Have you ever seen geese flying south for the winter?
They organize themselves in giant Vs in the sky. The front goose flaps hard; the rest benefit from their slipstream. In cycling, we call that “draft”, and it’s surprisingly powerful. When I ride right behind a tall guy, with my wheel inches from his, I can travel at the same speed with 30% less effort. You’ve probably seen this in the Tour de France, or with geese: one works hard, then drops to the back to rest and the next takes their place in the pace line.
In business, there are really two Vs that create a slipstream for everything else: Vision and Values.
Your job as CEO is to set the vision, and constantly reinforce it with your staff. That way, when someone else takes their turn at the front, they can keep the flock pointed in the right direction. Your other job is to make sure your values align with each staff member. Because if they don’t, you’re going to have problems that grow over time.
Here’s how Vision and Values align (or don’t) with your staff:
If your team clearly sees your vision and shares your values, you’re going to go far in the same direction. And you’re going to make life easier for each other.
Moving clockwise to the bottom right quadrant:
If you share the same values, but have a different vision for your business, it isn’t always bad: maybe they want a gym focused on training athletes, and you want a gym focused on health. You might eventually compete; or you might cross-refer. That’s up to you as a leader.
Different vision, different values: this is just a job to them. They might work as a placeholder for the short periods, and that’s fine. Just make sure they aren’t keeping a better candidate out of an important seat.
Same vision, different values (top left): the most common outcome is that they leave to start a competing business. They want the same outcome, but want to achieve it in a way that you can’t condone. Your duty to your clients, your other staff and yourself is to remove these people from your team. The longer you wait, the worse it will be.
Now let’s take this Vision and Values alignment to the other gyms in your area.
Starting from the top right: if two local gyms share the same vision and values, they can work together. My best example is the Regional meetups of Two-Brain gyms, where 6-10 gym owners get together to share best practices and support. These gym owners have different backgrounds and programming, but they share the same vision for success. More importantly, they share the Two-Brain values. They often cross-refer; sometimes they share staff.
Moving counterclockwise to Same Values, Different Vision: these are good people who want to run a gym that’s not the same as yours. Maybe they’re therapists, or maybe they love Pilates. You can cross-refer and cross-promote. You SHOULD help each other.
Different values, different vision: they’re not your competition. These are probably the globo-gyms running New Year’s sales, or independent MLM salesmen peddling sugary shakes. You don’t have to waste any attention on them. Their clients will graduate up to your service if you continue to educate them.
Same vision, different values: maybe they want to run sales, or give discounts. Maybe they want to try to steal YOUR clients or slander you. These are actually the best competition to have, because they’ll filter the worst clients and send the best to you. Read more here. And people are smart: we’re all attracted to the best. Just be the best, wait for them to go away, and buy their equipment at a bargain price later.
One of the greatest things that happened at the Two-Brain Summit might surprise you: I got food poisoning. I missed my flight, and showed up 36 hours later. And guess what? Everything was fine. In fact, it was probably better. I didn’t need to be there for our clients to benefit. I’ve been focusing on our Vision and Values a lot over the last year, thanks to Josh Price’s guidance and gentle reminders. And the Two-Brain team didn’t just stay on course: we flew faster and higher. It was the best Summit ever by all accounts.
Your job as owner isn’t to work the hardest, or the longest. It’s not to be “the face”. It’s to lead.
Share your vision, and check to make sure your values align. If they don’t, take action immediately. When you have your Vs aligned, you’ll go faster and further with less drag.