacity, focused, strong and challenging.”

And is that leadership is the most critical of the core strategies of a company, because the common denominator in failed franchise organizations is almost always poor leadership.

Rick Grossmann , author of Franchise Bible: How to Buy a Franchise or Franchise Your Own Business , points out that a decent business model with great leadership will generally prosper and a great business model with lousy leadership will generally fail.

Israel was a commercial advisor in the dental field, and together with his wife, Marisa García Alcántara, a designer by profession, they decided to create a company focused on meeting the needs of dentists, doctors and gastronomy professionals regarding work uniforms. “We were pioneers in textile, with repellent garments and colors that were seen in the windows, offering more aesthetic cuts for women.”

Since registering their brand, they made procedural manuals, followed production and distribution standards attached to quality standards. His vision was to create a brand that offered: comfort, design, functionality and fashion.

Inclusive leadership

Gallantdale is a brand that has been franchised for six years. Israel is convinced that the result of its growth has had to do with how its franchisees choose and participate, since many of the improvements to the product have been made based on the opinions of those who join the brand, thanks to an inclusive leadership They have exercised.

One of the biggest mistakes of franchise owners, Grossmann says, is that many of them were executives in organizations and have a lot of experience as traditional employers, so they tend to try to “manage” their franchisees as if they were employees.

And ensures that franchisees are not employees; quite the opposite: they invested their money in the company and paid a continuous royalty. This means that they are the franchisor's customers, but also their partners, and they need to be treated as such and must be included in the decisions.

“A franchise organization simply cannot prosper unless the entire corporate team agrees with this commitment. If not, it would be like a medical team in which some members simply do not mind healing the patient. It's a non-negotiable one, ”says Grossmann.

Israel agrees: “Things have to be made consensual, they have to be done for the common purpose. It's like having a whole star soccer team: having many does not mean that whoever leads them is better. You don't need to have anyone oppressed. People have to be free of thought and shine for themselves. ”

In fact, at the beginning, the entrepreneur offers them all the know-how, but asks: “What do you have to contribute to the franchise?” And in the case of its franchisees, try not to have them happy just because 'the box sounds' ( there are profits), but take them out of their comfort zone, demand them more and more in a matter of professional analysis and sale. “It is a work of both parties,” he says.

The Gallantdale co-founder says that in order to exercise inclusive leadership he has had to “listen to what he does not want to hear,” because people are critical by nature, but “if you can develop the emotional intelligence of not taking personal things and determining what can be valuable, you will have continuous improvements. ”

That is the strategy that Israel has followed and with which it has managed to make good allies. Your franchisee team gives you feedback, so they feel heard and are in a place where they are an important part and add up.

Another important aspect, says Israel, is to have clarity as a leader on what they do, how they do it and what they want, to convey their vision to their franchisees, who, in the event that something does not go well, should assume leadership with creativity, innovation and desire to build. “Clarity also means having the same discourse with everyone, not having consents or preferences, exercising leadership with values ​​and principles.”

Whenever Israel is going to make a difficult decision for the company, it asks: Is it the business in which I would invest? If the answer is yes, then you can be calm.

Inverted pyramid

“I tell managers that there is a general manager who exercises leadership, but under them there are 80 people working. If someone has to leave, the manager leaves before the 80s, which are more important, ”says Charles Hamparzumian, director of Fisher's , the restaurant chain that has been operating for 30 years and 19 branches.

Charles is the second generation of a company founded by Jasmine and Simón Hamparzumian in 1989, and after trying different models, including the franchise, in 2019 he granted a license to Sonora Grill to operate the brand with projects in Monterrey, León, Guadalajara and Cancun.

“My dad's vision was to rely on those he had (his family) and not want to do it alone. That leadership he maintained and that we continue to transmit through the values ​​he instilled in us: family, respect and honesty, allows us to know where we all go. ”

For this businessman — as his father taught him — teamwork is everything. “For me, operations are worth much more than just one person. If you ask me: what is worth more, if all my operational directors or I as general manager? They are definitely worth more. If I leave, everyone can get the business out, but if everyone leaves, the work doesn't work out, ”he explains.

Just this approach refers to a service leadership model: the inverted pyramid, which is to ensure that franchisees or, in this case, the operational base, always come first, before the owner of the franchise.

For Charles, leadership has to do with values, it is like “a fingerprint, and if that has given us results we cannot lose it and we have to continue transmitting it. It is the most valuable. ”

But in order to apply the inverted pyramid in leadership, the entrepreneur points out that it is important to know how to surround yourself with the right people, “people who share your values ​​and the same idea of ​​getting ahead with work, sacrifice and knowing how to wait.”

For the leader in charge of Fisher's, 2020 will be the year in which they will seek more aggressive growth. “We want to give a master license of everything. We are analyzing releasing the entire company to grow. We want to go to the United States and Europe. ”

Also 2020 will be a year in which particularly, says Charles, “we want the whole team to be happy, because although our goal is to take care of the client, which is the one that maintains the business, the operating team is the same or more important, because if you don't keep him happy and happy, he will hardly be able to transmit what you want. ”

Becoming a great leader is a titanic task; Even Grossmann says you don't have to feel bad about not being the best leader for your business. “I have seen the founders of companies step aside and hire leadership experts to strengthen the organization.”

How to know if you are the best leader? The expert suggests that you ask franchisees to give you a qualification as a leader. If you don't get a good grade then you have to work in that area and make sure your business has a good captain in front.

How to implement the Inverted Pyramid methodology

1. Training Present this strategy to your executive and support team, and give them the opportunity to ask questions and learn. Remember that this may be a paradigm shift for some, so they may need time to understand.

2. Reinforce. Use continuous reminders during your meetings, training sessions and conferences to keep the ball going. Your system should be based on things that you and your team will do constantly over a long period. A brief burst of change followed by a return to the previous situation does not work, so make sure they can commit and maintain it.

3. Insist on acceptance: All members of your executive, training and support team must accept this commitment to make it work. Have you heard that a rotten apple spoils the whole group? This is very true within a franchise organization. You may need to replace team members if they refuse to genuinely commit.

Develop effective leadership skills

1. Develop a clear vision and plan.

Many companies suffer due to the lack of a plan. You cannot make a trip without a map. The first step is to write the company's vision of leadership. Be specific and include job descriptions and action items.

2. Choose your model.

It is essential to identify your operating system and adapt the business model accordingly. Your operating system is what makes you work. For example, if you have experience and work better in the field than behind a desk, you can be more effective as a practical trainer than being in the office and you can choose to have others perform the office tasks.

3. Examine your current device.

One of the most painful consulting tasks has been the duty to eliminate team members. This can be especially difficult if the individual is a friend or relative. Make sure that each member of your team is the most qualified for the position.

4. Do not be afraid to make the necessary changes. Be selective as you add people to your organization to make sure they fit well and have what it takes to help your business thrive.

5. Get outside help.

Once upon a time, a successful franchisee stated that the most important strategy he implemented was to enroll in a training and leadership development program.

Source: Rick Grossmann, author of Franchise Bible: How to Buy a Franchise or Franchise Your Own Business, eighth edition.

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