What a powerful word — legacy. Just to say it makes you want to draw that “E” out for just a second or two longer: legaceeeeee. Maybe it’s just a Southern thing to draw it out at the end, and I think it’s also a Southern thing to talk about what your elders have taught you. “Momma always said, life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get,” Forrest Gump said. “Momma said, foosball is the devil,” Bobby Boucher said. “Momma said, knock you out,” said LL Cool J (OK, he is from New York — not the South.) Yes, we do love our mommas, and we do love talking about where we got our knowledge. Y’all don’t forget your great moms this Mother’s Day.
One of the simplest definitions of the word legacy is, “a thing handed down by a predecessor.” And it’s easy (given my above references) to correlate handing down something to your family. In reality, you as a leader of your team, have the unique ability to transfer your knowledge and skills to the very people you lead. Don’t downplay this notion that as the quick lube leader, you have the ability to pass down and develop people.
A Gift From Take 5
For 17 years, I was able to accomplish many great things under the leadership of others who passed on their legacies to me. I have mentioned so many of these fantastic people in my previous articles. The stories I have told on these pages have, hopefully, started to draw out what they have done for me. There are many more stories though, and knowing I can never tell them all is disheartening.
The best thing about my role within this organization was the ability to work with so many great people who started with a job and developed it into a career (either with Take 5 or elsewhere). Leadership allowed me to develop a team that shared my desire to change people and not oil, and to spread that concept nationwide.
During the standard Take 5 departure Facebook post, I was reminded quickly of those who I was able to pass down information to. These were not family (not blood anyway); they were high school drop-outs, preachers, Katrina refugees, guys with enough kids to fill a football team, mechanics, restaurant guys, mothers, fathers and even an ewok. (Cue “Simple Minds” while Emilio Estevez pumps his fist walking away on the football field.) My gift from Take 5 wasn’t giving me a job or a career, but instead, they gave me an opportunity to give and receive knowledge from so many of the great ones.
Far too often you see publications that walk you step-by-step on how something is supposed to go or how to be successful. As a trainer, I am guilty of the very same thing I criticize. It can be difficult to curb your control-freak mentality and let someone grow. Watching someone do something his or her own way can make you sweat on the shop floor. When breaking down a machine, you must be methodical — especially when working in a team.
When it comes to growing people, there is no script, there is no instruction manual and there are no bullet points that will walk you through this task. The script can be simply noted as “caring enough to see others succeed.” This means putting down your phone or clipboard, closing your laptop and having a very personal and intimate conversation with someone who can benefit from you sharing your accomplishments and your failures. This means giving advice to someone who is coachable and letting them use that information however they see fit. When they use it well and succeed, it isn’t because of your talk or wisdom. It is because they applied what they learned to be successful. When they don’t use your guidance and fail, it isn’t because they didn’t listen. It’s because they are still learning. Your job at that point is to be there and offer an ear, a voice or a story that may help them in the long run.
This. Is. Not. About. Me.
Another gut punch. You are the leader, you are successful and you want people to do what you did to be successful. But, you are not the important one here. It is the people you serve who will truly be a testament of your success — not your wallet and not your title. Fill your wallet with procedures and service reviews. Fill your heart with stories of those who have affected you and images of weddings and babies being born.
Have memories and stories of those who have surrounded you and those who you have learned from. The stories and lessons you share with your team should not be about you, but about life and learning. You have had the opportunity to hoard clips of memories from all around you. Share those moments as teachable moments, instead of what you did.
Take a few moments and reflect on your speeches. Go outside and have talks with your team. Ask questions about their families, what they do after work and what do they want to do in life. Your team will not open up to you if they do not believe that you are invested into them personally. Decide that you can really make a difference in your team and then read my next few articles. Or think your people skills are top-notch and watch your people go to the competitors and succeed. It’s your wallet, after all. Until then, be great!