In the beginning of a leadership course, I ask the group to raise their hand if they believe that they are a leader. As you may imagine, a group of 20 to 30 people sitting in the class yields three or four hands slowly trickling up, as others have their head faced at their knees or looking around to see who was courageous to raise their hand. Some do not hold up their hands because of modesty, most simply do not believe they are actual leaders.
I assure them that their employer paid money to put them in that seat because they are already in a leadership role. They may just not understand what that role means and what a leader does.
A follower does today what a leader envisioned yesterday. A leader envisions not only how it is done, but who does it. A leader must have a very strong understanding of the overall goals so that they can develop others to reach the landmark.
In the great bus analogy from the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, a leader is described as a bus driver. Although the bus has a purpose of completing a task, the bus drivers’ purpose is to fill the bus with the right people and remove the wrong people so they can reach their goals successfully.
Imagine trying to open a shop with very specific goals. You want to maintain 45 cars a day with a high social media acceptance of 4.8 of 5 stars, no claims and a high ticket average. Now that you know exactly what you are shooting for, you can develop a team with a mix excellent retail experience, automotive experience, and bring someone on who can handle the ever-changing online presence conundrum. Every policy and action you set in place now directly links to your goals.
Our industry is too complex and rapidly changing to shut off your mind to learning.
A great leader understands where they are strong, excelling in those things. That great leader will also understand where they need help and get help in those areas. It is not about knowing everything, it is about people who know what you don’t, and putting them close to you. In my circle, I commonly communicate with financial experts, oil nerds and strategists who fill in the gaps that I am missing. I am not afraid to pick up the phone and ask for help. John Rohn says that “you are the some of the top five people you spend your time with.” Choose your circle and bring your number up.
It is commonly defined that diversity means to surround your team with several different races or genders, ensuring you have a good group that is not inclusive to one section. A leader seeks out people with different backgrounds and mindsets that can work through plans and ideas to create great material.
As a leader, you must be willing to get the right people on the bus to ensure you can reach your goals, you have to understand your weak points and put people in place to fill the gaps, and you must be willing to and seek out those who think differently than you and are willing to stand up and speak up when they hear a conflicting thought.
This is not meant to be an episode of the Jerry Springer show (although I have seen some quite like it). Speaking out does not mean to correct, but to share views. One of the best at this is Marc Graham. He by far is the most abrasive voice at a conference table that I have the privilege to hear. He surrounds himself with very successful people in the industry and challenged everyone at the table on their thoughts, demanding validation when he didn’t agree with them.
This coming from an industry superstar was difficult to understand at first. One of the greatest attributes he showed was his willingness to quickly change his view if your contesting was validated. He made it quick for you to understand that your views were highly respected and needed. It was not for his good that he was right, but the company's goals that someone was.
Over the next few months, let’s take a look at ourselves and our practices and understand that we all can do great things because we have opportunities and desires to do so. Until then, be great!