of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior that the leader
is willing to tolerate!”
brought back a painful memory.
In the 1990’s, I
joined a dealership in another state. During my dysfunctional
3-month tenure, I witnessed unlawful F&I practices, no
inventory control, little sales process, nor training of any kind.
Plus, the dealer was constantly obsessed with getting media
blamed the poor results he was getting on his subordinates. In his
view, the sales people were lazy and selfish, his sales and finance
managers were dishonest, and his assistant was incompetent. None of
these views were shared with me until I arrived on a Monday in
April. It was then I was told that my primary objective would be to
change the culture in the dealership and install processes to make
beginning, it required 2 days just to locate all the vehicles shown
on the books. It was necessary to replace the sales and finance
managers. For control purposes we consolidated the sales teams into
one showroom at the primary location, installing new processes at
the budget lot. Plus, we hired additional staff and opened a new
showroom across town.
later, in June, a delegation of factory executives flew in to
inspect the operation. After a 6 hour tour the dealer invited
this group to dinner at an exclusive downtown restaurant. After
dinner, the dealer asked me, “To cover the tab because his
assistant had not paid his credit card bill.” I agreed,
if he would reimburse me the next morning. I paid the $2400 bill.
The next morning, when I applied for reimbursement, the dealer
actually asked me why he owed me $2400. After cashing my
reimbursement check, I resigned and worked a 2-week notice. I
assisted him by finding my replacement and left with a clear
conscience. He never paid me for the last two weeks.
My friend and
mentor, Dave Anderson, shares that “A fish doesn’t rot from the
tail up. It rots from the head down!” In addition to not
tolerating bad behavior, a leader cannot expect any better behavior
than that leader displays in his own personal and professional
And that is today’s Morning
commercial reminded me of a situation that our old neighborhood
community faced many years ago. An 18-year-old boy was out of
control. He would roam the neighborhood all hours of the day and
night showing up unexpectedly in neighbor’s yards. He would hide
weird things around for younger kids to find. When he started
stalking the younger kids, he could no longer be ignored. He was
way out of control.
met to discuss options. They suggested a neighborhood watch group,
or restricted hours for children to play, and only with parents
supervising. Several parents had called the police but with no help
because he had broken no laws. One parent suggested that some
fathers should have a “chat” with the boy. That
“chat” most likely would not affect the boy’s behavior
without putting these fathers in legal or physical jeopardy.
One man stepped
forward. He stated that, “We will not change our lives to
accommodate this boy.” He shared that he would confront the
boy’s mother to get this solved, thereby, hopefully avoiding an
altercation or the involvement of the police. He said he would,
“Just Do It!”
He met the
mother to discuss these issues. At first, she was defiant, claiming
that none of this was happening. He shared that a father of 4 kids
had taken the boy’s picture as he was stalking them at a birthday
party. A worried look came over her face. The man continued.
“This situation would only end in one of a couple of ways. The
boy would do something bad, or a child would get hurt, and he would
be arrested. Or, one of the parents will sense that a child was in
danger and the boy would get hurt. Or, you, his mother, will take
control of your son, get him some help, and prevent any of those
bad things from happening.”
She stated that
she would handle it. Two days later, the boy disappeared from the
Think about a
bad situation that required you to take direct immediate action.
Did you convene a committee? Did you change everyone else to
accommodate the person who was wrong? Or, did you attack the
problem and solve it. Did you, “Just Do
And that is today’s Morning
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and development of people is the highest calling of
leadership.” Harvey Firestone
is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do,
while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never
thought they could.” Steve Jobs
is not about being the best. It is about making everyone else
common threads with each of these quotes.
exactly none of these statements is the leader the primary subject.
The leader is portrayed as the coach or teacher. Too many
“leaders” feel that they have achieved their position as a
reward for excellent performance prior to their promotion.
Leadership responsibilities are much different than those of the
people they lead.
all these statements the key message reveals an undeniable truth.
The leader’s primary responsibility is to help his or her team
members to achieve the greatest success that they are capable of.
What facts do
these statements reveal about the true nature of
required to excel as a team member differ from the requirements of
an excellent leader. A great player seldom makes a great coach.
Conversely, great coaches are usually not the greatest players.
Simply put, the success of the team as a unit and the success of
individual team members is the most effective way to measure the
value of a leader.
Think of it this
way. In sports, how many MVP’S or Heisman trophy winners go on to
be great coaches? How many super salespeople go on to become great
General Managers? How many great doctors go on to become fantastic
hospital administrators? Being the best that you can be is quite
different from inspiring others to be the best they can be. While
excellent individual performance can lead to individual greatness,
the leader or coach will only be considered great by creating
superior teams with great team members.
Here is a final
If you desire to
be a great leader or coach, learn how to attract, recruit, train,
motivate and retain high quality people. Then organize these folks
utilizing their strengths and abilities to achieve and to surpass
the goals of the organization. Accept the blame for team failures
and give the credit for the team’s success to the team members.
Then you will be a great leader.