5 Great Leadership Strategies for 2022
Chad Weisbeck crafted his leadership strategy over decades. It started as he rose through the management ranks in a Jiffy Lube franchise through the ‘90s, and his skills grew as he took that experience into a franchise of his own.
Talking to Weisbeck today offers a glimpse of what makes a good leader. He speaks about lessons he learned early on, 20 years ago. In the next breath, he’s speaking about lessons that he just picked up while reflecting on his past and applying it to his current challenges in the business. Just as some aspects of the business change over time, leadership needs to keep up.
Weisbeck runs Bronco Lube, a Jiffy Lube franchise with 10 locations that was recognized as the 2021 franchise of the year by Jiffy Lube corporate. He knows that dynamic leaders look for places to excel, but it can’t happen without sound fundamentals. That’s where he began to grow a successful franchise.
“And what came from that was a team that’s better equipped, better prepared, and more responsive because we’ve had a plan,” he says.
Harry D. Cohen looks at intangible fundamentals. A smile, a thoughtful comment, or a “thank you” can go a long way in this business. In his recent book, “Be the Sun, Not the Salt,” the psychologist and business coach preaches the idea of practicing good habits to spread happiness. Just like the fundamentals in the quick lube business, success in this area may sound easy, but it can be less common in practice.
With that in mind, take this first month of the year to examine your own leadership style and hit 2022 with the goal of improving—first within yourself to benefit your operation.
Weisbeck had success at nearly every level of his career. He started working at a quick lube as he prepared to go to college, and his supervisors rewarded his hard work with more responsibilities and pay opportunities.
“By the time the new year had rounded, they were wanting me to be a general manager of a location,” he says. “Just being a few months in the business, they sent me to manager training school.”
By the time he was 22, Weisbeck was managing nine Jiffy Lube locations. In the following years, he oversaw more units and earned district manager and regional manager of the year awards.
Weisbeck noticed quickly how stores would tighten up to look their best when the regional manager came through for a visit. He saw that as something that could be fixed.
“Really quickly, that got old,” he says. “It didn’t make sense to me as a young manager. Why are we doing this? Why don't we just try to do everything we’re supposed to be doing every day so there’s not this knee-jerk response?”
The solution was to ensure that shops acted as if they had a regional manager on site at all times. That’s the baseline. And he found that it doesn't require teams to go above and beyond. In many cases, it’s the basics that need to be done—every time, all the time.
Weisbeck carried that ethic into his current franchise ownership. So when people ask Weisbeck what his magic touch has been throughout his career, he tells them to just focus on what people are supposed to do.
“That’s carried through all my 25 years in this industry,” he says. “The attention to detail, following the processes more than everybody else. There’s no real magic to it.”
Examine your own change.
Cohen is working on spreading his “be the sun, not the salt” philosophy. In short, it’s centered around the impacts that leaders can have when they set examples of geat attitude and spread happiness.
Cohen says that you want to avoid negativity from infecting your company culture. That means containing issues when they arise among a team. It also means that the tone is set by top leadership.
“And as leaders, if we can embody those principles as best we can, deliberately and consciously, all the people around us can be inoculated appropriately,” he says.
That’s the heart of the “be the sun” outlook. When a member of your team sees leadership acting negatively or being counterproductive, then it sends a signal that it’s OK for the rank-and-file to do so. It’s not easy; there’s a responsibility to work at being a model employee of your own operation. But it helps to realize how much of an impact that you have as a leader and how much your teams look to you for guidance.
“One simple act of kindness is very nice, but it ripples,” Cohen says. “And we want to create a rippling phenomenon.”
Allow subordinates to flourish.
Weisbeck recently travelled to meet a former colleague. That person was Weisbeck’s district manager back in 1994, and he talked about his experience managing Weisbeck back in those times.
Weisbeck came away with some lessons from that perspective. One was that while you have processes and styles in place for managers, there needs to be a certain amount of room for them to apply their own leadership styles.
“What I learned was that one, you can't manage everyone the same,” he says. “And I thought you could.”
Weisbeck sees this as an industry-wide evolution. It’s about being more attuned to your management network and how they succeed, all the while making their styles work within your operation.
Everyone receives information from leadership differently. There might be different interpretations to input from leaders, and as long as the fundamental goals are met, a micro-management style will only be a roadblock.
One benefit—in addition to a more functional operation—is that subordinates find more value in the work that they do. They respond when company leadership is making more of an effort to let them succeed.
“You have to learn about your people. You’ve got to know your people,” Weisbeck says. “They have to feel that you’re invested in them. That you care about them and the things you say aren't just words.”
Practice the intangibles.
Your shops are practicing all the time. The service process is run over and over to ensure that the drain plug is always replaced and that staff members are always safe as cars enter and exit bays.
Those are tangible processes. As a leader, it might not be as obvious to practice the intangible attitudes that can have just as big an impact on the workplace. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s OK.
The way Cohen sees it should really resonate with how quick lubes practice the service process. It’s about attaining efficiency.
“The notion of practice makes perfect is not true,” he says. “But practice is really at the root of making something automatic. So the more you practice something, the less you have to practice it.”
When you practice saying “please” and “thank you,” that’s how it becomes automatic. And the effects can be great when those processes become automatic.
In turn, leaders should try to recognize and encourage this practice element among staff. It doesn’t have to be complex—”please” and “thank you” are good places to start. When you see it, reinforce it.
“Keeping it really simple,” Cohen says. “Saying and doing things on a regular basis to practice and call it out whenever you see it.”
Look for smart delegation.
Weisbeck’s operation has been going through a growth spurt. He’s now running 10 locations after adding four in 2021. He also became a Mighty franchise, which splits some of his attention from quick lube operations.
Now that he’s leading a larger organization with more than 100 employees, he’s looking for ways that he can be strategic about his presence and impact on the business.
“My goal for 2022 really is to remove myself from day-to-day responsibilities from either company,” Weisbeck says. “That way, I can continue to work on growing my company. And two, I want the ability to still go on site more. I’ve had to step away from being on site in the last year because the growth has been so quick.”
If you’re reading carefully, you’ll notice that Weisbeck is finding a balance between how best to be absent from certain aspects of the business that are well-covered by managers. At the same time, he’s looking for ways to re-insert himself into other aspects—being on site more, forging relationships with team members, and making impacts there.
That’s great advice for any operator, whether you’re running one, two, or 10 locations. Work with the leaders within your operation to find out how they can help you detach from some areas of the business in order to focus on and excel in others. Putting that trust in your people is a great place to start.
“Without them, as you know, it’s impossible to be successful as you grow,” Weisbeck says.