By Mary Motzko | July 22nd, 2021 | | 0 Comments

On a recent episode of “The Fleet Success Show” podcast, our hosts revealed a secret behind their leadership abilities – reading.

While reading the latest James Patterson novel might be entertaining – our hosts talked specifically about leadership books.

In Episode 6, RTA CEO Josh Turley and former trucking executive Jeff Jenkins discussed why reading is essential to improving your leadership skills.

“You have to sharpen the axe sometimes,” Josh said.

Josh further explained this by saying when you start chopping wood you likely have a fresh, sharp blade that allows you to easily cut through each log. But after a while the blade dulls, and it becomes more difficult to chop. The same thing can happen with your leadership skills. If you don’t sharpen them, they can be too dull when you need them – and it can make work much more difficult.

Reading is one way to sharpen your axe and teach you valuable lessons.

One day, while working as a dispatcher, Jeff was trying to get out of the office early. However, his work wasn’t done. At this operation, before you could leave for the day every truck was supposed to be dispatched on a load and they all needed to be pre-planned for their next load. Jeff had all of his trucks dispatched but he didn’t have all of the pre-plans done. He needed to be somewhere, so he was going to leave anyways. But, his boss stopped him before he left. He asked Jeff to come over to the board and go over his work to make sure he finished his tasks. Jeff admitted his work was 95% done, and his boss told him he couldn’t leave until it was finished. