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Many shop owners and managers have discovered transformational leadership as a literally transformational experience for their business and staff members. In this episode, two multi-location owners, Dan Garlock and Ricky Jordan, review what changes their businesses went through and what results they achieved. 

Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated using Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you notice an error, please contact [email protected].

Bill: Good morning. Good afternoon. I’m Bill Connor, and you’ve reached the Digital Shop Talk Radio. For those of you who have joined us live, we certainly appreciate it. For those of you that are listening later on your favorite podcast platform that you can get to by just searching for the Digital Shop Talk Radio, we’d love to have you join us here live also. To join us live, you can pretty much go to and sign up.
So, today, I’m here with Dan Garlock, owner of Silver Lake Auto, four locations. Dan has been here before. Welcome Dan. We’re glad to have you here.
Dan: Thanks guys. Thanks for inviting us to come on in and talk.
Bill: Ricky Jordan, the owner of Fifth Gear Automotive, two locations. I’ve been to Ricky’s shop before, and his first location is a really impressive shop. Welcome, Ricky. We’re glad to have you here.
Ricky: Thank you. One of the owners, I would say. Not the owner.
Bill: I’m glad you clarified that.
And of course, we have Uwe Kleinschmidt, our AutoVitals very own chief innovation officer here to help guide us.
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into what is the difference between leadership and management. And many shop owners and managers have discovered transitional leadership as literally a transformational experience for their business, and more importantly their staff members. So, they’re going to bring everybody along.
Today, these two great leaders, with multiple shops each, will review what changes their business went through and what results they achieved.
So, that being said, Uwe, if you want to get us started here, I’d greatly appreciate it.
Uwe: Oh, thank you. Thanks Ricky and Dan for coming on. We had planned that for a while and I’m glad we could make it. So, transformational leadership sounds like a big term. So, I think we should try to just break it down and why it is such a change. What’s the transformation really about? So, if you could maybe share with us how you came across it and why you found it so important, I think that would be a great start.
Dan, do you want to start?
Dan: Sure. I’ll go first.
Transformational leadership to me is just –. The term is kind of new in my head and in our vocabularly here. We spent a lot of time in our leadership development, [which is] probably a better description of what we’ve been doing here, meeting our team with where they’re at and helping them be equipped to effectively take our company to where I was envisioning it to go.
We’ve grown quite a bit over the past five [or] six years to the the size we are today, and with a lot of persuading by my good friends, Ricky included, it kind of pushed me to spend a lot more time developing my leadership around my team members because there’s only so far I could take it by myself.
So, we spent a lot of time investing in the leadership inside of our company and helping people that we’ve identified as strong leaders and coachable leaders to help us facilitate the vision we’ve had for our company. It’s really fast-forwarded our growth for the last five, six years.
Uwe: Thank you. Can you think of a specific example where you could contrast and compare how it was before and how it’s now? Can you think of something?
Dan: Well, for my role, I mean, there’s a drastic contrast. I used to get sucked into the day-to-day of the issues and the fires that we all seem to have brough to us every single day, and it really disrupted me from a visionary or a leader position. A lot of that stuff can drive you emotionally, because you get frustrated or you get caught up in the moment of it.
Today, I’m more protected from the day-to-day from my leadership team. They keep me out of the day-to-day interactions, day-to-day fires that are going on and I can be looking at a much higher level. It helps me from a mental standpoint quite a bit to keep the big picture in mind and not get bogged down with the day-to-day, but I would say those small fires that we see, whether it’s a customer issue, parts supply – that we’re seeing a lot of – issue, parts supply chain issues, or hiring and recruiting, the team is kind of protecting me from getting caught up in the day-to-day challenges.
Uwe: So, you can join us instead of being ready for the next interrupt.
Dan: True. I do have other responsibilities, but I can take time to talk to you. I don’t mind that.
Bill: From a shop owner’s perspective, what’s the difference between leadership and management? I’m kind of fuzzy on the differences between the two different styles.
Dan: Ricky, you’ve got this. [inaudible].
Ricky: We educate a lot in regard to that in our organization, the difference between a leader and a manager.
