Smile and the World Smiles with You

In the business world, most successful people are type-A personalities. They are goal driven, work hard and do whatever it takes to improve the companies they work for or own. As we all know, however, strong personalities can manifest themselves in people in very different ways. The differences between these manifestations can be quite extreme, however, and I’m always curious how some people have achieved the success they have while treating people in ways that I feel alienate others.

When I look at healthy businesses with great company cultures, they almost always have one thing in common – a leader who is compassionate, cares about his or her employees and treats people well. These leaders certainly have the same strong personalities as their counterparts that don’t exhibit these qualities but it’s hard to believe that the path to success for the former was a much easier one than the path for the latter.

The fact is that human beings, by nature, tend to want to help those that they care about. Most of these industry leaders, executives and business owners started at the bottom just like everyone else. They were salespeople in dealerships and through long hours and hard work managed to make a career in the auto industry. No matter who you are, it’s almost a given that the industry can be very taxing on a person. As a legacy car guy whose father managed Carlisle Lincoln Mercury – and I got my start in retail at – for 15 years, I understand. Long hours, stress and the constant pressure can take a toll on a person. This certainly explains the high turnover rate that dealerships experience. Yet all of these individuals – regardless of how their personality has manifested itself – have managed to make their way to a position of authority.

You cannot be a leader without people willing to follow you. And people simply don’t perform and aren’t motivated to help a business succeed if they’re unhappy with how they are being treated. They may stay around because they’re making good money, but chances are good that when presented with an alternative they may choose the greener pasture.

The businesses that truly thrive are those that treat their employees well and earn the employee’s loyalty. This loyalty results in more productive employees who are engaged with the business and emotionally invested in seeing it succeed. You simply cannot have a great company culture if the leader of that company isn’t someone that people want to work for.

People naturally gravitate towards those that they feel are friendly and inviting. It’s simple to observe the differences when you look at trade shows. The companies that have strong leaders with employees that are engaged have booths that are packed with dealers interested in their services. By contrast, those companies that exude negativity or don’t feel inviting will see the employees talking amongst themselves and doing everything but trying to engage prospective clients.

Perhaps there’s a little part of each of us that tells us whether or not we want to engage with another person. That little voice can mean the difference between a dealer visiting your booth or deciding to walk on by. We know that communication isn’t all visual. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “smile and dial.” That’s because we can interpret emotions simply by voice inflection and interaction without even having that person in front of us. It’s not a big stretch to posit that we can make judgments and decisions on whether we want to engage with another human when they are standing in front of us – whether that’s through body language or simply their actions (or inactions).

Think about the people in your life that you consider mentors, that manager that you truly liked working for or even that lifelong friend and I guarantee you that all of them have commonalities – they treated you well, were always happy to see you and helped you when you needed it. These are the people that make you want to work hard and help them to succeed just as they are helping you to. And the best part… they always have a smile to give you.

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