6 Steps To Better Delegate, Manage, and Grow a Team
Sean Greeley

One of the toughest things to do as a coach and business owner is grow beyond yourself. You invest years in acquiring the knowledge required for client/athlete assessment and program design, then several more learning the art of working with human beings and guiding them to achieve a goal. Much like a surgeon, you are a highly skilled expert at what you do. The only problem is there is a limit on the number of people you can serve, because there are only so many hours in the day. And this will lead you to the inevitable discovery that if you really want to help more people and make a bigger impact on the world while having a life, then you need to find more leverage in your business model. One of the most common ways to do that is by hiring additional coaches and building a team.

Where Growth Stops… And Begins

However, this is where growth generally stops for most in the fitness industry, because you quickly discover that finding, hiring, training, and managing other people to do what you do isn’t as easy as you had hoped! And if you aren’t careful, you’ll soon find yourself running around putting out more fires and working more hours then when it was just you in your business - which defeats the whole purpose of building a team and owning a business!

NOTE: If you can’t walk away from your business for 2 weeks and still have money coming in the door and operations running smoothly, then you really don’t own a business. You own a job.

Growing your company & team will consistently challenge you to look at things from a new perspective and grow outside your comfort zone. However, I’ll share six steps I’ve learned along the way to assist you with the growth process ahead. More important than the skills needed, you must adopt a new mindset to evolve and become a real business owner.

Step #1: Accept That You’re Going To Screw Things Up

You can read about management all day, but there is a big difference between learning it to doing it. A lot of folks get stuck here with paralysis by analysis. They want everything to be perfect. They’d like the first hire they ever do to work on wonderfully. They’d love it if employees just understood how things worked and took it upon themselves handle their own training. But this isn’t possible. Rarely do things ever work out perfectly the first time around. It’s called learning. So the most important thing to recognize (and accept) is that you’re going to screw things up.

Yup, that’s right. And it’s okay. Learning (and growth) starts when you finally roll up our sleeves, get into the dirt, and get messy. So first up is that you’ve got to let go of trying to be perfect and do everything just right. Don’t be afraid to screw things up royally with all you’ve got!

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment." - Will Rogers

Step #2: Vision Is Everything

Another other piece that often holds folks back from moving forward is cloudy vision. When you can’t really understand the path, or can’t see what’s in front of you, it’s not so easy to charge ahead. This is why it’s really valuable to have mentors, coaches, and colleagues you can connect with. Because guess what? You’re not the first person to face this scenario before! In working with clients, we talk a lot about vision in terms of dream lifestyle and what you want your business (and life) to look like in one, three, five years from now.

Visualizing your future can be used to improve everything! In fact, I’ve been reminded of this myself recently in working through a couple things on my plate both in and out of the office. If you want to improve a successfully outcome of any scenario, try visualizing it. We know this to be true in training and sport, but why do we forget to apply the principle to life and business? When you’re working to build a better team and become a better leader… visualize yourself with a great team and being a great leader!

Pull out a copy of Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book Psycho-Cybernetics and refresh on the “theater of the mind,” and use it! This will help you grow in many, many ways.

Step #3: Think Process First, People Second

Now we’ll dig into some of the mechanics of this evolution from trainer to business owner and leader. But having been through this many times myself and with coaching others, don’t ignore the previous two steps. They are critical to your success.

When you want to step out of doing things, you have to start thinking like an engineer first. Then coach second. Engineers design systems. Do you have good systems in place? Let’s review. What is it you want to step out of doing? How would you document it being done? Could someone follow that documentation and training and learn to execute the system or process successfully? If not, fix the process and system first. Then once you’ve done that… it’s time to get into coach mode. Train someone else to perform the tasks and execute the processes that must get done.

Step #4: Supervise, Manage, Lead

There are three levels of stepping away from things, so let’s talk about the difference between supervising, managing, and leading.

Level 1: Supervision. Supervisors manage tasks. Good businesses crumble without appropriate supervision of critical daily/weekly tasks that must occur. We’d like to think that managers and leaders are more important, but the reality is that supervisors ensure the most important things get done everyday.

When you’re working in Supervisor mode, you’ll use daily/weekly checklists and reports to ensure all the little things that must get done are being completed. In a fitness business this includes things like scheduling, opening and closing your facility, handling voice mail messages and emails, and all the stuff that keeps the trains running on time.

Level 2: Management. If supervisors manage tasks, managers manage systems. They ensure the processes are being followed correctly. And when a system needs evolving, managers work to improve them so they work better for everyone involved.

Managers also develop the people they have working for them. Because they know that good people and a strong team are the greatest assets a company has. Managers also manage numbers. They are given directives and targets that must be hit. And if a system is designed properly, they will be able to hit the metrics that are required for fulfillment of the company objectives.

Level 3: Leadership. Leaders focus on the bigger picture of vision and team. They work on things like the architecture of the business model. How the company will evolve over five, 10, 20 years time, and how to get everyone headed down the field towards the end zone to win the game.

They don’t play at the supervisor or manager level. They give directives, and then they allow managers, supervisors, and team members to go get it done. Much like a coach on the sidelines, they must let the team play the game. They can help with coaching the plays that must be made at critical points in the game, but they allow their team to score the touchdowns.

There are times in the growth of your company when you must play each of these roles. Your task is to figure out which one is needed now and do it.

Step #5: Allow Your Team To Make Mistakes

One of the toughest parts of playing in the manager or leader role is that you have to watch your team screw things up. And it’s painful. You’ll lose money. You’ll lose clients. You’ll even lose good staff. It’ll feel like you’re going backwards at times. And when you’re just spent the last X number of weeks, months, and perhaps years building things up… everything inside you will want to scream, shout, stomp your feet… and jump back into the game to fix things. But if you do that, you’ve lost.

You must learn how to coach and lead your team to make the adjustments needed. You have to support them through the good times and the bad. Some games will be lost, and some will be won, but you just keep going until you’ve got a winning season and won the championship.

Step #6: Keep Going

Now that I just shared a ton of painful and challenging things with you on what lies ahead, you might be questioning, “Why am I even doing this?” If you’re sane, you should be! Well, you do it because you believe in your purpose or mission. That has to ring through your soul on the good days, the bad days, and the horrible days. Only when you find that do I think you truly get to earn your medals as an entrepreneur and business owner. It might sound a bit cliché, and I guess it is, but it’s true. Successful entrepreneurs are willing to do all the crazy, challenging, often very difficult things other people won’t do. They have to have a massive fire burning inside to do it! And this is all driven by core values, purpose, and mission.

Bottom Line

Evolving from a trainer, to business manager, to business owner and leader is not an easy journey, and I wish I could tell you it gets easier. But in my experience, it doesn’t. You just get better. And the better you get, the more you attract amazing people to your organization who will take it further than you ever could have on your own and provide you with tremendous leverage and freedom to live a life most only dream about. And that is a beautiful thing!

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