Episode 297

Moments with Michael: How Leadership Happens

In this episode, we talk about how leadership happens.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friends, before we dive into today’s episode, I want to make sure you’ve heard about the exciting retreat we have coming up. So as you know, our Unicorn Society group meets a few times per year in person for fun weekend retreat. And we always open up a few spots to people to join us at those retreats who are not Unicorn Society members.

And we’re just opening up spots for the next one. So our next retreat is happening in Austin, Texas, and it’s happening Saturday, March 2nd and Sunday, March 3rd. The focus of this two day retreat is going to be on marketing and sales. So if you come to this retreat, you’re going to learn how to create a steady stream.

Of high quality leads, you’re gonna learn how to effortlessly create conversion systems. So you can convert all those leads into paying members. And because of that, you’re going to learn how to create month over month revenue growth. At the end of the day, everything we do at our retreats is designed to help you as a gym owner have.

More income or impact and more freedom. Plus these retreats have the added benefit of connecting with like minded gym owners and all of us business unicorns [00:01:00] coaches. What’s cool about this retreat in Austin in March is we have a special guest star. Social media superhero. Jordan Syatt is going to be joining us as one of our guest speakers, which we’re very excited about.

Like I said, we only open a few spots to non unicorn sighting members. You have to act quickly. There’s 10 spots for this retreat, and that’s a pretty hard stop, so they will go fast. And if you reach out to us between December 26th and January 14th, you’ll get some early bird pricing, which means the best possible rate for this retreat.

So what we’re asking you to do is DM us on Instagram. Just shoot us a DM on Instagram. Link for our Instagram is down below. Let us know you want to come to Austin, and we’ll give you all the deeds and save you a spot. I hope to see you there. Now on to today’s episode. Today’s episode is just me. It’s a moment with Michael and in these moments with Michael, um, I share some things I’m learning about leadership and organizational psychology.

And in this one, I talk about how leadership happens. I give you a really simple three step model for how to be an effective leader every single day. And so if you want to level up your game as a [00:02:00] leader, keep listening, my friend, this is going to be a great episode for you.

Welcome to the Business for Unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Kehler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to unlock your potential and become a real unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness, business nerd. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. And today is going to be another moment with Michael. So in this series, where it’s just me in your ears today, I share with you some key concepts and research in the fields of leadership, organizational change, psychology, and my goal is to share with you things I’ve [00:03:00] been learning in my academic life and help you apply those learnings to how you run.

Your business. And so these episodes I do from time to time, or there’s a topic I’m really excited to talk about. And today’s no exception today. I’m going to talk really about leadership and I’m going to give you what I think is a really valuable framework for how to think about how you make leadership happen.

Yeah. So I’ll say more about that in a second, but I really like models. I think mental models are really basically shortcuts that help us get our thinking clear and organized about an important topic. So today is a very simple model I’m excited to share with you and I hope that my hope for you is that this really simple model about leadership helps you get clear about how you more effectively do leadership every day, that you listen to this podcast and you have a really effective mental model.

For how you be more effective in your leadership efforts every day. So let’s dive in. I want to start by just talking just briefly about what is leadership. [00:04:00] This by itself could be its own podcast, but I’m going to share just like two quotes that really get at some things that I think really matter about leadership.

Two quotes about leadership. The first one is by everyone loves Seth Godin, our dear friend, Seth Godin. I wish we were friends. We’re not, but I’m a big fan and Seth Godin’s leader quote about leadership is this. He says, quote, leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.

I’m going to quote Seth again. He says, quote, Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work. I really like a lot about this quote. One is that leadership is an art, right? It’s leadership is, is more qualitative than quantitative, right? It’s more of an art than it is really a science.

And I like that he says it’s the art of giving people a platform, the art of raising people’s voices, the art of helping people feel seen and heard specifically [00:05:00] for sharing ideas that work right. I like so much about this. It shows, it really says to me, this quote says to me that leadership is about empowering others.

To share effective ideas that help you produce kind of collective results. So if your job at your gym is to impact as many humans in your neighborhood as you can, to help them live happier, healthier lives, or to help them be better athletes, that your job as a leader is to empower those around you to give them a platform for sharing how you and your team do that best.

That your job every day is to find people who have good ideas and make sure everyone knows what those good ideas are. They have good ways of training people. They have good ways of building relationships with clients. They have good ways of handling shit when it goes bad with clients, right? That there’s Good ideas that exist in your business every day.

And your job as a leader is to find those ideas and give those people in those ideas, a platform for spreading. I think that’s a great quote. So thanks [00:06:00] Seth Godin. The second quote I want to give you gets another aspect of leadership that I think is really important. This is by someone that many of you may not have heard of.

Her name is Carla Northcutt. She was an executive and a consultant for many years, but not quite as famous as Seth. But she has a really great quote that I love. She says, quote, the goal of many leaders. Is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.

