We spend a lot of time in our stores actively working. Spending time in the auto business focusing on sales, service, processes, policies, and what are we doing to grow, train, and retain our staff. Often times, as leaders at any level in any organization, we spend a lot of time IN the business, or even as recommended by many, ON the business. It’s easy to get lost in your daily duties and routines. Because of that, you may lose what you are doing to actively grow yourself as a person and as a leader.
If you aren’t growing yourself, it makes it difficult to have the accountability for others to grow in your organization. People see, they hear, and they emulate the leadership in any business.
Here are some ways to develop yourself and grow as a leader.
1. Know how you learn. Do you learn better in a classroom, or by watching someone else? Do you learn with someone guiding you, or just going after it, taking action? Every learning method is valuable. You may have to alter the methods you use to teach and grow others and first you must know how to make the adjustment yourself. To be effective at teaching and growing others, you must know what your areas of strength are and be an effective student first. You cannot teach what you don’t know, and it’s certainly more difficult to teach a method that you are not good at.
2. Take time. Growth doesn’t happen on accident, nor does it happen instantly. When comparing growth, let’s look at a garden as an example. It takes preparation of the ground, seeding, water, sunlight, and then… time. We are deliberate in all of the care and preparation and work that it takes to reap a reward in an example such as this. But as humans when it comes to us, we want the instant result. Effective personal growth takes preparation and it takes time. Sometimes it means taking time out for yourself away from the inside of the store so that you can focus on self-development without interruption. We all agree that time is a valuable resource, invest it accordingly, in yourself too!
3. Be Deliberate. The reason that you are in a leadership role, either by title, or by deed, is because you worked your tail off and were deliberate in your learning, your work ethic, and your display of knowledge to get there. Now, you have to continue to be deliberate in learning and growth to stay there. There are hundreds if not thousands of free resources for growing in any area you may feel you may need it. What do you have to do? Be deliberate in seeking answers. And know this, sometimes it’s not just the textbook answers that are the best answers. You may need to pick up a phone, or go to someone and have a lunch. Meet face to face with someone – often that face to face meeting can lead into point number four below.
4. Ask for feedback. I remember reading some time ago, I think it was Dave Anderson that said to ask your staff, “What do we do here that’s dumb?” Or here is another great question, “Where do you see that I could improve?” These questions have stuck with me throughout my career. These are valuable questions… because of the answers. You can ask this of other managers, the staff that works for you, your receptionist, the lot attendants. Couple things, your people have to trust you enough to tell you the real answers. If they won’t or don’t – you may have some different areas to work on. Second, be prepared to listen to the answers, and don’t respond. At least not right now. Feedback can allow you or your organization to grow immensely, but as a leader, if you always rebut, or offer a response right away – people will stop giving it to you. So accept what they have to share, and really take some time to reflect. Be thankful, because this is a growth opportunity!
5. Look outside of your store. If your model of the world is always an inside view looking to the outside, you might need a new perspective. You may be getting the same results because you are constantly seeing and doing the same things. Shine a fresh perspective through your store. Reach out to thought leaders through social network connections. Linkedin is a great way to connect with professional, like-minded individuals. I always recommend searching for leaders in your industry, you already have an idea of who they are. Most will take this as a compliment and it’s human nature that when you seek them as an expert it builds up their self-esteem. Many of these people will be eager to help you grow, just reach out and have a conversation with them.
For any of these suggestions or methods to work, more than anything else, you must have a growth mindset. You have to be teachable. Make sure you learn at least one new thing every day. Leaders, and really any people, who focus on growing themselves always tend to invest more into the other people around them. And when the people around you grow, the company grows too.
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Mike is a Digital Executive in the auto industry. He has more than 25 years in coaching and leadership, and expertise in automotive call centers and phone sales (BDC). Mike hosts a weekly podcast for sales and leadership titled "The FRONT" and has a successful YouTube channel at http://LeadTheTeam.TV