How to Hone Leadership in Adult Retail Businesses

Leadership skills. People talk about them often, but do we really know what they look like in practice? With adult retail competition at an all-time high and the market more crowded than ever, leadership skills can make or break a company. In today’s economic and social landscape, which leadership skills keep businesses happy, healthy and profitable, and which ones no longer apply? In this column, we’re going to talk about the leadership skills that can make a business — especially an adult business — a lasting success. Here are some things to bear in mind if you want to keep your company healthy and profitable.

No surprise to anyone, the adult industry comes with some unique challenges that make strong leadership vital. From navigating stigma, judgment, red tape, censorship to staying aware of disreputable business practices you might encounter along the way, there are many things to bear in mind if you want to keep your company healthy and profitable.

Maintaining a fluid and affirming office culture is essential, whether it be an in-person space or a digital “office” utilizing conferencing and project management software. This “new normal” hybrid work environment necessitates a more creative and flexible form of leadership that, for many of us, has required a revamp — and in some cases, a total overhaul — of our existing executive skills. I have found that, especially now, fairness and kindness have become cornerstones of our internal business. Consequently, most of our employees feel driven to succeed and achieve in their roles. Several have been with the company for more than a decade!

To do their best work, people need air. Every person is unique! That’s why it is essential for adult business leaders to not only invest time, energy and money in recruiting talented individuals, but also to give them space to meet their potential without micromanaging. Some companies rule with an iron fist, always looking over their employees’ shoulders, but I don’t believe that’s effective. I recommend that leaders cultivate a management practice that includes freedom and space, and conserving energy by offering help only when it is requested. This can ensure that we have the correct and proper information before acting and get to know our talented staff so we can be clear on how best to work with them.

We encourage innovation and want everyone in the company to learn, grow and blossom as they do their jobs. While not everyone is comfortable serving as a leader, everyone can learn new leadership skills and hone existing ones to take their career and company to the next level. Continuing education is one way to do this. I participated in Harvard’s prestigious Owner/ President Management Program, a transformative learning experience designed to boost leadership skills and help take participants’ businesses to a higher level of success. It was there that I was able to develop a deeper understanding of operations and greater insight into driving operational excellence, and it was a game changer for me. Sometimes we’re so focused on staff education that we forget that business leaders need professional development and support, too!

Beyond ensuring that your operation keeps moving like a well-oiled machine, strong leadership can help you attract and retain talented employees who are willing to learn, grow and succeed with you. This is especially vital in the current job market. Each day we see headlines lamenting the struggle many employers are facing trying to attract and keep employees, and the high numbers of workers leaving jobs where they feel stifled and under-appreciated. Right now, it is clearer than ever that high turnover and employee disconnect can be the demise of any company. It is vital that business leaders understand that owning a company or serving as upper management is not just about making big sales and a high salary or achieving international name recognition; it’s about working with people, valuing them, and maintaining exchange. That means living wages, benefits where applicable, and remembering that every staff member and every role at the company should be considered “essential.”

I often draw from my personal experiences, like immigrating to the U.S. when I was 14, working as a translator for cross-cultural businesses, and building a company from the ground up with my partner in life and business. These personal experiences gave me an education that I could never find in a formal institution, and they’ve given me what I hope is a valuable perspective on what really matters in a work environment. However, I’d also like to recommend two books that have really helped me hone my leadership skills, and I hope you find them helpful, too: “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey” by Ken Blanchard and “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni.

No surprise to anyone, the adult industry comes with some unique challenges that make strong leadership vital. From navigating stigma, judgment, red tape and censorship to staying aware of disreputable business practices you might encounter along the way, there are many things to bear in mind if you want to keep your company healthy and profitable. That’s why leading an adult company, especially one with a large staff, takes talent, time and patience. At Blush, we know firsthand the power of strong leadership, good relationships and healthy office culture. Businesses live and die based on the conduct of their leaders, so knowing how to lead with intelligence and savvy can be the key to keeping your business healthy for years to come.

How to Hone Leadership in Adult Retail Businesses by Verna Meng originally appeared in XBIZ

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