How European Fitness Leaders Can Thrive in Times of Change

European health clubs have faced several changes in the past year. While change can be challenging, it’s also an opportunity for savvy business leaders.

European health clubs have been through a lot in the past year. From GDPR challenges to political uncertainty, running a fitness business in 2018 has been anything but status quo.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to the 18th Annual IHRSA European Congress keynote speakers. As industry leaders gather in Lisbon, Portugal, on October 15-18, three stellar keynotes will set the tone with presentations aimed at inspiring leadership, enhancing everyday performance, and getting the most out of your team.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store.

Leading in a Disrupted World - Monday, October 15

It’s no secret that the world—and the workplace—has changed drastically over the past decade. Now it’s time for leadership models to catch up, says Lucy Adams, CEO of Disruptive HR and former HR director of the BBC.

Leadership 18 Ec Adams Lucy Column

“Regardless of sector or geography, companies are facing disruptions to the way we have traditionally worked,” she says. These disruptions include:

  • Digital impact on traditional business models
  • The need to collaborate across traditional boundaries
  • Millennials’ different expectations
  • The gig economy
  • The loss of trust in leadership
  • The need for more innovation and agility

“We are expecting our people to work with new technologies, work faster, learn new skills, challenge the status quo, cope with greater uncertainty, and deliver more for less,” she says. “This means that the traditional command and control leadership just doesn't cut it any more.”

In order to overcome these disruptions when leading their team, club operators should adapt their approach by moving toward a less parental role with their employees.

“They can start to see their people less like assets and more like they would consumers [by catering to] their different needs,” says Adams. “And they can stop following the accepted wisdom of traditional people approaches (such as the annual appraisal) and start understanding more about how human beings think, feel, behave, and are intrinsically motivated.”

“We are expecting our people to work with new technologies, work faster, learn new skills, challenge the status quo, cope with greater uncertainty, and deliver more for less.”

Lucy Adams, CEO

Disruptive HR - United Kingdom

Adams will share strategies on how leaders can remain relevant and thrive in a disruptive world during her Monday, October 15, keynote address, sponsored by Technogym.

“IHRSA attendees can expect to have their traditional ideas challenged but also to get some practical examples of what other leaders are doing—and what they might try,” she says.

Change Management: Improving Performance Every Day - Tuesday, October 16

Another challenge for leaders in today’s disruptive world is navigating how to best lead through change. But for Chris Roebuck, British economist and visiting professor of transformational leadership at Cass Business School, change isn’t a challenge—it’s an opportunity.

“Leadership is, at its core, about taking people and organizations to a better place, so change is the opportunity that leaders have to do this; otherwise they just maintain the status quo and nothing improves,” he says. “Change gives leaders the opportunity to work with their people as a team to build something better, to create an inspiring outcome that all can be engaged with.”

Leadership 18 Ec Chris Roebuck Column

And it’s not just about the opportunity to improve structures or processes, says Roebuck, but rather the opportunity to change the way people think and work for the better. The shift is emotional as much as it is rational, he says.

The benefit of this approach is that when people are emotionally inspired, they care more about the outcome of their work. Ultimately, they’re more invested in their team’s and organization’s success.

“The problem with organizations where this does not happen is that things never change until the point that the difference between what is happening and what is the best way to do things gets so large that only massive and disruptive change can bridge the gap,” Roebuck says. “That costs more, takes longer, causes more upheaval, upsets people more, and is less likely to work than regular small improvements.”

During his Technogym-sponsored keynote address, Roebuck will help attendees uncover the hidden challenges in their organizations that are blocking success and give them the tools to overcome them.

The 3 Secrets for Personal and Team Excellence - Wednesday, October 17

When dealing with disruption and change, club operators may start seeking out new ways to make themselves and their teams more efficient. If you find yourself in this position, Pedro Vieira, master trainer of LIFE Training, says you should resist the urge to pursue behavioral training.

Leadership 18 Ec Vieira Pedro Column

“Behaviors create results. Because this is widely accepted (and it makes a lot of sense) we tend to focus on behavioral training when we want to achieve excellence,” he says. “Behaviors, however, come from thoughts and feelings—these are, in fact, the real keys to achieve excellence: what we think and how we feel.”

Vieira, who has a background in economics and management, came to this conclusion after working with more than 500 teams in action. He found that there are a number of other—and better—ways to increase mental and emotional awareness, intentionality, and flexibility. It starts by educating your team to help them understand the power they have to get in the right mental and emotional state and, ultimately, achieve excellence.

“I actually worked as a manager in the fitness industry for five years,” he says. “I quickly got interested in the process that some of the teams I managed were using to have excellent results while, at the same time...other teams were struggling. As I started working as a coach and trainer with different companies and businesses, I started noticing what all the excellent teams had in common: the three big secrets.”

“Behaviors, however, come from thoughts and feelings—these are, in fact, the real keys to achieve excellence: what we think and how we feel.”

Pedro Vieira, Master Trainer

LIFE Training - Portugal

To learn about all of the secrets, you’ll have to attend Vieira’s keynote presentation, sponsored by Keiser Corporation. But he did reveal that one of the secrets is the construction and daily activation of powerful intentions.

“Excellent teams have a mental attitude of constantly asking questions like: What is more important right now? What do we want the most? How can we get there? Although this may sound obvious, research and experience show us that most of the time people activate the wrong questions, therefore using their behavioral resources to produce results that are below excellent.”

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Marianne Aiello

Marianne Aiello previously served as IHRSA's Senior Digital Content Manager—a position focused on crafting and monitoring IHRSA’s digital strategy and covering IHRSA events.