LuAnn Nigara explains how to convey leadership in a business. By Loren Kessell
NKBA’s annual Chapter Officer Training Program to strengthen and honor a network of dedicated members provides a tremendous resource for the Association’s leadership at the local level.
Officers from 70 chapters across North America convene just before the start of the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show to celebrate their accomplishments, learn valuable information and break out into role-specific groups to learn more about their positions. This year Chase, Kohler and Monogram Appliances generously sponsored the event in Las Vegas.
LuAnn Nigara, host of the podcast “A Well-Designed Business®” and author of “The Making of A Well-Designed Business®,” served as the keynote speaker. She is a successful co-owner of Window Works, an award-winning window treatment and awning retailer in Livingston, N.J., who is dedicated to providing outstanding customer service.
Nigara shared three keys for building and maintaining a successful business.
“A leader has to be willing to accept responsibility for every single thing that happens,” Nigara said. “That person has needs to have the hard conversations — with compassion.”
Being the leader of a company brings the responsibility of determining the company’s vision and building it up to be strong. Nigara explained that Window Works strives to provide 100% customer satisfaction and integrity, and they are committed to providing the best service possible.
Good leadership means identifying the company mission and establishing core values. This lays the foundation, and when the leader embodies that mission, like-minded employees will follow.
It’s also important to remember that what the company stands for and the level of customer service will be indicators of the brand as a whole. Her advice for brand strengthening? Ask customers about their experiences. Nigara said asking five previous customers is a great starting point for brand-building and gathering the information that helps convey core values.
A leader needs to ask these questions and train employees so they can perform at the highest standard and deliver quality work. “Take your ideas and mold them into the most important values in order to enact effective leadership tactics,” she said.
2. Create Systems
“When you decide your core values, you decide your parameters and guidelines, and you’ll be successful,” Nigara said. “You’ll complete tasks the same way every day, which establishes your reputation — and this means people can depend on you.”
Clear processes allow for delivering great results. Without an overarching plan, employees cannot work to the best of their abilities. Take time to brainstorm ideas in a way that works for the company, and then collate the answers in an organized manner.
It takes time to create a company’s systems, and it may be a painstaking process. However, consider what it would be like to manage a company without reliable procedures. Without structure, there is more room for error. Instilling systems in employees prepares them for present and future situations.
And, she emphasized, enforcing systems starts before the hiring process. Nigara stressed the importance of laying out all expectations and systems in a job description so candidates are aware. This encourages using correct procedures.
“Take inventory all of your systems and tasks, and eventually this will become an operations manual,” Nigara said. “Don’t worry about it all fitting together. It will happen.”
3. Decide to be Excellent
“Deciding to be excellent is important,” Nigara said. “When you decide your mission, and decide to be excellent, you know every day what it is that you’re trying to accomplish.”
Anyone can open a business, but it takes this decision to be the best and to foster an efficient company that stands out. Nigara discussed throughout her presentation how Window Works and her colleagues strive to be great every day. Showing up and being committed without sacrificing quality sets a good business apart from a great business.
“Will you decide to figure out what your company mission is? Will you create your systems and manuals?” Nigara said. “If you do these things, you’ll have a well-designed business.”