“Are You In Contempt?”

Being a leader is like being a parent when it comes to dealing with your children. If for example one parent is the stay at home parent, it’s much more difficult to discipline the children because you are around them all the time. The parent who goes off to work each day has a real advantage in the discipline area because they’re not with the children 24/7 and so it’s much easier to lay the law down.

Being a leader in business can be the same way. The more time you spend with your staff the more difficult it can be to lead them. There is a well known saying “Familiarity Breeds Contempt.”

The more we get to know people the more tolerant we become of their deficiencies. That applies to all aspects of life. If you are married or have ever been married you know that the longer you are with a person the more you tend to overlook those things that really bug you. (Or maybe not and you get a divorce) You just kind of go with the flow because it’s not worth the hassle.

Being in business and managing people is the same way. Most of my readers are in the automobile business and are often times around the same people for 12 plus hours a day. Talk about a familiarity breeds contempt problem! Most dealerships have systems and processes in place designed to create focus and discipline. Even under the best of circumstances processes are constantly breaking down which contributes to poor performance and a poor bottom line.

The reality is that it’s much easier to run a large dealership than a small one. As a leader in a large dealership, you can delegate much more and separate yourself from some of the personalities that can cause the breakdown of discipline. Do not take that to mean that you don’t need to be involved, friendly or whatever. It just means you have to separate yourself from the emotional side of the equation. If you are in a smaller dealership the task of separating yourself from the staff is even more daunting.

I’m often amazed that leaders feel that they can socialize with staff members and still be able to properly manage and lead them. How can you:

1.    Have lunch with the same people all the time?
2.    Have dinner with spouses and members of your team on a regular basis?
3.    Have after work drinks with staff members?
4.    Party with staff members?
5.    Attend sporting events with staff members?
6.    Play golf on weekends with staff members?

Any of these in and of themselves is not a bad thing. But, to do any of this with the same person on a consistent basis does nothing but create problems for you and them. Aside from the fact it makes it difficult for you to manage them (let alone fire them) it creates a perception of favoritism that will destroy morale and team spirit.

I must tell you that over the years I never socialized much with my team because after spending 12 plus hours a day with them the last people I wanted to hang out with were the people I had just spent the last 12 hours with.

It’s undeniable that the more time you spend with staff members the more difficult it is to manage then in an unbiased manner. So, just how much in contempt are you? Only you know the answer to that.

We are approaching a new year when we resolve to be better at this and that. A new year allows us to evaluate who we are and the direction we want to go. So, let me suggest that you become less familiar with certain staff members and release yourself from the contempt of being too familiar. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs

Tommy’s Tips:

1.    Be honest, are you in Contempt?
2.    Take action; divorce yourself socially from those you lead.
3.    It is a great time of the year to re-focus your disciplines