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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

Life lessons: Sondre Gravir

Imposter syndrome about a promotion taught the CEO of SATS that behaving authentically is the most important part of leadership. He talks to Kath Hudson

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 3
Gravir shares his learnings about trusting your authentic voice / photo: SATS / Anita Arntzen
Gravir shares his learnings about trusting your authentic voice / photo: SATS / Anita Arntzen
I tried to play the role of this theoretical version of a leader I’d made up, but I ended up behaving more like a cartoon character

An experience which has had a big impact on my career, and especially how I lead teams, is when I took over as acting CEO for a regional newspaper. Previous to that I’d been a line manager and it was a big step up, at short notice, with a lot of responsibility.

I didn’t feel I had enough experience and was insecure about taking the position. To prepare myself, I thought about the leaders who had inspired me and made up this picture in my head about how I should act as a CEO. I tried to play the role of this theoretical version of a leader I had made up, but I ended up behaving more like a cartoon character. It was a disaster and I didn't gain any trust from the team.

After a couple of weeks I had to fly back to Oslo to meet my mentor and I explained the situation. I remember he said to me: “Why don't you just be the person that you are in your private life? Don't try to play a role that you're not comfortable with.” After taking his advice, it worked out well over time and I built a very strong relationship with my colleagues.

The biggest learning for me was that when you take leadership positions you have to act as yourself. I want people at work to see me as the same person my friends do. If the way you are doesn't fit the role you’re stepping into, you have to take the consequences. Do something else – change your job –  don’t try to change yourself.

Of course, you can always try to improve and develop as a leader, but you cannot change your personality. It will never have a successful outcome, because you won’t be real and you won’t gain the trust of your colleagues.

Leadership isn’t about acting a certain way or playing a role, it’s about building strong relationships. When you trust yourself and have trust among your colleagues, then there’s room for failure, there’s room to be honest with each other and to give each other feedback without taking things in a negative way.

Trust creates the environment and culture that drives performance. However, you cannot build trust without having close relationships and you can’t build close relationships if you're not your true self.

I have a few guiding principles. I need to work with a brand that I’m really proud about and I need to be able to act myself at work. If that doesn't work, the solution to the problem is not to try to change myself, it means I have to change my job.

Professional and personal
I found the pandemic particularly challenging from a leadership point of view. It was extremely difficult having to temporarily lay off thousands of employees from our gyms in four countries.

From a professional point of view we were all very concerned about the company, the future and trying to find the right things to do to come out of a difficult situation in a positive way. But, for me, the really tough part went back to the relationships again and the consequences for our employees.

I remember going to the grocery store and meeting a colleague – who is now back with us as a club manager of a site which is doing fantastically well – but at that time she’d been laid off for almost a year and as a single mother was finding it very tough. The conversation has stayed in my head ever since, because I felt such a burden of responsibility for all of our colleagues who were struggling as a result of being laid off.

As a business leader it’s important to keep the perspective about how your decisions will impact your employees. A good leader makes decisions not only around professional values, but also private and personal values. For example, if you make a decision to open a club, it should always be because you believe it will offer secure employment for a long period of time.

There's a huge misunderstanding that this approach is soft and doesn’t result in good business decisions. For me, being people-driven in your leadership and making rational business decisions go hand-in-hand. You still have to make good decisions, based on the facts and reality, it's more about the way you implement them, considering the consequences for people's lives in those decisions.

If you have to close down a business and lay people off, be compassionate, transparent and allow them enough time to find another opportunity.

If I were to give some advice to young people, it would be around doing what you love doing and delivering in your role. Work with a product, service or a brand you love, and where you feel true engagement around the purpose of what you are doing.

Then focus on doing the absolutely best possible job in your current role. Don’t think too much about positioning yourself for future roles, or what is the next step. If you deliver in your role, and with passion, great things will come your way. Simple as that!

Gravir says if you decide to open a club, you should believe it will provide secure employment for a long time / photo: SATS
Gravir says if you decide to open a club, you should believe it will provide secure employment for a long time / photo: SATS
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/90478_298339.jpg
Imposter syndrome over a promotion taught the CEO of SATS that behaving authentically is the most important part of leadership
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features

Life lessons: Sondre Gravir

Imposter syndrome about a promotion taught the CEO of SATS that behaving authentically is the most important part of leadership. He talks to Kath Hudson

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 3
Gravir shares his learnings about trusting your authentic voice / photo: SATS / Anita Arntzen
Gravir shares his learnings about trusting your authentic voice / photo: SATS / Anita Arntzen
I tried to play the role of this theoretical version of a leader I’d made up, but I ended up behaving more like a cartoon character

An experience which has had a big impact on my career, and especially how I lead teams, is when I took over as acting CEO for a regional newspaper. Previous to that I’d been a line manager and it was a big step up, at short notice, with a lot of responsibility.

I didn’t feel I had enough experience and was insecure about taking the position. To prepare myself, I thought about the leaders who had inspired me and made up this picture in my head about how I should act as a CEO. I tried to play the role of this theoretical version of a leader I had made up, but I ended up behaving more like a cartoon character. It was a disaster and I didn't gain any trust from the team.

After a couple of weeks I had to fly back to Oslo to meet my mentor and I explained the situation. I remember he said to me: “Why don't you just be the person that you are in your private life? Don't try to play a role that you're not comfortable with.” After taking his advice, it worked out well over time and I built a very strong relationship with my colleagues.

