By Kendall Rawls
Few industries today have as rich and long a history as the car business. Starting from the horse and buggy to where we are today, it has evolved in many ways ranging from products and services sold and approaches to marketing and business development to the style of leadership that inspires and motivates employees.
There are many perspectives on how to motivate your people. As evidenced by the thousands of leadership-focused books, seminars and training programs, leadership is a code we are seeking to unlock. Throw into the mix the Millennials and Generation Z’s approach to work, which is a change we’ve not seen since the Boomers entered the workforce. And, to spice up this leadership conundrum, there is a sharp rise in organizations looking for talent, so your competitors are working hard to hire your good employees.
Technology, connectivity and generational preferences are all influencing the type of leadership that motivates and retains good talent. Today’s talent is looking for leaders to be authentic, transparent and invested. These sorts of characteristics are likely what previous generations would have wanted as well, but today there are more options for good talent to leave for something else.
Workers today are less loyal to organizations just for the sake of being loyal. They are more driven by experiences and the ability to add value. As such, they are less likely to invest their time in an organization whose culture is defined by “do what I say, because I am the boss” versus a culture that cultivates leaders who engage, collaborate, and empower. Here are three strategies for becoming the leader of today (versus yesterday):
- Be You, Not Your Predecessor – In the retail automotive industry ownership has historically been passed down through generations, if not to family, then to a highly respected key manager. With that, the learned leadership style is derived not only from how the previous owner — who was often the parent — led the business, but also how that parent “led” at home. All of this influences how the next generation thinks it should lead going forward.
In part, there is fear over disappointing the parent. The other consideration is that the next generation of leaders have not had access to training, knowledge or skills to know how to be their own leader. Therefore, seeking out opportunities to “learn” how to be a leader of today versus that of yesterday, is important. To do this, ask your employees and key managers what they would like to see you do differently as a leader.
- Be Vulnerable and Ask for Feedback – Intentionally work to identify where you can get better. Asking your employees and key managers is critical in the process because it provides you with insight into how you are perceived as a leader, and it builds trust and unity with your people. Ask your family and friends, too, to get a perspective outside of “the office.” This feedback will set you on the course to seek out the learning and leadership development programs, knowledge, or tools that will help you make the required enhancements to your leadership style.
- Be Willing to Invest in Change – Embracing your own leadership style and opening yourself up to feedback is half the battle. The harder part comes with being willing to invest in your own personal growth to enhance your own communication and leadership style. Leadership of yesterday focuses more on power, position and title, whereas leadership today requires more authentic interactions with your people. If your people feel a sense of humility as you endeavor to grow as a leader, you will have greater personal influence to motivate those around you to seek out ways to improve performance and their own leadership style.
Change is uncomfortable. It is frightening because as a leader we are unsure if our people and peers will respect and follow us. It is far more comfortable to stick to a familiar behavior pattern of behavior you have built for yourself.
The phenomenon of leadership change that we are seeing provides an opportunity for leaders to be more authentic and respected. Change can create a leader that others naturally want to follow, thus creating a powerful partnership and value proposition in your dealership.
Kendall Rawls knows and understands the challenges that impact the success of an entrepreneurial owned business. Her unique perspective comes not only from her educational background; but, more importantly, from her experience as a second-generation family member employee of The Rawls Group – Business Succession Planners. For more information, visit www.rawlsgroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.