In a recent team meeting, we discussed this insanely helpful article from the team at Groove. In it, they survey all the interviews they’ve conducted with company founders with an eye to answering the question, “What helps successful people win?”
That got us thinking! What would we consider essential leadership skills?
#1 – Know Yourself
“Great founders know what their weaknesses are,” said Alex Turnbull from GrooveHQ, “because doing so lets you make the best possible use of your time and strengths.” A lot of times we’re afraid to say no — in reality, if what we’re being asked to do is a weakness, a no would be better than a yes.
Part of being a good leader is knowing when someone else on your team can do something better and allowing them to use their talents to do so.
Children love to play hide and seek, but good leaders don’t play games. They are transparent with their strengths and weaknesses, and leverage both to their advantage.
#2 – Ask Great Questions
This goes hand-in-hand with knowing yourself. Once you’ve realized you don’t know it all, you must learn to ask great questions. Doing so will allow you to utilize the brilliant people you’ve surrounded yourself with.
Also, a side benefit of asking great questions is giving your team the opportunity to be heard and to buy into whatever the solution may be.
#3 – Don’t Quit
Good leaders don’t quit. General George Custer said,
“It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.”
Obstacles shouldn’t be a sign that you’ve failed, and they shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our goals. However, they are meant to be overcome. When an obstacle knocks you down, get back up and knock it back.
#4 – Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
- Specific – Your goals should be focused and defined. Remove all vague and unhelpful language. One common culprit is “I want to grow my business.” That target is so broad a semi-truck could hit it.
- Measurable – Your goals should be rooted in concrete numbers. With the above example in mind, you might say, “I want to grow my business by 20 percent over the next 18 months.” That’s measurable.
- Achievable – Your goals should be something you could accomplish with dedication and hard-work. You’re most likely not going to be able run a sub-three minute mile or become a Fortune 500 company with six months. Dream BIG, but set achievable goals.
- Realistic – Your goals should be realistic. You’re not going to lose 200 lbs in one week or grow to one million clients in a month.
- Timely – Your goals must have deadlines. Without deadlines a lot of us procrastinate. Deadlines drive us.
For more details on S.M.A.R.T. goals, check out the video above.
We also recommend asking for input. Find a mentor you respect and who has already cultivated goal setting skills and ask them to review your goals.
Last, setting good goals is a muscle you can exercise. You may look back in a year or two and realize your first several goals were terrible, but keep setting them and your skill at goal setting will grow.
#5 – Encourage Accountability
Accountability isn’t just a one-way street. A good leader will build accountability into his own daily practices as well as into those he leads.
That means setting goals for herself and her team that are S.M.A.R.T., and if they are not achieved, discussing honestly why they weren’t and setting better goals or changing practices to achieve the next goal.
#6 – Don’t Hesitate to Ask for What You Need
You’ll rarely get something that you don’t ask for. It’s really that simple.
If you’re starting a business, why not ask business x to partner with you? Best-case scenario they say yes. Worst-case, they say no and you learn.
Keep asking, and you’ll start to see your wins pile up. My only word of caution, which also relates to S.M.A.R.T. goals, is: Be realistic.
Don’t call up and ask a business to be your partner without actually offering them value in return. Or call and ask a successful entrepreneur to meet five days a week to mentor you.
Make sure your asks are realistic. That doesn’t mean they can’t stretch you though.
Train Anyone, Anywhere in the World.
#7 – Ask for Feedback
If you’ve got a great idea and you’re sure it’ll work — before you start executing your idea, ask for feedback. Ask someone in your target market what they think and be open to their opinion.
For instance, as our team brainstorms new features, we will connect with trainers who use our service and run ideas by them. We want to make sure our new features are meeting a need.
That allows us to gain valuable insight while also preventing us from wasting our resources on a feature no one will use.
#8 – Know How to Have Fun
Your business is serious. It’s your dream, and you’ve invested a lot of time and money into it. However, that doesn’t mean you have to take yourself so seriously.
Typically leaders who do take themselves too seriously, create workplaces that people don’t enjoy. Do your employees constantly call out sick or use any excuse to leave? Make sure you’re known for working hard and playing hard.
#9 – Time Never Changes
“If something is important enough, anyone can make time for it,” said Alex Turnbull from GrooveHQ. That stuck with me.
How many times have you said you didn’t have time for something? Honestly, sometimes time does run out, but how often do we use time as an excuse?
One thing we focus on with our team is finding tools and service that will allow us to be more efficient. Efficiency means more time, and more time means investing in developing ideas.
Make it a habit to review your processes regularly. Don’t become a slave to an outdated process that’s no longer saving you time.
We run into this with trainers who are hesitant to take advantage of our platform for delivering workouts. Even though automating everything will save them thousands of hours a year, some trainers are afraid to leave the PDFs behind and invest in a new time-saving process.
#10 – Don’t Focus on Your Goals, Take a Journey
Check out the video above where Reggie Rivers, former NFL Running Back, encourages us to not focus on goals. That seems like that goes against what we just recommended above.
But notice we didn’t say don’t set goals. What he’s fighting against is goal navel-gazing. Setting a goal and just staring at the goal instead of taking steps to achieve the goal.
Honestly, Reggie’s advice goes hand-in-hand with S.M.A.R.T. Success is a journey you must take, but success rarely happens overnight (and even when it does, usually there have been years of behind-the-scenes hard work to get to that moment).
Set goals that will provide you small wins and build success, and as you’re setting those small goals don’t hesitate to dream big as well.
- How would you like to see your fitness business grow in the next 10 years?
- Where would you like to see your fitness goals in five years?
Think big pictures, but don’t navel-gaze your goals; create actionable steps to get you there. Don’t forget along the way that success is a journey! One day at a time! One foot in front of the other.
#11 (Bonus Tip) – Treat People as People, Not Their Job or Title
If you want your people to invest their entire person into what they do, then you have to see the entire person. Treating someone like they are the sum total of the job they do is dehumanizing and will kill morale.
Good leaders know how to communicate with their people about more than just work. They know them personally.
#12 (Bonus Tip) – Learn Constantly
Good leaders are always learning. With that in mind, I recommend taking a class on leadership. Watch videos, read books, and find a mentor. To make this actionable for you, make time, and watch these twelve TED Talks on “How to be a great leader.”