From The CEO -

From Management to Leadership

In the January issue of GEARS Magazine, we discussed a change in our industry that is likely to have a dramatic effect on your business. We characterized it as “Generation IV.”

Our use of the term generation is merely a way we can define the changes in the industry that contribute to your shop’s ability to succeed or fail. It’s not an absolute, but it allows us to focus on important business principles or ideas to establish growth. In simplest terms, it asks the question: “What do transmission shops need to do to be more profitable in today’s market?”

The obstacle facing Generation IV is pretty much anything that keeps you from getting work out the door in a reasonable amount of time. It’s a reflection of the challenges we’ve been hearing from shops struggling to find good help.

But Generation IV doesn’t just begin and end with finding qualified technicians: It stems from the larger issue of simply getting the car out the door. It may include finding or training technicians, but it may be something entirely different. How you choose to get the car fixed is up to you, and there are a variety of ways to do that.

Shops still rely heavily on having highly-skilled and competent technicians. Finding them is the challenge.

But today, the people entering the workforce may have a different view of the world than you’re used to. They may not be motivated by the same things you are. You may have to take a fresh look at your business model, and you may be forced to consider changes that aren’t entirely comfortable to you.

Many of the problems we faced as an industry (Generations I through III) focused on tasks and ideas that were still within the framework of how you were already doing business. They were pretty easy to address by comparison.

Generation IV requires a paradigm shift in your thinking, from management to leadership. And that shift requires a completely different perspective of your business model.

Leadership starts at 60,000 feet, examining your business from a distance. It’s the development of purpose; why your shop exists and what your customers want. It challenges the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality. In some cases it will require reinventing your business model into something you may not be comfortable with.

Leadership aims to motivate your staff to follow you because they’re confident in your vision. It’s about being proactive instead of reactive… about recognizing why you’re in business and what it’ll take to meet your goals.

Managers make their decisions based on established policies and procedures. Leaders create those policies and procedures.

As a leader, you identify your purpose and you set the standards for your business. You create the processes and procedures that enable your business to function, even when you’re away. Your ability as a leader can mean the difference between reshaping your business to compete in today’s market in a matter of a few months… or struggle with it for years.

Maybe most important of all, it forces you to acknowledge the differences in today’s young people entering the workforce. That enables you to learn how to attract and motivate them as productive employees. And you can build on the skills they bring to the table as your business continues to grow and flourish.

Leadership is so important today that we invited one of the premier experts on the subject, Mark Sanborn, to ATRA’s Powertrain Expo this October at the Rio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Mark travels the world, advising business professionals, including a long list of executives from Fortune 500 companies. You can learn more about Mark and his program in the Expo materials on page 58.

Leadership is the most exciting phase of business development. It’s when you’re really working on your business rather than in your business. Let’s Go!