By: Shawna Laird-Brush, Business Manager
“Leadership these days has become a complex art…”
I recently saw this line in a column from Harvard Business School and realized the truth of that one statement. Leadership has many definitions from the most basic to entire books written on the subject. Seminars on “How to Be a Great Leader” can be costly. And do you really know if that seminar will give you the tools to be that Great Leader.
Do an internet search for ‘definition of leadership’ and you can get over 261 million results. 261 MILLION! That’s a lot of opinions - who has the time to go through all of those? One article from a couple of years ago had ten different definitions, but each was written by an individual, albeit successful ones. There’s not one universal definition; even the dictionary companies differ slightly.
So how do you become a Great Leader? Do you emulate a known and established leader? Which one? And asking those questions leads to a whole new set of them and can be a vicious cycle in which you may never escape. So stop asking questions and develop your own leadership style.
Every Great Leader faces new and different challenges than their peers, but they all have a common goal or mission – bettering the organization with the team and resources you have. There are several commonalities between every definition you can find. Use those commonalities as building blocks for your transformation into a Great Leader.
Encourage, Inspire, Motivate
Not every member of your team can be encouraged or motivated in the same way. Find the best way for each person on the team and constantly fan that flame. While money usually motivates people to perform better, you may not have that option in your organization. A handwritten note to an employee about how their work is improving or was a great help in a project can encourage just as well as a bonus.
Create a cohesive team with shared effort
A cohesive team is one that has shared efforts and goals. Meet with your team to find the best way to bring them together. Play to each person’s strengths and what they can offer the team. The best team complements each other and shares the workload.
Influence by example
“Do what I say, not what I do” does not make a Great Leader. Be the example for your team. Shoulder your share of the workload and let the team know what you are working on while they do their part. It truly becomes a team effort and they will be more willing to work with you toward the goal.
Not necessarily based on position in hierarchy
Just because your job title has manager or director in it means you will be the best person to lead a specific project. You become a Great Leader by identifying those in your organization that can also lead and encouraging and teaching them how to become more effective.
Focus on the individuals
Don’t become so task-oriented that you lose the individuals working on those tasks. A Great Leader will guide individuals through challenges, rather than focus on specific task completion. Monitor your team and the effectiveness of procedures. Work with team members to improve the process/procedure or find a solution to a problem.
Leverage an attitude
Your attitude will set the tone for the entire team. Being positive, even during adversity, is not naïve; but a sign of a Great Leader. If you panic over the small bump in the road, then your team will reflect the same attitude and could spiral out of control. Set a positive tone and your team will as well.
Inspire trust and confidence
Ultimately, being a Great Leader comes down to trust. If the team trusts you, then the team can and will make great things happen. Praise your team in public and address any problems in private. The more confidence and trust that your team has in you, the more they will be willing to work toward a shared goal.
By: Shawna Laird-Brush, Business Manager
You know who I am talking about. That irritating employee who alienates their colleagues while consistently managing to find clever solutions to the pressing issues or problems that arise in the organization. The one who is high-performing (and likes to take all the credit) and STILL has the time to grate on every nerve you have.
Sound familiar? Every company, organization, or group has at least one of them that most managers handle badly. Many managers don’t want to “rock the boat” when projects are running smoothly, or vehicle downtime is below the goal threshold. This means that their response, when or if it finally comes, is often ineffective. They don’t understand or they underestimate the cost to the organization in terms of staff morale or retention.
So, how do you manage that talented blockhead?
The trick is being able to tap into that brilliance while minimizing the damage. You may not always have the option of getting rid of them, so let’s look at ways to retain and use that talent better.
Listen closely to what is going on
This doesn’t mean spy on your people, but listen to them when they talk about difficulties they may have with certain individual. If you hear from more than one employee about the same person, it’s time to pay attention and plan out your strategy.
Begin the intervention early
If you are listening, you may be able to start working with the “problem child” early. This could mean pairing them with a counselor or peer that can help them relate to their colleagues and begin to share the values of the organization.
You can provide an opportunity for attitude improvement. Try reviewing this employee’s interpersonal skills more often and tell them that their needs to be consistent improvement. Let them know they are a valuable member of the team and do great work, but this particular area needs to be focused on.
