HVACR Business

AUG 2017

Help hvacr contractors master the critical components of business management.

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17 HVACR BUSINESS AUGUST 2017 www. hvacrbusiness .com BY MIKE ABRASHOFF LEADERSHIP AUTHORITY Commit Yourself to Becoming a Great Leader LEADERSHIP I t doesn't matter if you're a Naval Commander in charge of one of the most technically advanced war- ships that's ever been built, or an entrepreneur with the task of making sure your company, your customers and your employees are meeting the require- ments required of a successful enterprise. Leadership starts with a personal commit- ment to excellence. When I was given command of the USS Benfold, it ranked near the bottom in performance for ships in the Pacific Fleet. If the USS Benfold had been a busi- ness, consultants would have been called in months earlier to try to salvage it. When I le the USS Benfold two years later, it was recognized as one of the top performing ships in the fleet. e leader- ship lessons I learned during those two years are no different than those required to run a successful business. Make a Commitment e first step in your leadership journey is not exactly a step. It's a commitment. When I was preparing to take command of USS Benfold, I thought I was ready. I was the typical command and control leader. I was good at managing people. My results were good, but outstanding results were always beyond my reach, and I lost a lot of good people along the way. Taking command of USS Benfold, I knew I could be a better leader. Up until that time, I had created "order takers," not "owners." Owners are crucial to the success of an organization. ey're passionate and engaged in their work. Outstanding performance is achieved by people who feel they have some owner- ship in the enterprise. ey are not simply doers. ey are owners. I had experience and preparation aboard other ships. Perhaps like you, I wasn't totally new to managing and leading. But, I didn't realize the commit- ment to change I needed to make until I watched the change of command ceremo- ny as I prepared to board. e crew was cheering the departure of their commander, not because they were sad to see him go, but because they were glad to see him go — A sad commentary on his leadership. In that moment, I realized I needed to commit myself to being the kind of lead- er who would empower and engage peo- ple to achieve extraordinary results, and do everything necessary to make sure my team stayed on top. Set Your Course My crew was skeptical when I took command of USS Benfold. Many were unsure about the type of a leader that was taking over. I had a lot of ideas and wanted to change how things were done. Let's face it, they were not sure if what they heard from me would be consistent with my actions. I had to move steadily, but with patience, to earn their trust and respect. It started becoming real when my actions really indicated to the crew that I was not doing things to line up my next promotion or to advance my career, but truly to make USS Benfold the best damn ship in the Navy. When you become number one, complacency can set in and the urgency to change dissipates. It takes a leader to prevent this from happening. My initial thoughts were that turning the ship around would be my most diffi- cult assignment. I learned later that staying on top was an even bigger challenge. I was fortunate that the motivation to change was already present on USS Benfold. I just had to tap into it. With competition always increasing, your challenge is to take your organiza- tion's brand loyalty and translate it into long-term customer loyalty. "Engage your people who will engage your customers." People make the biggest difference in the customer experience. And the customer experience drives loyalty. Transformation doesn't occur overnight. I learned through my experience on USS Benfold that change is hard and takes time. Imagine your team's performance if you were to set a course for change. It's not as hard as you think. It will take making a commitment to leadership. All you need to do to get started is to set aside just 15 to 30 minutes a week to Outstanding performance is achieved by people who feel they have some ownership in the enterprise. continued on page 18

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