Come on, Carla, that’s pretty great. I’m going to say it again because I think it’s really awesome. Carla says the goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of great leader. Is to help people think more highly of themselves. Again, what Carla is getting out that shares a lot in common with Seth is your goal as a leader is not to promote you and your ideas and your ego and your accomplishments or your perspective.

That’s important. Your perspective as a leader. And for many of you founders of your business, it’s important, but [00:07:00] it’s not your main job. Your main job is to empower others to be the best versions of themselves. That goes for your team and for your clients. And again, when I think of your role as a leader in both those quotes as being one of empowering others, the way you do that as a leader is through this model about to give you the way you actually operationalize that function of building great relationships with people and helping them be the best versions of themselves to spread great ideas and do great work that happens.

Through this DAC model. I’m about to share with you. So let’s get into the model for starters I want to give credit where credit is due this model comes from an organization. I’ve probably talked about before on this podcast It’s called the Center for Creative Leadership or the CCL and CCL is a great organization It’s full of both scholars and practitioners who do really great work in the fields of leadership and change.

So a big fan, go check out their courses and their blog and all that. I will say, [00:08:00] sorry, CCL, I don’t think they have great social media accounts, but their website itself has great content. It’s very searchable and very valuable. So go check them out. But this model comes from them. And the model is. The DAC model, it’s a DAC model and the DAC is an acronym.

It’s a very simple to remember, which is why I’m sharing it with all of you. Cause I think you can remember it and use it every day. And they say that leadership happens through these three things by direction, alignment, and commitment. So when you think about how you show up as a leader every day, the three things you want to keep in your mind are, am I creating direction, putting everyone in the same direction in my organization?

Am I creating alignment? Are we all on the same page? about where we’re going and how we’re getting there. And I’m creating commitment. Are people both responsible for and accountable for the right things to move us in that direction? That’s it. That’s how simple the model is. But I’m going to go through and maybe, you know, talk about all three of those things a little bit more, give you [00:09:00] a few examples of what I think Each can look like, let’s say an example I want to use is you’re adding a new service in your gym.

So just treat this like a little case study and the case study is for all this time. You’ve only been doing one on one personal training and you want to start adding small group personal training to your gym model. You haven’t done it before. It’s brand new. You’ve never sold it or talked about it. Your clients haven’t experienced it.

And maybe you’re going to go through a process of doing a pilot first, but that’s the case today. I want you to keep in mind as we think about this DAC model. So first things first, your job as a leader is to create direction. And when you think about direction, the way we summarize that as thinking about agreement in the group.

About your overall goals. So the first thing you want to think about, if you’re going to manage adding a whole new service to your business is, are we all agreed on why we’re adding this service? Are we all agreed on what adding this new small group, personal training service will do for the business? Am I clear about that as a leader?

Have I [00:10:00] made that clear to everyone on my team and over time, am I making that clear to my clients? So your job is to establish direction by saying this is the direction we’re heading in. Let’s all agree on Why we’re heading in that direction and what we hope to accomplish by heading in that direction And so for something like adding smoker personal training to your services, you might want to do that To reach more clients.

Maybe you, the reason you’re doing this is because there’s clients in your market who, who can’t afford one on one personal training. So you want to offer a slightly lower price point option for them. And your overall goal for wanting to do this, what you hope to accomplish is to drive more revenue, get more people in the door who can’t afford one on one training, but can afford small group personal training.

So you’ll grow your client. Based by offering another tier of services. And so even just getting that clear, even saying, here’s why we’re doing this. We want to reach new clients and this will be successful if we actually add more clients to the roster who never would have [00:11:00] considered us otherwise because of our price point, and even getting clear about just that level, that high level of direction is really critical as leaders and we often skip it.

Because this decision might be really obvious to you, might be really clear about why you want to do it, doesn’t mean everyone else is on the same page. So by you sharing that clear direction, by pointing both your team and ultimately your clients in the direction of where you want to go, you’re checking this first box as a leader.

You’re creating clear direction. Let’s keep going. So once your direction is clear, that your team is clear on this is why we’re adding this new service, This is why we’re adding it, what we hope to accomplish by adding this new service. You might want to also, like I said, get your clients on board with that.

Then you want to think about alignment and alignment is really about coordinating the work within the group. So once I’ve told my team, we’re adding small group training, here’s why, here’s what we hope to accomplish. The next thing is, okay, what’s the work that needs to happen to do that. Who’s going to take on which [00:12:00] roles and which responsibilities to actually add this new service?

Who’s going to be responsible for designing the pilot that we do for six weeks to test this out? How are we going to approach the programming in small group personal training different than one on one training? How, who’s going to determine the price point for this service? Who’s going to create all the marketing materials to market this new service?

Who’s going to think about how we design our space? To accommodate a new kind of service we’ve never done before and the list probably goes on and on so alignment is Everyone getting on the same page about who’s doing what work and by when? Who’s doing what work and by when and this is critical? And again, this often gets overlooked as leaders because we’re just moving too quickly We don’t take the time to slow down and make sure there is clear responsibility and accountability for each step Of a process or a workflow.