You can also begin a peer assessment to coincide with employee reviews. I was once at a company where the president of the company had each employee review the interpersonal skills of their team or department colleagues. All responses were anonymous. The results were then compiled and given to us. Although sometimes hard to read, it did create awareness and you could see positive changes.
Reassign them or change their workload
Maybe the best way to keep the talent and make peace in the office is to reassign the employee to a position that doesn’t interact as frequently with colleagues or other departments. Try funneling their time and resources into big projects that don’t require extensive teamwork. Maybe they would be great at looking for trends in reams of data or creating training materials for best practices.
Change the reward system
Many organizations and companies have “Employee of the Month” rewards. While this is a great program for many, this could encourage the clever dolt to continue his ways in hopes of gaining that prize. Try a monthly reward for the team instead of rewarding one individual.
There are ways of salvaging the brilliant jerks and preserving the energy, ideas, and performance they can bring to an organization. How do you manage them? Let me know in the comments and I’ll update this article.
By: Shawna Laird, Business Manager
Strategy is defined as a long-term plan of action to achieve a particular goal. Strategy is about choices and recognizing that those choices can affect your outcome. By creating an effective strategy in producing a Business Plan, unfavorable results can be reduced or avoided. All Business Plans should be three dimensional and include: 1. Business Plan; 2. Fleet Program Plans; and 3. Customer Service Agreements.
Let’s take a look at the different components of a Business Plan.
Executive Summary: The Executive Summary should be one to two pages long and include your Mission and Vision statements. Be sure to introduce your fleet organization. Describe the programs and services that your organization provides in supporting the using departments. Brag on the organization! Show your accomplishments and how those accomplishments were achieved.
Fleet Overview: Showcase your organization. Explain the purpose of your organization and the diversity of the equipment that composes the fleet. Highlight the benefits of your organization and define the services provided. Acknowledge your customers, both internal and external. Go crazy and use charts and graphs that are easy to understand and still make the point.
Marketing and Organizational Analysis: Define your customer needs. Show that your organization understands their needs and explain how your organization can and does meet those demands. Publish a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis. Get your staff and user departments involved by asking them to participate in the SWOT Analysis before publication. Work your strengths and hire to fill areas of weakness. If you cannot hire, then create a plan to promote or train staff to fill those weak areas.
Teamwork and Organization: Accentuate your team. List your awards and certifications. Emphasize the expertise of your staff by detailing their accomplishments and certifications. Stress the experience you have in your organization (number of years, diversity of skills, etc.) Your team is central to the success of your organization and your Business Plan.
Financial Outlook: You’ve all heard “run it like a business.” Create your budget at the program level. Include a Profit & Loss statement and analyze current market trends. Underscore your organization’s commitment to reduce costs by explaining programs that will be implemented to save money.
Appendix A: Fleet Program Plans: Plan by program. Include the goals, tasks, measurements, procedures, processes, roles, responsibilities, and reports. Clearly state the goals and objectives of the organization. Use visual work flow charts to highlight your tasks and processes. Charts can be easier to read and understand and can lead to better comprehension of how the organization works. Define the roles and responsibilities of your staff and explain their part in the overall success of the organization. Outline the reports you will use and how you will analyze the performance of the organization. Include sample reports or dashboards.
Appendix B: Customer Service Agreement: Partner with your customers and define both your organization’s and the customer’s expectations. Explain your organization’s processes and the costs and benefits of the services and programs.
Update your Business Plan annually and publish it. Have it available to your staff and user departments both in print and electronically. Upload it to your intranet. Schedule meetings, at your facility, with upper management, city council, county commissioners, or your board of directors to review your Business Plan, especially if new people are elected or hired. Ask for feedback from the readers. You never know what ideas and programs may come from those comments.
By: The Business Services Team
In part 2 of this Teambuilding series, we discussed that team players are essential to the success of the team. In this portion of the series, the focus is on Team Ownership. The Team Ownership that we are discussing is not the person who has the legal right/title to the team. It is the opportunity for ‘individual’ ownership that each of the team players has. There must also be ownership by the team – not just the ownership of the team.