A great leader embraces the leader servant mentality, to where they understand that it’s less about forcing the walk through the door and more about showing them where the door is and opening the door for them, teaching them that investing in the people around them is ultimately the goal to success.
Surround yourself with talented people and empower them to make decisions on their own, where management is much more tactical, is much more in the moment direction and leadership is more about the why we do the things that we do.
Uwe: Management is kind of a heirarchy, who’s reporting to whom, whereas anybody can a leader. It has less to do with the management structure because it’s, in my understanding, a lot of inspiration and ideas and talking about where do we want to go as a business.
Ricky: Yeah. To elaborate on that a little bit, I’d say, we’re all leaders. We just get to decide whether we’re going to be a good one or a bad one. We educate and try to give the skillsets to where at any moment, you can embody what we think a great leader looks like.
Managers are somewhat appointed, but leadership and trust is earned, and we’re all tasked with that when you’re a part of a high-peforming team at different influence levels. But we’re all leaders to somebody.
Uwe: I like that. Thank you.
Bill: As you’re developing this trust with your employees, you want them to be open with you and so on, so how do you take the fear away from them of opening up to you on what they believe in and things like that, without the fear of losing their job or whatever the case may be. How do you draw that particular mindset out of them?
Ricky: Well, it typically starts by talking about it consistently and deadly consistently. And when building trust, usually as a leader, you have to take the lead with vulnerability.
And if you teach and show a certain level of vulnerability about where your shortcomings and where they could help you [and] where they could lead you, it’s very easy for them to reverse that, start communicating at a higher level, so they can be led.
Dan: Yeah. I want to piggy back on that too because we’ve spent a lot of time on this also. That isn’t really typically natural for an employee to come in and just give it. I think you have to invite it.
I spend a lot of time inviting my team into that conversation and doing check-ins with them: How I am doing? Am I leading you effectively? Is there something that I should be doing or something that I shouldn’t be doing? And just inviting the conversation and getting that trust built up over time, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can earn that trust and how quickly they want to be invited into that conversation and be engaged in that conversation, and the next thing you know, that accountability starts coming from your staff and they start holding you accountable.
So, being humble – Ricky hit on that too – taking ownership of failures, protecting your team so that if there [are] issues that come up, it will be quick to claim the ownership of that and make sure that they’re equipped so that doesn’t happen in protecting them. It helps build that trust over the long term too so that you can get that true, honest feedback from your team. They’re not pulling their punches. They’re not sugar coating it. They’re telling you exactly what you need to hear when you need to hear it.
Uwe: For everybody who is looking to apply that in their own business, can you help them? What are the typical first steps and how long has it you taken you or you are still in the process, I assume. How do you measure your making progress, because vulnerability is taking a lot of risk. Somebody who looked up to you as know-it-all, tell me what to do, I just want my paycheck, all of sudden is approached with a different attitude and requirements to give feedback to the person who is responsible for the paycheck does not happen overnight.
So, how did you approach that, or how did you?
Ricky: I would say, I’m a big believer in just putting in the time. [It’s] usually half the battle. If you layer in a very consistent schedule to work on communication from the top down and from the bottom up, that’s usually most of the work. That’s the hardest part. Because production always gets in the way of leadership – cars, money, problems, fires, everything gets in the way of really putting in the inefficient work of communication, because it’s an inefficient thing to do. It’s hard to do. It takes a lot of effort.
If you do just a really easy low hanging fruit thing, just schedule it and make it deadly consistent, to give your team your time and make it their agenda. A best practice I like to do is typically show up with a blank sheet of paper to send the message that I need you to talk to me. I didn’t come here with a list of things to throw at you; I’m here to listen to what you have to say.
Now, you can always interject into conversations things that need to be talked about, but if it starts with a culture of them speaking to you, they have a much better chance of hearing what you have to say.
So, put in the time would be my suggestion.
Uwe: And come with a blank sheet.
Dan: 100% put in the time and make it a priority.
I think also you asked, how do you measure it? For me, it’s been the quality of the conversation that’s happening too. You can tell when the conversation maybe is being driven by me. The trust maybe hasn’t been established yet, or the conversations that we’re having are difficult. That trust hasn’t been built yet.
