How Do You Drive Your Bus to its Destination?

December 21, 2011
Posted by Mark Penick - Franchisee, Link Staffing of Austin

This is the fourth and final article in a series of four articles designed to help you, the manager, franchise owner or leader, build a great team of people. In case you’re wondering, these articles are not written for bus drivers! The bus is a metaphor for your company, branch office or department. As leader, you know that building a great company can only happen by hiring great people. Your job is to get the right people on your bus, get the wrong people off your bus, get the right people in the right seats on your bus, then driving your bus to the right destination.

Do you like to take road trips? They can be a lot of fun, but if you stay behind the wheel for too long, they can wear you down. Being a leader in your department, branch, franchise or company is a lot like being the bus driver on a long road trip. You encounter many different scenarios and issues along the way, and you have to navigate carefully through traffic and difficulty. The job of leader can wear you down if you keep too tight a grip on the wheel. Leadership is critical, however, and since you are driving the bus down the road, filled with the right people sitting in the right seats, it is your job to lead the team to a successful destination. As leading leadership guru John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

One aspect of leadership is the development of other leaders. Leaders need to be able to hand the driving duties over to others at times, and eventually hand them over for good. Great leaders develop future leaders. So for our purposes, we will discuss some key ideas to help you grow new leaders, and allow others to take the wheel. Here are a few ideas for you to consider as you work toward developing your team’s leadership abilities:

  1. Build your talent bench. The Super Bowl and World Series winners each year are usually the teams with the best bench. Make it a goal to always have a couple of people trained, mentored and ready to promote to the next level.
  2. Develop a leadership pipeline. Carve out an easy-to-understand promotion roadmap for your team. Everyone should know the steps to take to rise to the next level. A great book on this subject is simply called The Leadership Pipeline, by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel.
  3. As leader, demonstrate what high level performance look like. Then set the bar high, the expectations of performance, for each person on your team. Great people want high standards and high expectations.
  4. Develop a coaching culture. Adopt a development plan for each person on your team. This plan should include a personal life plan as well as a business plan. More on that subject can be found in an excellent book on coaching called Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy.

Adopt these steps in your leadership repertoire, and you will find that others will be able to help take turns driving your bus toward the destination you have chosen. 

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