How a School Can Go From Good to GREAT, part II

#1:  The Level 5 Leader

An organization cannot grow without a strong and committed leader. Notice that I did not say manager, but “leader”. Look at your school/style as an organization and not a business. In order for your school to make the leap from a money-making school to an organization people will talk about for generations, you must inspire your students and instructors to build the organization. Your school, then, will outlive you as it’s owner and teacher. Therefore, as Jim Collins’ “Level 5 Leader”, you must have a combination of competency and knowledge, humility (to make the focus the school and its people, rather than yourself), and disciplined enough to stay true to the mission of the organization.

In other words, you must want the school and students to do well, with or without you.

Many schools rely too much on the charisma of its Master. Whether of any fault of the teacher himself, or just the nature of the school, this will limit the growth of the organization. The Master must be willing to develop teachers under him who are just as competent–just as respected–as he is, who will be capable of carrying the torch when he is gone. He must know the direction the school is headed, and ensure that every member knows this mission. Everything the school does must be in the same direction. If the Master allows distractions and confusion to enter the plan, the school’s progress will slow. He must be willing to share information and develop his people, and teach them to become leaders themselves. He must also be strong enough to have clear boundaries for who does what and when. The school must be able to function without him if he is ever going to have a strong school.

If that confuses you, I would advise getting the book… Told you I’m no scholar!

Back to the business of the martial arts, the main things you should focus on for being a good leader for your school are:

  1. do not look at your business as just a “business”. think of it as a movement, an organization that produces leaders
  2. you are the face of the school, but do not be the only face of the school. allow others to assume leadership positions so that each part of the school does well; not just the part you operate
  3. be fiercely committed towards the school’s mission and hedgehog. keep everyone focused on this goal
  4. be an inspiration to your students and teachers, as well as the local martial arts community. this will go a much longer way than money you’d make throwing karate birthday parties…

I would also like to suggest studying leadership, if you haven’t done much reading on this subject already. A good place to start would be John Maxwell’s 21 Laws of Leadership. There are many rules to live by in this book that “translate” perfectly to the business of the martial arts, and the philosophy of the martial arts.

Thank you for reading my blog, and please leave comments and feedback!