A knowledgeable and successful friend of mine and I were discussing prosperous organizations versus, well, not so successful ones (i.e. Marriott vs Ramada). We reviewed obvious differences we all experience such as employee attitudes, facility appearance, financial performance, and the weighty “word on the street” reputation.
My own assessment of high performing fixed operations is that they also have a number of attributes in common. But, number one would be that the management team is made up of “aggressive leaders” not, “maintaining managers.” There is a wonderful book on this heady subject by John C. Maxwell titled Leadership 101, published about 10 years ago. Some time ago a successful employee presented a copy to me including a judicious hand-written note inside, “Thank you for adjusting the sails.”
About two-thirds into this gem there’s a succinct description of the “levels of leadership.” Reading this was a poke in the eye as it defined the development of management styles, reflecting my own inauguration and progression over the years, of which I was obviously yet to reach the top. I thought it would be an interesting read for department supervisors to discover their own levels of achievement, as well as the potential for further success as defined here.
According to Mr. Maxwell, the success of managers is directly related to their ability to be leaders who are able to meaningfully influence their employees. There are five distinct levels of leadership in this regard beginning with the “boss” mentality, where unfortunately too many fixed operations managers reside. My experience is that many dealer executives inherited their positions (last man/woman standing), and have experienced very nominal leadership themselves, and essentially no management/leadership training during their entire career.
The entry leadership level is described as “position.” Here the employees follow primarily because they have to — the manager has the authority by golly and everyone knows it. During a workshop recently, one of my students told us how his service manager hibernated in his office each day and only came out to yell and scream at someone. This individual had been in management for years and obviously never progressed beyond the boss mentality. When I queried about the general manager my student’s reply was “Oh, he’s the same way?” no surprise there.
This level of management is occupied with employees who work because they have to, and turnover is common. Why continue with this dud if you don’t have too?
The second leadership level is “permission.” Employees here follow the manager because they want to and they enjoy their work environment. Managers at this level of leadership donate time, energy, and focus on employee needs and desires. An interesting quote from the book is “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Unfortunately, without progressing to the next level of leadership, this manager will find his or her employees will not develop continuous improvement since a love-fest isn’t actual progress.
The third leadership level is “production.” As a result of successes in level two, employees will eventually follow a manager because of what that manager has done for the organization. Employees are still quite happy here, but more importantly, they are energetic and take on problem solving too.
Keeping successful momentum stimulated with organizational vision, strategy, direction and follow-through are the challenges at this level of leadership.
The fourth level of leadership is defined as “people development.” This occurs when individual employees are specifically developed and then empowered towards success. The book describes this leadership progression through management as moving from loving the leader, to admiring the leader, to employees becoming very loyal to the leader.
At level four, the manager is a continuous model for others, providing opportunities for subordinates to grow, while surrounding him or herself with like-minded individuals. This boss is extremely successful because the employees are extremely successful.
Level five is described with the word “personhood.” Few reach this level where employees follow because of who the manager is and what he or she represents. This accomplished trailblazer gains the most fulfillments from watching others grow and develop, and he or she has earned a reputation of providing abundant wisdom and guidance. Anyone at this level has been a successful leader for many years, before earning this unique distinction.
I would encourage you to study diligently, and then practice successful leadership traits. Your employees deserve a manager who will lead them to be better than they ever thought they would, could, or should be — that’s at least level four on your part. You know you can do it, and maybe you already have.