When you take on the title of franchisee, you also take on a leadership role, as you are essentially “steering the ship” at your location. After already putting in the time, money, and effort into becoming a franchise owner, it’s what you do when you actually assume this role that will help determine your overall success. That is where your soft leadership qualities can help make your franchise location thrive.

What is a soft skill/quality?

Before we get into what a soft skill/quality is, let’s describe what it’s not. Its direct counterpart is a hard skill, which is a talent or ability that is typically job-specific and can be taught through schooling or training. For instance, a technical skill such as knowing how to work with certain software would be considered a hard skill. These types of skills are necessary for franchisees to possess, as there are certain training practices that a franchisor will provide a franchisee before commencing business.

Soft skills/qualities, on the other hand, are the characteristics or qualities that relate to how you work and how you engage with others. You may have heard alternate terms such as interpersonal skills or people skills. Along with hard skills, a successful leader of a franchise will possess soft skills/qualities that can help them effectively engage with employees and customers, and create an environment that is efficient, thoughtful, and prosperous.

Here are the soft leadership qualities a franchise owner should possess.

1. Empathy

This is an important quality to have because an effective leader is one who can open up, be vulnerable, and show compassion. For instance, when a leader listens to their team’s wants and needs, understands them, and empathizes with them, it can go a long way in boosting employee morale and the overall success of your business. By showing empathy, you can create an environment that fosters open communication and contributes to positive team relationships, which can allow you to work together to meet your business goals more efficiently.

Empathy means being understanding of the needs of others and showing awareness of other people’s feelings. In a team environment, there can always be some differences, but showing empathy in how you lead will help to bring everyone together to work collectively and can help create a common ground to connect.

In a 2021 State of Workplace Empathy Study, more than 90% of the key players in the business industry (i.e., employees, HR professionals, CEOs) agreed that empathy is important, but only a quarter of employees believed there is sufficient empathy in their organization.

Demonstrating genuine empathy by connecting with your team can help build stronger collaboration skills, a greater sense of morale, and boost business. In the same study, 84% of CEOs believe that empathy drives better business outcomes, while 72% of employees say empathy boosts motivation levels.

How to show this skill in the workplace: A successful leader will listen to their team, find ways to assist when needed, be aware of the thoughts and feelings of their team, and show sincere interest in their team’s lives.

2. Clear communication skills

What one classifies as a leader can look different for everyone, but it is essentially someone who has a level of influence over others around them, which directly aligns with the role of a franchise owner. Within a franchise arrangement, the franchisor will pass down certain requirements, tools, and training to the franchisee, which then the franchisee will have to effectively pass down to their employees. Within this ladder of passing down important tools and knowledge, an effective leader (aka the franchisee) will take what they have learned and communicate it to those around them (aka the franchisee’s team) in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.

There are a variety of instances where clear, effective communication is necessary. A successful leader of a franchise will inherently understand the importance of clear communication in those instances; they can see why it’s necessary and gladly oblige.

A report by The Economist Intelligence Unit looked at communication barriers in the workplace and found that factors such as poor communication, unclear instructions, and other similar stressors can cause a delay or failure to complete projects by 44%, low morale by 31%, missed performance goals by 25%, and a loss of sales by 18%.

In the same report, different communication styles were cited as the top cause of poor workplace communication, which demonstrates just how important clarity is when one holds a leadership position. Everyone in a team will have a preferred style of communication, but above all, remaining as clear as possible when presenting ideas or bringing up concerns will lead to the best results. It is especially important that employees feel supported and guided through any situation they face, and clear communication skills can help achieve that.

How to show this skill in the workplace: Use various mediums of communication with your team, such as email, instant messaging, face-to-face meetings, etc.; have clearly defined goals within each team meeting; actively listen to your team and ask for opinions, ideas and feedback; be transparent and speak openly about your goals for the business and any challenges that may arise; and speak about different things more specifically rather than generally, as this can help for better comprehension.

3. A desire to learn and improve

For many first-time franchise owners, entering the franchise industry can be a brand-new experience. While some join a certain industry because of immense interest, there can be a lack of knowledge and training when just starting out. This is extremely understandable, which is why franchisors are there to provide the necessary training. However, there will always be instances where franchisees can learn and improve, and it’s important to be receptive to that.

Generally, there is always more to learn in any industry, and by demonstrating this while in a leadership position, it can keep you and your team agile and receptive to new situations that come your way. A leader who models this desire to learn and improve can help motivate employees to do the same, and it can create a growth mindset in the workplace to learn from one another.

How to show this skill in the workplace: A way to demonstrate this quality is by asking your team for feedback, ways to improve, and anything they’re hearing or noticing about industry trends. Demonstrating that you are open to better ways to run the business and achieve goals can lead to a more efficient and collaborative strategy.

4. The ability to delegate

As a franchise owner, it may feel as though you need to take on everything yourself. But this is not the case. You have a team of employees there to work with and achieve business objectives, and the ability to delegate tasks and responsibilities is how to get there.

Delegation can help empower your team and demonstrate to them that you have trust in their abilities, which is important. By delegating responsibilities, it also allows your employees to learn new skills and feel empowered, which can help you, and them, long-term. A strong leader in a franchise knows just how important it is to be collaborative and delegating who does what allows everyone to be all hands-on deck.

How to show this skill in the workplace: Find out the tasks that can be time-consuming, teachable, or time-sensitive and delegate accordingly. This can mean finding the employee(s) who you know is right for a certain job or you can provide instructions and training to certain employees for them to perform the task/responsibility effectively.

5. Patience

Remember, entering a franchise industry can be a learning opportunity for many, and if a franchise owner demonstrates patience to their employees, it will lead to a less-stressful work environment that can boost productivity.

For instance, strategic planning often requires patience because it can take a long period of time to achieve long-term goals. By demonstrating patience as a leader, you are showing your employees that good things can take time. It also helps show your commitment to the business and to achieving your business goals.

Demonstrating patience can also help improve productivity within your team because a patient leader won’t be rushed to get things done. It also shows you have trust in your employees to meet their responsibilities, it provides more freedom in the workplace, and it can help remove any stress in the work environment, which ultimately benefits everyone.

How to show this skill in the workplace: When a certain situation arises that may require some urgency, it’s important to fully understand every aspect of it and communicate it to your team. One way to do this can be through creating a thought-out plan, that way your team understands what to do.

Demonstrating these soft qualities can be a great way to show leadership as a franchise owner. Although owning a franchise is not always the easiest thing to do, the desire to be a good leader will help get you where you want to be.

If you are interested in joining our franchise family at Dogtopia, please check out our page on what a franchise opportunity with Dogtopia entails, and fill out our online form if you think you are a good fit.