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Become a Culture Builder

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As the owner or manager of a shop, one of your largest responsibilities to carry is the role of a leader. The position requires constant attention to your conduct and the conduct of your team. Every action matters. 

“People don’t quit jobs, they quit bad leaders and corrupt cultures,” says Scott Miller, executive vice president of thought leadership for consulting and training firm Franklin Covey.  

So, how do you make sure you’re leading the right way? Ratchet+Wrench spoke with Miller to find out. 

As told to Paul Hodowanic

Every action has impact. 

Leaders are the lynchpin for great cultures. Leaders define the culture of your company, in every action. Every voicemail, every text, every Zoom call, every meeting. Everything a leader does or says can create and build culture or diminish and destroy it. And I don’t know if leaders understand that responsibility. 

But if you are going to lead people, you have to understand that you’re the culture builder. What you say, what you do, gets watched and modeled by everyone. You are the ultimate model of everything you want your employees to do. What words you use. Your punctuality. How you treat people. How you forgive people. How trusted you are. It’s a high burden.

Be clear on what you want to see.

I don’t care if you’re a mom-and-pop repair shop, a parts store or supply chain shop. As a leader you need to be very clear on what behaviors you want to see. No gossiping. Giving feedback on people’s blind spots. Modeling efficiency and productivity. Once people see this behavior in their leaders and understand what is and isn’t acceptable, then those behaviors will absolutely be replicated. But the leaders have to be the driving force of every behavior you want to see. 

Leading isn’t for everyone.  

I think most organizations have perpetuated this myth that the only way to get promoted, the only way to earn more money, is to become a leader of people. That’s a shame, because not everyone should be a leader. Not everyone should be a mechanic. Not everybody should be a doctor, and that’s OK. Not even every founder or owner should be the leader. Sometimes the leader or the founder might need to realize their skills are elsewhere.

Most people get promoted into leadership because they were the top at their job. They were the best salesperson. They were the best mechanic and they got promoted and became a leader. Rarely does the best mechanic make the best leader of mechanics. And that’s because typically individual producers are normally singularly focused on their own contribution. 

Your job is to bring out the best in others.

As a leader, your job is not to be the genius in the room, but rather the genius maker of others. Your job is to ignite their genius, bring out their passion. Nobody wants to work for the smartest person in the room. So stop trying to be that.

I think the biggest insight I can share for leaders to promote an engaging culture is that, as the leader, your job is to achieve results with and through other people. That’s profound. Your job is not to rush in and save the day. Your job is not to be the smartest person in the room. Your job is not to have all the answers. Your job is to achieve results with and through other people

If you don’t align with that, it’s fine. You’re just better off being an individual producer. 

Long-term success relies on strong leadership.

There are a lot of levers you can pull short-term where businesses can be successful without a leader. Whether it’s pricing or supply chain or advertising or logos. You can stomp your competition. There’s all kinds of things you can do for short term profitability and success. But if you want long-term sustainable success in the marketplace with fiercely loyal customers and a brand that can withstand any sort of crisis or competition, it’s all about your culture. 

You often hear this phrase that people are a business's most valuable asset. It’s simply not true. People are not a company’s most valuable asset. It’s the relationships between those people that are your ultimate competitive advantage. Everything can be stolen and copied. Your pricing, your marketing, your logo. Everything can and is being stolen and copied from you, except for your culture.

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