If we’re having meaningful conversation that is difficult at times in solving bigger problems and it’s being brought to you from the team, I think then you really can kind of safely say you’ve got something good going there. You’ve got that trust built with your team.
Bill: Do you do this as a team meeting, or one-on-ones, or a combination?
Ricky: Both.
Dan: All the time.
Ricky: Very much both. At even different levels of teams depending on how strategical the conversation is. You can have it with different sizes of teams.
Dan: Our tactic to improving [inaudible] is I kind of went down there fifth year and I stole this from them. They have a really good system for it. Every other week I’m meeting with my leadership team. One meeting we spend focusing on our leadership and how we can be better leaders. We spend a lot of time building our relationship inside of that and talking about that, and then the second meeting we have every month, is we work on the tactics.
So, we really protect those meeting times to ensure that we’re growing as leaders, not just for ourselves, but for the whole team and talking about those things at what makes us effective leaders and how can this trickle down through the organization down to every platform, every layer of our organization.
The conversations need to be there all the time. You need to make it a part of your agenda. One-on-one, for sure. We do regular one-on-ones with our team too. They’re all scheduled. That has to be the cornerstone of it all.
Bill: So, when you went down to visit with Ricky, and you came back, were you reluctant to change, or did you change just because you know you had to? What got you into the mode where you just realized? One day, you woke up and said, I’ve got to do this?
Dan: I’m never reluctant to take Ricky’s advice. Every time I get the chance to see him and talk to him, I usually run faster than I ever have.
To be honest, though, I was reluctant in the past. I felt that I was high capacity. I sat in every role in the organization. I grew up in this company and I could do it all. I was accomplished in every area, and I had a mentality that this is my company. I know it best. I could do it best. And other people will just get better from watching me do it.
And I was dead wrong. It really slowed our growth and created a lot of frustatration for a long time, and I took a long time to try to elevate beyond that. And as we started growing and we started getting to a point where growth kind of slowed, I had to take a good, hard look at myself and listen to the people around me to get better, and to try to look at and do things differently. And then once I did that, we really started watching us blow the ceiling off of this company.
Yeah. I moved too slow on that area for sure and was kind of stubborn on that. It was my fault.
Uwe: Yeah, but stubborn or resistant? Did you insist on being right or was it just your self-confidence was so high and then you didn’t even see it as a problem. You had to see the plateauing growth to convince yourself.
Dan: Yeah. I needed to see it where the failure points were, and I needed to see it working well. I needed to see both sides of it and see what could be. I couldn’t imagine it on my own.
Maybe it was arrogance, but it was just a vision problem that I had at the time, I think. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that there was a better way to do it. I needed to go out and find that way, because I always believed that when I feel myself getting frustrated with whatever position, that’s me running against my limitations.
So, if I’m getting frustrated a lot, I’m hitting my limitations, how effective I can be or where I’m getting. So, I needed to find a way to get around that so I could elevate and not have that frustration.
Ricky: Well, it’s not saying we haven’t strugged with that in the past. Like I said earlier, production gets in the way of leadership. Usually when you’re prioritizing your capacity, leadership capacity isn’t a KPI that gets much focus.
Uwe: Attention.
Ricky: Yeah. And the irony is to truly scale, to truly scale an organization beyond a single store or multi-stores, however you want to look at it. Leadership capacity is probably in our opinion one of the most important KPIs to track, measure, and increase because leaders run businesses, [and] you need people to delegate to. That was really a big moment for me to better prioritize leadership over just day-to-day production.
If we wanted to get bigger, then we had to get really serious about putting time into growing the future leaders of the organization, which is time-consuming. So, we’ve just had to carve out the time to do it.
Bill: How did you pick out people from your different staffs to determine, I’m going to grow this person into a leader? Or do you just say, everybody has something that they can lead on and you just move them all forward?
Ricky: Well, when it comes to leaders of high influence in organization, there’s the phrase, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Typically people tell you, if you’re paying attention, whether they truly want to be a leader or not. Leadership is a people business. It’s not a selling business. It’s not a car-fixing problem. It’s a people problem.
And usually people that those foundational traits are easier to spot, once you understand what a great leader looks like, you start to see them. So, it starts with you. If you really put in the time to understand what a great leader is to you foundational-wise, you start to pick them out. You start to see those traits in people.
