Leadership and Coaching Lessons

For almost the past decade I’ve been either in the Army or fitness industry. Here’s a little I’ve learned about coaching and leadership.


Everyone needs a different approach to coaching and leadership. We all come from diverse backgrounds and respond better to assorted styles of coaching. In the Army, we don’t get to choose who our soldiers are or where they come from. For example, we could get 2 guys, one being an 18-year-old country boy from West Virginia and the other a 30-year-old businessman from New York City. They will need two unique styles of coaching. Yelling and screaming at both probably won’t work for many reasons. Talk to them and get to know them. Yelling is usually an emotional response and usually involves a loss of communication because of it. There may be a time and place to raise your voice and at that point it’ll be received better, since it’s not an often occurrence.


Most leaders who yell all the time, they're in fact hiding behind their inability to effectively lead.

-          Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey


The Army loves to talk about all these traits a leader needs to be able to lead. However, I see people in the Army who are “in charge” of over 100 people and cover what the Army wants as a leader but are missing one important thing you need as a leader. Followers. If people don’t want to voluntarily follow you, you’re not a leader or at least a good one. Working in the fitness industry if someone didn’t like my leadership style, environment, culture or understand why we’re doing something, I wouldn’t have made it very long. I don’t know this but I believe (and hope) many of my clients knew how much I cared and wanted them to succeed. There were times I stayed up at night trying to figure out why someone wasn’t getting the results they should be. They never even said anything about being disappointed about the program or anything. In fact, they were happy because they were much healthier and feeling better than they have in a while. I want anyone I work with to have the best results but sometimes it’s out of my control which was hard for me to understand.


Leadership is not a journey to rise in the ranks. Leadership is a journey to help those around us rise.

-          Simon Sinek


Whatever it is your clients, employees, or soldiers should be looking forward to coming to work. This is created by establishing a positive environment. I just had two notable examples of this while I was working out in the Army. While in the middle of our workout someone higher ranking decided to go around the gym (which has around 75 people in it) and tell everyone to tuck their shirts in. Not in a polite or professional way. Then, later as someone was asked to walk around our circuit going on because they we’re getting in our way, he decided to stop and make it a pissing contest when he was in the wrong (another example how some peoples rank makes them feel more important). It again was rude and unprofessional. Besides these two incidents where the individual’s ego was too big for their own good, they are also negatively effecting others around them experience. As a fitness professional I was pissed and ready to leave the gym. Imagine how that experience was for someone who already dislikes going to the gym but wanted to try it out. I love the gym and wanted to leave, and that experience for someone else could keep them from coming back. Be a positive impact on peoples experience no matter the situation. Don’t be the one to negatively impact someone’s experience. We have enough negativity in this world already.


A great coach is like a chameleon. They adapt to the environment they are in and don’t feel they need to be making noise all the time.

-         Allistair McCaw


I’ve learned to be an effective leader and coach involves 3 things. Caring, connecting, and communicating (Allistair McCaw). If someone thinks you don’t care, they won’t follow. Same thing with connecting with others and communicating. Army leaders want to talk and talk and talk but never listen. I never learned anything new by just talking. My favorite part about being in the fitness industry was working with successful people and listening to them which led to me learning from them. We can all learn from each other’s success and failures, which could save us from making someone else’s mistake they already made. No reason for two people to make the same mistake twice.


A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life

-          John Wooden

Adam KnutsonComment