Are you a Leader or Manager?

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At the end of last year, I was surprised to hear from a few of my past associates. They reached out to me on Facebook (FB) by sending a friend request. After I accepted, I was surprised again to receive several special messages. Here are a few:

Paul from Atlanta, Georgia (team member from 21 years ago): “Ray, I have never forgot what you taught me.”

Carlton from Miami, Florida (team member from seven years ago): “Hi Coach, Merry Christmas.”

Anita from St. Petersburg, Florida (team member from 32 years ago): “I saw you on FB as one of his friends. I was so excited to see you. I think about you often. You were my best boss, hands-down, throughout my career.”

I share these with you not to say, “look at me, but to demonstrate the positive impact you can have on others. The key words in their statements that impacted me are: taught, coach, excited and throughout.

Management “The process of dealing with or controlling things or people.” –Oxford Dictionary

If you’re a manager who is dealing with your employees by controlling them, do you really believe you would receive messages like these from them 20 or more years after you worked with them? Managers have their own interests in mind, not the interests of their team members.

Do you enjoy correcting others by quickly telling them what they did wrong or haven’t done? Or, do you spend the necessary time in a positive manner showing them how it should be done? When a team member does something well, do you go out of your way to pat them on the back? Do you take the time to congratulate them?

One rule I always try to live by is, “Give praise publicly and criticize in private.” This simply means when a team member does something extraordinary, praise them in front of their peers. When a mistake is made, talk to them in private. If possible, wait until later. Think about the football coach who watches a player make a mistake that draws a penalty, taking away a critical first down? As the player leaves the field, the coach runs up to him screaming in his face in front of his teammates and a national television audience. How will the player respond the next time? Could that same coach have waited to review the film with him in private and make it a powerful teaching moment? Of course, and this same player would be excited about getting another opportunity to get it right. He would respect his coach instead of fearing his coach. The term “coaching them up” is not about instilling fear in them; it’s about instilling confidence. The quarterback who gets yelled at repeatedly about throwing interceptions will eventually stop taking the chance to let his receivers make the play.

Quick lubes are very much like a sports team. Each service is performed by a team. Each team member has a position with certain responsibilities. If one team member fails to perform, the whole team will suffer. The customer may not receive the service they were expecting and never return.

Have you ever heard of a football player asking the coach to manage him? Individual team members need to manage themselves. The team is led by leaders.

Leadership “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” –John C. Maxwell

Teams win when the leader gets the job done by utilizing the collective individual talents of the team. Every team member is not equal and does not perform equally.

If we want leaders, why do we call them managers — store managers, district managers or regional managers? I loved that the young man in Miami always referred to me as coach. He really got it. I was not managing him; I did not tell him when to come to work or when to go home. My job was to encourage him to be better today than yesterday. If you truly want to change someone’s behavior, praise them nine times to every one criticism. Remember, always praise in public, and criticize in private. Never criticize the team leader in front of the team.

Changing their title will not make them a leader. Most managers can be trained to develop leadership skills. If they can’t, they are in the wrong position.

What is the best way to influence others to help them become a leader? Let’s start with your example — if you’re a district manager or any other level of multi-unit supervision, are you always filling out a checklist on your store visits? Are most of the items to check off meant to correct behavior? Are your remarks mostly negative or positive? When was the last time you held a training session?

Leadership vs. Management “Leadership is an attitude; management is a position. In the same way that service is an attitude, customer service is a department. It is a state of being — a way to approach life.” –Kevin Burns, president and CEO of BGi Consultants

First, we must be leaders before we can teach others how to lead. Burns’ quote gives us the first step.

What is our state of being? How do we approach life daily? Is our first thought always about me, or is it about my team members? If you truly care about your team, do you really know them? Do you take the time to ask about their families? How is Mary’s job coming along? Did she get that raise you were both hoping for?

Someone once said, “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not about being their friend. In fact, leaders have very few friends. You want to earn your team’s respect, not their friendship. Respect comes from treating everyone equally. When they are right, you tell them, usually in front of others. When they are wrong, you also tell them, but always in private. Establish the rules and procedures, and inform all team members. People want to know what is the right and wrong way, so they can perform well. A bad hire is someone who doesn’t care about right or wrong. If you have one, cut them loose as soon as you realize your mistake. Don’t let them pull your team down with their attitude.

Leaders can be at all levels of your organization, not just the executive in charge. In fact, the good executives hire those they feel will be better than themselves. Try this — if you have a multi-unit operation, bring all your store managers over to your best location on a Saturday. Give the employees off or let them work at another store. Now give each manager a position on the team, and watch what that store can do when every team member is a leader. You’ll be amazed and will learn the true potential of that store. Schedule a short meeting at the end of the day where you challenge each manager to bring their store up to the standards they just witnessed. A team of leaders will always outperform a team that must be managed.

Leaders become great teachers. They spend 80 percent of their time showing how rather than correcting mistakes. Hold training classes as often as possible. Try to have one short class every week, and one major class each month. Don’t forget to train your bench. The assistants and team leaders will be up next, so help them, too.

Always be hiring. When you’re out shopping and notice a leader, give him or her your card. Then call back and invite them in for a brief meeting. Quick lubes have so much to offer. Smart, hard-working people have such a great opportunity in our industry. High school and college degrees are not needed to become middle managers, compared to other retail businesses. Many owners started as a lube tech and worked their way up. In today’s business climate with retail businesses closing stores and manufacturing shops leaving the country, your hiring opportunities are better than ever. Hire future leaders, and secure your long-term business success.

No one wants to be managed; they want to be led. They desire to become business leaders, not business managers.

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