…then we’re seeing some pretty healthy and positive signs for the future!

So far this year, we’ve traveled to more than ten countries and twenty states, and we’re seeing lots of positive things happening in clubs in nearly every one of those locales. Clubs that put significant capital projects on hold are now going full speed with those plans; we’ve toured a large number of clubhouse renovations, expansions and even ‘tear downs,’ as well as course renovations and new amenity additions. It’s exciting to see, but more importantly, it shows that club leaders and members, in many areas, have regained their confidence for the future!

Now, of those clubs where we’ve seen this sort of thing occurring, the vast majority have also seemed to recognize that the management team, led by a competent, committed and in most cases passionate and articulate executive, are the keys to ensure these projects are successfully envisioned and completed. Boards have regularly said to us that they, individually, have never been busier in both a personal and professional perspective than they are right now. Consequently, in many of these situations, they’ve appreciated the leadership skills their executive and his/her team brings to the process, and have allowed them to take a proactive, dominant lead in the project.

This sort of perspective has definitely spilled over into our search work, where we’ve never been busier (also reflective of the positive economic signs in clubs). It is rare that we walk into a board room these days to discuss a search wherein the Board isn’t interested in finding someone with the leadership qualities noted above who can, in essence, act as the CEO of the organization. While most are not yet given that title, the desire of many Boards is that we bring them candidates who have a proven history of integrity; ‘trust-building’ with the Board, Members and Staff; and who can truly take on both the authority AND responsibility to lead the organization. This includes taking hold of strategic visioning of the operation, being the ‘face’ of the Club and in some cases, having all committees reporting back to him/her. These Boards have done this without abdicating their fiduciary responsibilities; and continue to have strong evaluation, input, and clear membership representation; but have recognized that they simply don’t have the time and/or the expertise to “run” the Club, so they don’t even try.

Now, there are always a few clubs and Board members who say one thing (“we don’t want to run the operation”) and still do something else (actually try to run the operation!), but from our perspective, that historical challenge (and trait of traditionally dysfunctional clubs) is clearly starting to lessen.

So, for the future of executive leaders in the club business, the time to ask yourself the hard question is now! “I want the title. I want the responsibility. I want the authority. Am I ready to then really step up and lead if they give this all to me?”

We’re excited for the industry because we’ve seen a good number of executives step up to and respond affirmatively to each of those questions!

We encourage all of our candidates to really ‘look into the mirror’ and truly evaluate whether or not you’re performing to this level. If you are, absolutely continue doing so, as we believe it is the way of the future for top performing clubs and their leaders. If you’re not, consider where your skills need to improve, and create a clear plan to get them up to the level you need. Don’t let a difficult president or committee cause a setback. Don’t allow yourself to become ‘conditioned’ to always taking a backseat in discussions and never making your views known for fear of them not being taken seriously.

Now more than ever, clubs are looking for a true ‘partner’ to success with their executive professionals. Recognizing what it takes to meet that expectation, which isn’t simply ‘given’ to anyone these days, is what separates today and tomorrow’s successful leaders from those who are simply managers.

We’ll have more insights in our next Kopplin & Kuebler Report! All the best – KK


Kurt D. Kuebler 
Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, is a Partner of Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement.