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.