coaching, figure skating

Skating Clubs: What Makes a Good Executive?

A skating club executive sets the tone for the rest of its membership; how the people on the executive treat each other, the skaters, the coaches and the parents who participate in their club determines the climate and culture for the entire organization.

I have noticed over my years teaching in many different clubs there are certain things that successful club executives have in common. 

After compiling a list, I’ve whittled it down to ten important traits for any skating club executive to create, grow a and nurture a positive and successful culture.

  •  They Listen

Successful club executives listen to their membership.  Even if they don’t agree with everything they hear, they are always ready to listen, understand and empathize.  To know that your opinion is respected and valued by those at the highest level of any organization is a powerful thing.  It fosters good will from all members and encourages them to have more ownership in the direction and success of that organization.

  • They Know They Don’t Know Everything

Successful club executives realize they don’t know everything about figure skating, and that’s okay. A healthy Board of Directors is always willing to learn new things and grow in new directions, and they aren’t afraid to ask for help and advice, particularly utilizing the extensive knowledge found within their coaching staff.  If the people at the top levels of the organization have a growth mindset, this will filter down to all levels of membership. Check out more about Mindset by reading my book review here

  •  They Don’t Lose Sight of the Forest for the Trees

A successful club executive realizes that sometimes the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law.  Sometimes, blind adherence to rules and regulations that restrict an athletes’ ability to gain the ice time they need or participate in the programs necessary to progress can be detrimental to skaters, coaches and the health and longevity of the club in general.  The bigger picture must always be taken into consideration.

  •  They Defer to the Coaches in All Things Skating

Would you go to your child’s school and sit in on the teacher’s class, critiquing the curriculum and their teaching methods?  A strong executive doesn’t micromanage their coaching staff.  They allow them to develop and implement the programs as they see fit, and they support them along the way.  When coaches feel valued and appreciated, their loyalty, commitment, and job appreciation grows exponentially.

  •  They Do their Jobs Well

If a skating club is to be run well, those at the executive level must know the roles and responsibilities of their positions and execute those duties efficiently.  This means attending meetings regularly, and educating themselves in the role they have been elected for. When everyone knows what they are supposed to do, a club runs at maximum efficiency.

  •  They Communicate Regularly and Effectively

A strong youth organization will spare no expense to communicate to its members in a timely, organized and knowledgeable fashion.  When people have the information they need, before they even realize they need it, they trust that their needs are being met and are more likely to stick with that organization.  Knowledge of procedures, registration dates, session regulations, etc. creates a feeling of security and control and makes for a club that runs like a well-oiled machine.

  •  They Acknowledge and Reward Good Work

There’s nothing worse than feeing like you are not seen, heard or valued for your efforts and contributions.  Those clubs that recognize initiative, creativity, dedication, hard work and loyalty create a workplace for coaches and a training environment for athletes that is dynamic, supportive and positive. This positivity and support encourages people to continue stepping outside of the box, creating new programs and initiatives that further the sport.  In short, positivity breeds positivity, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in any organization.

  • They Always Look at the “Big Picture”

Call it vision, call it a mission statement, but whatever you call it, it matters.  A successful board of directors of any skating club will spend some time on creating a shared vision for it’s members, and they revisit this vision on a regular basis, making sure to communicate this mandate to their membership often and consistently.  Every decision must then be compared with the goals and philosophy of the club’s vision, and every decision must benefit as many people as possible.  It sounds like a simple thing, but having a shared vision is vital to the longevity, growth and success of every single skating club or youth organization.

  • They Lead by Example

There are two types of people in this world; those who talk the talk, and those who walk the walk.  If you want to create a club where everyone treats people with honour, integrity and respect, then you had better lead by example and treat your membership this way.  As coaches, we are always aware that we must model the behaviour we would like to see from our students; club executives need to do the same.  If you lead with kindness, integrity and inclusiveness, these values will trickle down to every part of the club structure.

  • They are Transparent

Nothing good ever grows in the dark.  (except maybe, mushrooms, I LOVE mushrooms, especially in a great white wine and garlic sauce…but I digress) The Executive of ANY youth organization needs to be absolutely and utterly transparent in every part of it’s process.  Reasons for decisions made need to be made public, along with milestones achieved, money spent, and any other topic or issue that affects the membership in any way.  It’s simply good business.

As simple as these ten characteristics sound, it is rare to find a skating club that incorporates them on a regular basis.  Those that do stand out.  Those that don’t fail to thrive, often cycling through coaching staff and losing skaters on a regular basis.  It would be beneficial of every new club executive to thoroughly educate themselves on the sport AND these attributes if they want to provide an optimum climate for athletes to enjoy their skating journeys.

Do you have any other characteristics you’ve found that make for a supportive and growth minded skating club? Share in the comments below!

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