So, that’s the fastest way. We could probably go on for a while about what makes a great leader, but once you understand what a leader is to you, you can typically see them in your organization. And surprisingly, it’s usually not people that are the highest producers in your organization.
The guys that are on the biggest hours or have the biggest sales numbers and have that internal drive for personal success surprisingly have a hard time making the transition to a leader-servant position, where that success is measured on everything but what you produce. So, interesting contrast there.
Dan: I look for the coachability in what they do with the coaching too. As we’re investing and spending time coaching people, what are they doing with that through their behavior? If they’re taking that coaching and passing it through them to maybe somebody else in the department or somebody else that works closely with them and using it to grow the company, I think that is a big leading indicator for where their runway can be as far as where you can take them for leadership.
If they’re protecting themselves and protecting their position or not taking coaching real well, I think that is something that you need to address and work through. If they are saying that they want to be a leader, they need to understand that it goes beyond just their position due to them.
I look at coachability quite a bit when I’m trying to identify those people.
Bill: When you talk about protecting their position, are you saying that they don’t want to educate the people below them to get to their level because they’re afraid that their job will be gone? Is that what you meant?
Dan: Yeah. That can be a mindset that limits them, where they’re looking around and they’re trying to put themselves on that pedastal to, I guess, just raise themselves, instead of looking [at the] bigger picture, looking at the people around them, how they can make they people around them better, how they can help the organization versus help themselves.
If you want to lead people and you want to do it to serve yourself, you’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. It should be to help the people around you grow and to watch them. It should be where you get your satisfaction from.
It’s really a thankless, selfless position – leadership. It’s not for everybody, for sure.
Bill: If I was to say, well, now you’ve explained to me that I know I need to do this, then I’m afraid to do this because of how my staff might respond. How do I manage their expectations? How do I start implemementing something like this in my shop without having to worry about a mutiny on the shop?
Ricky: How would you implement leadership if you’re worried how the team would perceive it?
Bill: Right. So, I want to institute this leadership style in my shop. How do I go about doing that without rocking the boat so bad that I’ve got a bunch of people jumping overboard?
Ricky: Well, I would struggle a bit with people running away from leadership.
I would start by asking the team what a great leader looks like or give me examples of what a great leader has looked like in the past. And when those things align, you can’t run away from your own answers. And if that’s what they told you a great leader looks like, and if that’s then what you start to implement, if they’re running away from that, they’re running away from themselves. It sounds like you have some work to do on a one-on-one basis.
I’ve got to tell you: I’ve worked really hard on leadership for a while now. I’ve never really seen someone run away from someone who really wants to be a great leader, a leader servant that wants to serve someone else and align success together. Your success is my success and vice versa. I can count on one hand maybe, not even that, of how many people I’ve seen run away from that. I’ve seen people be skeptical of leadership because they have a misunderstanding of what it is.
So, leadership is not implemented. It’s earned. Trust is earned. Leadership is based on a foundation of trust.
I don’t know if that would be a huge concern of mine if you properly educate what you’re trying to do to the team.
Uwe: I agree with you wholeheartedly. What role do your customers play in this? Isn’t there an overarching goal for the whole team to serve that customer as the umbrella vision to instill leadership? It’s somehow attached to your customers, right? Or is it?
Ricky: I think some of the best businesses out there that have a lot of success from what I’d call a sales perspective is really built on a foundation of trust with the customer. The customers are trusting you that you will lead them through this difficult situation, make their bad day better.
Really, it’s the same thing. You just need a slightly different outcome when it comes from a team member versus an employee. You’re leading them through a situation. Some are most transactual than others, but I’d say the trust aspect aligns really well. The foundation in which the relationship with the customer is very similar to another team member or direct report.
Uwe: OK. That makes sense. Going back with what Bill asked, we’re still at this pont where we have people in the audience or people who will listen to the podcast and are inspired by what you’re saying, but don’t really know how to approach it.
Yes, they know now you have to invest more time and most of that time is communication. What are good milestones or metrics? You said leadership is one of the most important KPIs. How do you measure your success in that area so you know you’re making progress?
