Being in a position of leadership and authority can be like walking a tightrope.  You have to find the perfect balance of coaching, motivating, rewarding and reprimanding all while leading by example.  Yes I said it, LEADING BY EXAMPLE!


Leaders should always be in control of their emotions and have a positive attitude.  Even when you have to deliver poor reviews and consequences, it should not be done angrily or in a demeaning way.  Your employees cannot be positive or productive if they are constantly worried that you may go off on them or react hysterically any time they have to come to you with a problem.  In the service industry we are in the business of solving problems.  If you can't help your team solve problems with a good attitude, how are they going to help your clients with a positive demeanor?  They may plaster on a smile, but usually you can see tension in their most prevalent form of communication; body language.  I actually have worked in dealerships that have codes to let everyone know if the boss is in a bad mood.  This is ludicrous and dangerous in an industry where employees are known to change jobs in a heartbeat.  Stress does not create a customer friendly environment. 

How Do We Become a Coach?  


We must set clear expectations for our team. Define your job descriptions, minimum standards, training requirements and goals in writing. Review them regularly with each individual and have them sign a copy. Monitor their progress and make sure they are aware of how they are doing daily.  If they are failing, consider any additional tools or training you can provide to help them succeed. Training is an ongoing process that requires repetition and NEVER ends!


Set a clear consequence for not following all processes or meeting minimum standards. Minimum standards without repercussions are a waste of time and paper.  If you do not hold people accountable they will lose respect for your authority.  It has to be more than just a loss of pay and it should always be done in private.  Public humiliation is not productive or necessary.


Acknowledge successes daily. Research shows that employees are more loyal to companies that show appreciation.  Pats on the back and acknowledgements are emotionally more rewarding and motivating than money.   Sometimes a more personal reward can be very effective. Take the time to learn what motivates each individual.  I work with a manager that has been offering rewards such as a day of golf or tickets to a game, when exceptional performance is delivered.  He brings it up daily in their kick off meeting and it always makes everyone start the day with a smile and a clear intention.   It just doesn't get any better than that!


Create a fun upbeat environment. We spend a lot of time at work so we should make it enjoyable.   Fun competitions and friendly banter should be the norm on your drive.  We want your employees and your customers to enjoy coming in to your store.  Research shows that we retain more information when some humor in interjected.  Just think about your favorite line from a movie.  See you remembered it right away!  Find creative ways to make work a place your employees like to be!  A happy employee is a productive employee!


Aesops Fable  

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger.  Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun said:  "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger.  You begin."  So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler.  But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.  Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.


Kindness, Gentleness and Persuasion succeed where force fails!

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Comment by Pat Kirley on April 25, 2013 at 7:01pm
Loved it Sally and so very true, it's great to work in a happy environment and we all need to play our part to achieve same.
Great post
Comment by Chris W. Williams on April 25, 2013 at 5:40pm

One of the better articles on the subject of what it takes to be a good manager. We must juxtapose leadership and managing to be effective at either. Managing is like parenting. It requires perseverance, effective processes and a lot of patience. Watching your team come together as high performing members is like watching your kids become productive adults.

Comment by Brandon K. Leytham on April 22, 2013 at 9:56am

Great post Sally, I agree that all leaders need to be able to hold their emotions and lead with a positive attitude.

Comment by Marsh Buice on April 20, 2013 at 8:30am

Sally, outstanding post my friend. We can say we care, but when we can show we care is more effective. Setting standards and ensuring our people are adhering to those standards is one way to show we care. I try to make it a point to never show up moody or in a bad mood bc I know my people are a reflection of me. If I'm disrespectful to my people, they in turn are disrespectful to our customers. Great job!

Comment by Sally Whitesell on April 19, 2013 at 5:27pm

I appreciate all of you taking the time to give your "positive" comments.  Even when we teach advisors to do a walk-around we encourage them to start with a compliment about their client's car or the care they have given it.  We actually provide a list for them.  Some people really struggle in this area and get caught in problems and negativity.  It can spread like a disease.  The good news is that the positivity can too!   There will always be problems to solve but a big part of the solution is in your approach to solving them.  Don't just have a glass that is half full; learn to love what is in it! 

Comment by Amy Kern-Smith on April 19, 2013 at 4:08pm

So true! It is said that it takes 10 positives to offset 1 negative.  Why put ourselves and our departments in a deficit daily.  Leading by example is right!  Thanks for the reminder, Sally.

Comment by Marty Raymond on April 19, 2013 at 3:02pm

Hey Sally,

Well said and a great reminder and template for us all. "Culture matters" and it starts with Leadership!

Warmest regards,


Comment by Patty Van Dyke on April 19, 2013 at 11:19am


Nice article ... I shared it with our management team.  I think sometimes they need to be brought back to the reality that salespeople are "people" and work better in a positive environment.  This is a great way for me to bring that back to them!

--Patty :)

Comment by Matt Page on April 19, 2013 at 11:18am

It's amazing how often this happens in life! If you live by solid values, this happens less often.

Do energy shifts. Say "I appreciate your effort, but I would rather have you..."

Comment by Jeffrey Seyler on April 19, 2013 at 11:16am

This is a great reminder to team leaders at all levels of management. How often is it much easier to find faults in our employees than it is to find opportunities to lift them up and encourage them to become the performers we wish all of our employees to be.

Awesome post Sally!

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