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. 3 Shane Norman, regional sales manager, Eastern Warehouse Distributors.
Today, we started with a rousing roundtable discussion mediated by Brian Cruickshank, director of the University of the Aftermarket. Of course, the first topic of discussion was the “elephant in the room” – the Uni-Select USA acquisition by Icahn Enterprises. Love or hate it, our industry continues to be ripe for consolidation and acquisition and it’s up to us as leaders to adapt to these changes.
Another great discussion in our daily roundtable was the fear of becoming a price-driven, commodity-based market. We discussed many of the factors causing it, and discussed at length, ways we can combat it.
Our conversations in the roundtable session were a perfect prelude to the course given by Dr. Frank Morgan, titled “Ethical Dilemmas for Leaders.” This class was exceptional and well-timed for an industry going through so much change. A quote that Dr. Morgan shared with us from Jack Welch resonated profoundly among many of us, “If the rate of change on the outside is faster than the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Dr. Morgan shared invaluable information on showing us how to use the leadership capabilities that got us to this level to lead change with our teams and organizations, to incorporate an “ownership” attitude by all, get the engagement of our employees and to retain the trust of our people.
Our next course was Aftermarket Finance II. In this course we continued from the first session with Financial Statement Analysis and Financial Trends. We compared the financials of the three major retailers. Keep in mind that our class is not full of financial analysts. Rather, it is comprised of distributors, sales people, IT , operations, service centers, HR personnel and manufacturers. When it comes to financial analysis, many of us were treading water in the deep end of the pool. However, if I were ever to get into a fight at a financial saloon, I would want our instructor, Rick Guirlinger, by my side. Rick did an outstanding job making financials more easy to read, breaking down annual reports, and showing us how to read and interpret industry information.
The education and information we are gaining to help us as leaders has been outstanding. But it’s more than that. It’s the people in the class. Thirty-six people from all different fields of our industry, including competitors, customers and all ages and levels of experience. Everyone, including the instructors, are engaged, invigorated and excited about our industry in the future. This University of the Aftermarket program is hands-down the most valuable training I’ve ever had and I highly recommend this course for all who plan to lead change into the future.