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The Intricate Skills of Club Leadership

May 29, 2019, by Fred Layman (TheClubDr.com)
Leadership remains one of the most discussed but intangible concepts across all sectors of the club business. We all desire to be better leaders; however, because there is no ultimate set of skills or dispositions that totally define effective leadership, it is a continuous process of development we all desire.
As Club Executiveswe possessabasic set of skills and disposition that define effective leadership in the hospitality, leisure and country club field. As a service profession dedicated to the betterment of our constituent groups, we embrace the concept of servant leadership where the focus is on the growth and well-being of the members we serve.
Leadership is not a person or a position; it is a complex moral relationship between people, based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion and a shared vision of the good. Leadership can be defined as the “ability to inspire motivation in others to move toward a desirable vision.” In my eye’s the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. These definitions have similar themes and fit well with the philosophy and goals of our profession.
Although “management is focused on tasks,” leadership is about building relationships, motivating and inspiring, empowering and building people. These are core skills of servant leadership, and they help us more effectively work with our guests and members here at The Windermere Country Club.
We have broken down this discussion of leadership into four primary constituent groups:
• Consumers who use our facilities and participate in our programs
• Employees at all levels of the organization
• Partners including sponsors, homeowners’ associations, not for-profit organizations and private businesses
• Legal authorities, club boards,and elected officials
So, how do we effectively work with these constituent groups?

Working with Our Members and Guests
Whether they are children, adults or seniors, working with our members and guests is all about relationship building and establishing a true sense of engagement and personal touch. If you cannot understand where someone is coming from, then you have no idea what they truly want and need. Taking the time to listen, building a consumer-friendly atmosphere, being responsive to their needs, and not focusing on procedures and rules, but rather on addressing concerns, are the mechanisms for creating positive consumer relationships.
When members better understand that club facilities directly impact the quality of their lives and community then it is hard for them not to support all that we stand for. Members want to know that we hear them. They want to be engaged. They desire that we build programs and services with them and not just for them.

Effectively Working with Our Employees
Our employees are our most valuable asset, and they need to know we care about them as individuals, not just as employees. Building their leadership capacity through continuous training and opportunities to be involved in the decision-making process will create a positive work environment and a greater sense of loyalty. Training needs to be focused on their individual assets, which will help to promote their success at work. Again, the more we listen and learn, the more we will encourage their leadership development.
Finally, promote working smarter, not harder. Critical thinking skills are most important in our world. Foster problem-solving behavior and teach employees how to analyze situations to identify their key elements and challenges.

Effectively Working with Our Partners
Leadership with our community business partners is about creating a sense of community. Finding commonalities with other agencies, nonprofits, city departments, business communityis critical to the overall success of how we work.
In order to achieve successful relationships with our partners, the following elements have been found to be very helpful:
• Gain buy-in by all partners.
• Provide all partners a real sense of ownership. They need to know that you respect their involvement and see them as an equal partner.
• Provide clear and meaningful recognition of their involvement.
• Work to establish a deep sense of trust among all partners. Without trust none of the other keys to success can be accomplished.
Building partnerships and encouraging collaboration are so important in today’s work environment.

Effectively Working with Policymakers
For the most part, working in the policymaking environment is exciting, colorful and diverse, but you need to know your club’s core values, be confident in your ability to articulate them and always have a backup plan to be successful in this arena. If as leaders we seem uncertain, indecisive and vague, policymakers will sense that and challenge us. Effective leaders speak in a calm, clear, focused and concise manner. No policymaker wants to hear us pontificate; that is their job!

The Effective Future
All our constituent groups desire connectedness; not just technologically but personally as well. Consumers, employees and, partners and policymakers all want meaningful relationships with their constituents and colleagues. Success, now, is highly dependent on building, facilitating and maintaining these relationships.
We need to be innovative and build a club system that foresees the future and successfully responds to it.

Fred W. Layman III, USPTA, NGCOA, GSGA, SCGA, USGA, Director of Operations/COO, The Windermere Club, is the President of an Augusta, Georgia based club lifestyle management and consulting firm focused on supporting golf club owners, country clubs, residential developers, asset managers and community boards in the successful operation of their resort, club, tennis, golf and food and beverage operations. His articles can be viewed on FredLayman.com. Fred@FredLayman.com
Background: Golf and Tennis Club Owner, Developer, Home Builder, Hospitality, Lifestyle and Leisure

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