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October 2015


By Wendy Lambourne, Director, Legitimate Leadership

The heartbeat of any retail business is the point of customer contact. In a motor retail business that is the dealership because it is at the dealership where new and pre-owned vehicles as well as parts are sold, cars are serviced, and finance and insurance are provided. So the success of a results-driven motor retail group is reflected in the health of every dealership in the group.

In 2008 the Care and Growth framework was introduced into a motor retail group business which offers a number of automobile brands out of dealerships in South Africa.

Care and Growth was expected by group management to provide the backbone (act as the spine) for a number of people interventions in the group aimed at improving employee retention, employee and customer satisfaction, and dealership performance (both in terms of sales and service).



By Ian Munro, Director, Legitimate Leadership

The typical implementation process for a Care and Growth leadership intervention such as that in the above retail motor business case study is:

1.     Establish the criteria

First, we establish the two criteria of Care and Growth. We introduce the insight that INTENT, not knowledge or skill alone, legitimises leadership. Skill helps, but without the right intent the will simply doesn’t engage.

2.     Diagnose

Then we diagnose against the criteria. Are your leaders caring for and growing your people at every level? If yes, fantastic. If not, what are they doing wrong?

3.     Remediate behaviour

Once we understand the core issues, we get to work supporting our clients in dealing with them. We provide leaders with the knowledge, tools, techniques and skills required to shift behaviour and make Care and Growth real day-to-day.

4.     Develop enabling structures

We work closely with our clients to address structure and process. We look at areas such as role descriptions, reporting lines, performance management systems, and disciplinary processes.



art-lowpay (1)By Wendy Lambourne, Director, Legitimate Leadership

I introduced myself to someone in a client organisation the other day and asked him who he was. His response was, “I am just an operator”. For someone to see themselves as just an anything – a call centre agent, a supervisor, a mum, or even a CEO – is not only sad but has implications. A person who feels “just a …” is unlikely to be engaged, motivated or give of his/her best, no matter how much he/she is paid.

When people at work feel they are “just a …” this is a leadership problem. Leaders in essence have failed to provide two things which are vital for people’s motivation at work. Firstly, they have failed to provide people with an understanding of the importance or the value of what they do. Secondly, they have failed to show appreciation for what people have done.

The criticality of a sense of purpose or meaning in the work being done, and acknowledgement by others of the work, has been validated in social science experiments as well is in the workplace.




By Ian Munro, Director, Legitimate Leadership

In my experience the number of people who enthusiastically and fearlessly take theory and translate it into action is small. I am convinced that this is the case when it comes to Care and Growth leadership. I am also convinced that this doesn’t have to be so.

“Application” is not some mysterious process out of the reach of all but the most forward-thinking and courageous leaders. It simply requires commitment, perseverance, and the acceptance that trial-and-error is a legitimate (and often very necessary) part of our growth.

In an intervention, while Legitimate Leadership typically follows the 2-day Introduction to Care and Growth programme with a series of Application Modules aimed specifically at the particular problem, I always make the point that leaders don’t have to wait for an Application Module before they start to change their own intent and behaviour. It all starts with intent – a change in heart.

From there it simply requires taking what now sits in your head, and putting it into your hands: changing your behaviour so that people experience you differently.




sep-videoBy Captain David Marquet, based on his book, Turn the Ship Around!

Marquet received a posting as a commander (US Navy) of a large nuclear submarine. This submarine was due to be deployed in six months.

He had been trained on a previous (smaller) submarine for a year, and his subordinates had been trained to follow him. He realised he had a problem if he was to make his new submarine safe in six months so he called his subordinates together and told them there was a problem.

He told them he had been trained to run a submarine and they had been trained to do whatever nonsense came out of his mouth.

They replied: “That’s right, captain.” A response that he should have predicted!

On further pressing them, they said that he would just have to be smarter. He said he could not be.

Then, after some thought, they said there is only one solution: “You shut up.”

Initially, he said “no” but after thinking about it, he realised they were right and he vowed never to give another order (although he did retain one order: whether to launch a torpedo because he needed to retain the responsibility when lives might be lost).

A visitor to the submarine would have had difficulty knowing who the leader was. But in the US Navy there are many, many lists of what the captain has to authorise.

Marquet replaced all this with intent – asking what you’re trying to accomplish.

His officers stopped asking for permission.

This was hugely powerful because the psychological responsibility shifted to them. They had to find the answers – “otherwise you were the answer man and you could never go home to eat dinner.”

He would ask them questions about their intention; and he might go over their thinking with them – for instance, whether what they proposed was the right thing to do.

He concluded that the two pillars that were needed for this project to be successful were:

1)    Technical competence, so that it was safe.

2)    Organisational clarity (for instance about what the organisation’s objectives were).

So his officers began to think like him. And below them, their subordinates did the same. The change was rapid; the whole process took a few years.

Two years later, an inspection team gave his submarine the highest rating that the team had ever seen.

How was this, when the submarine’s captain was “a dummy”?

On any other submarine, there was one person thinking and giving orders, and 134 people doing what he said.

On this submarine, there were 135 thinking, active, passionate, creative, proactive people – “the opposition didn’t stand a chance.”

So, Marquet advises, move the authority to where the information is. “So in a commercial organisation, the software engineer decides whether you launch the software; the salesman closes the deal, whatever the price.”

You create the environment so that the subordinates are taking decisions as if the CEO was standing right behind them. And if it’s not the same decision, it’s a better decision because they have the information.

And you improve the speed of execution because there is no delay.

And these people feel like they matter because you created the environment for them to think and create.

“It’s not hard. The only thing that is hard is you. It will feel wrong. We are genetically and culturally programmed to take charge/control and attract followers. But actually you want to give control, create leaders.”

You will have failures and sometimes revert to your old ways. But you go back and pick yourself up and do it again.

Eventually you create an environment for greatness – where the people around you and their organisations and families and businesses have achieved the greatness.


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