Management update: Are you a leader or a bosshole?

1-15 Forrest Flinn blogRecently, I read a book on leadership by Greg Alston called “The Bosshole Effect.” I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a quick read. I highly recommend it for all dealership staff that are in a supervisory or a management role. Do not let the title offend or throw you. The book offers simple steps to becoming a better manager, which can help you take your dealership to higher levels of productivity and profitability.

What is a Bosshole? Well there are many definitions but the following is the one that I like the most. A Bosshole is an employer or manager of a particularly evil nature, completely devoid of empathy or concern for anyone else, the deadly hybrid of boss and “@#!hole.” (The Bosshole Effect)

In contrast to the Bosshole is a true leader. Peter Drucker, the world-renowned management icon and expert, has a lot to say about leadership. My personal favorite quote of his is: “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.'” I think this sets the foundation for effective leadership and can be effectively applied universally to management of powersports dealerships everywhere.

Are you a “Bosshole” or are you a leader? There is a definite distinction. As we move into a new year, I would like all of you who are in a supervisory role to examine your management style. Has your management style in the past been effective? Are you open to improving your skills in 2016? If so, read on.

The focus of this month’s blog is on old school management versus leadership. I have seen good managers and owners in dealerships and I have seen some really bad ones. I personally have had some very good managers over the years that have taught me many things and who helped me grow in my career. And then there were the ones that were really bad that taught me very little and sucked the joy out of life and work. The bad ones I have deemed Bossholes who I don’t respect, admire and sometimes hope to see on a “missing persons” poster.

To start out the year on a good foot I want you all to focus on being a Bosshole versus being a leader. The financial impact of being a leader over being a Bosshole is huge and has a tremendous impact on your dealership’s organizational performance and profitability.

Consider the following:

A boss drives employees toward dealership goals.

A leader coaches employees towards achieving dealership goals.

A boss’s authority is derived from their position in the dealership.

A leader’s authority is derived from goodwill from building relationships.

A boss inspires fear in their dealership employees.


A leader generates enthusiasm across the dealership.

A boss says “I” all the time.

A leader says “We” all the time.

A boss places the blame for a dealership breakdowns.

A leader rolls up their sleeves and fixes the breakdowns.

A boss knows how things are done in a dealership.

A leader shows others how things are done in a dealership.

A boss will “use” people to “their” benefit.

A leader isn’t afraid to develop and empower people in a dealership.

A boss takes credit for a job that is well done.

A leader gives credit to those that actually made the dealership goals happen.

A boss barks commands to dealership employees.

A leader asks employees to do things with dignity and respect.

A boss says: GO!

A leader says: Let’s GO Together!

I personally strive to be a good leader. True leaders get more respect and can achieve dealership goals faster and more efficiently. Bosses who bark orders and treat others with disrespect may get to the finish line, but less effectively and at a higher cost. Dealerships need more leaders and less Bossholes! Bossy behavior is not only a turn off but the results are never long lived. Using leadership gets you to the goal quicker and it builds dealerships that are faster, stronger and more cohesive.

In 2016, analyze your own behavior and that of your dealerships managers and supervisors. Are you more of a leader or more of a Bosshole? And remember — nobody likes a Bosshole. People may work for a Bosshole for a while but usually not for long.

Forrest Flinn, MBA, PHR, SMS has been in the motorcycle industry for nearly 20 years and has been a true student and leader serving in various capacities. He previously worked as an implementation consultant for Lightspeed and as a general manager with P&L responsibility for a large metro multi-line dealership. Currently Forrest is the managing partner and chief visionary for a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced accounting, human resources, social media strategy, dealership operations consulting and Lightspeed/EVO training.


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