In today’s evolving and hyper-competitive fitness business, only organizations that have continuing aspirations to be great will be a part of the industry’s meteoric growth. It will take a progressive and revolutionary kind of leadership to guide a business to greater successes in the next decade. It is that kind of leadership that will become the most important currency in today’s business world as it will define those who succeed in the market and those who get left behind.
Leadership is an abstract idea that is defined by lofty goals and the ability to achieve them. The most essential aspect of great leadership is the ability to allow your staff “vision,” or the goal of being greater than they are. A “vision” of greatness can become the strongest force in your organization and the building block upon which all of your work is laid. It should be the goal of any leader to give their team a sense of potential, and to maintain that sense of possibility.
For a leader to develop a powerful vision, the key is to embrace the ambition of your team and of yourself and define it as a cause. Step back from the day-to-day issues and, without limiting your sight, determine where it is that you really want your organization to go and the market that this identity can satisfy. Think in definable terms where you want your club to be and the standards it takes to achieve this goal. A broad vision can often result in abstract goals, such as “the best Group Fitness program in the city” or “the most advanced medical fitness program in the state.” If you wish to have the best Group Fitness program you need to define what it means to be the best. Perhaps it means to have the highest level of class participants or to win an award voted upon by an outside body, such as a “Reader’s Choice” award from a local newspaper, or an industry award. Otherwise, the goal loses value, as it will be forever abstract. The need for a better and more precise goal also allows for you to carry out a plan and to develop standards so you may follow your vision and achieve this goal.
Once you establish these standards, you must have an unwavering commitment to uphold them. This can be an unpopular position as nothing is easier and more comfortable than mediocrity, but it is the role of a great leader to maintain the newly heightened standards for your club and your company. The first and most damaging adversary to leadership is the acceptance of lowered standards. Don’t allow your team to believe that your standards are open for interpretation or can be ignored. This will only allow for ongoing deviation from the vision.
The definitive characteristic of a strong and well-communicated vision is when all levels of your staff head toward the same goal. From the top of the company down through every manager and hourly employee, the vision of your company is understood and every employee takes part in the preservation of your standards as individuals and as a team. To not effectively extend the vision throughout your staff is to not succeed as a leader — a leader with no followers is just a guy out for a walk.
In today’s fitness market, potential and current members look to embrace a niche that they find important; therefore, you must properly define your business with a strong vision and the commitment to be great at it. As a leader, you must be the communicator of that vision as well as its guardian so that your goals are achieved as a team. With great leadership, a clear vision of greatness and a dedication to the goal, your club has the capability to thrive and the hope for greatness.
John Oei is an operations and strategy consultant and columnist for Club Solutions Magazine. He can be reached through our editor via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.