In my thirty years in the business I have never seen such a lack of civility, leadership and professionalism in the automotive industry. You can find managers anywhere but developing leaders is a much more challenging task. Managers are integral but leaders are essential. It does not take character, guts or vision to manage things but it takes all three to lead people.
Here are common characteristics I see quite often from managers in dealerships today:
#1 – Lack of attention to detail – “Big doors swing on small hinges” “A person who cannot be expected to do the small things cannot be trusted to do big things”
#2 – Lack of clear communication – People cannot operate efficiently in a nebulous environment. Communicate clearly and communicate often. Your team deserves to know exact details. Stop telling your people “We will work it out for you” or “We will get you the details later” or “Don’t worry about that right now.” Tell people clearly and tell them now.
#3 – Make decisions – Stop procrastinating on making small and large decisions. Gather the pertinent information and make a decision. Stop waffling and putting things off hoping they will go away. “You can’t sweep shit under the rug and expect the stink to go away.” Make a decision and move on!
#4 – Say no! – Stop being afraid to say no. Say no to your staff, vendors, customers or whoever you need to say no to. Grow a backbone and say NO! You cannot manage from weakness. It has never worked and it never will. People will not respect or follow weakness. People can accept no for an answer, but they cannot accept a spineless weasel who cannot say no.
#5 – Make a commitment – You cannot succeed at what you have not committed to. You must make commitments. Your commitments must be strong and unwavering.
#6 – Lack of follow through on commitments – Do what you say you will do, even when hurts. Do not back up on your promises and waffle out of things because you are uncomfortable or do not want to live up to what your obligations are. Follow through.
#7 – Be a coach – Bear Bryant the legendary deceased coach of Alabama said he could take his team and beat you and then switch his players with yours and beat you again. It’s all about coaching and developing people. Start putting people in a position to win instead of allowing them and guaranteeing them to fail. When they fail you fail! Coach, train and educate daily.
#8 – Stop blaming everyone and everybody for your shortcomings and failures – It’s not your lazy and bad people. It’s not the economy. It’s not your bad owners or market or location or brand. It’s you! Always take responsibility for everything. Even if you think there are things that are not your fault, still take responsibility for the outcome. There is always a way that you contribute to the success or failure. It always starts and finishes with you, your thoughts and actions. Look in the mirror and realize that with every bad thing you just happen to be the one at the scene of the accident.
#9 – Educate yourself and grow everyday – You cannot be a market leader today if you keep doing what you did yesterday. Learn and grow. Sorry, but you don’t know it all even when you think you do. It’s arrogant to think from your small prism of perspective and life experience that you know everything. You don’t! Learn every day. Have a daily education plan for yourself and your team. Never ever tolerate from you or anyone else the excuse that you have so much experience that you know enough.
#10 – Practice civility and professionalism – Be civil to everyone. Nobody cares that you are busy or are having a bad day. Everybody is busy and everyone has bad days. Suck it up and be nice, courteous and civil to anyone and everyone. Everyone is a person, potential customer and potential megaphone that can say good or bad things about you. Being a jerk to people to fill your need for power is ugly. Do your best to be civil even when you don’t feel good. You can be very direct and still be civil. Don’t be a tyrant manager because it just makes you look like a dumb, ego bloated, low self-esteem loser. Just be civil.
Your team and everyone you deal with watches you like a hawk. You do not get away with anything and everything you do will get noticed and evaluated. You are on display, so act like it. Do the right thing, do it with professionalism and do it with class. It’s so much easier than the alternative.