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Are You a Boss or a Leader

18. April 2016 07:23

Are You a Boss or a Leader

How to Demonstrate Dynamic Leadership

And Why You Should Establish a “Zero-Tolerance” for Bad Bosses in Your Business

By Christine Corelli

In far too many businesses leadership has fallen by the wayside. The economy, rising costs, demanding customers, and fierce competition has caused most equipment dealers to have little, if any, time to think about their ability to lead. Rarely do they stop and think about how much more productive and profitable they could be if they stopped and paid more attention to this critical area of business.

 Success starts and stops with an organization's leadership.  And any business is as strong, or as weak, as the leader at the helm of their workforce.

 There are five essential facets of dynamic leadership for business success.

  1. Create the vision for the business and a smart competitive strategy to achieve goals
  2. Communicate that vision, the competitive strategy and provide direction
  3. Implement changes necessary to create and sustain success
  4. Sustain the momentum through employee motivation, reward, and recognition
  5. Execute competitive strategy 

Which is most difficult? Creating a vision is not that difficult.  Creating a smart strategy is not so easy.  Communicating can always be improved upon, and implementing change can be a real challenge. Interestingly, most business owners agree that the most difficult role of the leader is #4 – employee motivation.

 Dynamic leaders run their companies on a basic business fundamental that many seem to forget:

 Employee performance is the key to success and long-term business growth. Within the motivated employee are ideas, solutions to problems, and the ability to help their dealership develop a reputation for superior customer service, not just in Product Support, but throughout the entire company.

Employee Motivation

In an ideal world, every person you hire is self-motivated. The reality is it’s always up to owner of the company or department manager to keep employees motivated for high performance.  This is not an easy task, and much depends on how employees feel about their boss.

The Boss vs the Manager vs a Dynamic Leader:

Although these three roles are supervisory in nature, they are distinctly different. Which one are you?


Simply put, a boss is someone who owns the dealership or someone with a title who tells people what to do. They pass out orders as easily as salespeople pass out business cards. "Find that tool!" "Tag that machine!" “Clean up that warehouse!” This approach is not very effective in today's world.  

 A boss is simply that. A boss. Interestingly, the Number One cause of job dissatisfaction and demotivated employees is working for a bad one! Bad bosses micromanage people, show favoritism, talk down to their staff, and shoot down ideas. They are closed-minded and their doors are closed to new ideas and new ways of doing things. They don't care about people, they only act as if they care, and their employees see right through them.  There should be a policy of "Zero-Tolerance for Bad Bosses" in every company.


A manager directs, decides, and interacts with his or her staff to oversee operations, close sales, manage parts and service departments, and overall…make sure customers are happy and people do their job. Regardless of what type of business they work in, managers are accountable to executives for results.

Dynamic Leader

If you think of every great leader both past and present, all have two things in common – 1) They not only have a vision of where he or she wants their business to go but 2) they have the ability to influence others to go with them. They eloquently communicate their vision and have an innate ability to motivate, inspire, and influence their staff to do what needs to be done - and do it well.

Smart business owners practice dynamic leadership and insist their managers do the same. They also demand that all of their managers demonstrate leadership and lead in the same way. Many are now engaged in leadership training.

By way of example, A VP of operations of a highly successful construction and material handling equipment distributor made this comment to an industry consultant: “If only we could get every branch to perform like our branch in Tulsa.” She expounded on how well their staff performs, how productive and profitable the branch is and that the level of customer satisfaction was superb. The consultant stated, “It must be the branch manager. Show me a successful branch and I’ll show you a great leader.” The VP agreed and shared that this manager’s staff was no better than those in other branches. The big difference was this manager was also a dynamic leader who had the ability to motivate his entire team for high performance. He became the role model for all of the branch managers.


Great leaders recognize that because they have a title, they don't automatically get respect. They have to earn it.  


 “In the eyes of your employees and your customers, the extent to which you practice your values can be closely linked with their level of employee loyalty and your level of customer loyalty. They will infer what you value from your behavior and your words. Excellent leaders actively demonstrate and communicate these values on a day-to-day basis.”

Values are the beliefs and principles that guide individual behavior and form the foundation upon which an organization and all of its leaders operate. These play a strong role in leading by example. 

  • Honesty:                          The quality of showing truth in communication.
  • Integrity:                          The soundness of moral character. 
  • Professionalism:            Thinking and acting with the highest level of professionalism
  • Ethics:                               Having and adhering to a set of principles of right and moral conduct.
  • Respect:                           The quality of showing deferential regard for others in all situations. Disrespect is not tolerated.
  • Excellence:                      Being the best at what you do. “Good enough” doesn’t exist
  • Teamwork:                      Being part of a team and not always the team leader. Teamwork is a strong part of their organization
  • Customer Focused:        Focusing on keeping customers happy by keeping employees happy and committed to do so
  •  Accountability:              Holding themselves accountable to practice dynamic leadership and establishing    accountability throughout their organization. The leader and their staff know what, specifically                                               they should be accountable for.                         
  • Health and Safety:        Taking the health and safety of employees and customers seriously
  • Family :                            Treating employees and customers as if they were family and allow flexibility for employees to attend family functions
  • Continuous Improvement:  Continuously improving in their own leadership performance instilling continous improvement in their company.


