Leadership and Supervision Training

Leadership is defined as an act or instance of guidance or direction.  As leaders our job is to be like the guide of a ship directing it on its course to a brighter future.  A large ship turns by a small helm so too our leadership in the little things can bring about course correction and much success.

For team members to feel like they are satisfied in their workplace they need a few things to keep happy.  We will use the acronym L.E.A.D. do describe team member desires in their order of importance.

  1. L eadership

  2. E ducation

  3. A ppreciation

  4. D ollars


Every team member first expresses the need of good leadership. As stated before leadership is all about guidance on a new path. When a new team member is hired the new task can sometimes seem like climbing a mountain. For those of us who have been painting for a long time, we take for granted the motions and processes that have become second nature. It takes a while to build confidence in getting your hands to control the brush in the way you want them to. Therefor a leader should be compassionate and understanding. They should give correction and feedback quickly but enforce our dedication to the team member's growth with an increased measure of love and appreciation. A leader is a mentor not a boss.


The second item required for team member happiness is education. Learning fuels the mind and prepares each individual for greater success. The things that one person may learn in this painting business may become the template for something they might pursue in another field. I want to encourage that. No one is trapped in this job and they shouldn't feel trapped. Feeling trapped leads to burnout and unhappiness in the work place. I want every team member to know that they can take this career as far as they are willing to put in the effort. But more than that I want us as leaders to facilitate that by giving them a foundation of understanding. Leaders must be able to teach effectively the duties of the job but further more teach one another the things that will help each person grow to their fullest potential.


The third thing team members are looking for is to know that they are appreciated. At the end of every work day I do my best to remember to say, "Thank you, for all that you do". That's a loaded phrase for me. When I say "all" I mean all. Both in the field and outside. I know that our team members are interesting and creative individuals who have a lot to offer their community. At work we beautify the community through our service. Outside of work we add variety to life through our creative pursuits. Each is a contributor to a more enriching life and as such, should be shown appreciation for that. When a team member does something well, let them know. When they teach you something knew, thank them. In the workplace a verbal praise for a job well done goes a lot further than monetary compensation.


The fourth item, that's right the fourth thing that employees look for in job satisfaction is compensation. That is a revelation to me! People want better leaders, they want better education and they want a simple "thank you" more than they care about how much they make. That is significant! What that tells me is that as leaders, it is mission critical to make sure we are constantly mentoring, constantly teaching and lifting up our team members as much as we can. Then when they do receive payment for their work they will be less likely to feel like they aren't paid enough. Now that doesn't give us permission to unfairly compensate them. But rather, through our bonus system they will know that everything we've done up until that point has not been lip service. They will know that their leadership is true, their education sound and the appreciation genuine.  

These four elements should be natural in our daily affirmation of a job well done. They are the building blocks for every other part of leadership that we engage in, even when it comes to discipline.

Training Model

Imagine you are trying to teach a child how to tie their shoe.  Before they learn you might do it for them but eventually they must learn for themselves. The first thing you might do is demonstrate how to do it, then you would let them try.  On their first few attempts they may not get it right so you will want to watch over them and help guide them along until they do it correctly.  After successfully tying their shoes for the day, the following day they may need a reminder.  But after that they are responsible for tying their own shoes.  Thus, the steps for training are Demonstrate, Guide, Revise, Trust.


It is important to demonstrate the Color Theory sanctioned methods and not the methods of former companies.  This keeps our work consistent across the board.  Certain time saving and quality improving techniques may be adopted if approved however, consistency is the key to scaling and successfully managing team members. All team members should watch and read the training material in the Training Guides. Leaders should refer back to the Training Guides for purposes of demonstrating best practices.


As you guide new members in the painting process you'll want to first watch them closely as they perform the task.  Correct them or provide tips as they complete the task. It may be necessary to pause and demonstrate certain parts of the task that weren't exactly covered during the first demonstration.  Be patient and kind but with swift reproach.


