In their book, “The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do,” authors Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller ask the question, “What do I do to become a great leader?” It raises more questions than answers.
There are definitely characteristics that all leaders share. Yes, leaders lead in different ways but they will all exhibit some common traits. “The secret” simply put, is character. Yet, if I stopped there, that would not make much of an article. As you will see, leadership is a lifetime of education.
S.E.R.V.E. is how to learn “The Secret.” S.E.R.V.E. is an acronym for describing what all leaders must do and that in which great leaders must master. According to Miller and Blanchard, S.E.R.V.E. stands for:
• S = See the future
• E = Engage and develop others
• R = Reinvent continuously
• V = Value results and relationships
• E = Embody the values
Leaders have to develop good habits to be successful and the S.E.R.V.E model helps direct those habits.
“S” — See the Future as it is. Leaders have to see more than what is going on around them just for the day or the week. It’s been said a poor plan, poorly executed, is better than no plan at all. Leaders have to spend time planning for the future. But, planning is not enough — they have to see what is going to happen and plan accordingly. Every great leader understands that not all plans are going to fall into place. Yes, failure is an option but it does not have to be the end. “Seeing the future” has to be on the agenda of a leader in order for the growth that is necessary for all businesses.
“E” — Engage and develop others. No matter what business or level of leadership one has, a leader cannot do everything that needs to be done. Engaging and developing others is a must for great leaders as they take those around them and turn them into future leaders. Leaders always have a great deal of things to think about and therefore have to consider the training they are providing. Leaders also have to control expenses, route drivers, control inventories (both incoming and outgoing), tweak pricing, produce reports and watch over customer service, among other things. Leaders strive to train their replacement and should not fear training those around them.
“R” — Reinvent continuously; how do you reinvent continuously? Well, it’s not always simple, but it can done. It does not always mean a change from within; it can be from those around or even a change in the fixtures of the store. Yes, there is a method to the madness of changing all the displays regularly. Moving structures make for excitement despite what customers say, they enjoy the new products. If you are a leader you will look within and find the direction of change that is necessary to lead down a different path or even to a different drum. Automotive technology is taking a giant leap forward, battery technology in general is going to change from lead acid to AGM, and air conditioning is going to a more sophisticated system of computer controls and sensors to control pressures and temperatures. So, we have to reinvent continuously to catch up or keep up. Here in the aftermarket, we play catch-up as the dealers and manufacturers see these new technologies immediately and we are five years behind.
“V” — Value results and relationships. Results are the sum of the efforts made throughout an organization. Relationships are what transform the team’s efforts into results. A great leader must value both to get the best out of those who they depend on to get those results.
“E” — Embody the values; Values can be written down for an organization. However, the real character of the company is what happens when no one else is looking. The leader has to embody those values in order for them to be important to the rest of the company.