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Leadership Solutions

Who’s the Boss?

Sometimes, to see what we should do as leaders, it’s valuable to look at some of the things we shouldn’t do.

Chris Saraceno is the Vice President & Partner of the Kelly Automotive Group. Visit kellycar.com.

Are You a Boss or a Leader?

Sometimes, to see what we should do as leaders, it’s valuable to look at some of the things we shouldn’t do. Looking back on our own careers, we most likely have worked under some — or in some unfortunate cases, all — of the following four types of bosses. When we think back on these anti-mentors, as we call them in the Theory of 5 philosophy, we receive valuable reminders to monitor our own behaviors and actions because our team is always looking to us as an example.

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The Bully Boss — While no one likes a bully, the millennial generation simply will not accept one. When a “boss” cracks the whip to bleed every last bit from their employees or explodes at them over the slightest provocation, those employees will start looking for other jobs. This is where rapid turnover, constant training of new employees and lackluster effort will settle in and become part of the department’s DNA.

However, when a team sees that their leader is working with them, the equation changes from “boss versus workers” to “our team against the world.” People generally don’t leave a position because they don’t like the job; they leave because they don’t like their boss. By being a leader who doesn’t make their workers cringe at the sight of them, but rather one whom they know will work every bit as hard (or harder) as they do, you’ll get their best effort and results. 

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Great leaders also never underestimate the power of a sense of humor. In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower — a man who knew something about motivating people to do what they considered to be impossible — “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” While we don’t have to make a joke a minute or be the “funny” boss, it’s more fun to come into an office where things aren’t always grim and dire.

The Pushover — This sounds like an oxymoron, but when leaders won’t stand up for their team, they’re not showing much leadership. Maybe these leaders are frightened of their own leaders or perhaps they just don’t want to put in the effort to protect their team when necessary. Either way, a group quickly learns how much their leader cares about them and will respond accordingly.

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One of the duties of a leader is to clear the way for their team so they can do what they do best. When we do this, our team will often surprise us by coming up with ideas that might never have occurred to us. If they are not spending their time putting out fires and navigating around obstacles that their leadership should have prevented, they are free to put their talents to the best use, thus producing better results.

We should be our department’s biggest advocate in the dealership’s structure. If our team knows that we have their back, that we’re willing to go to the wall for them when necessary, they’ll not only respect us more, but we will earn their loyalty. 

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Mr./Ms. Average — As leaders, we set the rhythm and the pace for our team. If they see that we will accept average effort and results from ourselves and for our department, they will settle for average results themselves. If, however, they see us strive for more, setting goals that are attainable and ambitious, and working to make ourselves more effective in our role, they will receive that message and step up their own activities and efforts.  

Great leaders encourage their team members to better themselves. If they need more training to accomplish their goals, they do everything they can to make sure they receive that training. These leaders also let their team witness their own efforts to improve themselves. They ask questions. They learn about their team — who they are as individuals, what they need to achieve success in their work and in their lives, and what their concerns are. Average leaders accept the status quo and embrace the motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Outstanding leaders are always searching for ways to improve their own lives and those around them. They understand that the speed of the leader is the speed of the pack.

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The Non-Communicator — We don’t want to, and in some cases can’t, tell every team member every detail about our dealership’s operation. While sensitive information has to be discussed in private, morale falls when our team feels that everything is kept from them. 

We need to share our vision with how we see our department — or the organization as a whole — growing and evolving in the future. When team members understand how and why their individual actions and efforts impact everyone around them, they’ll have a new appreciation for the part they are playing in our orchestra. If they see themselves as an easily replaceable cog in a great, unknowable machine, however, their efforts will be lacking simply because they don’t see the point of putting in the extra effort needed for success. 

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As their leaders, our team relies on us to give them information that they can’t see on their own. By keeping them in the loop and clearly communicating how and why decisions are made, they will feel valued and will be willing to put the extra time, effort and actions needed to support the dealership’s missions, values and goals.

Stay on Track

No one is perfect, and, as leaders, we might fall into one of these categories when stressed, tired or have outside distractions. However, by reminding ourselves what not to do, we can ensure that our team receives our best, so we will receive the best from them. 

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