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The mentorship mindset: how effective leaders nurture the growth of their teams

For dealership managers and executives, getting top talent in place is only half the battle for driving sales and boosting profits. Sharp leaders realize that success comes from developing people to their fullest potential. It’s an approach requiring a mentorship mindset. 

Exceptional leaders recognize that their roles extend far beyond overseeing daily operations and concentrating on KPIs and other metrics. By providing individualized guidance, managers and executives can support and inspire their teams for personal and professional growth. There’s another benefit to a culture of mentorship: a sharper competitive edge for your dealership. 

Here’s how to put this concept into practice.

Fostering open communication

One role that every mentor should embrace is that of a trusted advisor. An open-door policy and regular one-on-one meetings create opportunities to learn about each employee’s hopes, challenges, and ideas. This practice encourages an frank dialogue and mutual understanding between leaders and team members.  

Effective mentors don’t just rely on annual reviews to provide feedback. They consider themselves coaches who provide ongoing guidance that offers constructive suggestions for improvement and recognizes achievements. Real-time observations give team members the insights to continuously refine skills and maximize strengths. 

Providing personalized guidance

While a manager sets broad goals for their department, a mentor takes a personalized approach by tailoring opportunities to each employee. They get to know each employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and passions, and guide them to projects where they can succeed. That one employee’s enthusiasm for social media could translate into working on a digital marketing initiative. Or that technician who’s embracing the transition to EVs with gusto could lead the way for others in the service department. 

Providing this individualized attention not only creates a pathway for advancement, but also variety, ensuring a career that’s engaging, interesting, and skill enhancing. The process should also include regular discussions to map out personalized development plans. These get-togethers can focus on training opportunities, skill-building projects, and next-level roles.

Leading by Example

We’ve all had a boss that issues behind-the-desk commands, but chances are they didn’t make a great mentor. The best mentors lead by example. You’ve heard it a thousand times, actions speak louder than words. This means demonstrating the values and behavior you wish to install in others. Don’t hesitate to share your own career journey and challenges. Be sure to include the lessons learned during these conversations. Team members will feel more comfortable about stretching and growing if they know you’ve been through the same thing. 

Successful mentors also demonstrate work-life balance, creating reasonable workplace expectations while supporting a life outside of work. Why does this matter? Because there’s a direct connection between high levels of workplace stress and the desire to find a new job, says the American Psychological Association. In a 2021 study, the organization found that stressed-out team members are three times more likely to look for different employment. 

Above all else, a mentor must walk the talk when it comes to ethics and integrity. By holding themself accountable to the highest standards, they set the bar for conduct expectations for everyone else.

Fostering a sense of belonging

Making each employee feel valued is another essential role of a mentor. Look beyond roles and responsibilities, by taking a genuine interest in each staff member’s outside passions. This includes recognizing life events from birthdays to personal milestones. It’s a no-brainier way of enhancing morale. And so is organizing social events for the team. 

Establishing a supportive workplace community helps provide emotional fuel for those days when the going gets tough. At the same time, employees feel that their contributions matter, which inspires them to continue with their best efforts. 

Cultivating continuous learning

A superior mentor instills an appetite for continuous learning in their team. Importantly, this goes beyond mandated service or sales training. Look for conferences and workshops opportunities that expand professional development. And education doesn’t have to be a one-way street. Empower employees to share their knowledge by leading department seminars, cross-training team members, or mentoring interns. 

Further, a mentor serves as a role model for lifelong curiosity. No matter how much experience you have, there’s always something new to learn. Such activities remind the team to expand capabilities and sharpen their skills. 

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David Goldberg
David Goldberg
David Goldberg is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News. He brings a unique combination of dealership experience, a lifelong love of automobiles, and a journalism background to his writing for CBT News. He has a BA in journalism from The George Washington University.

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