As always, the speakers at ATI’s (Automotive Training Institute) 2023 SuperConference were outstanding. One of my favorite things about the event is the power-packed schedule with lots of learning opportunities from ATI coaches, ATI members and professional speakers. You don’t want to miss a single session because they all provide a great deal of value.
For this blog I’m going to highlight eight significant leadership lesson takeaways from the conference in no particular order because they are all too valuable to rank.
“The #1 predictor of success is the quality of your relationships.” – Ross Bernstein
In today’s fast-paced world where everybody seems to be competing to show that they are busier than everybody else, it can be easy to forget how important relationships are. How much time do we spend scrolling on our phone when we could be taking the time to build a relationship with a customer, an employee or a family member?
It’s not the best businessperson, the smartest, the most skilled or the most creative that continually win, it’s the person who can build quality relationships.
“What can you do tomorrow to be a more trusted advisor to your customers? You’ve got to build trust.” – Ross Bernstein
This is a natural follow up to the first point. Trust is everything. Trust is built through relationships and doing what you say you are going to do. Every interaction you have with somebody is an opportunity to build trust or lose it. What can you do to make sure you are always building trust and being looked at as somebody who truly cares about your customers?
“Champions set high goals and they are relentless until they reach them.” And “If you aim for a ‘C’, you will get it.” – Walter Bond
These two points from Walter Bond go hand in hand and say it all. Are you setting your goals high enough? Are you just aiming for average and achieving it? Are you prepared to set your next goal? Or are you just going to rest on achieving an average goal?
That is not to say you shouldn’t celebrate success, you absolutely should. But after celebrating you should start working toward the next goal.
“Declare your current climb.” – Manley Feinberg
Manley climbs cliffs for fun. He’s done amazing things in this pursuit. One of the key points he made is that you have to declare your current climb.
Like looking at a mountain with several potential paths to the top, considering all of the opportunities for your business, or just the things you have to deal with, can be daunting. But deciding which cliff you are going to climb or which problem you are going to focus on solving is key. After that you can start planning, stay focused and eliminate distractions.
You have to set priorities and then dedicate focused attention to them. I’ll have to take Manley’s word on the climbing part.
“People rise to the expectations of their leaders.” – Walter Bond
Are you encouraging and pushing your team to exceed what they think is possible? How many times have you heard the story of the sports team that nobody thought could be successful but because they started the season with a championship as their goal they were able to persevere and achieve it?
Helping team members reach their potential is a significant role that leaders play. People may not always achieve the big goals you set for them. However, if you expect them to perform poorly, they are almost always going to meet that expectation.
“Building a great team is not about having the best players but having the right players.” – Ross Bernstein
Ross had amazing stories of high performing players and teams throughout his two presentations. One of his key points in relation to teams was this one. And you see it time and time again in sports – it’s not the team with the best players that usually wins the championship it’s the team with the players that work the best together.
You can look at the most recent Super Bowl as evidence of this. Going into the game almost everybody would say that the Philadelphia Eagles had a more impressive roster of players than the Kansas City Chiefs. However, it was the Chiefs who prevailed and took home the trophy.
How do you apply this in your shop? Consider how you evaluate candidates for the jobs you have available. Do you only focus on skills? Or do you put more weight on things like attitude, motivation and fit with the rest of the team?
“Show up and step up.” And “People are watching you and they are paying attention.” – Manley Feinberg
Leaders have to hold themselves to a higher standard. Every team member is watching every move you make. The words you say hold at least five times the weight of anybody else.
If you do something, everybody else is going to think it’s okay to do that. If you speak negatively to a customer then that becomes okay. If you say something rude to an employee then that becomes how people treat each other in the shop.
As hard as it may be, you have to show up as your best self every time you step into the shop. And you’ve got to step up and lead the way for your team.
“Your comfort zone is relentless. It’s going to keep trying to pull you back in. For real growth you’ve got to push it away and push yourself.” – Manley Feinberg
This is a tough one for all of us. Like the strongest magnet, our comfort zone pulls us toward it. We seek comfort. We seek the familiar. It makes us feel good and it makes us feel safe.
As leaders we often have to play the role of pushing people outside their comfort zone for growth. But, how often do we push ourselves outside our own comfort zone?
What opportunities are you not pursuing for your business because they are outside your comfort zone? Are you limiting your growth potential? Are you missing the opportunity to make your business great because you hire the comfortable candidate instead of the best candidate?
Take the time to evaluate these types of questions so that you can commit to pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, and to do your part to achieve those high goals.
I can’t say enough about the value of attending ATI SuperConference. This was my second conference and the presentations and information were so valuable. I didn’t cover any of the great stuff that I heard in the presentations I sat in from ATI coaches or ATI members because I feel like that info should be considered a members-only benefit.
I encourage you to pick one or two of these leadership lessons and work toward applying them in your life.
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