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Leadership Post-COVID — Part 1

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The concept of leadership has taken on a whole new meaning since the COVID-19 statewide shutdown on March 16. The worldwide pandemic hit New Jersey hard, overwhelming the hospitals as it spread rapidly throughout the Garden State. 

It’s been a challenging time to be one of the leaders of our organization that had to furlough 700 employees without any idea when we will reopen. Leaders are all experiencing an entirely new business environment, with the common goal to survive the shutdowns and COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now more than ever, leadership need to be flexible, agile and focused. Since March 16, we have worked through four different business environments, all with different strategies. We have been entrenched in understanding a whole new vocabulary and we know we need to be successful for the business and our employees.  

Leaders needed to prioritize business survival during this unprecedented time, which meant first, finding funding with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — who knew those three Ps would be a lifeline to many clubs? In addition, we needed to be active and in communication with our banks, requesting their support, as well as relief from our landlords and vendors.

Secondly, we focused on being safe. Leadership needed to shift from financial to operational needs, learning about electrostatic sprayers, electrolized water, social distancing, hand sanitizers needing at least 60% alcohol, new equipment layouts and more. We had to figure all this out without a support team in place within many clubs.

Thirdly, leaders had to educate themselves about what is going on nationally with the pandemic, but also become savvy and connected with local and state government, since the states were now in charge of our destiny. 

Lastly, leaders needed to develop strategies on how to enroll their members to come back to their clubs. This demonstrates they are safe and ready for reopening by overcoming all the bad press about fitness centers and gyms during the pandemic.

Leaders are now more visible and hands-on in all areas of their business. It is critical they walk the walk and talk the talk, so members and employees feel safe. Lead by example.

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Kevin McHugh

Kevin McHugh is the chief operating officer of The Atlantic Club. He can be reached at kevinm@theatlanticclub.com.

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