I know I am a natural leader--this has been a big part of how I’ve conducted myself since I was a little kid. I’ve been fortunate to have been a captain of most hockey teams I played for, an active part of all my personal training clients’ health & fitness, and now primarily a Manager and Owner of Groundwork Athletics---ensuring the team here is being challenged and inspired to represent the GWA brand and mission every day.
Daniel Pink once tweeted, “If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you” and this really speaks to the way I manage my team here. Below are the top things I have learned as leader both in this industry and in life.
1. Put yourself in their shoes
As a team player I always try to ask myself, “How would I want to be treated in this situation?” You won’t always get it right, but being aware of how your staff views a particular problem or issue is important to making sure you are meeting their expectations on how you fix it.
Communication is a key piece for any working relationship. I personally strive to error on the side of over-communicating in an effort to get things right the first time. Be clear. Be concise.
Don’t do all the talking. The trainers at GWA are never afraid to share their ideas with me and have given lots of great feedback on how they want to be treated, as well as come up with innovative ideas that we have implemented as a company. This dialogue wouldn’t take place if I was overbearing with my opinion. Asking questions and actively listening is a vital trait of a strong leader.
People love to be acknowledged and recognized. Take note of the big wins as well as the day to day successes (and then celebrate them consistently!) in order to keep your team inspired and motivated.
5. Be Positive
A positive environment is a crucial aspect of managing a successful team, and as a leader you have to leave your negativity/bad day/fight with a spouse etc. at the door, in order to be effective. People react and perform better to someone who chooses to see the glass half full.
6. Be Honest
Instill in your team that just “showing up” is not good enough and work to raise the bar by having those harder conversations. While it’s not always easy, these tough encounters are the building blocks of solid team and your people will respect you more for shooting straight with them as long as you deliver it in the right way.
7. Admit when you got it wrong
No one is perfect and a person (especially a leader) who can admit they are wrong does a lot to earning clout with their team. Admit your mistake and show your team how you will fix it.
8. Remove the Emotion
Have you ever written an angry email response, hovered over the “send” button and then changed your mind at the last minute only to delete it? If only we could apply this principle to our real life interactions… As a passionate guy I know that my knee-jerk reaction can sometimes come out the wrong way, and that if I take step back and let some time pass, I will be able to better articulate how I am feeling later. Life can be a battle in restraint towards saying what you need to say versus what you maybe want to say.
9. Walk the talk
Being a leader means demonstrating what you want to see more of and never asking someone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. You have to walk the talk every day and set the bar high for yourself- the cream will always rise to the top.
10. Have Fun !
This might be the most important piece of it all! Truly connecting and enjoying the time you spend at work every day is what keeps your team showing up. A huge piece of this is in your capabilities as a leader- if you’re not having fun, something’s wrong and you need to figure out how to fix it.