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Are You a CEO, or a FOLLOWER?

Updated: Sep 17, 2018

Starting up a fashion company? If you are it is essential to be a leader, and have qualities that will support your company. In this blog I will address issues that have been polled and reported by employees within fashion start-up culture. I will also address how they can be fixed or developed.

1. Organization of process and communication

Have you ever worked for someone that never knew what was going on? They would forget that you had a doctors appointment, and scheduled you. Maybe they never could file anything so other could find the same information? How did that make you feel as a employee? Probably like you were fighting a uphill battle, right?! I polled several people and this was the number one call out. People felt that the leader of a company must be practiced in knowing the systems that will support the company. Often times they don't understand it, and makes updates or new ideas that may save a company money, harder to pitch. Organization is a timesaver because everyone will "follow the leader". If you have a good system, then everyone will spend time working, rather than trying to track something down and hold others accountable for the mess.

Some leaders just think to delegate the organization of the information out to a point person, and that is fine, but the leader must also follow suit. Otherwise the employee finds themselves frustrated by cleaning up the unorganized mess of everyone. It is a practiced daily habit that will cause others to follow suit.

Solve: Set a goal to learn and organize the systems, make a list and do it daily. 20 minutes at the end of the day to ensure you have put files away in the right places. Ask other employees what the flaws in the system are and if it makes sense to reorganize the way they are set up.

A great example My friend Yuvonne who works in Q.C. is reliant upon information that can be shared across teams. When she initially started her role, different departments were not communicating with outsourced work or etc. This created a lack of safety and accountability behind the end product. She discussed her plan, reasoning, and possible outcomes with a manager, and was able to streamline this process. In the end the teams could have free lowing communication, accountability, and higher quality outcomes. She also walked away feeling supported and valued.

Image shows a messy desktop
How can another person find what they need in this mess? How much time are you wasting trying to find where a file was placed?


What happens when we dont hear someone out? Sometimes we can miss really important information that will save us money, time, and frustration. As a manager of 60+ people I needed to listen to everyone, but also evaluate what the macro and micro messages of my team were. I learned that it was also equally important to celebrate the contribution they made. In response, I became very approachable about both work and life related issues. The employees knew that I would do my best to help them be happier and more effective at work. I knew this would make them want to stay, as well as effect the customers we welcomed into the store. I had to hire less often, and was able to create a high functioning team as a result of just LISTENING & SHARING!

Flow chart of not listening to your supports

My approach was approached like this because I worked with someone that never listened and it made people feel of NO VALUE in the world place. The leader wanted to make ALL the ideas their own, and not the employee that shared the idea 4 times and 3 months prior. Gossip, drama, lack of accountability were all systemic of the leaders behavior. Ask yourself if you have heard something before, and yet gave credit to someone else, or yourself, while disregarding the original source? Maybe another more important question is why people don't listen to you? Are you creating a foundation for this to happen?

I see many people who start a company have this habit. Sometimes its a result of long hours of hard work with little gratitude. The habit eventually holds them back from making traction much sooner than later. The other result is high turn over, because the team is only heard 1/5 of the time.

- Who wants to work for someone who is like a brick wall to talk to?

- How has not listening held you back?

- Do you want a leader to use this as an example in managing lower level teams in your company?

Employees & Customers want to feel VALUED. One way to do this is to listen. Anina one of the people polled said she really wants to be heard as a person in her community. Its hard when someone says, "What? I didn't hear you? I wasn't listening!" Image how that feels.

Sometimes just having the conversation opens up new ideas and supports the person to advance in both work and self growth.

Solve: Write down what ideas people come to you with. Along with who it was with the idea. This will allow you to contact them directly when you want to implement an idea or solve they had shared. What this will do is keep the door open to communication, rather than creating a closed door. The infographic above shows what generally happens to a leader that stops listening.

3.The FAVORITES culture

I often compare leadership and parenting. A parent can't have favorites, otherwise armageddon ensues. In a company, it will break and get a bad rap for being cliquish. Nike had just gotten some very bad publicity due to this issue.

How does a favoritism or clique culture start? It usually replicates as a result of problem 2, not listening. If you choose only specific team members to listen to, more than others, the lower level of employees will gravitate to that person. It is because they know their ideas are more likely to be heard or shared. While the people you don't listen to will always have a lower level of satisfaction and so will the teams.

Solve: Ensure you survey employees on ideas, and how well communication is relayed to upper management or CEO. Try to gain as much bipartisan information from all aspects of business. Conduct surprise sit in's on meeting to see how teams communicate. Be an example of what you want to see from staff.

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