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Mindfulness: Placed at the Heart of Leadership

Yoga has been a part of my life for years. My practice has enabled me to live a balanced, healthy life and has given me the opportunity to incorporate mindfulness into my lifestyle both as an individual and as a business leader. I’ve witnessed how being present and mindful has enabled me to become a successful leader, and I’m actively encouraging the members of our team to embrace mindfulness as the center of their leadership.

At The Charles Penzone Salons, our team numbers almost 500 across six locations, our Home Office and our Guest Service Center. Our Grand Salons are among the biggest in the world. The pressure to embrace a top-heavy, corporate management model is constant with such a large and diverse team, especially with the recent rebrand of our MAX THE SALON concept. If we succumbed to this management model, I think we’d risk losing the very essence of what our company is, and so I hold tightly to the principle of mindfulness. For me it’s about being always present in the moment, about trying to look at everything in a measured, calm way without being wrapped up in distraction. It’s often referred to as ‘being’ – achieving a state of mind where you can be self-aware and present rather than worrying about the past and attempting to predict the future.

For mindfulness to be successful in any business, it needs to be recognized, valued and promoted by the leadership. If they are on board, it gives scope to the whole team to embrace it. Mindfulness often involves meditation to clear the mind and allow the time for thought. To encourage this way of life, I recently began leading yoga sessions at our home office and people are free to join in as they wish. The benefits of practicing yoga are endless – physically yoga helps realign the body, but even moreso, I’ve found that practicing yoga enables mindful thinking.

Research shows companies that promote mindfulness suffer less from absenteeism and report greater creativity, enthusiasm, teamwork and emotional stability among their team. Mindfulness makes them more successful.

One of the main principles of mindfulness is recognizing that people are the heart and soul of every business. It’s certainly true in our industry. If employees feel respected and valued, and are fulfilled in their careers, they will be more equipped to face challenges, remain objective when reproached, and show compassion to those around them.

Our geographic footprint is such that all of our salon locations are centered in Columbus, Ohio. This gives me the ability to visit the salons frequently – and, I make it a point to do so almost every week. Having this face-to-face contact with our management team and front-line professionals allows me to promote mindfulness to everyone across the business. And I lead by example; when I visit, I make time for the team. They know they can approach me about anything. And they know I’ll listen and try to see any issues from all sides. I simply don’t believe a one-size-suits-all approach works when dealing with people or with situations.

Mindfulness is an approach that is central to our entire management team. We have organized the management strata into what we call our Compass Group to provide direction. They do not dictate to those in the salons; rather they direct our salon management team to coach our professionals. While our Compass Group provides direction, we rely on the entire team to provide input into the discussion for consideration.

Our decision-making process involves everyone. New trends and products are brought to us by our creative teams and department heads in the salons, who in turn work closely with their teams to search out and investigate the value of any innovations in the beauty industry. It’s empowering for the team and it gives them a sense of ownership. In turn, this cements loyalty. We have a high employee retention rate.

We also bring mindfulness to strategic decisions. We’ve been deliberate about refreshing our brand recently. We rebranded our MAX THE SALON concept, launched a brand new website, and are planning to rebuild and reconceptualise our salon located in Dublin, Ohio. In making these decisions, we didn’t just consider what was on trend at the moment. We took a step back and viewed our industry and our target demographic so that we could consider all aspects and gain a broader perspective.

Mindfulness isn’t a hippy throwback, centered on meditation and ‘decision-by-committee’; it’s about keeping an open mind, trying to avoid being judgmental, seeing all sides and putting people at the heart of the business. So, with that, I encourage all of my salon industry and business colleagues to take a step back, be mindful of considerations, make deliberate decisions, and breathe.

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Debra Penzone

Debra Penzone

Debra has contributed to The Charles Penzone Salons organization for more than 27 years, beginning as a stylist and moving up to Artistic Director, Training Director and Senior Vice President. She now serves as President over the six salons. A multi-award winner, author and prolific volunteer and fundraiser for many charitable organizations, she is recognized as one of the most remarkable business women in the beauty industry. Debra Penzone currently serves as a board member for the International SalonSpa Business Network (ISBN).

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