Leadership 2.0, the University of the Aftermarket’s annual Leadership Development Program, officially began its second session Sunday at Northwood University’s West Palm Beach, Fla., campus. This week, several participants in this year’s class will bring us their firsthand perspective on the experience. Today, we present blog entry No. 2 from Eric Johnson, information technology partner, The Merrill Co.
Today was the first full day of the spring Leadership 2.0 session. The 36 attendees are a microcosm of the auto care industry as a whole. There are representatives from all levels of the supply chain, multi-national corporations and small independent organizations from all parts of the country. As we went around the room and updated each other on what has been happening since we were last together in August, it was readily apparent that change is everywhere. Notably, one third of the group has been directly affected by mergers or acquisitions over the past six months.
After the group had been re-acquainted, John Passante led an excellent discussion on leadership and mentoring. The backdrop of constant industry change underscored the importance of strong leadership and intentional mentoring within our organizations. John reminded us that, at the end of the day, we are all in the people business. Of particular interest to the group was a side discussion on the need to attract young talent into the auto care industry.
After lunch, Dr. Frank Morgan discussed the dynamics of teams and their effectiveness. We looked at pitfalls to avoid in interaction within a team, and saw firsthand how teamwork can produce significant advantages in accomplishing tasks. The discussion was a nice balance of theory and real-world examples with significant participation from everyone in the room.
Last fall, we were placed into groups for our team projects, and we discussed how our group interaction reflected the principles we were working through. After the teamwork session, our project groups headed off on their own to put teamwork to the test, as we put finishing touches on our presentations for Thursday. At the end of the day, I was left with two strong impressions: First, the need for positive leadership through change; and second, the importance of an organization’s culture as it pursues its strategy.
Editor’s Note: Johnson is the author of the book, “You Build a Business with People,” which chronicles the story and growth of The Merrill Co.