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Interdependence — A Better Way, A Higher Way
As children, most of us have heard that we should grow up and learn to become independent. This message was drilled into our minds by our parents, teachers and extended family members alike. What they didn’t know, and therefore we didn’t know, is that a much higher form of maturity exists, which far exceeds the benefits of the “independent” mind frame. This higher level of maturity is known as interdependence. As a Franklin Covey Certified Trainer, I live by the principles found in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and often find myself referencing Dr. Stephen Covey’s “Maturity Continuum” to automotive professionals all over the world. If you are looking for professional growth, you should consider becoming an interdependent thinker.
But before we go into what “Interdependence” means and why it is so valuable, it is important to first understand its predecessors and how these mindsets are responsible for creating a “you” or “I” environment, instead of a much more effective “we” environment.
The maturity continuum is derived of three levels. Each level builds upon the other. You cannot become interdependent, until you have first become independent. The lowest level of maturity is the dependence level. Those with a dependent state of mind tend to have major issues — both personally and professionally — and rely on others to get what they want. They wait to be acted upon, instead of acting for them self. They have a reactive way of thinking. They constantly blame you, other people and the world for their problems, failures, misfortunes, emotions and drama. As a matter of fact, these people can be a serious detriment to your dealership. They are cancerous to the organization and all involved. They poison the dealership floor. They are like vampires, sucking the positive energy out of you and anyone around them. They often are the ones that are sabotaging the progress of the dealership or “hating” on the individuals who are successful.
I am certain that, as you are reading this, an image of someone at the dealership has surfaced in your mind. This is the person you try to avoid speaking to because you do not want their negativity influencing your day. As a trainer and consultant of 14 years, I have seen and experienced people of this maturity level first hand, and have witnessed its negative effect on the dealership. No matter the circumstance, a dealer should never tolerate this parasitic personality type, and should have anyone who demonstrates these behaviors removed from the organization immediately.
The next evolution of mental maturity is the level of independence. Unlike the dependent thinker, the independent thinker does not wait to be acted upon. They, instead, act for them self and make things happen on their own terms. This person is free from outside influence, and is satisfied with their own internal perception. For example, taking this to the dealership world, someone who is selling 18, 25, 30 or 40 units per month is seen to most as a “Rock Star,” but is that the absolute most important factor? I am certain another individual’s image has now surfaced to your mind; this person may even be you. Ask yourself: Does this individual play nice with others? Does this person work hard for the overall mission of the dealership’s growth and evolution? Or, is this individual simply out for them self; focused on their own agenda, ignoring all outside influence and stimuli?
There are a lot of “successful” people out there who make a lot of money and sell a lot of cars, but do not care about the success of others and the success of the organization as a whole. They do nothing with their “talents” except close deals. It is all about the “I.” They do not legitimately care about their customers; they burn through customers, people and co-workers. Often times, relationships are not important to this type of thinker. You may be reading this and saying “so what? As long as they can sell cars and make the dealership money, who cares?” Well, I do, and you should care, too. There is more to life than just “ringing the bell” every month and selling a lot of cars. Don’t get me wrong: Making a lot of money is a great thing. In fact, I encourage it with my “Make Money Mondays” series, but it is not the absolute end all. There is a higher way, a better way.
This brings me to the highest maturity level a human being can achieve: the level of interdependence. An interdependent person works with others around them, synergistically, to achieve goals. It is not about “You” or “I.” It is purely about the “We.” And guess what? What the independent thinker fails to see is, when you work towards the “We,” the “You” and the “I” are naturally and effortlessly achieved. The interdependent thinker sees the entire picture, not just the portion they are a part of. The interdependent person has an “abundance” mentality, meaning there is plenty to go around. There are plenty of customers and plenty of deals for everyone. Everyone can eat. An independent thinker, on the other hand, possesses a “scarcity” mentality. This person believes that supplies and results are limited. There are only so many customers available, and only so many deals to go around. They want the bulk of it, and they do not care how they are going to get it. Ultimately, an interdependent person thinks of more than themselves, and works towards a common goal. 1 + 1 = 3, not 2. Interdependent people make great leaders and find fulfillment in helping others succeed simultaneously.
Let’s think about this. How many cars can one person sell by his or herself? For some, that number is a lot. Now imagine if your people actually worked together as a team, as a unit, as a company. How much more effective would the dealership be? Take that “Rock Star” salesperson who is strictly out for them self, who doesn’t care about anyone or anything but closing deals and ringing the bell, and ask yourself what would happen if that person starting working with the other sales consultants, the new “green peas,” or the struggling salespeople? What if that “Rock Star” taught other people how to be successful by creating “best practices” or word tracks? What if that person took some initiative in other areas of the dealership, in order to assist the dealership in getting to the next level?
What about the sales manager, Internet director, or any other manager who gets frustrated with their employees and “just does it” themselves. What if they found better ways to teach, to lead, to inspire and to “synergize”? The possibilities are endless. There is great power in numbers and your people are your greatest asset at the dealership. Help them find a better way, a higher way.
Sean V. Bradley is the founder and CEO of Dealer Synergy, a nationally recognized training and consulting company in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at 866.648.7400, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.