Determining Your Leadership Style
Good leadership makes team members work harder without needing direct supervision. Leadership shapes the environment in a shop, and your customers can feel it before a word is even spoken. Your leadership style does all the talking.
Leadership is considered a soft skill, according to the job professionals at Indeed, but it directly impacts your shop's profitability. A good leader in your shop helps each team member see their responsibilities in a way that motivates them to work effectively. A leader influences and guides others, primarily through their actions and behaviors.
To create good leadership in your shop, it helps to zero in on the type of leaders you and your managers are—this identification matters.
Maybe your style matches your values and personality but there is also something you can learn from exploring other styles and use that knowledge in how you're building your shop. You can't hit clear goal metrics if you're not clear about what you're trying to accomplish—your leadership style is that primary goal metric.
"A lot of people are used to being told what to do, but a leader's job is to set the culture and empower the team to do their best," says Dr. Wayne Pernell, a leadership development consultant known as the Exponential Success Coach. Dr. Pernell has worked with clients ranging from individuals to corporate teams, helping them optimize leadership and mindset.
"If team members feel like they're being watched or will be punished, you'll never get their best work. The main goal should be to create a culture where you build and grow people's strengths."
Leadership in your shop and your leadership style are important. Here are some common leadership styles and what to consider when designating a leadership style that's effective and works for you as a shop owner.
Adjusting Your Leadership Style
Changing as a human being is not always easy, but it's possible. Creating changes in your leadership style will pay dividends in your shop if you're open to doing things differently.
Start this process by understanding the leadership styles you'll see listed below—think through which is the right style for you. Consider what would be required for a particular style and be open to working on it, even if this is a long-term process. As Dr. Pernell says, “Our work is to take inventory about what strengths we have and to build and develop the areas we’re not so strong in.”
Once you identify a style that works for you, let your team know you'll be implementing changes to their benefit. Let your technicians and customer service professionals know that you're working on improving efficiencies in your shop and creating better leadership.
The Transactional Leader
Indeed defines transactional leadership as leading based on either rewards or punishment. Think military leaders or taskmaster football coaches. Essentially, you give employees either bonuses or penalties based on their performance.
The transactional leadership style is more transparent than others. Your employees will understand the benefits or consequences of not following what you say as a leader.
Your instructions are clear, and the consequence structure is straightforward and can be updated. Transactional leadership can be a simple style for employees to follow.
The con is that your employees will always feel under pressure and may make mistakes due to fear of doing something wrong. You might also feel like a cold leader with all the fear surrounding you.
The Transformational Leader
Transformational leadership is a style that's based on creating change through inspiration and lived examples, according to Verywell Mind, a mental wellness publication. The transformational leader leads by example, and others want to follow because they're inspired by what they see in that leader every day.
Transformational leadership is a high-level view of leading that places more trust in employees. It's an indirect form of leadership that focuses on teaching employees to be more self-sufficient.
The advantage is employees following you from a place of motivation and inspiration is the type of leadership that creates lifelong, loyal employees. The disadvantage is a lot of trust is placed in employees, which could lead to you finding out about issues later than you'd like.
"We have eight employees and work on about 40 cars a month in our shop. We feel like there has to be a chain of command for everyone to report to for them to best do their job. Strong leadership is crucial. Everyone in our shop is accountable, and Mark (my husband) assigns work and tries to be a good leader for our team," says Yvette LeBlanc, co-owner of Maggio Collision Center, with her husband.
The Democratic Leader
Democratic leadership is a style that emphasizes participation, according to Asana, an automation company. This is a committee-based leadership style that considers the opinions of our employees and managers and sets SOPs based on their feedback.
The advantage of this leadership style is your employees feel involved in the process, creating more buy-in. This leadership style inspires ideas for how things can improve because everyone is involved.
The con is that it can be challenging for humans to agree on anything. When you, as the shop owner, ultimately choose, some will feel their opinion is not valued, which could affect employee performance.
The Bureaucratic Leader
The bureaucratic leadership style is based on following the rules and regulations you set for your shop—it's a very by-the-book leadership style, according to Masterclass, an education company.
This leadership style is heavily reliant on you being clear and having set your standard operating procedures in writing. You may change them, but you'll have baseline guidelines set.
The benefits of this leadership style is that things are clear and easy for employees to follow. The con is that you may need to update your SOPS often to ensure they are current and clear.
Pick a Style That Works for You
Your leadership style is only as effective as your ability to implement it. Think about which leadership style best fits your values, goals, and personality. Study leadership as a business growth principle because it's how you'll create the best team of technicians and front desk professionals.
Invest time and research into leadership training for yourself as a shop owner and your employees. You'll build a strong company that runs and grows without you needing to be involved in every aspect—leadership identification matters.