Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club
In today’s private Clubs, our Board of Directors expect us to have exceptional leadership skills. If we are to succeed we must learn to “hone” our leadership skills in order to deal with the present and future of our Clubs. Whether you are the General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of your Club, if you own the Club, you are a department manager, or you are an employee of the Club looking to make his or her way up the proverbial corporate ladder, the right leadership style and skills is essential in order to reach your personal and professional goals, the goals of your Club, and the individual goals of your team. It can be said without argument that well-honed leadership skills are the most important component of being a successful manager, providing you with the ability to lead your Club into the future and beyond, regardless of what’s up ahead.
Below are seven leadership skills that you can further develop that that will help you manage and lead your Club into the future of these uncertain economic times:
Adaptability: As a leader, adaptability means reacting in an effective manner to shifting circumstances in your Club business environment, not only with what’s going on at your Club, but also having foresight with what’s going on in the business world, both locally and globally. Everybody experiences adaptive challenges, but leaders who are keen to resolve these issues with a carefully thought-out plan of action before they happen are what our Board of Directors is looking for. If there is one trait that every business leader needs most in today’s business environment, it is adaptability. I have always enjoyed the quote; “Better Bend than Break!”
Just as in an “outdoor survival situation” you must learn to improvise, adapt and overcome, if you are going to survive a situation. If adaptability is not your strongest skill set, then you can learn to accept your difference as just that and accept it is what it is. The key however, is anticipating potential problems at your Club, before they happen, so that you do not have to deal with putting out fires. Always plan and prepare a backup or contingency plan, just in case your preferred plan fails. A friend of mine was a Navy Seal. One of their mottos was; “One is none and two is one.” What this means is that if you have one of something in a survival situation and it breaks, you have nothing. But, if you have two of something, and one breaks, you will have the ability to replace parts or use the backup item in your survival kit in order to accomplish your mission. It’s a part of a well-thought out contingency plan, along with having foresight.
Remember that if you design your work style around a plan that provides plenty of adaptability, you will be able to provide better support and leadership to your team. You’ll also be the person that others turn to for guidance when things change or an unexpected crisis arises. Lead by example – if you show them that you are adaptable, open-minded and flexible you’ll discover more opportunities opening up for you.
People skills: We all know that we are in the “people business.” If we do not have a tolerance and ability to deal with people, then we don’t need to be in the business of private club management.
We must learn the ability to observe people in the workplace. This will provide us with the insight that we will need in order to take appropriate action for the right results.
The ability to communicate effectively is one of our skill sets that we need to perfect. It is not easy to get ideas across to your team when attempting to make the right decision or reach a solution at your Club. As leaders we should be able to communicate effectively to everyone, not just your management team, but also to your line-level employees, along with your Club Committees, Membership and Board of Directors.
The ability to motivate your team gives you the leadership edge in order to get the best out of those who report directly to you. If you are not mentoring your team, listening to them and training them, then your people skills are greatly lacking. In order to develop these skills, you must learn how to listen and work closely with your team, taking into consideration what they have to say and contribute. Be “authentic” and listen and learn from your team. When you connect with your team, you develop trust, which provides a sense of integrity in the team. If they trust you, they will be more productive and they will follow your leadership. If your team loses trust in you, you have lost everything. Learn to listen more and adapt and overcome.
Self-Awareness: Leaders who are aware of how they are perceived by others or how they impact the behavior of others are more likely to succeed than those who aren’t self-aware, or those who don’t seem to care. Most of us are guilty of believing that we are better than we really are, because of our honest intent. However, none of us are as good as we believe we are or as good as we can become.
Others can only judge us based on our behaviors, actions and what we talk about, which can often lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication. Remember; “We become what we think about.” You cannot, as a leader, assume that everyone around you instinctively understands the “how and why” behind what you do. You need to practice self-awareness in order to establish a more positive working relationship with your management team and employees. Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses and then determine what you need to do to overcome them, whether it is explaining things more clearly, being more willing to compromise or developing better team-building skills. Remember, even if you don’t see your flaws, those around you do. If you are self-aware, people will see that you are making the effort to overcome your faults – a very important trait of a great leader.
Decisiveness: Let your “Yes be yes and your No be No.” Decisiveness is a critical skill set as a great General Manager. Decisiveness is an exercise in good judgment that produces well-informed, fast and sound decisions from decisive leaders. However, decisiveness is not to be confused with inflexibility. While leaders must be decisive, they must also be flexible, and understand when they need to respond to a well-thought out plan that isn’t working. The opposite of decisiveness is indecisiveness. Don’t let indecisiveness be a killer in your leadership style. Just remember no decision is often misinterpreted as a decision.
Purposefulness: Every private club needs a well thought out vision, along with established mission and values to set its direction. Every successful leader can tune into that vision to achieve success. Without a vision, the people will perish. Your staff needs to have purpose. It is our responsibility to provide that purpose, through a defined leadership plan.
What may be more advantageous today is the ability to own a strong sense of purpose and the ability to convey this purposefulness to your employees and coworkers. Purposefulness can be more powerful than a vision because it shares the ambition of growing your Club with others. Understanding what the real purpose behind the vision is will inspire others. A vision, on the other hand, may make sense only to a few.
Collaborative Skills: Technology has opened up new avenues for communicating and working with our members and employees. The idea behind collaborating is about idea exchange and sharing of ideas. I have often seen line level employees come up with some of the most brilliant ideas. We must never underestimate the brilliance of our employees. We should always provide a forum for every group in our Clubs, internally and externally, which includes inviting members and employees, to share in this form of idea exchange.
Innovation: Another advantage of inspiring a culture of collaboration is the constant exchange of innovative ideas within your team. To be a great leader, become the person that everyone approaches when they have a new idea or innovative approach to a problem. Leadership means understanding that you don’t always have to come up with ideas by yourself – you can also nurture growth and innovation in others that will benefit everyone.
Too often we look outside of the box, referring to the quote: “Think Outside of the Box” as opposed to “Looking Inside of the Box.” I have found over the years that the solution is often right there before me, waiting to be discovered, right there inside of the box. Be innovative, be an idea generator. A great way to approach innovation that I have learned is to write down all of the ideas that the team can come up with and then when you have no more ideas flowing from the team, it’s there after that when most great ideas begin to surge. I say innovate until your brain hurts, because that’s where the real ideas are!
Article written by: Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, Hound Ears Club
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