The command and control generation has come and gone; teams are with us now, and their success is our success.

Last month I talked about Service Dominant marketing which is rooted in the relationships that have developed between your employees and your customers. I want to take this to another level and look into the new style of leadership that is necessary to succeed in the workplace today. It is quite clear to me that you have to be viewed as part of the team to be able to lead.

Following is an excerpt from Joel Kurtzman’s book, Common Purpose: How Great Leaders get Organizations to Achieve the Extraordinary.

“The truth is, no one can succeed as a leader without a deep connection to those employees he or she is trying to lead. This connection must be genuine and the followers must feel the “we” of a group. This connection is fragile and can be broken quite easily, as well. Leaders must renew their connections to the group and they must do that every day. If they don’t, and instead take these bonds for granted, the group will reject them. Peak performance comes only when the leader and the group function as one.”

The other key today is that there is new knowledge and new technology available to us to assist in achieving these extraordinary results. “The Balanced Scorecard,” among other things, exposed the needs for tooling, which in many of our cases deals with technology and the big need for training. Training has taken serious hits over the past five years as companies cut back on expenses in almost any manner that they could. This has cost dealerships as employees feel that they have been overlooked. There has been little training, if any; the tools they use are getting older; the systems are no longer current and the “wow” technologies – from VoIP to tablets – have not come to life in many dealerships. What have you done to support those people who maintain the customer relationships on which you are so dependent?

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month I would ask you to take a moment and reflect on what your company has done to support those people who support your customers? How current are your business systems? And I don’t just mean a new software package or new computers. I also mean are you using the most recent release from your software suppliers. Many more software suppliers that I talk with are changing their approach and not supporting older releases. What is the situation with your vendors? This is a critical item for you to verify.

You might want to revisit The AED Foundation standard of 40 hours of training for each employee in the dealership. Of course for some job functions, 40 is not nearly enough. For technicians I would urge you to have at least 80 hours of classroom training per technician. No on-the-job training can substitute formal learning at your OEM. How about that old standby of features and benefits training for your parts employees? How about overcoming objections for all sales personnel? What about sales training for customer contact personnel such as your product support salesmen and telephone sales personnel in the store?

There is much to be thankful for in your businesses, starting with your most important asset. But like everything else, it has to be kept current. And that takes leadership.

So, there is a lot for us to give thanks for this Thanksgiving Season. The teams with whom we work on a daily basis, some of whom we have the privilege to lead; the customers who grace us with their business and support; the vendors upon whom we rely for products and services and information; the knowledge of the employees who touch our customers and maintain and develop the relationships we have with them. We must give thanks, and at the same time I would ask that you re-examine how you continue to develop the skills and knowledge of your employees and how you continue to invest in resources (including their ongoing training and continuing education) to make them as productive as possible. And finally, I urge you to examine what technology and tools you should have in place now and what next steps you need to take to stay ahead in this rapidly changing world. Your suppliers, your customers and your employees await your decisions and answers.

Enjoy the holiday and to all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

by Ron Slee
November, 2011
CED Magazine

About CED Magazine

Construction Equipment Distribution is published by Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada.

With CED, content is king. No fluff, no advertorials – CED just gives AED members what they want to read: business information, industry and association news, plus fresh, original and useful feature articles that they share with their management teams. Our subjects range from rental, product support, sales strategy and customer service to technology, construction markets and legislation – and much more.