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I watched a video of a speech given by Peter Drucker, the father of modern management. I'm disappointed that I was never able to make it to Stanford University and listen to him speak in person while he was still alive. He is no doubt one of the most influential business minds in history. He made a comment almost in passing and for some reason it has really stuck with me, perhaps because it was off topic a bit and to be honest, I didn't really understand it when he first mentioned it. What he said was,"A leader's job is to learn to say no. A good leader learns to say no gracefully." After thinking about it a bunch, here is what I've come up with:
A leader's most important asset to manage is his people, so proper motivation is key. There are many ways to motivate and the best forms of motivation usually take time because they involve building commitment, respect, and belief from your team. These things don't usually happen in an instant. De-motivation is simpler: a quick insult, a harsh reprimand or a rash decision without feedback; killing the moral of the team can happen in a split second. Proper motivation and you will be successful, no motivation and your team will die. Think of the last time a team mate came to you with a great idea that you were excited for, most likely is was not difficult to praise the idea, get behind it and as a result your genuine passion came out and you team member was motivated and likely better results were achieved. Think of when someone comes to you as the leader with an issue or idea that won't work, if you dont control you response, your tone or even the disappointment in your eyes you could send the de-motivating signals to your team member. If they are let down then motivation, energy and passion is diminished and you are left with a less committed employee. There are obvious times when a leader must make corrections, after all, that's why we lead. A leader's job is to say no and good leaders learn to say "no" gracefully. Historically, this is a lesson we in the car business have missed. How many of us have been in a sales meeting where the team was told how lousy they we were? It happens at stores all the time! It's demoralizing, and unfortunatly the biggest influences on our leadership style is our managers. The good news is for those who learn to say no gracefully, the auto industry has some huge rewards waiting...