Today’s equipment manufacturers and dealers are facing tough customers, fierce competition, and complex organizational challenges that require not only dynamic leadership in every department, but also the development of emerging leaders who will be ready to take on these challenges in the future. How can you spot the individuals who will become dynamic leaders in your company?
Where to Focus
Start by focusing not on performance but on individuals with high leadership potential. The reason is simple: some people perform exceptionally well in their job role and are technically proficient, but still don’t have what it takes to be a great leader. Investing in this type of person must be avoided as it causes a loss of productivity, can dampen morale, and may even be a waste of money.
A perfect example is when the best technician is given the job of service department manager, but the individual lacks the ability to manage people and influence a team. Then someone has to be the bad guy and remove them from the position and give it to someone else. The result is a top tech who is disgruntled and has a damaged ego, and a new service manager who is nervous.
Then there is the individual who excels in their job role but has no desire to be a leader. They are content with being a follower. It’s important to select the right people – individuals with leadership potential and desire.
What to Look For
Who demonstrates initiative beyond their job position?
Who proactively comes forth with ideas and potential solutions to problems and thus shows an interest in the company’s success?
Who demonstrates accountability and takes responsibility for a positive result?
Who has interpersonal skills and works well with others?
Who seems to “make things happen” and does not wait to see what happens?
Who bends over backwards to help customers and their team members? Who can you always count on no matter what?
Who would make the same decisions you would when in charge?
Who seems to have the ability to motivate and influence others?
Who might evolve into a strategic leader?
Who wants to obtain training in leadership and management skills or improve upon management skills?
Who wants to take on more responsibility?
Most important: Who can deliver clear, concise communication?
Select individuals who are most likely to deliver results.
As you go about your selection process, keep in mind that emerging leaders do not have to be young employees. Definitely look for millennial employees with leadership potential, but don’t forget the older employees or seasoned managers who are capable of taking on a bigger role. They are well-versed in your processes, procedures, structure, and culture. They may even know your customers.
Equal opportunity and diversity should be considered. We are now a multicultural, multiethnic society and workforce. Take this into consideration, and be sure to give female employees the opportunity as well. Women can bring unique qualities to their leadership roles. Women and individuals from different cultures can bring new perspectives to your company.
Develop your own criteria for whom you might consider as an emerging leader.
There are ten next steps but they are simple.
1. Bring your emerging leaders together. Invite them to learn from one another and explore new ways of doing business and methods to improve operations. Discuss ways to develop stronger management/employee relationships and provide the highest level of service to you, your customers and their team. Direct them to find ways everyone in the company can better support your sales team.
2. Don’t think the “one and done” leadership training program will cut it. Ongoing repetitious training is the mother of learning. Train them on competencies the most successful leaders have mastered to deliver results:
▶ Strategic thinking
▶ Effective decision-making
▶ Product support roles
▶ Managing and motivating
▶ Branch management
▶ Implementing change
▶ Culture transformation
▶ Customer service excellence
▶ Conflict management
Provide training applicable to their day-to-day activities. Make sure they possess basic business acumen as well.
3. Send them to The AED Foundation leadership events. Bring them to the Summit.
4. Send female emerging leaders to a women’s leadership event or training program, or follow the lead of several equipment manufacturers that have implemented a women’s leadership development program in their companies.
5. Allow an emerging leader to sit in on executive meetings.
6. Involve their manager and HR in monitoring their progress.
7. Direct emerging leaders to share their challenges and help each other.
8. Assign them to come up with solutions to your most pressing problem.
9. Have them shadow an executive for a day, or a sales manager, parts manager, and/or salesperson.
This way, they can understand your business and how it operates.
10. Have them sit in on your Monday morning meetings to talk about the week before – the hits, runs, and misses.
If someone in your family is your emerging leader, be sure to have a succession plan, and take the ten steps with them as well. Ensure they are ready, willing, and able to take the lead, or your business can suffer. Most importantly, direct them to strive to develop strong relationships with your employees and your customers.
Some say leaders are born, not made. I disagree. Make your leaders the best in the industry.