77: Leaders With Heart Understand That There Is An Emotional Investment To Being A Leader

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Chuck Runyon, Co-Founder and CEO of Self Esteem Brands, which most notably owns Anytime Fitness. Heather speaks with Chuck about his conversion to the Leader with Heart and his refreshing perspective on his role at the Founder and CEO of a highly successful brand.

Key takeaways:

  • A leader’s job is to harvest the team’s ideas.
  • Founders must give up control to scale the business.
  • People want to know that they have impact.
  • Sometime the leader’s job to help their people to do less and prioritize more.
  • Leadership requires a certain level of selflessness.
  • Before you run towards a goal, make sure to enlist as many voices as possible.
  • Listen enough but not too much.
  • There is an emotional price you have to pay to be a leader.

This episode is fully packed with great and useful learning. Listen in!

With more than 25 years of experience managing, owning and franchising health clubs, Chuck Runyon has distinguished himself as a leading authority in the field of fitness. Runyon revolutionized the industry when he and Dave Mortensen co-founded Anytime Fitness in 2002. 

For his unprecedented and unique contributions to the fitness industry, Chuck was honored as the “Visionary of the Year” by the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). He and Dave Mortensen also were recently named “Entrepreneurs of the Year” by Ernst & Young.

Central to Chuck’s leadership philosophy is the concept of “ROEI” – the return on emotional investment – which is characterized by an emphasis on People, Purpose, Profits and Play®. In fact, Chuck recently co-authored a book called “Love Work: Inspire a high-performing work culture at the center of People, Purpose, Profits and Play®.”

Under Runyon’s leadership, Anytime Fitness has earned numerous industry accolades, including the “#1 Franchise in the world,” “One of America’s Most Promising Companies,” and the “Fastest-Growing Fitness Club in the world.” Additionally, Anytime Fitness has been honored as a “Top Franchise for Minorities” and “The Best Place to Work in Minnesota” four years in a row.

Leading globally

Everyday I wake up; I am leading the biggest company I have ever led. We are in growth mode actually. We are in six continents today and soon, seven, the only franchise in history to do that. The complexity of a global business handling multiple brands in the franchise sector, with nearly a thousand employees is a feat. 

Hence, it’s pretty rare for cofounders to be involved in a company this long, and it’s testing our leadership skills. What it takes to lead the company today is far different from what it took us to lead the company during its start up phase. 

Every day I wake up I’ve got to make sure I got my game ready to go in order to be the right leader.

Founders are the ones who generate the big idea. Leaders are the ones who harvest big ideas from the team. – @chuckrunyon #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Harvesting ideas

As a founder, you have to give up a great deal of control to scale your business. You cannot be so hands-on in every single division. – @chuckrunyon #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

As a leader, it’s my job to harvest all the great ideas our teams have. It’s rarely my idea anymore. There are teams who are more capable and smart, and it’s my job just to harvest all the great ideas going on. Afterwards I edit them, and make sure that they have the right resources to carry it out.

Sometimes, I’m just purely a cheerleader to help our team accomplish their initiatives. It’s different than being a founder, but it’s something that we enjoy. 

Leading also takes a different degree of communication skill, emotional intelligence, vulnerability, humility, and confidence, especially when you’re hiring people that are so much smarter than you in various areas.

Talented people want to put their hands in the wheel. They want impact. Hence, It’s our job to build our people. In turn, they build the business. Every day, we drive to work thinking, “We work for these people. They don’t work for us.” It’s our job to make sure they have the capabilities, the resources, and the right plan.

A lot of times, they are creating the plan and we’re just helping them as sounding boards since we see the business in different areas. Dave and I are active in the business, but we are not creating the detailed plans to win. At the end of the day, it’s our job to work on the people first.

Achieving more

Every one emphasizes that hard-charging leader pushing someone to do more. “Jump over that! You’ll do more than you can do!”

Sure, there are times when we need to rally the team, stretch them, and sometime perform just a little bit higher and dream a little bit bigger. But more often than not, because we hire such talented people, more of my job is asking them to do less because super talented people want to do it all.

What we’re trying to do is help them prioritize the business, saying it’s okay not to do these things or to do them on time. We have to ask them to do less.

Especially, when they are on vacation, when they go home for a weekend, do not let them check their emails. Check out a business for a day or two. We have to remind them to do a little bit less because, in the long run, that will help us achieve more.

It’s our job to build our people, so in turn they build the business. – @chuckrunyon #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetThink about how to make others successful, and how to get them the best health and shape in their lives. – @chuckrunyon #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetWe have to remind our people to do a little bit less because, in the long run, that will help us achieve more. – @chuckrunyon #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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