The Chosen Ones: Tips for Identifying Leaders

To run a successful health club business, you need leadership at all levels — from the front desk and maintenance, to personal training and general management. No company can be run well by just one person alone. 

So, how do you identify potential leaders within your gym who can help take the reigns? Do you look for confidence? Emotional intelligence? Initiative? Here, we highlight what qualities to look for.

Initiative

With over 500 locations, there’s no possible way 9Round could operate with just one leader. That is why Shannon Hudson, the founder and CEO of the fitness franchise, makes leadership development a priority.

For Hudson, the No. 1 quality he looks for in a potential leader is initiative. “When we see people go the extra mile, we know we have a winner,” he said. “I know we’ve got someone who is willing to put forth that extra effort.”

Cher Harris, the general manager of The Houstonian Club in Houston, Texas, agreed that initiative is extremely important in leaders. “Someone that goes above and beyond their job description,” she said. “Identifying and helping those leaders grow is very important.”

A go-getter attitude.

One of the first tasks that new trainers receive at 9Round is to give out 500 flyers around town. “If the end of the week comes and they’ve given out 400, there’s a problem,” said Hudson. “But, if they did 600, then I know I’ve got someone here that I can eventually put in a management position.”

For Hudson, if an employee strives to take on more responsibility, they must be accountable for that action and task.

“I will push people very hard, very fast, and two things will happen — they’ll get really good, really quick, or they’ll quit,” said Hudson. “The faster one of those happens, the better.”

Empathy

For Harris, it’s important for any potential leader to have empathy and be considerate of others. “There’s the old saying, ‘People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” she said. “I really think that’s the case — there are great leaders out there, but unless your team knows you care, I don’t think they’ll follow you or be with you for a long period of time.”

So, she looks for these qualities in potential leaders on staff. Harris thinks all leadership boils down to is the relationship between a staff and the people in charge. “A leader is someone people innately follow, and take direction from easily,” she said.

In such a personality-driven industry as fitness, a leader, more than anything, has to have a positive attitude to be a people person.

“That’s what everything hinges on, so finding that Day 1 is going to be a challenge, because the supportive piece in this industry is the people,” added Harris. “The greatest technology or the greatest app doesn’t really mean anything unless you’ve got great people on top of that.”

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