Ricky: Well, at least in our organization, it can be done through skip levels. So, just asking the leaders direct reports [of] how they’re doing.
Uwe: I see.
Ricky: Engagement data is important. And culture is an intangible thing that is roughly hard to measure. It might be hard to measure it in the traditional sense, but you know it when you see it. I think we’re all as humans wired with a little bit of a gauge whether there’s the right culture or not. At the highest level, that’s really what we are. We’re culture keepers. We’re the people who truly own the vision and mission of the company. Having touches with the organization, to where you’re far enough away to where it’s not skewed but close enough to where you can see it. You just have to keep your eye on it really.
But the skip level is a big low-hanging fruit one, I would say. Just talk to people. Meet with them. Skip around a little bit.
Dan: Uwe, there’s a lot of people thinking, where do I find the time to do this? Where do I find the time? Where do I find the resources to help me be better? It sounds great, but my days are full. I don’t know how I can bring more in. I think I was there for a while too. My days are full. Things are OK. We’re doing fine.
But I needed to I set myself up to have the time to invest in this. And I think Ricky was saying that measuring the KPI of the leadership is how much time are you set up to be able spend the majority of your time. In defining your role of the organization, what is it really that is your role inside of the organization? For me, it’s developing leaders, developing my team. That is my role. That is everything I need to be doing right now, is spending all my time doing that.
That didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning and go, all right; I’m going to do this. It took some time for the investing in the people that I have around me, prioritizing my time and delegating and passing some of the daily tasks that I was doing in the past, where I was looking at the inspection metrics or all that other stuff. I had ownership of all that stuff. I had to move that stuff off of my desk so I would have the time to be able to spend – where the company really needed me was spending time with my leadership team, or spending time being a leader in the organization.
So, you have to try to set that destination of what you would like it to be and then create the strategy of how you can get there over a certain amount of time. And then surround yourself with good leaders. It can’t just be [following] 20 groups and reading a book. I think you need to spend some time around some people who are really leading organizations. Spend time with them on the phone. Spend time with them face-to-face. Go see the organizations. See what it really looks like and how it has transformed their companies and try to start emulating that. This idea of good leadership in business has been around for quite a long time and there’s a lot of companies out there that really get it and really understand it.
Ricky and my relationship –. We have a very strong relationship. We talk almost daily. That happened organically. It wasn’t that we were matched up in trying. It was an organic relationship that we had because we had a common mindset and a common belief system, and I have other people in my life that are like that too that are leading organizations that –. There’s not a lot of people that we can talk to about this. Ricky and I say that a lot. There’s not a lot of people that you can talk leadership with. You’ve got to find those people somehow and start inviting and asking questions and watch for it to happen organically, so keep your eyes and ears open for that type of relationship.
Right, Ricky? We talk about that quite a bit.
Ricky: Usually the majority of our conversations are about the people that we’ve surrounded ourselves with.
Bill: How long did it take you to retrain your own personal mindset to not be the person that answers all questions [and] to delegate that to other people?
Dan: It’s still a work in progress for me. I like to be in the mix. I kind of like being involved in some of that stuff, but it’s a constant check and balances for me. Is this really where I’m supposed to be? Am I hindering the people around me? So, I’m constantly checking myself with that question.
Bill, myself, it probably took me the better part of 18 months to really get that place set up where I could not be invited into it. But I also had the converation with my team to kind of set the expectation to help me with that, help me not to be involved in your role. This is your role, not my role. I’m here to support you and help you, but if I start getting in your way and I start stepping on your toes and I’m functioning in your role, you’ve got to tell me so that I can recognize this. A lot of times, I don’t recognize it myself.
Ricky: Empowering people to make decisions is hard. As small business owners, usually a lot of us have traits that what made us sucessful as an entrepreneur and to grow small business is that we were problem solvers. We could get things done that a lot of people couldn’t, which made us very successful up to a certain point. And if you have a desire to scale and get larger, that tends to work against you, because that’s not a trait of good delegation.
So, really, really working hard to understanding that was a shortcoming of mine, that I liked solving problems. I liked solving the hard problems. I liked being the guy with all the answers. Just telling my team that is not necessarily the objective anymore. I need to empower you to make the best decision you can. Put them in positions to where they can fail fast. Use that tuition that we paid to make them better in the roles that they’re in.
