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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development

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ATTN: Being A Boss Isn't About Managing. It's About Leading.

In the last year, I have not been a direct supervisor - something, to be honest, that I did not miss. So I had to ask myself the honest question: what about managing did I not miss? Managing is not easy, we get that - you have not just to lead the team, but more importantly continue to develop the team, which means you are balancing personalities, finding their strengths, to then orchestrating them all together. This is not an easy task, and now that I am a manager again, here are some of the top things you should also consider when you are managing a team. 

Do Not Be Afraid to Let Your Team Lead a Project. They Cannot Develop or Grow if They Are Not A Part of the Change. 

It can be easy to try and manage everything yourself: everything from website changes, vendor management, etc. However, the truth is that no one person can effectively manage every facet of the business. This is something that I had to learn, in my last group while I did allocate work to my team they were not given the autonomy to complete and develop new projects. Something I wish I were allowed to do. That said, now that I do have the autonomy to have them develop new projects we can - as a team - effectively diversify our projects. 

One of the best ways to do this is to have a set of goals. Goals that do not just affect the team, but offer smart growth to the dealership. Everything from enhancing the website, working more effectively alongside our vendors, to most importantly working directly with the sales consultants. So while the autonomy, itself, does not necessarily mean that my team has free reign. The goal was to empower the team; working collectively to create realistic goals. Sustainable goals; and most importantly, goals they helped create. 

Do Not Get to Involved in the Day to Day Work. But Remember Where You Started. 

Sometimes we get too entrenched in the day to day work; we can often forget about the bigger picture. Namely, as a manager when you get too involved in the day to day operations, it offers you less time to think forward. Whether that is creating a new project for the team, or increasing your team's overall effectiveness, this by no means is offering that we do not support our team in what they do, either. Instead, it means that as a leader, we always have to be looking forward; understanding what projects are most important in offering our dealership success. Another significant aspect of assigning a project to your team is that it empowers them to both learn and grow. No one wants to become stagnant or disenchanted because they do not believe that they have the chance to grow and develop within the company. And as a manager, by assigning projects, it helps you better understand what their individual strengths are and what they, too, can bring to the table. 

Do Not Be Afraid to Hire Somone Better than You. Or This Can Lead You to Failure.  

There can - depending on the companies culture -  be this fear that if you were to hire someone better than you in an area that you could lose your job. Or that your employee might outshine you, and get all of the credit for the department's success. And while at certain companies this might be the case - you cannot lead like this! In fact, in doing so, it can and will eventually lead into failing not just the team, but yourself. Not everyone can be a leader (manager), and not every leader (manager) can be an employee. It works both ways. If you are a good leader, you will let your team shine, allowing them to bring their own strengths to the table. 

Do Not Roll Your Team Under the Bus. As A Leader, You Are Responsible for Your Teams Success. 

This is not to say that your team might let you down, but you have to ask yourself the hard question: did I fail my team? We are human, and we will make mistakes. But the last thing you want to do is pass all of the blame onto your team. Instead, use it as a learning experience and move forward. This will not only increase your chances of earning your teams respect and trust, but it shows your ability to lead the team in the right direction. The other thing to consider is looking back at why you failed, which in some cases can offer you the means to speak with your employees to prevent this from occurring again. But do not angle the conversation in a way that belittles your employee; focus on the positives, and how you can work as a team to prevent the mistake from recurring. We have to remember that we make mistakes, too and were once in their shoes before we got to where we are. 

Bottom Line: Leading is by no means easy, but a good leader will work with their team to leverage their individual strengths in a meaningful, relevant way. One that not just compliments the team, but most importantly offers the dealer success. 

Do you include your team in projects? What is one thing you have learned as a leader on the dealer level?

Tracie Costabile

Hear, hear!  I wish more managers understood the importance of leading vs. managing.  One motivates and inspires participation, the other constricts and belittles efforts.  On the point of hiring people better than you, I've also seen way too many times the exceptional employee getting squashed by an insecure manager.  Sometimes even fired!  If we hire people better than we are, we build a team of inspired leaders.  If we hire people worse than we are, we build a team of disgruntled followers.  Great article - thanks for sharing.

Derrick Woolfson

Thanks, Tracie! For sure, and more so - while the leader has to be open, and hire talent - the culture can impact their decisions. It is a scary thought that your dealer owner (and their exec team) can partially create such an environment. I cannot imagine how much it costs them annually in new hires, and lost productivity. 

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