The biggest learning for me was that when you take leadership positions you have to act as yourself. I want people at work to see me as the same person my friends do. If the way you are doesn't fit the role you’re stepping into, you have to take the consequences. Do something else – change your job –  don’t try to change yourself.

Of course, you can always try to improve and develop as a leader, but you cannot change your personality. It will never have a successful outcome, because you won’t be real and you won’t gain the trust of your colleagues.

Leadership isn’t about acting a certain way or playing a role, it’s about building strong relationships. When you trust yourself and have trust among your colleagues, then there’s room for failure, there’s room to be honest with each other and to give each other feedback without taking things in a negative way.

Trust creates the environment and culture that drives performance. However, you cannot build trust without having close relationships and you can’t build close relationships if you're not your true self.

I have a few guiding principles. I need to work with a brand that I’m really proud about and I need to be able to act myself at work. If that doesn't work, the solution to the problem is not to try to change myself, it means I have to change my job.

Professional and personal
I found the pandemic particularly challenging from a leadership point of view. It was extremely difficult having to temporarily lay off thousands of employees from our gyms in four countries.

From a professional point of view we were all very concerned about the company, the future and trying to find the right things to do to come out of a difficult situation in a positive way. But, for me, the really tough part went back to the relationships again and the consequences for our employees.

I remember going to the grocery store and meeting a colleague – who is now back with us as a club manager of a site which is doing fantastically well – but at that time she’d been laid off for almost a year and as a single mother was finding it very tough. The conversation has stayed in my head ever since, because I felt such a burden of responsibility for all of our colleagues who were struggling as a result of being laid off.

As a business leader it’s important to keep the perspective about how your decisions will impact your employees. A good leader makes decisions not only around professional values, but also private and personal values. For example, if you make a decision to open a club, it should always be because you believe it will offer secure employment for a long period of time.

There's a huge misunderstanding that this approach is soft and doesn’t result in good business decisions. For me, being people-driven in your leadership and making rational business decisions go hand-in-hand. You still have to make good decisions, based on the facts and reality, it's more about the way you implement them, considering the consequences for people's lives in those decisions.

If you have to close down a business and lay people off, be compassionate, transparent and allow them enough time to find another opportunity.

If I were to give some advice to young people, it would be around doing what you love doing and delivering in your role. Work with a product, service or a brand you love, and where you feel true engagement around the purpose of what you are doing.

Then focus on doing the absolutely best possible job in your current role. Don’t think too much about positioning yourself for future roles, or what is the next step. If you deliver in your role, and with passion, great things will come your way. Simple as that!

Gravir says if you decide to open a club, you should believe it will provide secure employment for a long time / photo: SATS
Gravir says if you decide to open a club, you should believe it will provide secure employment for a long time / photo: SATS
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/90478_298339.jpg
Imposter syndrome over a promotion taught the CEO of SATS that behaving authentically is the most important part of leadership
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The JD Gyms Group has completed a deal to acquire Simply Gym from Bay Leisure. ...
Latest News
Women’s health specialist, The Well HQ, has secured 'sweat equity' backing from Priya Oberoi, founder ...
Latest News
Peloton has secured a critical US$1bn five-year loan to shore up its finances. The loan ...
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Leisure Media has added another heavyweight to its line-up of CEOs for its inaugural HCM ...
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Empowered Brands has signed a deal with European staffless gym chain, Fit+, to be the ...
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Speaking to HCM for its 2024-2025 Handbook, which will be out next month, PureGym managing ...
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Leisure, lifestyle, wellness and entertainment growth investor, Imbiba, has invested in boutique gym brand, 1Rebel's ...
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Complaints about group exercise have become a thing of the past for the Reynolds Group thanks to its partnership with CoverMe, a digital platform that simplifies group exercise and PT management for clubs and instructors.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Phil Heath, 7x Mr Olympia, shares machine-only leg workout routine
Phil Heath, professional athlete, bodybuilder and 7x Mr. Olympia, has fielded a lot of questions about bodybuilding without machines. Should bodybuilders be limited to just free weights? Why?
Company profiles
Company profile: PSLT Ltd
PSLT Fitness Solutions manufacture, remanufacture and buy back commercial gym equipment. We supply and maintain ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Mindbody
Mindbody is a true all-in-one software platform, providing first-rate service for your clients and the ...
Supplier Showcase
Supplier showcase - Jon Williams
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Speedflex (Europe) Ltd. press release: Speedflex hosts networking golf day at Close House
Speedflex, renowned for its innovative approach to fitness, recently ventured into new territory by hosting its first-ever networking golf day at Close House, one of the most renowned golfing destinations in the UK.
Featured press releases
Wattbike Ltd press release: EXOS adds Wattbike to its supplier list
Wattbike, leaders in indoor cycling, is proud to announce that wattbike is now included as an official supplier with Exos, global experts in human performance and corporate wellbeing solutions.
Directory
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
salt therapy products
Saltability: salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
Property & Tenders
Grantham, Leicestershire
Belvoir Castle
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Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
06-06 Jun 2024
Drayton Manor Theme Park & Resort, Tamworth, United Kingdom
Diary dates
08-08 Jun 2024
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
11-13 Jun 2024
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
12-13 Jun 2024
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-05 Sep 2024
IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
08-10 Sep 2024
Wyndham® Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs™ Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
20-22 Sep 2024
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
Diary dates
09-13 Oct 2024
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
Diary dates
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Diary dates
22-25 Oct 2024
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Diary dates
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QEII Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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