Leadership Amid Change – July 2005
By Sean Wolfington
Leadership is about dealing with change. As the automotive industry becomes more competitive and complex, leaders that can thrive in an environment of change, stand out from the pack. In our rapidly evolving world, the true leader thrives in an environment of change.
The leader proves his or her worth by:
• Creating a vision
• Aligning people
• Motivating and inspiring people
• Creating a culture of leadership
Creating a Vision
Leaders develop a vision of the future and create strategies to fulfi ll that vision. Vision and strategy are not the same as planning. Planning is a management process designed to bring about order, not change. Planning should be a compliment to creating a vision, not a substitution for it. Vision does not have to be original. However, what is crucial is how well it serves the needs of customers and the dealership team. The success of the vision depends on how well it can be translated into a realistic competitive strategy. If a leader lacks the skill, time or know-how to plan a realistic and competitive strategy for implementing his or her vision, that’s OK as long as they have a partner, a team of managers or a consulting team that specializes in planning for results to bring the leader’s vision to life.
Leaders align people. They communicate vision so that people understand and are committed to it. A central feature of the modern dealership is interdependence of each department, and an individual’s success is increasingly tied to the work of other individuals. Aligning people to move in the same direction is a challenge of communication and credibility. The message must be communicated to all involved: general managers, sales managers, BDC managers, used car managers, service and parts managers, business managers, service writers, sales people, BDC specialists, receptionists, greeters, etc. After the team understands the message, they must believe in it. Successful alignment empowers people. When a clear vision has been communicated throughout the dealership, employees on the front line can take initiative in situations, without the fear of reprimand. Furthermore, when everyone’s vision is aligned, one person’s initiative is less likely to come into confl ict with another’s initiative.
Motivating and Inspiring People
Leaders motivate and inspire people. They keep people moving toward the organization’s vision by appealing to basic human needs, values and emotions. If leadership is dealing with change, then being able to motivate people is crucial. It is important to cope with inevitable barriers to change. Successful motivation ensures that people will have the energy to overcome obstacles.
Leaders motivate people in a variety of ways. They articulate the organization’s vision in a manner that builds on the values of the audience they are addressing. Leaders regularly involve people in decisionmaking processes on how to achieve the organization’s vision. Leaders recognize and reward success. Through these methods, the work can become motivating.
Creating a Culture of Leadership
Some organizations develop their employees into leaders by providing training, challenging goals and objectives along with a wide range of opportunities for new employees as well as seasoned “veterans.”
A solid recruiting, hiring and training process can provide a great start to your dealership’s leadership development program and encourage growth. In order to develop people for higher-level leadership positions, current leaders might make the successes of others more visible to senior management and the dealer. Companies that create a culture of leadership also recognize and reward people who successfully develop other leaders. If we need more leaders in the increasingly complex and competitive automotive industry, we need our current leaders to develop cultures that foster leadership.
Creating a culture of leadership is intrinsically an act of leadership.
Sean Wolfington is the owner of BZResults.com. He can be contacted at 866.802.5753, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.