Example of Company Values

This company is not in the equipment distribution business, but L.D. Docsa Associates, Inc., a GC located in Kalamazoo, MI, created its core values using LEADERSHIP as an acronym.

Loyalty to Clients and Employees

Excellence, Where “Good Enough” Doesn’t Exist

Accountability to Our Clients and Our Company

Dependability in Our Workmanship, Actions, and Safety

Everyone Working Toward the Goal – Teamwork

Respect for Each Other and Company Property

Sense of Urgency to Client and Project

Honesty and Integrity in Every Facet of Doing Business with Our Firm

Improving Continuously, Operationally, and Professionally

People, Remembering Clients and Employees Make theBusiness

Reprinted with permission.

Many dynamic leaders begin every staff meeting with a review of their core values.  Some even ask employees to relate how, specifically every value should be demonstrated. Some responses are, “Never stretch the truth or tell a lie to make a sale.” “Tell the customer the truth.” “Respect company property.” Demonstrate safety by locking out and tagging out unsafe equipment.”  What are your company’s core values, and how, specifically should your people demonstrate them?

Characteristics of Dynamic Leaders

When thinking of leadership characteristics, we often think of successful people with charismatic qualities. Great leaders do not have to have charisma. But they do have to possess admirable character traits. As you review the following list, think about which traits would most influence you to follow someone else’s lead and then rate yourself:


• Supportive








• Demonstrates core values






Surveys have revealed that the three most important characteristics they want in their leader are 1) TRUSTFUL – They want to feel they can trust their leader. 2) SUPPORTIVE - They want to be supported by their leader, and 3) DEMONSTRATES CORE VALUES. The more of these traits you possess and demonstrate, the more likely you are to earn the respect of your team. If you win the respect of your team, they will not only want to follow your lead, but will also perform for you.

Leadership Styles

Dynamic leaders have different styles. As you review these six leadership styles, consider which best describes your style.

Transformational LeadersTransformational leaders are capable of transforming entire organizations or departments. A dealer may call in a turnaround management specialist or industry consultant for help in this area, or they will hire someone with a proven track record to transform their entire culture.  Some are so dynamic and influential they do it themselves.

Creative, Experimental Risk Takers

This type of leader is a financial risk taker. Business owners who acquire or merge with other companies often have this style. They believe that risk taking, supported by numbers, can strengthen their position in the marketplace and improve their competitive stance. There are a multitude of leaders in the equipment distribution business who have made the decision to merge, buy other dealerships, and expand their offerings.

Charismatic, Domineering Battlers

Leaders who possess this style can also be described as charismatic bosses, and are not very effective in today’s business environment. Even with the current state of the job market, you might experience a high level of employee turnover if you lead by demand.

Relentless Pursuers of Performance

Relentless pursuers of performance settle for nothing less than peak performance. They drive people. A leader who demands high performance from his or her team will not tolerate an average performer. They do their best to help employees improve their performance. However, if their performance doesn’t improve, leaders with this style terminate them.

Servant Leaders

Leaders with this style believe that, after strategy, their main role is to serve their employees and help them excel. Leaders who can be described as servant leaders have hired only the best performers and provide them with the education, training, mentoring, coaching and tools they need to succeed. They work along side them.

Situational Leaders

Leaders who apply this style recognize that every employee cannot be led the same way. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory is based on the belief that the best leaders are those who adapt their style to the individual, group, or situation to get the results they want. Leaders with this style are in tune with what motivates and inspires each individual, understand their issues or challenges, and lead accordingly.

Which style is best?  The answer may surprise you.  Leadership style doesn’t matter. What matters most, is the quality of the individual!  If the leader is respected and admired, people perform for them. In fact,

                 “The Best Leaders Make People Feel They are Working WITH Them, and Not For Them.”

They are fair and supportive of their team. They care about their employees as much as they care about their best customers. Asking questions and listening to employees is how they keep them involved and engaged. They know how to make their team feel as if they are working with them and not for them.

The Importance of Communication

Studies have shown that 85% of an individual’s overall career success is directly proportionate to his or her ability to communicate. Dynamic leaders are excellent communicators.

Consider this scenario: Business is finally picking up. You made the decision to acquire a competitor, and you must merge two different cultures and two different ways of doing business into one cohesive team. You realizethe acquired companies systems and procedures were more advanced and decided to implement them throughout the company. However, your original employees are having difficulty adapting- especially the service manager and technicians.

