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College football is back and fans are filling the stadiums, cheering on their teams, becoming armchair quarterbacks, and second-guessing the refs’ play-calling on any given Saturday. Imagine you were the head coach of Nebraska, Iowa, or Iowa State football—what plays would you call, which players would be on the field, and what would you do differently? Now let’s transition from the football field to your dealership or branch location.

If your employees were playing the role of armchair quarterback at your business, what changes would they implement to make it a better place to work? Would they want you as their head coach? Do they feel like they are on a winning team? Winning teams have coaches who maximize each player’s talents and put together a successful game plan to develop their players into a cohesive unit. Ask yourself—what is your game plan?

Recently, I had the pleasure to speak with an individual whose passion is helping leaders maximize their individual and team potential. His focus is on transformational change—helping leaders be their best by fostering a company culture built on trust and open communication that brings alignment and cohesion. His message made me reflect on how I can empower my staff and be a better leader and coach.
We have great leaders throughout our membership. I’ve heard from many of you that you want to develop more soft skills like leadership development, team-building, and team motivation. Too often, there is not enough time to spend on these soft skills. Your dealership’s primary focus is the operational aspects of your business.

The Iowa State Cyclones have transformed themselves from a team that routinely found itself at the bottom of the Big 12 Conference into a nationally-ranked, Top 10 football team. How did this transformation happen? Was it incremental or transformational in nature?

In Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the seventh habit is “Sharpening the Saw.” Covey uses the analogy of a woodcutter who was sawing for several days straight while becoming less and less productive. Furthermore, the process of the continuous cutting caused the blade to become dull. When the woodcutter tried to saw faster, it dulled the blade even more. Covey’s point is to periodically take time to sharpen the saw. He stresses that we must preserve and enhance the greatest asset that you have control over—you! In his analogy, you are the saw. By regularly investing in yourself, you become more effective in your life’s work and reap dividends on a continual basis. You feel better, your family feels better, your employees feel better, and you’re a healthier person, too.

Push “pause” now. When will you find the time to sharpen your saw? How do you get started? What should you do? These questions will be answered at our Workforce Development Regional Workshop in Ankeny, IA and Grand Island, NE this November 2 and 3, respectively. This workshop is your opportunity to learn how to grow in your leadership and begin to build a transformational game plan, just as the Iowa State Cyclones have done with their football program. It will cost nothing but your time.

Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and “sharpen your saw.”

I look forward to seeing you there.

Mark Hennessey

Chief Executive Officer