And in this case, it’s a big change. We’re adding a whole new service. There’s a lot of things that need to happen. So the more clear you can be about what lane everyone is in [00:13:00] the last stepping on toes that you’ll experience the less confusion about whose job that is. You’ll experience the list. Oh, I thought he was going to do that.

Oh, I thought that didn’t have to be done until March. Right? So the more clear you can get on whose job is it, what are they doing? And by when the more alignment you’ll have on your team. And sometimes that requires you to slow down at first so that you can eventually go fast. That’s alignment. So we talked about direction, agreeing on the overall goals.

We talked about alignment, coordinating the work, how it happens, who’s doing what by when within the group. Then the final step of this very simple model is commitment, is the C in the DAC model. And the commitment, it’s all about mutual responsibility and accountability. For the group. So this one is really about having like a, an ownership mentality about the work.

Right. And what this comes down to often I find in groups that I’ve been part of and I’ve led, or even just been part of is [00:14:00] it comes down to a sense of, um, integrity. It comes down to having a sense of personal integrity as you as a leader and making sure that everyone on your team has that same sense of integrity.

I often summarize that thought about integrity by saying integrity is doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. And if you can’t do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it, then you have to let somebody know, right? That’s what commitment looks like is that I feel a sense of responsibility to the group to pull my weight and do what I said I was going to do by when I said I was going to do it.

And that level of commitment requires ongoing communication. So often commitment, uh, people are held accountable to that commitment in meetings, in one on one meetings where you’re having conversations with kind of your direct reports about what’s on their plate, whether they’re getting their stuff done or not.

It also happens in team meetings. Maybe if I’m doing this process of adding a whole new service, maybe we have 10 minutes In [00:15:00] our weekly team meeting every week, or we talk about this project, everyone reports on the things they are doing, whether they’re done or not, whether we’re on track or not, or maybe it happens in one on one meetings because not everyone can get together.

But this, these conversations about commitment and accountability have to be consistent, right? There is no commitment. If you start a project like this, let’s just say in January 1st, you give everyone clear direction, you get a sense of alignment, you hand out roles and responsibilities, but then you don’t ask anyone how it’s going until March, you have not set yourself up well.

To have a clear sense of commitment, commitment is something that requires ongoing management. It’s like tending a garden, right? You have to go back and make sure that that’s what you use is actually working. That person who said they were going to do that thing then actually did it. Now I’m not talking about babysitting.

I’m not talking about micromanaging, I am talking about a [00:16:00] reliable and consistent pulse with which you check in with people to make sure that they continue to be committed to the same alignment and direction that you initially agreed upon. Because the thing is, when it comes to any amount of work in any organization, shit changes.

So the agreement we all made on January 1st to add small group personal training, we might at the time have been clear about the direction, have been aligned on everyone’s roles and responsibilities. But what changed is, Something happened in my personal life, and I’m a little distracted, which changed is we’re actually going much faster than we thought we would, and now I’m not sure what to do next, or what changed is we got is we got a big influx of clients, and I don’t have as much time for this project as I thought I did.

So the reality is everyone on your team, your capacity is always a moving target. And so this C, this commitment function as a leader is always checking in to make sure. Are you still committed? Is the plan we made still making sense? Is this direction still [00:17:00] clear? Are we still aligned on the work you’re going to do and when it’s going to get done?

And if not, We don’t have commitment anymore, right? So that commitment again requires a regular pulse to check in. It’s not an everyday pulse, but it’s usually like a weekly every other week pulse both an individual and and team meetings to make sure that Commitment is maintained. So that’s it my friends.

That’s the three part model It’s the DAC model DAC and it stands for direction alignment commitment And I wanted to give it to you because I think that this is a great summary It’s a great little checklist to keep in your mind for this is how leadership happens. This is functionally what it looks like to show up and embody the behaviors that lead to effective leadership is that you are consistently creating agreement on your goals in the form of direction.

You’re consistently coordinating who’s doing the work and by when, by getting aligned on all that. And you’re creating commitment by making sure [00:18:00] people are accountable to following through and doing the things they said they were going to do. So I hope this is helpful. Keep that DAC checklist in your mind every day to make sure that you are leading effectively and I’ll end it there.

If you found this podcast useful, please shoot me an email, michael. businessofunicorns. com. Let me know what you liked. Let me know what other topics you want me to cover next. And as I said, at the beginning of this podcast, there is some important stuff going on in Unicorn Society. Specifically, we’re opening up spots to our Austin retreat.

So go listen to me in this podcast and join us in Austin in March, because I would love to see you there. Click the link down below to go to our Instagram, DM us for more information about Austin, and I can’t wait to have fun with you in Texas. Have a great day, my friends. See you on the next one.