Embracing that’s hard because it goes against, I think, what a lot of small business owner’s nature is: to be the ultimate problem solver. But laying that out on the table for everyone is that I’m not going to be good at this, but I need your help. I need your help to help me through this transition. That vulnerability was a big step for me. I needed them to lead me a little bit, and sharing that with them was important.
Bill: I hear you say that you also share with them that there will be failures, and that is acceptable, but we need to discover it early, have a discussion about it and learn from that. Can you walk through that process a little bit?
Ricky: Failing fast is important. Putting people into a position to where they can learn the most effective way [that] humans learn, which is through failure. The pain of the change has to be great enough to make you change. It’s our job to facilitate situations to where it has the appropriate impact on the business versus the benefit you get for their own personal growth.
An analogy that I really like that I stole from someone else was, it’s OK if you run out of gas while driving a car. It’s not OK if you run out of gas while flying a plane. There’s certain levels of decisions to where you have to be a part of it, and there’s certain levels of decisions that you shouldn’t, even though you might drive a better result. It’s not necessarily about the timing of the result. It’s about the journey that they were on.
Uwe: I would like to learn a little bit more in this failing fast. It has become kind of a management and leadership principle, especially coming from start-ups, where you don’t even know sometimes what the outcome is because so much change is happening and you cannot be in control of everything, and then your only to chance to succeed is setting a hypothesis, setting a goal and failing fast.
But that’s a cultural change for people who grew up in a world where mistakes are a problem, and [in the] worst case, being swept under a rug. How do you get from the point where people make mistakes – it’s either not talked about or kind of covered up – to, hey, let’s talk openly about what failed because we don’t want to make the same mistake again. That would be silly. Learning is failing fast and don’t do it again because you learn from it.
Ricky: Taking the negative tone away from failure in general I think is important. All failure really is, is a process of elimination to success. A controlled failure is just get you one step closer to solving the problem and one step closer to success. So, failing quickly is to wish and I love pain because we’ve proven something that gets us one step closer to where we want to be. It’s silly to think that you’re going to hit it on the first try. The only way I know to get to success is to have some failures.
Uwe: Then the goal is not high enough. If 1.0 works right away, you have very low goals.
Ricky: Yeah. We’re asking the wrong questions, solving through the wrong –.
Uwe: Or asking the wrong questions. Right.
Dan, sorry. Didn’t want to interrupt you.
Dan: I look back at my time here. Some of our best learning and our best growth has come through our biggest mistakes. We continue to have opportunities for us to learn and debrief when things don’t go the way we want to and learn and put systems and processes in place for us to make sure it never happens again and propel us even to a new place.
It actually drives our growth faster, the opportunity for us to fail. Even in the last two weeks, we’ve been challenged with some things that we didn’t see coming from inside of our organization. To be able to put that in front of my team to debrief on and watch them solve that problem and to grow through that problem, it’s pretty magical to watch.
I just continues to allow us to be better for our people, ultimately better for our customers. As much as I hate to watch them fail and to see things fail –. It’s never comfortable. It’s never comfortable to accept, why didn’t we see this coming, or how could we have prevented this. It would have been nice to go back and solve that. It’s not realistic. We’re going to fail. And having that humility in the approach with your team, I think that also helps that trust we were talking about earlier. It allows them to kind of relax themselves, relax their shoulders, and go ahead with confidence knowing that they’re going to grow through anything, and that we’re strong enough that we can solve any problem in the moment and make ourselves better through it.
It gives them actually a confidence on the other side.
Uwe: Bill, I would like to add one more thing to what Dan just said. I think you become comfortable with being uncomfortable when you deal with the mistakes and you learn from it. All of a sudden, it’s not that bad anymore.
And for some people – I count me in that camp – it’s starts being fun to constantly being exposed to unknown stuff. Anyway, I would love to add that.
Dan: I love that term, being comfortable with being uncomfortable. In my other life, I’m president of a school board, and last year when we were going through all the race relation issues that we had – we have an African American woman on the board that I love. I love her to death. And she just came to me and she said, Dan, let’s just be comfortable being uncomfortable. Let’s just get into this.
