“I believe a haircut can change someone’s life.”
– Jason Schneidman, LA Stylist
Thirteen years ago Jason Schneidman was battling a drug and alcohol addiction. Today, the stylist for A-list celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Hugh Jackman and Bruno Mars, sees himself in the nearly 60,000 homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles, and is doing his part to make a difference.
You see, while Schneidman spends most of his week dazzling his exclusive clientele with the latest styles, during his time off, he’s using his talent, creativity and showmanship, to serve the needy. He calls it “Street Cuts.” And he goes directly to the homeless population in Los Angeles with the objective of making a positive impact. Schneidman knows he can’t single-handedly fix the problem of people living on the streets, but he knows that he can make an impact.
Schneidman regularly calls on other stylists to bring the tools of their trade, along with personal hygiene products and food, to a specific street location. Then they spend hours giving trendy haircuts, warmth and encouragement to people who need it most. You can see a heartwarming video of Schneidman in action here.
As Schneidman says in the video produced by Insider, “So what I find in helping homeless people with haircuts is their appearance changes, and their attitude changes, and then also the people around them see these people differently.”
I’d love to meet Mr. Schneidman. He’s a wonderful example of a servant leader – someone who makes a powerful, productive impact by helping others become successful as they strive to meet a common goal.
Larry Spears, author and servant leadership ninja, identified six principles that define servant leadership:
Empathy: A servant leader strives to understand and share the feelings of each team member as well as those of his or her customers. Giving trusted coworkers the benefit of the doubt by assuming the good in them goes a long way toward instilling loyalty and trust in you from your team.
Awareness: Servant leaders have a strong awareness of what’s going on around them. They care deeply about the welfare of their team members and don’t view them as simply cogs in a machine.
Building Community: Creating an environment where all parties can thrive. This includes sharing experiences, living the good and the bad with those you’re determined to impact to communicate “you’re all in this together.”
Persuasion: Instead of giving orders and directing people in an inflexible hierarchy, servant leaders rely on persuasion. Dialogue is a critical component of persuasion. Servant leaders are engaging and share why something is a good idea for the team and how it’s benefits everyone.
Conceptualization: Servant leaders focus on the big picture and don’t get sidetracked by the muck of the daily grind. Although servant leaders have intimate knowledge of every aspect of their business, they delegate tasks to free themselves to remain focused on the better future that they see is coming.
Growth: Finally, servant leaders are passionate about personal and professional growth for each team member. They don’t believe they’re better than those who occupy a lower rung on the corporate ladder, and they believe that if they create the right culture, everyone is capable of doing exceptional work.
Servant leadership is a simple, powerful concept, and it starts with doing one thing to help another person improve his/her standing in the workplace – or in Schneidman’s example, on the streets.
“I think if we all do a little, we can help out a lot,” Schneidman said.
So take a moment and identify someone that you can help.
And do it today.