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The big picture: Why leadership is the key USP

The buzzword of the moment is leadership – and not just because AM is running a skills conference later this year.

Pressure from carmakers to concentrate their franchised dealers’ minds, combined with the ongoing progress made by Automotive Skills and a dawning realization by many groups that they need to get better at managing and coaching their staff, is accelerating the number of managers undertaking leadership-type training.

What’s leadership all about? It’s more than simply managing your staff; it’s about coaching, training, motivating, setting the company vision and corporate values, carrying out regular appraisals, being inclusive, inspiring. Staff want to follow a leader; they need to know the business aims and how they fit in with those aims. Sharing information is crucial.

Leadership is also about self-improvement, recognizing that you need to improve your own performance on a daily basis.

The typical British worker might dismiss much of this as corporate mumbo-jumbo (or, perhaps, in words a little stronger) – and they have a point. Failure by managers to follow through on their promises has resulted in a cynical workforce. Why should they believe words that have too often proven to be empty promises?

Note the words of Summit Auto Group chief executive officer Bin Haga: “Management has to lead by example and that means doing what it promises to do for staff.”

The great thing about leadership skills is that anyone can learn them. And the great thing about automotive leadership skills is the fact there are plenty of organizations out there that can help. This is a people industry – everyone knows that. The only USP any retailer or repairer really has is the quality of its workforce.

Which reminds me, I’ve got some leadership skills revision to catch up on...

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