And I just [was like], let’s just talk about this. Let’s just solve this. Because there was just this tension that happens through some of that uncomfortability. Let’s just get comfortable with it and let’s talk about the difficult things. Elevate the level of our conversation so that we can grow in our relationship to each other and love each other even better, and let’s just solve.
I love that term. She did that last year. And I see her now [and] it’s just, I love being uncomfortable with you. So, that’s a good term.
Uwe: That’s cool.
Ricky: Fear of failure is usually the largest deterrent, and entrepreneurs, business owners, they jump that hurdle in most cases.
If you look at business start-ups and small businesses, they don’t have a great success rate. People overcoming that objection and that fear of failure that’s in, I think, a business owner’s mindset. Teaching, empowering the people around you to have that same mentality I think is very important. Selfishly, I think we get scared sometimes if we teach people what it looks like to be a great business owner, then maybe they’re going to leave and go start their own business.
But if you create the runway and a path to success that aligns with yours, then I think those are great people at an organization.
Uwe: Yep.
Bill: So, if we took an example of a leadership style, let’s say that we need to implement something in our shop. As a leader you would say, this is where we need to go. You were to get feedback from your entire team. How do think we’re going to get there? And then part of the last part of the process would be debriefing after you’ve done it for a while on whatever time frame to see, did we make it? What went right? What went wrong? And what do we need to change in order to get to this destination?
So, it’s kind of a round trip thought process.
Ricky: Or a feedback loop. Right?
Bill: Sure.
Ricky: I think what you just described is a feedback loop. I think a lot of times businesses are guilty of only communicating in one direction. It’s got to be equally weighed in the other direction. I think that’s why, when implementing leadership, you lead with them communicating to you what they think a great leader looks like. They start the conversation.
Uwe: Which is a sign. If that happens constantly, you know you’re on your path and you’re being open to listen and take it seriously.
Ricky: Yeah. Like you asked earlier [regarding] a leadership KPI. One of them is that communication. If the communcation starts breaking down, that’s a pretty good sign you have a leadership problem.
Bill: So, for those that are listening in here, and everybody has the mindset that, hey, my shop is different. Can I do this or not, and if I do this, what’s a realistic time frame to start seeing some results?
Ricky: You can start being a great leader instantly. There’s no test you have to pass to be a great leader. You just do it.
And to say that your shop’s different, unless they’re not filled with people, I don’t see how it’s any different than any other shop. Leadership is a people problem. I’m pretty sure every shop that’s watching this podcast is full of people.
So, I don’t see how anyone’s any different or can escape from this benefitting their business.
Dan: Great leadership is inspirational. It happens fast. So, I think you can see an inspired team rally almost instantaneous around a leader who shares their vision and empowers their people to go get that vision, go make that vision a reality.
So, you’ll see it happen pretty quick. It doesn’t take too long. It can happen in the moment.
Bill: So, if we’re to implement this in the shop, can you help us define maybe a five-step process to get it started? Obviously, you’re having to change your mindset. There’s got to be some kind of a program or steps in order to go through this.
Ricky: Well, step one I would say from the top down you have to decide that it’s important. That would be the first step.
If the culture keepers of your business don’t believe that leadership will make a difference, then anything else you layer on top of that won’t land – unless you have just some incredible people below you that can out-maneuver that objection.
But it starts with, at the highest level, embracing that you want to be a business of great leaders. I want to be a great leader. That would be step one in my opinion.
Dan: Yeah. One of the early things that we did is had a basic conversation of who is somebody that you admire as a leader and why.
Just having that conversation and why and start bringining some of those characteristics and the results of those great leaders to the surface, and you’ll start seeing a light bulb turn on for your team that when they’re in those circumstances, they were able to succeed through great leadership.
Start inviting a lot of those conversations with your team and then definitely you can tell them that you want to be that leader for them too. Just commit to it. Commit the time. Commit the energy. Commit everything you have into being the best leader you can for your people and make sure that you have some check-ins for them to make sure that you’re on track. It’s about their feedback to you and what they need to be led. Lots of conversations and growing through that.
