Leader, Manager or Supervisor: Which Are You?Posted 10/12/2009
By Cecil Bullard, AAM
Leadership, management and hope are key to a shop's success.
Building a successful business is a lot like cooking. If some of the ingredients are missing or not measured in correct proportion, the result is almost always less than expected and often inedible.
Of the many businesses I have had the opportunity to work with over the years, almost all have had the ingredients needed to be successful and most of them have had the recipe; but they lacked a core component that is vital to the recipe. In essence, they knew what they needed to do but could not do it because something was missing.
Many business owners blame poor results on lack of car count, untrained or unwilling staff, the economy, lack of education or any of a long list of problems. The real problem may be a shortage of leadership, management and accountability. No one is accountable for making sure the business and its employees have everything needed to complete the recipe.
Leadership Is Key to Success
Success is attainable if there is someone willing to be accountable for creating it. What is needed is someone with the vision, knowledge and stamina to be accountable. Successful leaders don't use excuses when confronted with problems. They make decisions based on their vision and act accordingly.
Companies that are not successful lack leadership, management and hope.
It is difficult to fault managers and owners; many have worked so long and hard for so little that they no longer believe they have what it takes to succeed and work only to make it through one more day, one more week and one more year. This lack of hope causes them to forego training and education that would ultimately improve their outlook and situation. At the end of the day, they have spent so much time working in their business they are just too tired to work on it. Many no longer have the will or the energy to hold onto their dreams and therefore spend most of their energy just trying to keep their head above water.
Leadership, management and hope are necessary to achieve success.
One of the best descriptions for leadership can be found in Marcus Buckingham's book, "The One Thing You Need to Know." Buckingham believes true leaders have one primary purpose for the business. True leaders define a clear picture of the future. The clearer the picture, the more likely it can be achieved. This picture includes:
He further states, "Great leaders rally people to a better future." I would add that great leaders are accountable and refuse to be defeated. Successful leaders understand the necessity of spending time creating the vision that will keep everyone motivated when things aren't going their way.
Leaders Have Vision
When studying great leaders, it is clear they have a vision of the future and can get others to share and believe in their vision. Leaders have an attitude of success, gratitude for the contribution of those they work with and do not allow anything to get in their way. When confronted with obstacles, they go through, around, under or over them. They don't make excuses. They sacrifice pride for the good of the team and for the chance to achieve their goals. If they don't have the knowledge, the resources, the people or the tools necessary, they recognize it and do what it takes to get them. Every successful company must have a clear vision of a better tomorrow that all can believe in; this is the core responsibility of leadership.
The job of management is to find, hire, train and motivate good people to carry out the actions and obtain the results determined by the company vision. To properly manage, clear expectations and goals must be defined and agreed upon. Employees must be measured. Poor performance must be reviewed and repaired, and good performance must be rewarded. Bringing out the best in people requires a shared vision, and all team members must understand they are important to success.
Supervision Versus Management
A common mistake in small businesses is the confusion of supervision and management. Supervisors are focused on specific jobs and actions while management is focused on people and results. Supervision is necessary when training new employees but soon becomes suffocating to those who know what they need to do. High-performing employees wither under too much supervision.
Micro-managers are supervisors more concerned with how the job was done than with the results. Micro-managers take credit for decisions and success, often leaving employees unaccountable, hollow and unfulfilled. Micro-management causes employees to become incapable of making decisions and/or taking actions and removes their accountability.
Skills of a Good Manager
Good managers teach people how to think, where to find answers and how to apply their knowledge to solve problems. Good managers define the results that are needed and work with employees to help them achieve these results. A good manager asks himself/herself every day, "How can I help my staff win the game?" They then do everything in their power to help their staff win. Helping employees win makes them feel important and creates pride and ownership.
Every successful business needs leadership, management and hope. Where is your business? Does your business have a leader who is accountable for vision and success? Are you a manager or a supervisor? Can your staff make good decisions without you? Answering these questions truthfully could be the key to changing your results and renewing your dreams.
If you would like to be a better leader or manager, I have found the following books to be invaluable:
Editor's Note: This article is one of several management articles that are being contributed to AutoInc. this year by Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. A full lineup of AMI instructors are sharing their knowledge throughout the year on a variety of topics including ethics, employee training, customer service, increasing profits and other valuable information.
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