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Coaching and Leadership During COVID-19


It’s during times of crisis when great leadership and coaching are of the utmost importance.

As you all navigate through this challenging time in the fitness industry, start to pay attention to how leaders in other industries are responding. Here are a few key points for you to evaluate in how you are leading or how you manage other coaches, athletes and employees.

Purpose-driven Leadership Points:

  1. Communicate Frequently. Listen as much as you can and be humble enough to learn from people who report to you. If you’ve been a leader for some time, continue to evaluate your performance and ask others to help you with areas of improvement. If you are a new leader — either in capacity or role — the best action item you can make is to talk to as many customers and colleagues as possible before you start barking out orders.
  2. Decision Making. Good leaders make decisions. Not making a decision can lead to you and others being frustrated or stressed. Do your research, be smart, but be swift with making a decision. And be accountable to it. Be considerate to people’s feelings if the decision is a tough one. A personal phone call or a face-to-face meeting (practice social distancing or wait on this considering the current conditions) can help make a tough decision more digestible.
  3. Be Authentic. As a leader, there are always distractions, people’s hidden agendas, opinions, consensus of thought and perception. That’s the good news. Be aware, but don’t let who you are as a human being be compromised. Being a leader means you understand you need to be authentic. A leader is fair, empathetic, strong and humble.
  4. ActionsNot Just Words. Words do matter, but making things happen yourself helps to tell your team you are on point. Thinking ahead, planning and considering how your actions will affect everyone can make a big difference in how effective you lead. As a leader, you must work hard, be responsible and respond. If you say you are going to call, email or text back — do it.
  5. Cap of Capacity. You can’t coach what you haven’t done. Great basketball coaches can’t become great football coaches unless they truly understand the sport and have some experience taking a few hits. A good leader knows his or her capacity. This can be an ego check for many leaders — don’t just take on another leadership or coaching role if you can’t speak to what it’s like being on the field of play. If you need more playing time, go get it.

I’ve been in the coaching and fitness game a long time. As an athlete I took my hits and won championships while also losing a lot too. I learned from all of those experiences. As a coach, I’ve had numerous learning opportunities to become better by listening to others. As a business leader, I’ve combined my competitive athletic experience into forming how I build teams and handle people in the business world. 

It’s no fun being an all-star if your team loses all the time or if they’re not heard. And good teams are all about having great chemistry — not always the best players — led by an authentic, caring coach who serves as the leader.

Doug Katona

Doug Katona, is the chief operations officer and director of training & education for World Gym.

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