‘Leadership’ is a much-maligned word in the Martial Arts these days; it tends to be over used, often by the wrong people in the wrong way. If you run a Club it’s essential that you fully understand the responsibility that you are undertaking. You primarily have a responsibility to yourself as the Leader of a Club and will be the pivotal figure that everyone is going to look up to. The Emotional Intelligence of the Leader will dictate how the rest of the Club will behave. If the Leader is disingenuous, a bully or financially greedy it will reflect negatively through the whole Club.
Over the 40 years of my training history I have watched so many clubs fail through inadequate training and preparation of the Leadership when a few simple changes would have altered the entire outcome. Some were good Martial Artists but emotionally unintelligent, some were lazy and many simply upset their students and staff without realising it!
All Clubs will have Leaders and Leadership; they should be training all students in Leadership skills right from the start – it’s an integral part of Martial Arts training and shouldn’t be something you pay ‘extra’ for. Leadership is learning to think for yourself, challenging what you’re told and taught, taking responsibility for your own development and setting an example by working at it. A Leader will go against the current zeitgeistif they have to and challenge the status quo to do what is right.
I’ve listed 10 essential points of Leadership that I think Instructors should reflect on and students and parents should compare their Club Leadership to:
- Don’t lie – Be honest as to who you are, what you are, what you teach, what your ethos and philosophy is, what your background is and state it clearly in your adverts and leaflets. Liars will invariably be caught out in the end and students, your friends and community will lose faith in you.
- Don’t cheat – Charge a reasonable price for everything and state ALL your fees up front in writing and on your website so that anyone coming to train with you will know clearly everything that they are expected to pay up front.
- Be open and transparent – Let everyone know how the training system works and how effective it is, how the Club is run, how problems are dealt with and resolved. Let them know clearly what the grading system is, how it works and is judged, let them clearly see all these facets of the Club in action.
- Have integrity – If the Leader of the Club can’t be trusted, who can? If you say you are going to do something…. Do it! Keep your word; help your students and friends. If you want good friends – be a good friend. If you want good students – be a good Instructor! Set a good example and be judged by what you do and not what you say.
- Make everyone a stakeholder – A simple quality of leadership that goes with all the other points. The meaning of the word club is – ‘an association of persons of like sympathies usually interested in the promotion of some object, sport, etc.’ so make all the members feel like they are a part of everything that’s going on and that they recognise their stake in the club continuing and maintaining its standards. If you are also a business, share the profit with key staff, so that they have an interest in the productivity, profitability and standards of service in the Club.
- Don’t stop learning – A Leaders continued professional development is paramount! He must set the example to everyone and ensure that everyone in the club gets the opportunities to continue their professional development throughout their Martial Arts career. There are so many money making phoney certificated scams around that it’s important to enrol students and Instructors into good recognisable training systems and qualifications that will be externally recognised.
- Everyone own a problem – Make sure that no problem goes unresolved. If anyone brings a problem to a Club member they take possession of it, they don’t pass it on or off but promise to deal with it and do so, going directly back to the person and ensuring that it is resolved to their satisfaction. This is a real indicator that the club is a good one and that everyone cares.
- Be financially responsible – Pay your bills! Pay them on time and in full. So many clubs fail because they take their eye off the financial ball and rack up debts without realising it. Ensure that you collect all payments due and if anyone has problems paying you, have a trained Welfare Officer on standby to help them stay training through their hard times. Check all your payments in and out every month and ensure that you remain solvent and can deal with any problems at their insipient stages.
- Discuss and resolve problems – Talk to your staff! Make sure that you are accessible to them if they have a problem and that you will sit and listen, discuss and resolve to the satisfaction of everybody. Never let a problem fester. Don’t let anyone talk behind others backs – bring problems out into the open and resolve them. Make sure that everyone knows that your door is open to them and that they can always come and talk to you. In a large club have a complaints procedure and make sure that anyone that deals with a complaint is properly trained to do so.
- Be a part of the community – Support the community! Always be an active part of all the community projects going on. Support as many charities as you can let everyone in the community understand that you don’t lie or cheat, that you have integrity, are open and transparent, that everyone in your club is a stakeholder and they are continually developing, that problems are resolved, and that the club is financially responsible.