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Positive Team Culture Starts With Leadership


Team chemistry can often trump talent and athleticism in sports. Through my coaching and playing experiences I have seen many talented teams fall short of their goals due to a poor team culture and lack of chemistry. Teams can succeed more when teammates get along and respect one another on and off the court.

The same goes for your health club’s staff, which is also a team. Whether it’s your personal training team, group exercise department, or management group, it is critical to emphasize the importance of team chemistry and utilize strategies that promote and build a positive team culture and atmosphere. Although you already carry a heavy load of administrate duties and responsibilities, proper supervision and leadership of your team must also be a priority, as it significantly can impact the development of your health club.

Building a positive team culture starts with your culture. Bullying, hazing and poor locker room culture are currently hot topics in our society due to the latest incident involving NFL athletes from the Miami Dolphins. In my opinion, this is a perfect example of poor culture.

It is ultimately a leader’s responsibility to ensure a positive culture is stressed This is why it is so important for leaders to set guidelines that promote a positive environment where employees can enjoy the companionship of their teammates and learn to enjoy each other’s company. This can transform into better productivity, where employees trust each other and are willing to sacrifice for one another with maximum effort and teamwork.

Building a positive team culture is much easier said than done in some situations where staff may not get along. Regardless, leaders should practice several strategies that foster an encouraging environment. You never want an employee to dread entering the club or to feel uncomfortable for any reason. Some of the following strategies can be used to combat negative employee behaviors and promote positive behaviors:

  • Address the importance of developing team chemistry and a positive team culture on a regular basis with the team.
  • Set specific rules and guidelines for employees to follow; such as displaying courtesy, respect, appreciation, and kindness to one another at all times.
  • Challenge established leaders to interact with newer employees on the team by mentoring them.
  • Immediately handle situations where employees are being mistreated. Do not tolerate any employee being disrespected by a teammate.

At the end of the day, leaders are responsible for developing young people to be better teammates. Getting to know your employees on an individual basis and modeling the type of culture and behavior you desire and expect can make a significant impact on the way employees will act.


Brian Freeland is the Dean for the Sports and Health Sciences degree programs at American Public University (APU). This article was written in collaboration with SportsFitnessNetwork.com, which provides information, advice and resources for the sports, health and fitness industries. Content is provided by professionals in these fields, including those from education, administration, management, coaching, and more. Here you’ll find advice from experts in the areas of sports, fitness, health, wellness, nutrition and coaching, including the latest industry news, employment-related news, and associated topics.


1 Comment

  1. Mila August 27, 2015

    I like this post because it addresses a serious problem: bullying and hazing have been part of sports culture for a long time. Management should have an action plan on how to deal which this kind of issues. An important part of the solution: educate and teach athletes how to stand up for themselves.


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