Just recently, I had the privilege to attend the first session of this year’s Leadership 2.0 program, which was held at the University of the Aftermarket headquarters. It was an honor to participate in this program as the scholarship recipient from Auto Care Association’s young professional segment, YANG.
I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience in this training course and further elaborate on how Northwood University and the University of the Aftermarket are making valuable contributions to the global auto care industry.
Leadership can be taught
It has always been an ongoing debate, if a person is either born with the traits that make up a great leader, or if those foundational characteristics can be learned later in life. At the same time, it has also been inarguably true that the relevant best practices can be exceptionally effective in helping any person improve on crucial leadership qualities. The programs offered at the University of the Aftermarket focus on such best practices.
Northwood University’s DeVos Graduate School of Management faculty and other instructors of the program are individuals who themselves are directly from the industry, and they are ones who made first hand use of those best practices. Led by those instructors, the entire experience builds on vast amount of knowledge. When combined with the unique platform, which brings together the entire supply chain including manufacturers, distributors, and service professionals; Leadership 2.0 inevitably becomes a milestone in the careers of all participants.
The program schedule
Leadership 2.0 is a two-part program. The first session gives the participants the momentum to get started on group projects that are presented in the second session. These projects take advantage of teachings from the course and lead to real world solutions. Every year, projects influence the auto care market and often get implemented. You may click here to watch last year’s winning project, tackling the change in the auto care market as a result of Telematics.
The University of the Aftermarket is headquartered in the Sloan Family Building for Aftermarket Studies located on Northwood University’s campus in Midland, MI. This educational center was funded by the generous support of the front-runners of the auto care industry. The institution is an educational alliance of the Auto Care Association, Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA) and Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA).
In addition to the material covered during this training course, one of the most important take-aways for me came from the round-table group discussions on current topics from the industry. These discussions were led by Brian Cruickshank and every morning, the conversation quickly evolved into a comprehensive report of the market, offering many perspectives to the subject.
The program highlights areas that can be considered vital requirements for a person in a management position to have a solid foundation. Some of these topics are finance, economics, management and conflict resolution. Unique to the program, each subject is made relevant to the group with the input of the instructors who possess great expertise and provide examples. Additionally, the interactive nature of the classroom setting makes the whole session even a more worthwhile educational experience.
The process of leadership
In the August issue of Harvard Business Review, HBR’s Editor-In-Chief Adi Ignatius interviews PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi on Design Thinking. The conversation brings up many common aspects of organizations that achieve notable success in their industries. Obviously, in this interview, the spotlight stays primarily on PepciCo’s successful cases. It’s not to anyone’s surprise that maintaining an innovative culture through effective leadership is a key factor in almost all of those examples. Indra says, “It’s a fine line between innovation and design. Hopefully design leads to innovation, and innovation demands design”.
I most certainly agree with Indra. At the same time, I think we should look for more than just “hope” when making business decisions; we probably need a little more certainty as a basis for a well founded strategy. Therefore, by designing processes that can encourage individuals to be innovative, encourage taking advantage of best practices and most importantly, one that can encourage individuals to take on influential roles within their organizations, a more certain outlook can be achieved. Ultimately, such approach will raise the entire group rather than relying on the possible existence of a few who already have those leadership qualities embedded in them.
Determining the right approach
The ability to accurately identify management styles is a direct requirement to successfully lead a team. Understanding such team dynamics help maximize synergy and eventually increase the overall team output. It is reaffirming to see that Leadership 2.0 focuses on techniques that can provide the much-needed tools to effectively assess the needs of a team and the leaders. All of which ultimately offer ways to implement processes that foster a greater number of successful leaders.
In my Six Sigma courses, in fact multiple times during each training session, we visit the definition of “value”. Depending on where we are in the course agenda or depending on the case study we are looking at, we might have different descriptions of what value is, but the source always remains as the customer. We always go back to the receiving party of the product or service. Sometimes, it might be a challenge to have the necessary visibility to things that happen further down the line. Leadership 2.0 sheds light over the entire lifecycle of services and products provided to the auto care industry. It brings together people that are the suppliers, with people that are the customers of these services or products, providing an effective platform to share with one another the true definition of value at each stage. As a manufacturer, the feedback from the group had immense value in understanding what’s expected from our products and services at every step of the way.
On behalf of everyone attended the program, I would like to send special thanks to Brian Cruickshank, Dr. Frank Morgan, Susan Woodcock, Dave Caracci, Rick Guirlinger, Bill Hanvey, Dr. Todd Thomas, John Passante, John Washbish, Dr. Tim Nash and of course everyone from University of the Aftermarket who contributed to the program. Once again, I would like to thank Auto Care Association and YANG for providing me the opportunity to take part in a training course that clearly changes the auto care industry a little more every year.
Looking forward to the second session of the program in Raleigh.
Director of Business Development
Temel Gaskets USA
Please click here for more information on Leadership 2.0.