See What ClassForKids CEO Nikki Th'ng Has to Say About Being a Leader in Business
Nikki Th’ng is CEO at ClassForKids. He’s a tech-savvy former Tennis Coach. He also happens to be a big thinker in the mould of Brian Chesky. And like the Airbnb founder, Nikki is a disrupter. But his focus is on the kids activities market: ripping up the dog eared rule book and replacing it with the fastest growing platform connecting parents with organisers.
We sat down with Nikki to see what he believes is important when it comes to leadership, and what it means to him.
There Is Nothing to Fear from Being Disruptive
Behaviour and processes that were in place when I was attending clubs as a child were prevalent at my own children’s activities classes. That in itself is telling. So I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve with ClassForKids from the outset.
Technology has changed the way we live, yet this is still an industry that relies on cash payments, manual invoicing and an almost chaotic approach to planning. Why is that?
If you're disrupting something, you’re saying that behaviour will change. Using the ClassForKids software to power success should be a natural step for all clubs in the industry. It takes away the painstaking, manual processes and favours automation to allow club owners to focus on what matters.
Leadership Is a Team Game
As ClassForKids evolves and expands, I know that leadership will be a crucial part of our success over the next period. I'm aware that as our team grows, we mustn’t rely solely on the skills and expertise in the relevant departments. We will look to add more leaders, train existing staff leadership qualities and drive the vision forward.
Don’t Be Hung up on Getting It Wrong
Bouncing back - a tennis term - was something I learnt early on from playing sport. The ability to bounce back when I made the wrong choice and get on with the game taught me a lot at a young age! And when it comes to leadership, I think it’s important to be able to move on if you’re proven wrong.
I've Played Many Sports and Always Tried to Lead to Get the Best out of Everyone
It’s easy to see in a sporting sense, but in fact, you don't need to look far to see the difference having a good leader makes in almost any environment.
During my first managerial role in tennis, my priority was leading coaches to get the best out of them ahead of other duties like administration. For me, going from leading a group of kids to leading a team of coaches that inspired the next generation came naturally.
And it seems to come naturally to many of our clients running kids classes too!
You Don’t Have to be a CEO to be a Leader
At ClassKids, our team help organise managers and entrepreneurs run kids classes all over the country. From our vantage point, there is a common pattern emerging from our clients. While each club undoubtedly specialises in its own industry, the successful organisations we work with are all run by good leaders.
These are the people who believe in what they are doing, know and get the best from their team and articulate a clear vision. Interestingly, these are traits that come naturally to coaches and teachers too.
Working Smart Can Also Mean Putting the Hours In
My own experience has given me a good leadership model, but it also comes from many of the clubs, coaches and teachers that we work with daily. Work ethic is important - otherwise, how can you expect your team to follow and put the work in unless you do? Realistically this has to be work ‘seen’ and work ‘not seen.’
I feel it’s as important to be in with the early starters as it is to stay later with the last person out of the office. Now yes, this means long hours, and people who have never been in the driving seat will tell you it’s about working smart and not working hard.
I might change my view on this, but my experience is you need to combine smart working with putting the hours in as a leader.
Leading Means Letting Others Take Ownership
This is an area that has taken me time to adjust to... Why? Because it’s not just the obvious stuff that needs delegating.
I've always found it easy to let the Product team make decisions on the product’s technical side. But when it comes to sales, that's a different story.
It's where my experience is, so letting go would be challenging. But in reality, it's no different to when I let a junior tennis coach with suitable training lead a session from the planning to delivery.
I am lucky to have experts in many areas now, but they need to take ownership if they will truly succeed.
Everyone Needs Recognition, but Not One Size Fits All
A drink after work, a simple well done, a prize; they all have value. When I was a coach, it was understandable when someone responded to more game-based exercises versus competitive drills.
Everyone is different, and it’s crucial to know this and understand what makes them tick to get the very best from them and keep them connected.
And there you have it, Nikki's thoughts on what makes a leader stand out. Looking for more ideas to make your business successful? Need some inspiration on taking it to the next level? Chat with one of our friendly Business Coaches, they'd love to hear from you.