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Five Tips to Improving as a Leader in 2013
If you are like a shop owner friend of mine, you probably don't think of yourself as a leader; most good leaders don't. They just do what they do ... lead, and they do it so well, that others take notice.
By Vic Tarasik
According to author and speaker John Maxwell, the essence of leadership
can be summed up in one word, “influence.” If you think about it, the
people you listen to influence you, or they lead you. Although, being a
leader does not mean you always take someone in a positive direction. I
am sure you have either had an employee or worked with an outspoken
negative individual who led the other employees in the wrong direction,
which created a tough working environment for everyone involved.
A good leader looks for positive change and forward motion, and, like
John Manelas, they take others where they think they can’t go.
Let’s talk about five ways you can improve as a leader. Whether you are
the shop owner or another influencer, you and your business will
benefit when you work on these five simple things in 2013.
1. Take inventory. Evaluate yourself; what strengths
do you possess and how are you using them effectively? Leadership is
not just a title; a leader has a set of skills in his toolbox that he
can pull out at a given time to tend to the need at hand. A few key
skills possessed by good leaders are communication (speaking and, more
importantly, listening), connecting with people, setting goals and
casting a vision, and understanding how people work and their needs
that must be met to effectively influence your staff.
2. Seek feedback. Take some time and solicit feedback
from your employees on how effective they think you are as a leader.
You are probably hesitant to do this, but if you really want to
improve, then ask those who are under your charge for feedback. A
couple of good things will come out of this exercise. You will engage
the employee in your own development and they will have a vested
interest in your improvement. And, asking them for their input will
give your employee a sense of inclusion, which will draw them closer to
you as a leader and to the success of your shop.
3. Make time. Like anything, improvement takes an investment of time.
If we, as business owners and leaders, are expected to grow ourselves
and our business, we need to dedicate time to learning. As is the case
with our technicians and service advisors, training is a must. Once you
have identified a few items to tackle from your personal inventory and
employee feedback, you’ll need to make some time to improve those
areas. One technique that works effectively for me is to grab an audio
book or leadership CD and listen to it on my way to and from work.
4. Connect. Every day, we build and maintain
relationships with our customers, as good relationships are the essence
of any successful business. Take that same principle and apply it to
your employees and you have a winning combination. Spend some
one-on-one time during the day and get to know the employee as a
person. You will find they will go the extra mile when you have a
relationship that is built on more than just a paycheck.
5. Stretch yourself. I have found nothing more
powerful to personal growth than giving my time and talents outside of
the business. Whether it is with your local church, school or civic
organization, like the Lions or Rotary Club, working outside your shop
takes you “outside” your element and comfort zone. When you do this,
you will build upon the leadership skills you currently possess. And,
when you volunteer, you will follow the leader of whatever organization
you have chosen to serve in, and a good follower makes a good leader.
I would like to leave you with this final point. Leadership development
is a process and every one of us has the potential to become an
excellent leader. Understand that as you master one skill set, you will
see another area to improve upon. Becoming a good leader takes desire
and commitment, much like becoming a successful shop owner, service
advisor or technician.
Developing the Leader Within You, John Maxwell;
Thinking for a Change, John Maxwell; and
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie.
Leadership and business development:
Bottom-Line Impact Groups, www.bottomlineimpactgroups.com.
Lions Club International, www.lionsclubs.org; and
Rotary Clubs, www.rotary.org.
Vic Tarasik is the owner of Vic’s Precision Automotive, The
Woodlands, TX, and is a 30-year industry veteran.