What does it take to be an outstanding club manager? And for clubs seeking to fill this role, what attributes should they be looking for?
GGA’s new Executive Search Director, Patrick DeLozier, explains what it takes to be among the best private club managers.
It takes a particular type of individual to be a club manager.
Seldom is it a job with set hours and set responsibilities; it is more often a vocation which requires an unprecedented level of commitment and drive.
Rewarding? Yes. Challenging? Most certainly.
Throughout my time both at the sharp end of club management, as well as participating in national associations and state boards, one thing was abundantly clear – the role of the club manager is inextricably linked with the success or failure of a club.
It is, therefore, an appointment clubs cannot afford to get wrong.
But what makes an outstanding club manager?
1) Strong work ethic
High performing club managers are leaders with a relentlessly strong work ethic.
They are dedicated, committed and visible to the whole club – including both their membership and their team.
Beyond the general day-to-day requirements, the best club managers have a sense of when and where to be at all times. Not simply to be seen, but to demonstrate leadership and accessibility, consciously engaging with everyone they encounter in a meaningful and constructive way.
For team members this means being willing to mentor, offer guidance and invest time in their well-being and progression, whatever the role. For members, it is going the extra mile, ensuring exceptional service levels and a commitment to continuous high levels of satisfaction.
The club manager should be the face and voice of the club, not tucked away in a back office.
Effective managers do not stand still. They are always growing, always looking forward.
For them, success is just fuel to improve, and failure is an opportunity to learn and avoid repeat mistakes.
They are relentless when it comes to innovation: they recognize trends, the importance of future generations, and consider how to best position their club to take the opportunity they present.
As golf and particularly private clubs move ever more towards service and experience, the most forward-thinking club managers are tuned into three important things:
Continuous investment in the property (and the areas in which to invest)
Attracting, training and motivating the right people for their team
Perfecting operational execution to create the ultimate experience for members and guests
3) Welcomes accountability
A high performing club manager never waivers when it comes to being accountable and holding oneself to exceptional standards of integrity and honesty.
While moral and ethical accountability is of paramount importance, so too is business accountability.
Successful managers engage in business intelligence and the ability to root decisions in evidence and fact. They embrace performance targets, and motivate their team to meet them.
More broadly, outstanding club managers welcome the existence of a strategic plan to determine the direction of travel, underpin all that they do, and provide a vision for the future they can unite the entire club behind.
To perform such a complex and varied role, a club manager will need an armory of attributes – not just three. But these traits should serve as a good foundation for what it takes to be an outstanding private club manager and help to safeguard your club from choosing the wrong candidate.
Recovering from the missteps of inadequate leadership can be an enormous burden, so if your club needs guidance in the recruitment of a new club manager or leader, please connect with me for an informal discussion.