8 franchise leadership tips from an Olympics coach

Greg Nathan, founder of Franchise Relationships Institute, attended a workshop with Olympics aerial ski coach Dustin Wilson on the psychology of high performance, and spotted eight good franchise leadership tips. Here he shares his insights…

8 franchise leadership tips

1. Putting in the work

High performance comes from relentless practise. Dustin would take his skiers through four years of training, knowing it would all be over in six seconds.

Good leaders provide the “why” that inspires people to keep putting in the work, and they help to connect people to the intrinsic motivation that comes from knowing you are growing.

Franchising is a marathon, not a sprint, and good franchise leaders help to create the culture and the brand passion that keeps franchisees feeling optimistic, despite the inevitable ups and downs they will face in their business journey.

2. God is in the detail

Achieving high performance also comes from consistently doing the small things well, like checking your bindings. Good franchise leaders are clear on the good habits their franchisees need to develop, and they reinforce and support the practice of these habits through checklists, systems and routines, especially in the early days.

Have you defined the important small habits your franchisees need to practise if they are to achieve high levels of performance?

3. Maintaining trust and credibility

During the workshop, Dustin asked for a volunteer to come out the front, stand on a table blindfolded and fall over backwards. Most eyes in the room immediately looked downward.

One of our values at FRI is to be courageous, so I figured I should practice what I preach. And I felt confident he knew his stuff. Fortunately, he did and I had a safe, confidence building experience. His point was, to be a good leader you need to gain the trust of others and help them to manage their fear and doubt.

In franchising trust comes from showing you genuinely care, demonstrating your competence, and being open and honest.

4. Bouncing back from failure

Many skiers have falls that can result in physical and psychological trauma. Even though they still have the talent and the skill, anxiety can cloud their minds and delay them from getting back into training.

When people experience disappointment or failure, criticising or giving negative feedback doesn’t help. Good franchise leaders stay solution-focused, identify and build on the strengths of their franchisees, and encourage them to take “baby steps” to get back on track and achieve their goals.

5. Managing high achievers

There are two types of high achievers — those you need to slow down and those you need to push. This has to do with how they’re wired. Some high achievers can be lazy and dig in their heels when pushed, while others get over hyped and can burn out.

A good franchise leader gets to know each franchisee and the conditions under which they perform at their best, and works out a joint strategy around the question, “what do we need to do to succeed?”

6. The success trap

Sometimes after winning a medal, athletes can get carried away by their success. Dustin told us about one of his top Olympic athletes who won Gold and wore his medal all the time. This elite performer started to believe that, because he was now a winner, he didn’t need to train as hard as he used to. His performance consequently dropped, and he failed to qualify for the finals in the next Games.

We see this with franchisees who win awards and all the attention goes to their head. The result is often complacency and disaster a year or two down the track.

Are you managing the success trap by keeping your high performers level-headed?

7. Managing emotions

Dustin said his most useful personal qualities as a coach were his calm temperament and ability to think clearly when his athletes got emotional.

When things go wrong, because of the pressure they are under, franchisees can also become agitated. When this happens, a good franchise leader stays calm and is direct and confident in keeping franchisees focused on what they need to do.

Do you stay calm and keep your head when others are losing theirs?

8. Rest and recovery

While high achievers often keep pushing themselves, this can actually reduce performance. Dustin used to insist his athletes took regular rest days and involved themselves in activities they found enjoyable.

It’s important in business that we also take time to relax and recover.

This is an individual thing, so we need to find what works for us. Are you helping your franchisees to put systems in place so they at least get a day off each week, and maintain the balance they need to perform at their best?

  • This is an edited extract from Greg’s Healthy Franchise Relationships 2-Minute Tip #165