SAVE THE DATE: OCTOBER 23-25 | APNA Annual Conference
SAVE THE DATE: OCTOBER 23-25 | APNA Annual Conference

Leadership is tough, especially if you’re a small business owner looking to grow your agency. I know this from experience. When I started my agency at 21 years old, I had to live in my car while waiting for my first commission check. But that check was a turning point for me. It helped put a roof over my head, and it made me realize that I needed to learn how to be an effective leader to make my agency successful. three women laughing and holding onto each other.

Early on, I sought the advice of those with more experience and began reading everything I could on business and leadership. Reading challenged my thinking, encouraged me to grow, and made me a better boss. I’m still learning, and I want to share valuable lessons from two authors who share a leadership philosophy similar to my own but articulate it much better. So let’s dive in.

One such expert is Michael S. Erwin, author of Leadership is a Relationship. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at Erwin’s book and some of the key lessons it offers on what it takes to be an effective leader.

Lesson 1: The Importance of Trust

One of the key takeaways from Erwin’s book is the importance of trust in building strong relationships with your team. As he notes, “trust is the foundation of all relationships, including those between leaders and followers.”

But how do you build trust with your team? It all starts with being honest and transparent. As Brene Brown, another expert on leadership, notes: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”

As a leader, you need to be willing to share your own vulnerabilities with your team. This helps to build a sense of camaraderie and trust, as your team members see that you’re human and that you understand the challenges they face.

Lesson 2: The Power of Listening

Another key lesson from Erwin’s book is the importance of listening to your team members. As he notes, “listening is one of the most important skills a leader can possess.”

When you listen to your team members, you show them that you value their input and that you’re willing to consider their perspectives. This helps to build trust and fosters a sense of collaboration within your team.

But listening isn’t just about hearing what your team members have to say. It’s also about truly understanding their needs and concerns. As Erwin notes, “active listening is about being fully present, paying attention to what the other person is saying, and asking questions to clarify and understand.”

By taking the time to actively listen to your team members, you’ll be able to identify any issues or challenges that they’re facing and work with them to find solutions.

Lesson 3: The Value of Feedback

Another important lesson from Erwin’s book is the value of feedback. As he notes, “feedback is essential to growth and development, both for the leader and for the team.”

When you provide feedback to your team members, you help them to understand where they’re excelling and where they need to improve. This not only helps them to grow and develop, but it also helps to build trust and foster a sense of collaboration within your team.

But providing feedback isn’t always easy. As Brown notes, “courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” As a leader, you need to be willing to be vulnerable and honest with your team members, even when it’s difficult.

To make feedback more effective, Erwin suggests using a coaching model. This involves providing feedback in a way that is specific, objective, and focused on the future. By using this model, you can help your team members to understand where they need to improve and provide them with a clear path forward.

Lesson 4: The Importance of Empathy

Finally, Erwin’s book emphasizes the importance of empathy in leadership. As he notes, “empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s the foundation of strong relationships and effective leadership.”

Empathy is important because it helps you to connect with your team members on a deeper level. By understanding their emotions and concerns, you can provide support and guidance in a more inclusive way.

But empathy isn’t just about understanding your team members’ emotions. It’s also about taking action to support them. As Brown notes, “empathy without action is just feeling sorry for someone.” As a leader, it’s important to take concrete steps to support your team members and help them to overcome any challenges they’re facing.

This might involve providing resources or tools to help them succeed, or it might involve simply being there to listen and offer support when they need it. By showing empathy and taking action to support your team members, you can build stronger relationships and foster a more positive, collaborative team culture.

In conclusion, being an effective leader requires a combination of skills and traits, including trust, listening, feedback, and empathy. By focusing on these key areas, you can build stronger relationships with your team members, foster a more positive team culture, and help your agency to succeed.

As Michael S. Erwin notes in his book Leadership is a Relationship, “leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.” As a business owner, you have the opportunity to be a caring and compassionate leader who supports your team members and helps them to achieve their full potential. By following the lessons outlined in this article, you can become a more effective leader and help your agency to thrive.

P.S.  If you’re looking to continue learning and growing as a leader, reading is a fantastic way to do that. Thankfully, there are plenty of books out there on the topic of leadership that can help you to improve your skills and become a more effective leader.

Here are a couple favorites I suggest checking out:

  1. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown: In this book, Brown explores the power of vulnerability and empathy in leadership, and provides practical tips and strategies for becoming a more effective leader.
  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey: This classic book on leadership provides timeless wisdom and practical advice on how to become a more effective and successful leader.
  1. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott: In this book, Scott shares her experiences as a leader at companies like Google and Apple, and provides practical advice on how to be a great boss without sacrificing your authenticity.
  1. The Servant Leader by James A. Autry: In this book, Autry explores the concept of servant leadership and provides practical tips and strategies for becoming a more effective and compassionate leader.
  1. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman: In this book, Wiseman explores the traits of “multipliers” – leaders who bring out the best in their teams – and provides practical advice on how to become one.

These are just a few of the many fantastic books available on leadership. By reading and applying the lessons from these books, you can become a more effective leader and help your agency to succeed.


Katie Provinziano is the founder of Westside Nannies, an award-winning domestic agency with a reputation for placing highly qualified nannies, newborn care specialists, and private educators. The agency’s impressive client list spans some of the most influential and high-profile individuals in the world, including heads of state, Forbes Top 10, Silicon Valley CEOs, Grammy award-winning artists, and A-list celebrities. Katie’s thought leadership and expertise have been featured in many top publications, including The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Insider, to name just a few. In addition to being a sought-after speaker within the domestic industry, Katie’s leadership role on the board of the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies highlights her commitment to advancing the industry as a whole. Westside Nannies’ unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality service to its discerning clientele has established the agency as one of the most sought-after domestic agencies in the nation.

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