Ricky: Yeah. I would agree. Step two would be define it. Define what leadership looks like in your organization, and it can’t be just your definition. It has to be the team’s definition, which means that there has to be a conversation, preferably led by them. I would say that would be step two.
Step three [would be consistency]. Constistency is a big piece. I say consistency is one of the foundational traits of being a great leader, so having consistency in a leadership process is very important, specifically around communication. Scheduled one-on-ones. Scheduled meetings that [are] a conversation, not just you sitting there telling them, you sitting there just managing them basically. Facilitiating an environment to where they can have that feedback come back to you is very important.
I would say that would be step three, consistent communication.
Bill: So, part of the feedback you’re always asking them is probably along the lines of, what is a roadblock – any roadblock you can identify – keeping you from doing X, Y or Z. You’re always asking them along [those] lines. What’s blocking you?
Ricky: Well, one hurdle would be that you have to ask for feedback. Feedback is a gift. You need to encourage it that feedback is something that it doesn’t have to be asked for. It’s part of personal development. And teaching people how to give constructive feedback is very important.
But if you have to ask for it, that’s defintely not a feedback loop. That’s you talking at them.
So, in these one-on-ones, setting the expectation that’s why were here is partly is I want feedback from you on your situation, your strengths, your weaknesses, the development of the business, everything. But teaching that I’m not going to ask for this. It’s my expectation for you to give it.
Bill: And part of that feedback from them that you would get over time is also where they expect their career path to lead them?
Ricky: Yeah. I think making sure that they understand that you’re heavily invested in their success at all timelines. As soon as you walk out of my office at your retirement party, let’s define what success looks like for you.
A great leader understanding that about their people is important because if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will get you there. So, consistently talking to your people about what success looks like to them and what your path in the organization for success looks like to you and making sure those two align drives great engagement.
Bill: So, we’ve got about five minutes left. I think it’s about time to hear from both of these people [about] what they believe they would like our listeners to take away from this particular topic besides just do it.
Dan: I thought it was just as simple as just do it. Commit to it. Make it a priority. Surround yourself with good leaders yourself. You can learn best from being around other people who are strong leaders in the organization.
Find those relationships. Find those people. Encourage the conversation. Ask them for the feeback loop too. But find yourself some really good advocates or people who can advise you on how to be a really good leader too.
Ricky: I would probably say, schedule it. So much of our lives is scheduled down to a T. Really putting in the time because it’s inefficient work. Building leaders, being great leaders [is] inefficent. We’re imperfect people and it’s time consuming.
So, really scheduling the time to put in the work is important because if you wait for the opportunity to arise to work on being a great leader, you’ll never do it because it will always get deprioritized. If you schedule it, though, you’ll have a much better chance.
That’s very important to me is that I actually put time in my calendar for my people to be a great leader, and I schedule it. And that’s the best practice that works very well for us.
Bill: Uwe, it’s all on you now.
Uwe: Look, Ken put some chat in, and as I’m reading it, I think I want to read it aloud.
As an owner/manager, you have to have resolve that you want to build your team, and as a result, the business and take the needed steps. Not all the steps are easy, but stick with it. Having a great team base is important and can make it easier. Changes may be required. Feedback is necessary. But it should come natural and through open communcation. Trust and engage your team.
Great summary.
Bill: We’ll have to have him back on again.
Dan: I’ve sat in a lot of roles inside of this organization. This is the hardest position, hardest role I’ve ever had. It is not easy. Ken is 100% right. It’s not easy. Stick with it. Build a great team around you and it becomes easier with time and time invested into it.
Bill: Gentlemen, I’d like to thank you for your participation today. You guys got a lot of great insight.
I’d like to encourage people to go to and sign up and join us live. People like Ken, we really like when you share some wisdom back in the chat. And for those of you who prefer to listen on drive time, look it up on your favorite podcast platform, the Digital Shop Talk Radio.
And once again, I always encourage everybody to find another shop owner in the area that might benefit from this and share an episode with them and invite them to join live. The more we can help those around us to maybe not be the low price leaders in the marketplace, the better off we’ll all be.
So, once again, I’d like to thank everybody. Go make some money, wow your customers and have a great day.
Dan: Thank you.
Uwe: Thank you.

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