In part one of this three-part series, I discussed self-assessment and how to take inventory of the leadership shadow that you cast. Nothing can be more fundamental to business success than acquiring the necessary skills that are critical to leading others in a multi-unit franchise operation.
In part two, I will discuss how to turn feedback into a catalyst for change in order to create a more dynamic you. One of your primary roles as a multi-unit leader is your own self-development and growth. The quicker a leader realizes that self-development begins with him or her, the quicker the rise to operational excellence and financial results for the business.
Throughout my professional career, I have learned that leadership and learning are always found together. Thousands of buzzwords are associated with this relationship and, for the simplicity of this article, I have condensed this theory into three dimensions.
For-profit companies are formed to make money to distribute to shareholders. Capability measures the particular ability and/or accountability to ensure the delivery of outputs that contribute to the achievement of outcomes determined by the enterprise to which one is adjoined. One's capability can easily be measured by looking at the profit statement or the balance sheet to determine performance and the business trend. In short, is this business getting better while the leader has been at the helm?
The definition I outlined is a very sterile but accurate way to assess capability. You can look to processes, procedures, implementation, and execution, but the outcome of the endeavors taken will always provide you with real data that cannot be refuted.
Sure, there are many factors other than financial outcomes to evaluate when determining whether a leader is capable or successful. Did they develop people? Did they prioritize and sequence the operational mechanics to lead to financial success? Were their strategic and operating skills connected and measured? Was there something outside of their control?
The leaders in this era understand the concept of being an "And Leader," the type of leader who can get the right business results AND who can get them the right way. When you wonder about a leader's capability, always look to the outcomes.
Some senior leaders see competence as a combination of knowledge, skills, and behavior used to improve performance. Others see it as a state of being well qualified in order to perform a specific function. I see competency as a leader's thorough understanding of the business unit they're operating with a bias toward operational excellence while utilizing strategic skills in order to keep ahead of the market and competitors.
Competency requires that you ultimately connect the intentions made in the board room to the customer. The most competent leaders I have worked with connect that distance by effectively teaming with others - their business partners who are experts in their specific areas of discipline. They also are the same ones who have a "boots on the ground" mentality and understand that site visit frequency is the number one indicator of multi-unit success.
Most multi-unit operators who have been promoted come from the operation's function. Single-unit operators that run great operations usually are the first to become district managers. These leaders rely on their operational strengths. However, what helped them become successful in one store will not guarantee success with a portfolio of stores. They need to develop a new set of leadership competencies that build upon their skills of getting results.
These new multi-unit leaders have rarely faced trouble with results they personally could not muscle into success. Strategic and interpersonal skills become challenges and planning for success becomes crucial as time seems to slip away quicker at the next level. Getting the appropriate training and coaching prior to going into position ensure you do not practice on the customer and that you can lead effectively from day one.
Congratulations! You are a capable leader who has demonstrated competency in the areas you have led. Your leadership shadow has caught the eye of your organization and your supervisor. You are now ready to take on more - your capacity has expanded.
Capacity expands when you produce the right results AND you get them the right way. More responsibility is given to those who build their tool kit of core competencies. Capacity expands when you are able to replicate recurring work with continued growth in performance.
You grow your footprint when your team shares your values and understands your mission. The right leader with the appropriate strategy can leverage the people process and operational excellence into oversight of an enterprise as large as they can dream.
In the end, results count and in your expanded role you need to continue to deliver. Modifying process and measuring results are keys to managing performance. Coaching becomes more critical and sometimes falls by the wayside as time continues to give way to everything that is urgent at the office.
The greatest leaders I have met rarely stay in one field. Their skill set or capability allows them to leverage their leadership competencies into different dimensions and different fields. They grow laterally and vertically on the organizational charts across the succession planning rooms of America.
What makes these leaders so different? Simply put, adaptability and the ability to adjust their approach to different business situations. They refused to be cast as a seven-unit operator or a vice president of this or that. They would prefer to be called "leader" and to be challenged with any business opportunity that inspired and challenged them. Their reward is their team's success and the growth of the economic and operational metrics.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that everything that shows up on paper is a direct result of the path you have laid out and the execution you get in the field. If you are a great leader, you inevitably are a great coach. Great coaches are usually found on the sidelines. Find a way to get there.
Tom Welter is the vice president of franchise operations for J.D. Byrider, the nation's largest used car and finance company franchise.
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