Challenges are leading to opportunities
I will never forget the day our academy had to close its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic—March 16, 2020. The whole situation seemed surreal, as the economy came to a virtual standstill and millions of people filed for unemployment benefits. Tennis businesses, of course, were gravely affected, and many indoor facilities are still struggling to reopen in line with safety guidelines imposed by local and state governments.
As we slowly head toward normality, it is important to reflect on lessons we’re learning from this crisis. For instance, it’s wonderful to witness tennis businesses and organizations coming together and putting aside their differences to face these unprecedented times together.
The situation has forced us to adapt, evolve and explore avenues we have not thought of or considered before. All of a sudden, free online fitness and educational classes are available to all, employees are holding Zoom meeting, teachers are interacting with their students online, new initiatives are being launched to help stabilize the tennis industry and ignite interest among potential consumers. Challenges are opening up new opportunities.
In my mind, though, it all comes down to leadership. Good leaders value people above all. A true leader will do what is right and protect the interests of a company’s employees, clients and investors or business partners. Poor leaders consider only their losses in the moment of crisis.
Think about your junior staffers working long days while trying to work their way up the ladder, or a senior executive who holds the framework of your company in place. Think about your players and honoring all the make-ups that your facility may have already collected money for. In the end, what matters is care and good judgment. Be flexible where you can, but be firm when you need to be. Take a stance when investors push for unreasonable requests, defuse situations when clients ask for refunds and offer them alternative solutions, help your employees financially who do not qualify for unemployment benefits while the business is not operational.
Our industry will continue evolving and will come out stronger on the other side. This crisis serves as a reminder to never give in, never stop perfecting our craft, and always care about the constituents involved. People follow true leaders, and it is our turn to lead them.
Oleg Mironchikov is the Assistant Director of Operations for Tennis Innovators Academy in White Plains, N.Y.
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