Ultimately, we all are measured by results. However, results alone can be a misleading indicator for how effective a manager is in his or her role. For instance, while speaking recently in the UK, I cautioned that the fact they have the fastest growing economy in the western world, and are having their best automotive retail sales year since 2005, is very possibly disguising the stench of mediocre management within aspects of their operations. Hot economies, popular products and favorable incentives make the terrible appear tolerable, the subpar look good, and the good appear great.

To gain a more objective view of your manager’s actual effectiveness you must dig deeper and examine four key areas that serve as an acute and telling report card of their true abilities and impact.

1.       Culture. A leader is the chief architect and primary influencer of his or her culture. They can either shape it productively, or have it destructively shaped by outside forces like indifference and entitlement. Culture is palpable; you feel it before you see it. In high performing cultures the following traits are common fare:


  • Clear, high, standards in writing for daily, weekly and monthly expectations.
  • Very little gray area.
  • Very little entitlement.
  • Very little, if any, dead weight.
  •  Swift and firm accountability.
  •   Strong team work.
  • Strong peer pressure to perform.
  • High integrity.
  • Great customer experience resulting in outstanding CSI.
  • A “second mile is standard” work ethic.
  • Leadership acts as a catalyst and is daily engaged in the trenches.


Week cultures, on the other hand, are the result of complacent leaders who lead from their office chair and ride market momentum—going through the motions—rather than maintain a daily killer instinct intent on running up the score. Traits common within such cultures may be any of the following:


  • Unclear standards and expectations.
  • Lots of gray area, confusion over what’s expected and poor communication over all.
  • Entitled employees who believe tenure, experience and credentials should substitute for results today.
  • Deadweight producing standards unworthy of the organization is routinely tolerated.
  • Little accountability.
  • An “every man for themselves” outlook.
  • Peer pressure to conform.
  • Sloppy ethics.
  • Also-ran customer experiences resulting in average or below CSI.
  • A “just enough to get by and get paid” attitude.
  • Disengaged leadership; aloof, inaccessible, unavailable and indifferent.


At the end of the day, culture makes up a significant portion of a leader’s report card because it directly reflects the image of the person responsible for it. Strong products, robust consumer demand and aggressive incentives can disguise cultural infections like those listed, and the deficient leader creating, or enabling, them.

2.       The quality of people they’ve attracted and developed. Without question, the quality of culture a leader creates helps determine the quality of people they’re able to attract and retain. Thus, evaluation points one and two in this piece are cousins. Here are some checkpoints to evaluate this key leadership responsibility:


  • The team members grow under the leader’s watch; they consistently improve skills, habits and attitude.
  • Negative, selfish, divisive cultural cancers aren’t tolerated; regardless how high their production.
  • There is very low turnover.
  • People working for the leader are often given more responsibility and/or promoted.
  • The leader consistently trains, coaches and mentors; he has installed these disciplines within his culture and views them as non-negotiable and not something he’ll get around to after “all the important stuff is done.”


In my book, Up Your Business: Seven Steps to Fix, Build or Stretch Your Organization, I explain the business Law of Attraction which states that: Leaders don’t attract who they want, but who they are. In other words a “6” leader is not going to attract 8’s, 9’s or 10’s; nor can he develop someone to those levels. Thus you can greatly judge the quality of your leaders by objectively evaluating the quality of the people they’ve attracted and developed; like culture, they are in his or her image.


3.       How they’re getting results. Most dealers are so delighted when a manager gets results they fail to look closely at how he’s getting them. That can blind a dealer to future problems with this manager because the how shows where he or she is headed. Let me explain:


  • If he gets results because he’s built a great team that excels when he’s away, or off work, that’s a big plus. However, if he gets results because he works bell to bell every day, never takes a day off, and has made his people so dependent on him they’re useless when he is gone, he’s headed for trouble.
  • If she gets results because she’s set clear expectations, has trained people to reach them, and holds them accountable for getting the job done, you’ve got a winner. If, on the other hand, she gets results because she micromanages, threatens, bullies and berates people into performing well, a train wreck awaits.
  • If he gets results because he’s got a hot product and strong incentives you may be vastly overestimating his true abilities. If, however, he’s getting results because he maximizes each opportunity and has learned to play a poor hand well you have someone special.


I know in our fast-paced world we like to glance at results, see that they’re good, declare that we’ve got a racehorse manager, and move on to what’s next. But to accurately evaluate your manager’s abilities you’ve got to dig deeper into the how. It portends the manager’s future.

4.       Their performance versus market. If Audi sales are up by 23% nationally, and my Audi manager’s department was up by 18%, I may have a problem. When Nissan sales are down 8%, but my Nissan manager’s department is flat, I may have an eagle. Obviously, you can’t look only at market conditions, but they must be weighed into the four-part equation. 


There are always “exceptions”, “we’re unique because…” and other “yea-buts” that can excuse, explain, or acclaim performance. This is why to get a true picture of your manager’s worth you must evaluate all four of these factors: culture, people, the how, and market performance. While there are a host of other helpful criteria, these four are simple, easy-to-measure, and will go a long way in telling your manager’s real story.

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Comment by Roger Williams on February 25, 2015 at 1:14pm

Every person in a management/coaching/leadership position should read this.

Comment by Danny Quinones on February 24, 2015 at 11:34am

If managers lived up these standards we'd have less turnover.  Mgrs. take note, well written article. Thank You! 

Comment by Mike Elliott on July 30, 2014 at 2:27pm

Excellent points: great article Dave.

Comment by James Klaus on July 30, 2014 at 11:15am

This is a truly excellent post.  I think we in the dealer world need to hold our leaders much more accountable.  

Comment by DealerELITE on July 29, 2014 at 10:56am

Dave Thanks for sharing another Excellent Article on dE

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