4 Books to Help Leaders Thrive
In need of a new read? Four industry leaders known for their leadership and shop culture have a couple of books in mind. Bill Greeno, owner of Quality Automotive and Smog in Truckee, Calif., is known as a “management guru” in the industry when it comes to leading his staff (Read about how he works to internally motivate his staff everyday).
Like Greeno, Al Pridemore, co-owner of Pride Auto Care in central Colorado, is always striving to be a servant leader in his shops, providing the best training possible for his staff, even going as far as to hire their very own director of training for their operations.
And when it comes to creating an ideal shop culture, John Beebe, owner of Bellingham Automotive in Bellingham, Wash., and Chris Cozad, owner of Alternative Auto Care in Columbus, Ohio, are no strangers to the topic. In fact, Beebe was featured in last November’s Ratchet+Wrench culture feature discussing his approach to shop culture, while Cozad discussed her leadership tactics used everyday in her shop.
Here’s what these successful shop owners have been reading recently, with some of their key leadership takeaways from each title.
“Now, Discover Your Strengths”
by Donald O. Clifton and Marcus Buckingham
Focus: Finding Strengths
This book brings the reader into a paradigm when it comes to hiring. Instead of focusing on one’s weaknesses or failings, this book alters that thought, putting the sole focus on others’ strengths instead. It allows the leader to understand the tools at his or her disposal within their team. After all, if you hire a hammer and expect them to turn screws all day, you just might be disappointed with the results.
The book is written to provide guidance for leaders, but could also be used to help your team members better understand each other. The book gives some examples of folks who have focused upon their own strengths to see to their own success. I mostly use this book for bringing new employees on board. I like to know what their strengths are before I interview so I know who I'm meeting with. As a team, we use it every day to help us focus on one another's strengths. This has improved our company culture because there are not as many misunderstandings with one another, and we can put ourselves in one another’s shoes.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
By Stephen Covey
Focus: Effective Leadership Techniques
This book focuses on improving yourself, your communication style, leadership abilities, and having the proper mindset before attempting to lead others.
A lot of Dr. Covey's teachings are more focused on fine-tuning your own ideals, investing in and understanding your perception of yourself and the world first, then utilizing his tactics for dealing with people, communication with those you can impact, and the impact you can make, which is critical in any leadership role. These have served me well, in my honest opinion. I have found these to be incredibly helpful in my career development, in my ownership of our company, and in my own personal life with my family.
If someone reads through the Seven Habits, some of [the concepts are] very self-explanatory in terms of usable leadership tactics that can be used on a daily basis. But until you buy into the tactical piece of each habit it's hard to understand perhaps how it can profoundly impact your life, personally and professionally. For the record, to this day I read over my Seven Habits study guide on a weekly basis just as a reminder of how to stay balanced, on task, and live a more fulfilling life with better leadership effectiveness.
By Liz Wiseman
Focus: Growing Your Team
I first heard Liz speak at the Global Leadership Summit, where she proposed the question, “If you don’t know what you as a leader should work on to get better, guess who does? Everyone else.” So to me, it now became OK to ask my team what I needed to get better at, and I did. It was a revolutionary win-win.
The subtitle of her book says it best: “How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.” The focus is to make leaders aware of the vast opportunity of treasured genius that’s already within their workforce. It won’t work if we need to be the smartest one in the room—[they’re] known as a Diminisher. Wiseman helps us see the difference between this type of leader and the Multiplier, who everyone wants to work for, providing examples and clear steps to becoming this ideal leader.
The beauty of this concept is there are no losers. If you already know or discover that you’re a controlling-, my-way-or-the-highway-type, there’s still hope for you. Wiseman has created a roadmap to the promised land of making everyone around you better.
“Start with Why”
by Simon Sinek
Focus: Communicating Like a Leader
It’s really important, especially in our industry, to know why you do what you do and what makes you stand out. Everyone should be fixing cars correctly, but in my mind, that’s the baseline, and this book takes you to that next level.
When it comes to a business’ practices, most start with the ‘what’—what a business does—then focus on the ‘how’—the actions taken to accomplish what they do—and then focus on the ‘why’—the purpose behind what they do. Instead, Sinek says to start with the ‘why’ and end with the ‘what’. If you know the ‘why’ behind what you do, then you will know which actions to take to get there (how) and will have the proof behind it (what).
This book really helped me focus on my purpose. You have to rise to the top in order to separate yourself from everybody else, especially as a woman in this industry. As a woman owner managing an all-women staff, it’s helped me realize the importance of achieving that next level in education, customer service, and communication.
I believe the biggest problem in this industry is the failure to communicate. What results from that is not meeting customer’s expectations, simply because we don’t know what expectations are there because we haven’t bothered to ask.