RARE Leadership, Part One:
Create a Joyful Workplace that Delivers Excellence to Your Guests

by Dawn Kaiser

Tanzanite, white peacocks and joy-led workplaces. What do these three things have in common? They’re rare!

Now you may ask yourself, “are joy-led workplaces really that uncommon?” In reality, if you look at the recently released 2017 edition of the “State of the Global Workplace” report by Gallup, you’ll find that, although the number of “actively disengaged people” (i.e. the employees who are frustrated and unproductive at work and are most likely spreading negativity to coworkers) has dropped by nine percent in the last eight years, the number of truly engaged people has not gone up.

These numbers show that although we have reduced the number of toxic workplace cultures, we have not really created great workplace environments where people enjoy coming to work and where they can flourish. Great places to work should not be something that is rare.

This three-part series will focus on four uncommon habits that joy-driven leaders employ to refuel positivity and engagement while delivering predictable excellence. And since we all like things that are easy to remember, you can use the word RARE as you begin to practice and develop these four habits.

Rediscover Your Relationships: To our human brain, joy is relational. This means that we find joy through our connections and relationships with others, which is why it is frequently said that, “people don’t leave companies, people leave people.” Because of this, a typical leader tends to be problem-focused, whereas a RARE leader tends to be people-focused.

Appreciate Your Assets: I’m not much of an accounting whiz, but when I started my own business I found it interesting that things like printers and computers were considered assets on my general ledger, while the people I hired to work with me were considered liabilities. As an accountant this makes sense, and common leaders tend to see it this way as well. However, RARE leaders have learned to look beyond the budget sheet and appreciate their biggest assets: their people. People are the biggest competitive advantage we have in our business. Products, services and processes can be duplicated and recreated, but our people are unique and the team dynamic we create with these assets cannot be replicated.

Return to Your Joy: Life and work don’t always go as planned. People don’t always behave as you expect them to. When these unexpected situations happen, common leaders resort to complaining, avoiding or throwing themselves a pity party. RARE leaders, on the other hand, bounce back from these overwhelming and challenging situations by returning to their joy. They do this by focusing on the process, not the outcomes; carving out quiet time to reflect and staying positive, among other ways. They are able to face their frustrations and their fears, and help their people recover as well from challenging circumstances.

Elevate Your Energy: Did you know that you are a CEO? By that i mean a chief Energy officer. your level of negative or positive energy is transmittable to the people you lead. Common leaders believe that they
are immune from this principle and can do and act however they want. RARE leaders understand that they must first look inward, before looking outward, to ensure that they are modeling the behaviors, habits and mindsets that they want to see from the people they lead.

As a spa manager or spa owner, you have the chance to create an environment for your spa associates that will refuel them, inspire them and motivate them to give their best every day! Dare to be RARE and put these four habits into practice.

Let’s explore the first habit: rediscovering your relationships.

How to Rediscover Your Relationships

In “Leadership and the new Science,” Margaret Wheatley states that “the ‘basic building blocks’ of life are relationships.” That is no different for your spa. relationships are the heart of your business, and engaging relationships not only transform your spa’s social script, but also improve your profitability and productivity. According a 2017 Gallup article by Jim Harter and Annamarie Mann, “happy and engaged employees outperform the competition by 20 percent.” Additionally, Rob Markey’s Harvard Business Review blog states that positive and “passionate employees bring a company as much benefit as loyal and passionate customers. They stay longer, work harder, work more creatively and find ways to go the extra mile.”

Here are some tips for rediscovering your relationships, rebuilding connections with your staff and making sure they feel valued, seen and engaged.


Your spa’s social script is the unspoken, understood series of behaviors and actions that are expected in your spa. Look around your workplace and think about the social script your spa is writing. Is it one that feels welcoming, accepting and joyful? Do your employees feel like they matter or that they are replaceable? Do you know how to best connect with your associates? When I work with leaders to assess their social scripts, I get answers to these questions, then I ask, “do you know this to be true, or are you assuming this to be true? As leaders, we often make assumptions, but assumptions don’t help us create a culture of engagement. Once you reflect on your answers, ask your associates for their insights. You’ve likely heard the statement “perception is reality.” As a leader, if you think you have a positive culture, but the perception is that employees feel disconnected and devalued, you have to acknowledge their point of view, otherwise you cannot build a relationship of trust.


Kindness is not perceived as a leadership strength; rather, we tend to think of it as being weak or soft. However, plenty of research suggests that when leaders create an environment of kindness and compassion that is lived out
in daily actions, we see a happier workplace and improved productivity. Jonathan Haidt, a researcher at New York University, discovered that watching a coworker help another co-worker heightens one’s own sense of well-being and makes one more likely to behave with kindness towards others. Essentially, kindness begets kindness, and it can spread like wildfire. can you imagine the possibilities of such a workplace culture? Employees would not only help each other out, but they would also provide better customer service on their own accord, without prompting, which in turn helps the bottom line. Kindness isn’t just about giving things: it can also be about showing genuine interest in people. for instance, don’t just ask, “how are you doing today?” and then keep on walking. Stop, and listen for the answer. ask from a place of caring, “how can i help you today?” Try to envision things from that person’s perspective. Look for ways to offer up generosity and then do it. Don’t postpone acts of kindness until things slow down or are less chaotic. There is never a better time than now. i suggest starting small, even if it is just with a smile.


In his book, Standout, Marcus Buckingham states that “sustained success comes only when you take what’s unique about you and figure out how to make it useful.” Do you know what makes your associates unique? What are their strengths, and how are they utilizing those in their role? remember strengths are not just what we are competent at; they are things that utilize a natural talent or gift and when we use them energize us. As leaders we need to amplify our people’s strengths, not try to make them like everyone else. you might be able to replicate processes or procedures, but your people are unique masterpieces which means you need help them flourish in their own unique way. Stop trying to create cookie-cutter connections and get to know what shapes your associates. What are their strengths, and what are their shadow sides—i.e. when their strengths are taken to the extreme?


The most engaged employees don’t work because they only love their company or their spa manager—they do it to advance a personal goal or dream. far too often we just see associates as a means to productivity and profitability, but the real returns are to be had when we remember that every associate carries a secret dream hidden in their heart. Our role as joy-led leaders is to invest in and harness the power of those dreams. It may seem strange, even impractical to help employees chase their dreams, but remember RARE leaders don’t do the common thing. Matthew Kelly, author of The Dream Manager states that “when you help people accomplish their dreams, they will do just about
anything for you.” When we live out our dreams, no matter how big or small, we experience a sense of joy. That joy is contagious. As leaders, we don’t want people just to survive: we want them to flourish, because then our businesses will thrive.

Everyone in your spa plays a role in creating a culture of joy, but as a leader you have a tremendous amount of influence on how that culture is shaped. Begin shaping your culture today by putting these next steps into play!


  1. Ask your employees to describe how your company makes them feel in three words; see if it aligns with your social script assessment.
  2. Do an intentional act of kindness each day for one of your associates.
  3. Have your team take Marcus Buckingham’s Standout Strengths assessment, or try the Enneagram Inventory at https://www.exploreyourtype.com/details.
  4. Start a conversation with your associates by asking them, “what is your dream?”