At Fit Tribe, I have seen behaviors in line with Leader-Member Exchange theory during onboarding of new prospective coaches and even the maintenance of current coach relationships. It seems as though the level of success a coach reaches is heavily dependent on how much exposure to the owner Jesse they have and how much 1-on-1 time he spends with them. Those who Jesse is able to (or chooses to) spend more time with seem to have more faith in the brand, a stronger adherence to procedure, and generally higher job satisfaction in terms of energy level, creativity, and positivity in the workplace. I would consider these coaches the “in-group.” On the other hand, the “out-group” tends to become coaches who have the mentality of just trying to complete their work hours. They don’t take personal responsibility for follow-up, ask less questions, don’t participate in group discussion to a higher degree, and although they might maintain the same level of passion for fitness, they aren’t as enthusiastic about Fit Tribe’s brand and values.
LMX theory states that leaders choose their in-groups based on how similar the subordinates are to them. In some respects, I can see this happening at Fit Tribe. Since Jesse began his career in sales with an ambitious attitude and a desire for personal responsibility and control of outcomes, the coaches who have (1) retail sales experience and (2) a similar out-going philosophy tend to be shown more attention. However, that is typically where the selection based on similarities. Based on my observation, in-group and out-group status at Fit Tribe is based on personality prototype, not demographic prototyping. In-group and out-group delegation is also largely dependent on a coaches’ demonstrated competence. Those who Jesse feels are more competent at the beginning of their on-boarding tend to be given more opportunities to discuss abstract ideas beneath the processes with him like mindset, sales psychology, and his personal career in the industry. As I’ve observed, these people tend to be employees who need less of this kind of guidance, as they are already relatively self-motivated.
If Jesse feels as though an employee “isn’t getting it,” or is not on-pace with other hires around the same time in terms of scheduling first work outs, learning sales consultation material, enthusiasm and energy levels during the sessions, etc., he will gradually start giving them less attention and focusing on coaches who he deems have more potential. This is most likely detrimental since coaches with untapped potential and more raw talent may be cast aside and kept from further development. Recognition of LMX theory-like tendencies at Fit Tribe could help save money. By more evenly distributing Jesse’s attention and growth resources amongst employees, turnover should decrease and thus reduce recruiting and training costs.