Being a successful fitness business owner requires that you are also a successful leader. And, although some people may seem to be born leaders while others don’t, leadership is in fact a skill that can be developed and improved over time.
Regardless of if you fit in the “born leader” category or not, your leadership skills should always be a work in progress.
So how can you become a better leader in your fitness business?
Who better to ask than certified Fitness Business Coaches?
We asked our Success Coaches for some insights on these two questions:
- What are some things that fitness business owners can do to develop as a leader?
- What changes do you see in the fitness business owners you work with (either in themselves or in their businesses) as they become better leaders?
What are some things that fitness business owners can do to develop as a leader?
Craig: To develop as a leader, the first thing a fitness business owner should do is get a coach! Not a consultant, guru, or specialist. A coach will understand when it’s most impactful to simply transfer knowledge and when to help someone discover insights for themselves. It’s also valuable to have a peer group that you trust and can be open with, giving you a beneficial mix of experiences and perspectives. At the very least, making your own development a non-negotiable and following through with some type of plan (courses, books, seminars, etc.) is a must.
Luke: I think an effective leader is someone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and has the courage to develop that potential. Oh, and leaders are enthusiastic! – and communicate that to others. They set the course, and they inspire.
The most important factor in developing powerful leadership is creating an environment of connection and trust. Trust is the foundation for all things inside any business, most importantly continuous improvement and sustainable, measurable results. How do you create trust? Well, you gotta really get to know and care for your people—who they are, what makes them tick, their goals, challenges, etc., and set them up to win. Among many things, this requires having tough conversations, including honest, productive feedback that flows up and down the chain, and in every which direction. Building trust also requires creating certainty, especially around failure. People who are up to big things will inevitably fail, and everyone on a team needs to know that falling short of a desired outcome is a necessary and welcome guest in the change/growth process. Leaders can set this standard by sharing big ideas, trying new things, talking about mistakes (especially their own!), demonstrating a high tolerance for risk and failure, highlighting missteps as learning opportunities, addressing transgressions in a fair and consistent way, and acknowledging gifts and contributions.
Pamela: There are two lifelong habits or actions that fitness business owners can do to develop as a leader. First, never stop learning. Personal and professional development are essential to continued growth. Being well rounded in your development is also very helpful, meaning that you have a broad spectrum of subject matters, not just those that come easy to you or that are based around exercise and training. Second, practice what you preach and be consistent. There’s not a whole lot that’s more disappointing to an employee than a manager/leader who expects certain tasks within a role to be complete but doesn’t actually complete those tasks themselves when performing the role. The good old saying, “Do what I say, not what I do.” doesn’t motivate anyone toward reaching goals or growing themselves. Being consistent in expectations, execution, and just about everything creates trust for your staff. Working for someone who is a scattered-brained, hot head one minute and your highly organized, supportive, best friend the next is too unpredictable and not a healthy work environment for anyone.
Asa: The greatest attributes I see successful leaders having are two fold. 1) Having a vision both long term and short for the company and the direction they are heading, and 2) Leading by example. Leading with an “iron fist” will not gain favor from your employees. Be firm, yet not above “getting in the trenches” with your team in order to build rapport and respect.
What changes do you see in the fitness business owners you work with (either in themselves or in their businesses) as they become better leaders?
Craig: Some of the changes I see in fitness business owners as they become better leaders are increased awareness, confident decision making, and better/more impactful questioning. They tend to become more systematic but also adaptive. They’re able to better fight off distractions and say ‘no’ to things. Their own success may start becoming more about the success of others or supporting a purpose outside of themselves and their business.
Luke: Watching business owners become strong leaders is so exciting. They experience increased happiness, satisfaction, and confidence; and decreased stress and resentment. When their businesses are really humming with a dynamic, empowering culture, they have new room to think and create, surrounded by people who are truly invested in the success of one another AND of the business.
Pamela: Across the board, fitness business owners who become stronger leaders find themselves being more proactive than reactive. They also have systems that are documented and dialed in, know exactly where they are financially at any given time, and whether it’s one employee or many, have a solid staff working with them. This isn’t to say that issues do not arise, but when they do they aren’t crippling the owner or the business.
Asa: As the fitness business owners I work with evolve into better leaders I see a few key changes in their workplace. Primarily with their team, successful leaders have a team who knows their roles, duties, and responsibilities and executes them without being “micro-managed”. Successful leaders are also driven with specific goals and timelines that are intertwined with their longer term vision for the company as a whole. Lastly, successful leaders are not above leaning into their team to capitalize on their unique skill sets and creativity to help drive the business forward.
Similar Coaches’ Corner topics:
- The Habits of High Performing Fitness Business Owners
- How do Gym Owners Recognize, Deal With, and Prevent Fatigue and Burnout?
- What Happens When Gym Owners Let Emotions Guide Decisions?
- How Can I Overcome Analysis Paralysis as a Fitness Business Owner?
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Want to see how our certified Fitness Business Coaches handle more common questions and roadblocks? Check out our Ask a certified Fitness Business Coach Guide.