Over the eight years I have been working with clubs and other community sports providers I have to come to realise that leadership is the key factor in their successful development and growth, and dare I say it: survival.
At our Grow Your Club workshops I often hear people comment that all my thoughts, ideas and examples are great, but then it comes: “How do we actually get the leadership right to drive the club forward through people?”
In response we have now developed a new workshop called Leadership and Management of Your Sports Club – Getting things done through peopleand in September we will be launching its sister 48 page Guide. Packed with inspiring case-stories and easy-to-use templates and tools readers will have access to best practice from across community sport on how to develop the right leadership and management for their club. Below are some brief tips and hints taken from the workshop and guide – I hope they are of use to you; remember they are based on experiences from the real world! Let me know what you think.
- From committee to team – change your structure and culture: A committee decides, is boring, exists to set policy, will drain the life out of you and is for those who desire status. Whereas a team does, is exciting, exists to win, will add to your life and is for those who want to make a difference. The word team connotes vision, goals, purpose, unity and accomplishment. On the other hand, the word committee just sucks life right out of you!
- Fuel the pioneering spirit – keep the momentum going by building regular events and WOW moments into the life of your club. Many times a club loses that pioneering spirit as it ages, becomes complacent and gets stuck in the rut that deters new ideas and pushes away new people. Build momentum, involve more people, dare to think new and see your club grow.
- Good leaders let people go. If you want to drive your club forward, on and off the pitch, you will no doubt experience people who simply cannot see any reason for any changes. They have been here for 29 years, so they know best. Those people can present serious barriers to your club’s health and that must come first. It seems harsh to suggest to ask a long-standing member to leave, but if they are holding your club back and deterring good, new people from getting involved…what are your options?
- Visit other clubs and steal their stuff and don’t worry about being original – learn all you can about the principles from others, but then apply them in the context of your own setting and club
- Be careful who you listen to. When you start making changes and showing leadership, you will be met with criticism from the stalwarts and ‘the way we do things around here’ brigade. Answering every criticism and explaining every questioned action will wear you out. Ask the people who want to drive the club forward, listen to them and act. Don’t waste time trying to placate the Victor Meldrews!
- Get geeked about gadgets. Yes, I appreciate that technology is developing at an amazing rate but that should not stop you from benefiting from using it. You simply ignore this at your peril. If you want to engage with people in a timely, inexpensive and relevant way embrace these tools, saving you hours stuffing envelopes. If you feel that all this is not for you, then ask and involve other people, perhaps younger members.
- Innovate or die. Yes, I know trying new things is messy and requires dare – but without it your future is going to be bleak. So try walking football for 60 year olds, doggie swimming in the lake, football golf, float-athons in the pool to generate income or crolf (a combination of golf and croquet). By the way, all these activities already exist!
- Involve both artists and administrators. We all like to be with people like ourselves – we feel safer and more comfortable that way. A club run just by administrators runs the risk of being boring and unwelcoming. If you only have artists in charge of your club, it may be very exciting but probably out of control! Get the artists and administrators to work together and respect each other and you are on to a winner.
- Somebody has to live and die for your database. Having correct information about the people you are involved with through your club and then stay in contact with them is absolutely critical. If you, week in, week out ensure that people who you engage with are added to your database over time you will have an incredibly powerful tool to provide people with targeted information – at very little cost. But one person must be in charge and ‘own’ this.
- Say thank you, send birthday cards and give people small cool gifts. I don’t really have to explain this, do I? So why do so few clubs actually do it?
- Keep budgeting simple and get everybody involved. In all the clubs I have come across, budgeting rarely takes place and if it happens then it’s something that the treasurer does and then presents to other people. Wrong! Determine what you want to achieve with your club over the next one, three and five years. Have a thorough analysis and discussion of how you want to generate the income required. You must all be involved. The treasurer should not decide how to spend your money.