Episode 6: Intentional Greatness In Salon Franchise Leadership, with Rhoda Olsen
Rhoda Olsen joined the team at Great Clips in 1984 and became a part of its corporate team in 1987, early in the company’s life when it was a regional chain with just 180 salons. Rhoda became President of the company in 1998 and later was named CEO in 2011. During her leadership, she helped grow Great Clips from one thousand salons to over 4,200 by the time she stepped down as CEO and became Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.
Rhoda is also a cancer survivor and philanthropist. She is especially passionate about her work fundraising for Phakamani, a South African nonprofit that works to teach women finance management and provide them with tools and opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty. Rhoda’s passion, courage, heart, and more than 30 years of executive leadership in various positions throughout Great Clips have given her a great depth of experience in what makes an exceptional female leader and what drives a truly successful organization.
What You Will Learn:
- Rhoda describes her ascent through Great Clips, from the chaotic early days through leading the company to becoming a billion-dollar business. She shares how her background in HR and training was a perfect fit for the company.
- Rhoda shares why listening, deeply caring, and being consistent have been cornerstones for her personal success and for the overall success of the Great Clips brand. She explains why real, authentic caring is irreplaceable.
- Rhoda explains why values and accountability are important for helping to build the brand and grow the business, and she shares how the company helps to expand franchisees’ sense of values and accountability.
- Rhoda shares why Great Clips is and has always been a data-driven company, and she discusses how that data is shared with the franchisees. She explains the importance of having a shared, common language and sparking engagement.
- Rhoda explains why she believes that female leaders have different challenges to face than male leaders, and she discusses why the differences in challenges and backgrounds can be an opportunity
- Rhoda discusses her cancer diagnosis and subsequent health battle. She shares the important lessons she learned going through that difficult time, and why she feels that cancer patients are treated differently than patients of other diseases.
- Rhonda talks about her work with Phakamani, a microfinance nonprofit organization based in South Africa that works to help lift women out of a life of poverty. Rhoda discusses her work raising funds for the organization.
Intentional Greatness in Salon Franchise Leadership
You’re here because you know that learning never ends. You’re the kind of entrepreneur, business owner or leader who realizes that the pursuit of a perfect life, while a worthy goal, is also an impossible one. You know there is no end to the race, and you’re ready to power through anyway. You know that the climb to the top is endless, and you’re going to make the climb anyway. In short, you’re ready to become an unf♥<kwithable leader.
I want you to meet my friend and mentor, Rhoda Olsen. Rhoda currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at national salon franchise Great Clips. Rhoda has led Great Clips since 1998, as the President and later as its CEO. She has more than 30 years of exceptional leadership experience, and is a member of a small group of female leaders who have led billion-dollar businesses.
In this episode of the Intentional Greatness Podcast, Rhoda and I discuss her long history with Great Clips and the important lessons, challenges and opportunities she has experienced in her leadership roles there. We talk about the importance of leading with authenticity, with strong values and with a sense of accountability, and Rhoda shares why it important to instill those same values in everyone we work with. We also discuss her important fundraising work for Phakamani, a nonprofit organization in South Africa that seeks to give impoverished women there a hand up, rather than a handout. Rhoda Olsen is a remarkable female leader whose work in a billion-dollar C-suite has given her a unique perspective on leadership and its importance in growing and scaling a business.
Great Strides Forward
Rhoda Olsen is one of only a few female leaders who has led a billion-dollar business, and she comes at leadership from a unique HR and training background. This background has been integral in allowing Rhoda to truly understand the people who have worked for and with her, and it has given her valuable insights into how to build a strong, well-integrated team with exceptional values.
One of the key lessons Rhoda has to share is the importance of listening, being authentic, caring deeply, and prizing accountability. These assets have been critical components of the rapid growth of Great Clips over its history, and they will be equally critical for its continued success and growth going forward. Rhoda believes that there is ample room for Great Clips to continue scaling, as long as the organization adheres to the values that have served it so well to this point. Rhoda has instilled a culture of caring at Great Clips, something that will no doubt be a major part of her lasting legacy with the company.
For Rhoda, caring deeply doesn’t mean being weak. Rather, it is a source of strength. Caring deeply means surrounding yourself with the right people who share the driving values of the organization, and it means sometimes letting people go if they aren’t the right fit. It means working with franchisees to help them understand the importance of the company’s vision and values and getting everyone on the same page about what makes Great Clips great. A female leader can bring their heart and compassion to their role without being weak, as Rhoda demonstrates.
Rhoda is a truly giving person, as shown by her work with Phakamani, a nonprofit organization based in South Africa that works to give impoverished women a helping hand and an opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. Rhoda is a strong advocate for this work, from her fundraising efforts to her many trips to South Africa to show donors firsthand the powerful effect their donations have had on local women. Rhoda truly practices what she preaches, both in the boardroom and in her charitable efforts. This is precisely the kind of authenticity Rhoda believes is the pillar of a great leader.
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