Innovative Leadership & Inclusion – A Profile of Inclusive Management in Practice at a Fitness Center Part 1

Apr 13, 2011
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The concept of innovative leadership has been circulating in school-based literature and other sources.  I recently read an article by Tanya Roscorla entitled “The 7 Steps to Innovative Leadership.” Cited principles included “Embracing challenge and driving change through creativity and knowledge.” [i]

The Challenge of Disability

Disabilities like Cerebral Palsy can be perceived as a challenge by professionals.   Many service providers from Executive management to front line staff baulk at the idea of accommodating needs that may arise from various conditions.  I have dealt with professionals of various ranks who said “Our Business does not serve people with your needs”.  When I hear responses like this I want to react, correct, and change a misinformed impression.

Innovative leadership begins with attitude.   In general, businesses that are truly inclusive recognize who their customer is and welcome them regardless of the presenting need.  Plaza Fitness at Stuyvesant Plaza (Plaza Fitness) is an example of such a business.  Plaza Fitness is a locally owned specialized personal training center in Albany New York, with more than 600 active members.

Setting a Welcoming Tone

When I first walked into the door at Plaza Fitness at Stuyvesant Plaza, I was greeted by staff.  One of the cited traits in the principles of Innovative Leadership is “creating a culture”[ii]. Inclusive culture, to me, means fostering belonging.  At Plaza Fitness, the Wellness Specialists always say “Hello”.  I discovered over time that part of the professional orientation at this facility is to know customers by name.  Greeting people is not just good manners; it sets a positive tone and atmosphere at the facility.

Embracing the Challenge: Learning to Accommodate Needs

The owner of Plaza Fitness at Stuyvesant Plaza, Korey McCoy, met with me personally on various occasions, informed me about Plaza Fitness Operations, and in turn, quickly became informed about my goals to walk full- time without devices.  Mr. McCoy worked with me and with his staff to assess how this goal could be accomplished.

Often his staff would act on my behalf and communicate any new or emerging needs.  Mr. McCoy frequently served as a consultant in my specific program development.  Available resources such as a flexible schedule, additional training time, etc. were extended to me with appropriate fees and guidelines set.

As my fitness strengths and weakness became clear Mr. McCoy authorized his staff to go off site for a limited period, (a four-hour interval) to create a water-based fitness regimen and to teach me how to appropriately implement it.  The established routine and subsequent modifications would become critical for the development of my strength and flexibility.

Read Part 2 of “Innovative Leadership & Inclusion” Friday April 16, 2011.

[i] Roscorla, Tanya. 2010, October, 25.  “The 7 Steps to Innovative Leadership”,

Retrieved: January 26, 2011.

[ii] [ii] Roscorla, Tanya. 2010, October, 25.  “The 7 Steps to Innovative Leadership”,

Retrieved: January 26, 2011.

Author: Kerry