What was once a fairly smooth company now is on edge, and employees are unhappy. Half of your team is spending much of the day complaining about the new systems and procedures and the others are worried about losing their jobs.

In this scenario, a dynamic leader would not sit back and wait for things to blow over. He or she would immediately acknowledge the turmoil caused by the dramatic organizational changes and then proactively handle the resistance and uncertainty these changes caused.

A dynamic leader reassures every employee that once they become accustomed to these changes, their jobs will become easier. This leader supports and helps the team, and explains how the merger will improve efficiency and profitability. Finally, a dynamic leader ensures that everyone will get through the transition together, one day at a time, and asks for ideas that could make the transition easier.

Information Is Key

In today’s environment, people lose their motivation if they are not kept informed about what is going on around them. The less they know, the more their performance is negatively impacted. This is especially true when there is a major change occurring.

The President of a distribution business decided to retire. He announced that his son would become the new President.  A “town hall” meeting was held and all employees were present. The group was quiet and apprehensive. Of course, people were worried about losing their jobs, and the new President knew they would be. They would also have a problem with the fact that he was far younger than other managers, even though he earned an MBA and worked in the dealership in various job roles for several years.

These were his opening words: “I’m sure you’re all wondering whether you will keep your jobs. I have no intention of letting anyone go, nor do I plan making any major changes in the way we do business during my first year. But I am going to put my heart into making this company grow and prosper. My vision is to expand, provide more jobs and rewards will be in the picture.  I ask of you is that you give your best each day and give me your support.  Also, I know that I’m younger than most of you, and you have far more experience than I do.  So, in the coming weeks, I’ll be speaking with each of you in teams and one on one. I would like to hear from you what you would do if you were the new President of the company. I want to hear what’s working and what needs improvement. And I want to know how I can be a great president.”

He immediately won them over, and did an outstanding job of communicating.

Ten Communication Tips for Dynamic Leaders

.     1)       Be a straight shooter. Your team should always feel that they hear the truth and know that you tell it like it is.

.     2)       Communicate the highest standards for performance, customer service and your expectations.

.     3)       Avoid miscommunication. Always ask your team if your expectations, instructions, etc., are clear.

.     4)       Ensure each employee knows the company’s vision, where it’s going, and how it will get there.

.     5)        Be confident and consistent. Your employees
are listening for the confidence behind your words.

6)       Communicate what you know and what you don’t; your team will respect you for it. This openness builds trust between you and your staff.

7)       Practice the “One Minute Manager”…Catch someone doing something good. Tell them immediately. Catch someone doing something wrong, tell them right away but in private.

8)       Communicate that for every problem, there is a solution and that you want everyone to be solutions-focused.

9)       Sharpen your facilitation skills. Facilitate frequent idea-sharing sessions on how to improve customer service, teamwork, productivity, employee morale, parts and service operations and how to better support your sales team.

     10) Spend a little time each day talking to individuals and asking questions similar to those below.

What do you think? (This may be the most important question you ask.)

Do you need any help?

How can we make this place a great place to come to work each day?

What’s your opinion on the new software?

How’s your team performing?

How can we improve customer service (teamwork, morale, productivity)

Have you heard any complaints?

How can we be proactive in preventing them?

Is there anything I should know about?

Questions to Ask if You Are a Brave Leader

Am I a boss or a leader?

How can I be better?  


Tips on Employee Motivation

  Eliminate cause of job dissatisfaction – bad bosses, territorialism, negative people, underperformers, dead-weight, feeling opinions don’t count.

  Bring out the best in every employee.

  Incorporate as much “FUN” in the workplace as possible. One way, is to put up a photo or cartoon and let people place their own caption. Reward the funniest.  Draw for a $20. Bill at every meeting.  Have a quick huddle in the parking lot. Play upbeat music in the service department.  Have executives do the grilling and serve their employees. Hold a “bake” sale and use the proceeds to buy pizza. Put up a basketball hoop and picnic area.

  Take a personal interest in your staff and treat them like family

  Appreciate them and thank them on a daily basis

  Involve them in idea sharing, problem solving

  Implement small and affordable ways to reward and recognize them such as gift cards for outstanding …service.

  Take one employee to lunch every week. Draw the names.

  Throw out the time cards and tell employees you trust them.

  Throw out the Rule book too.

Dynamic leadership and motivating employees requires a great deal more. As you interact with your team members, remember: Dynamic leaders motivate and inspire employees to follow their lead and deliver their best performance. They demand that other leaders in their company to practice dynamic leadership, which ultimately improves your company’s bottom line.

For now, ask yourself this question, “Would you want to work for you?”

Christine Corelli –

Christine Corelli is the author of six business books and a dynamic conference speaker. To learn more, visit www.christinespeaks.com or call (847) 477 7376. Be sure to attend her sessions at the International Woodworking Fair.


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