Kevin Eikenberry writes” Commitment, engagement or buy-in – whatever you want to call – it’s a good thing. One sure-fire way to increase all those things is for people to feel ownership of something. When people feel ownership for problem solving, ownership of the ideas created in a meeting or ownership in their personal or organizational goals they are working towards greater success will occur.“ When people take ownership of anything, they take pride in it, share it with others, and have a passion for it.
For a team to be successful in any endeavor, the players have to own their roles, their contributions, and their involvement on the team. Each of us takes individual ‘ownership’ of our job responsibilities. We take responsibility for the necessary tasks it involves, we do the best we can, engage in it, show its importance, and contributes to the success of the overall team/organization because of it. Each position is owned by someone and each team ‘owner’ contributes to the entire team goal. Taking ownership of our role, whether we write specifications for the new equipment, order repair parts, prepare the budget, repair and maintain the equipment, supply the parts, build the vehicles, develop new technologies, provide administration and business management, or conduct studies; moves the team up in the success rankings.
Think of your favorite sports team, each player has a role and a responsibility to own that role and to contribute to the success of the team, each and every day. Not just for the championship. These team players have and display team ownership. They work at it, are loyal to it, and are proud of it.
We each have ownership on many teams. Every organization that we belong to, work for, volunteer for, or participate in any away with needs team players that will own their piece of the team. Our families, our friends, our sports teams, our jobs, and our associations and organizations will succeed because of us taking “ownership”.
By: Steve Kibler, Fleet Manager, City of Loveland (Colorado Chapter)
Each fleet manager or any manager for that matter has a unique style of leading his/her team. It’s kind of like the three bear’s beds, there are three categories: one is too soft, one is too hard and one is j-u-u-u-st right. The one that avoids or ignores problems is too soft. The autocratic one or the “off with their heads” one is too hard (but this style must be in your ammo box). The manager who earns his teams trust and respect through fairness and integrity turns out to be the just right leader. Which one are you? We are motivated to lead in many ways; through frustration with current leaders; through a will to “fix things” or an inherent need to improve how a service is provided.
My personal motivation comes from witnessing colleagues do it right and wanting to emulate that example of leadership within my own team. Another subtle motivation may be a catch phrase or sage quote by some famous person. I have some favorites I would like to share.
“Worry is interest paid on trouble that hasn’t happened yet” ~David Petersen
“A successful man is one who can lay a solid foundation with all the bricks others have thrown at him” ~David Brinkley
“Being defeated is temporary, giving up makes it permanent.” ~Marilyn von Savant
And my personal favorite:
“Be who you are and say what you feel ‘cause people who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind.” ~Theodor Suess Geisel (You probably know this author by another name: Dr. Suess)
There are many ways to lead your organization to success but there are exponentially more ways to fail and go backwards. How can you avoid this pitfall; always follow through with a plan until it is completed to your satisfaction or until it fails (the plan, NOT you). If you never fail, how can you or your team know what your limits are? We’ve all heard the saying “two heads are better than one.” Think how much better the dozen or so heads on your team are if you have created a culture of trust. Don’t be afraid to ask suggestions from your team about a challenging project. An unknown author said: “He who does the job knows the job best; trust the people you hired to do the job.” Trust your team to suggest strategies and/or obstacles you may not have anticipated. Then you must lead by decisively picking the direction the team will take and you must define to the team the goals along the journey. Here’s where follow through is so important. Don’t let the project die on the vine. If I may quote RMFMA member Craig Croner, City of Boise “Regularly inspect what you expect from your team.”
Each of us must find our own style of leading. My advice would be to regularly network with your team every chance you can. Attend every industry related conference, meeting, and/or training you can and glean whatever motivation you can steal from your colleagues. ‘Cause those that mind – don’t matter and those that matter – don’t mind.
I even composed a motivational saying of my very own:
“You can’t go through life with one foot on the brake; release your fear of failure; of not achieving excellence; be excited about life and release the brake!” ~Steve Kibler
The FleetPros Blog is written and moderated by the Business Manager with contributions from the membership and Business Services Team.