Leadership development is one of the most important areas for health club operators to dedicate time and resources to.
Just ask Tina Basoco, the vice president of talent acquisition, development and organizational effectiveness at California’s In-Shape Health Clubs.
“At In-Shape, our leaders are critical to delivering our mission, which is to create places of belonging and connection that motivate our communities to be healthy, fit and happy,” said Basoco. “If our mission is going to be a living, breathing thing — not just words we put on paper — In-Shape’s leaders must embody it every day and teach our team members how to embody it. If we don’t do this, then an In-Shape club is just another box with fitness equipment.”
With this in mind, In-Shape prioritizes leadership development in a number of ways — some of which are outside the norm of typical health club operations.
For example, the company develops leaders by putting people into unconventional roles, or moving field leaders into support center roles, and vice versa. “Our director of leadership and development, Jeremiah Marks, is a great example of this,” said Basoco. “He was an accomplished field leader who we transitioned and developed into his current role. Building leaders is a huge focus for our career pathing and talent management processes.”
In addition, In-Shape emphasizes developing managers who lead, versus managers who just execute tactics. “We want leaders who can lead, manage a business, and be good operators,” said Basoco. “We’ve introduced that shift to our people leaders, and it’s been very well-received.”
These strategies are supplemented by a catalogue of trainings for In-Shape team members that are highly practical and interactive.
“We continue to evolve our learning platforms and maintain focus on developing leaders who engage, motivate and develop high performance teams to deliver our mission,” added Basoco.
In addition, the company has started to invest time and resources into bringing its operational leaders together for conferences to develop their leadership capability. “We want to create environments where our leaders get to interact, build relationships, and learn from one another,” explained Basoco. “At these conferences, we lean into our leaders to lead. We’ve started asking our people leaders to facilitate learning sessions for one another, and for our broader team. We want In-Shape leaders to lead from the front and be better coaches, so when they return to their clubs, they’ve had that experience, and can leverage it to develop their people.”
These practices don’t just benefit the team members being developed into leaders. In fact, they benefit the company as a whole.
“Your leaders create the culture and environment for your team members,” said Basoco. “This is critical for team member engagement. Engaged team members create a positive environment and experience for your members. When your members’ experience is positive, they will keep coming back. They become your brand ambassadors. We believe this leads to member engagement, referrals and retention. And to members achieving their personal fitness goals.”
At the end of the day, leadership development is a win-win for all.