First, it should be clear that I am still learning even after working for more than 40 years in the fleet management and transportation industry. The business of fleet management is and has been an ever-evolving and changing industry with the continuous onslaught of nascent technology constantly introduced. A fleet leader must become an agent of change to be successful.
My more than four decades of experience have given me a lot of tips to share with others. In Part 1 of this three-part series, I break down how I got started in fleet management, and how to navigate politics at your operation.
1. FATE PLAYED A HUGE PART IN MY SUCCESSFUL CAREER
I have never really been a believer in fate, but sometimes a career chooses the person versus the other way around. In the mid-nineties, when I was working as a fleet professional, I received a brown paper package in the mail. It turned out the package was a VHS tape from my mom of old home movies. When I played the video, it was me as a toddler lining up toy cars and trucks. This hit me like a huge epiphany -- especially at a time when I was thinking about a career change from fleet management.
I remembered when my father taught me the names of cars as a youth and my ability to show off this knowledge in front of his colleagues. Moreover, it reminded me of the fun I had helping and spending time with my otherwise workaholic dad (probably why I am a workaholic) as he repaired our family car. From this moment in time, I decided to become the best fleet professional I could be, and it propelled me into enjoying a very successful career in fleet management. This also taught me the importance of family values, which I used in the workplace as a manager.
2. POLITICS EXIST IN ALL ORGANIZATIONS
I found all organizations, from government to corporate, were a den of politics. How well a leader navigated this environment depended on their success. For example, there was very little difference between managing a government versus a corporate fleet, but politics existed in both environments. As a manager, I needed to understand who wielded the position versus the personal power.
Successfully understanding the political dynamics can make or break a person as a fleet professional. I learned early that 1) intentional culture; 2) stakeholder satisfaction; 3) resource efficiency and 4) risk management were critical success factors. Being able to deploy these key attributes and coaching team members toward success was key to avoiding any political machine. Navigating politics artfully can be a leader’s friend to get important initiatives approved and implemented.
I was thrilled when I joined RTA and learned their leadership strived to implement an intentional culture that allowed me to apply my fleet management learnings. I knew I had joined a good company when the CEO sent me a stack of Patrick Lencioni books to read about successful teams!
Thanks for reading and check back next week for “10 Key Things I Learned from Running Fleets, Part 2: Leaders learn from the sum of their experiences”. To read my other blogs, click here. To learn how RTA and how our fleet management software can improve your fleet operation, reach out to our Sales team to schedule a demo.
About the Author: Steve joined RTA in 2020 to support product design, provide consultations to customers, share best practices with clients, and more. Steve’s background includes being a Fleet Management Consultant with Mercury Associates, Vice President of Coca-Cola and Republic Services, and Director of Fleets in Utah and Georgia. He has served on many industry-leading boards and has been recognized for his achievements, including being twice nominated for Automotive Fleet magazine’s Manager of the Year, being inducted into the Government Hall of Fame, and receiving the Legendary Lifetime Achievement Award for his fleet management career.