After you've looked after them enough to see that they've gotten the hang of it frequently check back after a section has been completed.  Point out the positives and the things they need to work on. If there is anything specific they need to correct have them correct it themselves.  Avoid fixing things for them unless it is in the form of further demonstration.


Now that you've trained them, now trust them.  Give them the responsibility of accomplishing tasks to completion. Once they've mastered one task move on to the next and repeat the training model.

Receiving and Giving Correction

Those who wish to succeed in life must be able to receive correction.  Correction is not especially stern but it is swift and direct. Following up correction with support is how people grow from mistakes.  Being able to receive correction is an act of humility. Mistakes are an important part of life.  When we make mistakes we open ourselves to learning.  Mistakes make us humble and if we stay humble and teachable we will grow.  So be gracious when receiving correction and be thoughtful in giving it.  Don't merely give close-ended observations, instead look for the teaching opportunity.


Leaders are accountable for what their team members do. Passing off blame is inappropriate and immature. Sure, each team member is responsible for their own actions but it is the leader's responsibility to correct poor craftsmanship or bad attitudes before a real problem is manifested. Open communication is key. Reprove quickly but love even quicker. That's right I want our leaders to love the people they work with. If you love them, they will be loyal to you. They will care about the work as much as you do.  I learned this lesson as a head football coach. I remember a time when a player of mine showed up in tears in my office because he thought he didn't have what it took to be a player on my team. He thought his mistakes off the field didn't qualify him to even call himself a Bulldog. This came as a huge surprise to me, after-all he was our star defensive end. Every other kid on the team feared him. And here he was with his head in his hands sobbing and thinking he couldn't continue. Not really knowing what to do I went over to him and I wrapped my arms around him and told him I loved him. And I told him the greatest principle I learned that entire season. If on one play you miss your block, get back in the huddle and make the next one. It's as simple as that. We are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to fail. The key is to learn how to fail. The right way to fail is to accept the fact that you did fail. Figure out why you failed. Fix the failure and then keep going. Get back in the huddle and move on.

When we have someone under our stewardship that fails we need to accept that there was something in our leadership or education that did not prevent the failure in the first place. We must then identify why this failure occurred.  Maybe we forgot to explain and show something correctly.  Perhaps we didn't check up on them soon enough to make sure they haven't gotten off course.  Or maybe, we have selected the wrong person for the job.  If we feel like it is a selection problem, then we need to either find them a more suitable role within the company or part ways.  

Letting people go is difficult.  It's awkward and depressing but its a necessary part of life.  The reality is when a deselection is warranted, that individual probably doesn't want the job anyway.  They would love their life even more without working for us. They might be motivated to go after their dream job.  When we do let someone go we must let them know that it isn't personal, let them know of the good qualities that they have that will help them land back on their feet and tell them that we love them. Then we move on.


The last section of the Leadership and Supervision Training is good communication.  When I was a freshman football player our coach gave us a a four word lesson on communication.  "Listen more, talk less." Communicating is not about how well you can talk about an idea, instead its a two way street. Communicating is both speaking and listening.  

 The tip of the iceberg is just a small part of a big picture.  

The tip of the iceberg is just a small part of a big picture.  

Good listeners seek to find the question behind the question. Often a team member or customer may have a question or concern. Most of the time there is more to the question. The tip of an ice berg can be immense, but look under the surface of the water and you'll see it's much much more.

Good speakers are not just understood but rather they speak so clearly as to not be misunderstood. Communication is intentional and very difficult but poor communication causes more problems than it seeks to solve. By clearly communicating your expectations team members will have more confidence in what they are doing and you will get the results you are looking for.


We want to see Color Theory grow by 20% annually.  The way we approach leadership is key to our growth.  Consistency, kindness and clear communication will foster individual growth.  Remember the need of every team member to have good leadership, continual education, genuine appreciation and fair compensation.  By following these basic principles of leadership our team will be happy and productive and our customers will be satisfied.