Leadership Boot Camp

Five people shuffle into a room, gather around a circular table, and take a seat. Then, someone walks in, sets down a tray of 12 donuts right in the center, and walks out without saying a word.

If you’re at that table, what do you do?

Here’s the catch: No matter what, David Rogers says, you’ll choose wrong.

“Should you have one? Should you not? Are they for you or someone else?” he asks. “You don’t know because nobody told you. If you eat it, you’re wrong. If you don’t, you’re a fool.”

Now pretend it’s not a table of strangers, but instead a group of technicians on the shop floor. And instead of a plate of donuts, there’s one employee who’s not pulling his or her weight, and the others don’t know how to react. Do they complain to the boss? Make up for the slack themselves? Yell until they get their way?

Essentially: What foundation has been laid by the leader?

“It all goes back to expectations you’ve built,” says Rogers, president of the industry consulting firm Auto Profit Masters and COO of the $3 million Keller Bros. Auto. “How well am I living by the example I’ve been asked to follow?”

Chris Cozad’s employees would know what to do. And that’s largely because Cozad—a shop owner who has become a standout, recognized model for leadership at the Automotive Training Institute—is a visionary who’s chosen to focus on the big picture and empower her team to succeed. She keeps her team and operation small, which only maximizes her impact on individual employees. They’re invested in her vision from day one because she’s set a course for her shop, outlined expectations, and carried herself with a caring, democratic aura that’s infectious.

There are KPIs that track productivity, salesmanship, customer service, profitability—but how do you measure your performance as a leader? It’s difficult to gauge how well you’re leading your team, whether your employees feel inspired, whether your vision is being realized. And until you’re ready to evaluate yourself and the role you play as the CEO of your company, your team will aimlessly drift without a captain to follow.

Luckily, there’s help. The two leadership experts in this article have mapped out a program that, from beginning to end, provides a blueprint for anyone looking to become a more effective leader. In fact, Ratchet+Wrench can prove the visionary leadership styles championed by Cozad and Rogers work because of data culled from the 2018 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey, which is sprinkled throughout this story.

So this is where you turn everything around, Rogers says. Your team is done wondering what direction it’s heading; you’re no longer allowed to sit idly by—it’s time to step up and pave a road to success.

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