By Debbie A. Davis, MarineMax
lead: (verb) to influence or induce
manage: (verb) take charge or care of
Who could forget the biggest promotion of their life; when everything you had been working towards came together and you were finally being recognized, rewarded and whoa…now 100% responsible for the results! It didn’t take, but a few minutes for the ether to wear off and reality to set-in. My thoughts immediately turned from my personal victory in achieving this goal of becoming the president to “how am I going to keep the company and winning superbowl team at the very top of the NFL?” I went to sleep that night wondering how I was going to manage to sell, service, finance, deliver and repair in excess of 1,000 boats a year while maintaining multiple facilities a team of 200 and all while ensuring top performance levels of profitability, customer satisfaction and market share. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night!
I realized the following day that as the highest ranking executive in my organization, it wasn’t my job to involve myself in every aspect of every roll of the business but, clearly my job to make sure it all got done! I had now developed out of my management role and into a leadership role.
With that personal epiphany, I created my personal leadership strategy. Starting with two assumptions; a) no one team member is more or less important than another; it takes the whole team to meet and exceed performance expectations; otherwise reevaluate or reorganize the playing team b) start with the assumption that every team member is in the right role with the right skills letting them validate their position.. Often poor leadership can hinder top performers.
From there; I realized that it was my job to ensure the following elements where in place in order for me to lead the team to not only meet, but exceed company’s performance and expectations.
GOALS. Establish and communicate companywide, departmental and personal performance goals. In order for an individual and/or team to meet performance expectations, you must communicate a head of time the goals, and how they are quantified on all levels and on a consistent basis. (Goals can be mission statements, value statements, P & L, customer satisfaction or market share, and/or timeline performance criteria, etc.), but at all times quantifiable
ROLES. Each team member needs to know exactly what their specific role is within the team and how their accomplishments contribute to the team’s overall performance.Team members need to be respected for whatever role they serve. (This can be achieved thru job descriptions, performance reviews, intercompany communication vehicles, etc.)
TOOLS. Each department and/or team member must have the proper equipment and/or tools to meet the performance expectations. I define tools as anything necessary to ensure the proper execution of the role. Tools can be tangibles or intangibles; anything from computer hardware or software to ongoing education and skill set training. This doesn’t mean the team has blanket authority to make acquisitions; it does; however, mean that you as their leader are receptive to their needs for assistance to help them continuously excel. (The best way to further identify necessary “tools” for successful performance is by asking the team member, department head, customer, what do you wish for! )
INSPIRE: Of paramount importance is the ability to inspire and motivate follower ship. Follower ship is the ultimate sign of a successful leader. A team member needs to know they are respected, supported, acknowledged and important for their individual contribution to the organization. One size does not fit all in this regard and it’s important to learn what are each and every team member’s hot buttons…what specifically motivates them (monetary, public praise, time off, etc.) and then provide that individualized motivation. What motivates you does not necessarily motivate your team! Again, just ask, you’d be surprised what you will learn. While it wasn’t possible for me to meet with 100% of our extensive customer base; it was possible for me to interact with 100% of the organizational team who inturn interact with the customer.
FUN. Last but certainly not least, make sure your team is having fun. A happy, highly motivated and inspired team will deliver exceptional results and this does not have to come at the expense of having some fun along the way; especially when you are in a recreational fun business! After all boating is a happy lifestyle. Aspire to be a company that both attracts and retains top performers. It will help you achieve your company’s performance goals as well as keep human capital costs down along the way.
Of course there are many more details behind each of these bigger principles and as a team we worked very hard along the way; but by having a strategy, and inspiring follower ship, I had the privilege of leading a top performing team that consistently met and exceeded in delivering company and customer performance expectations! I encourage you to create your own leadership strategy and engage your department heads in transitioning from a management roll to leadership roll …it can be very rewarding and successful for all!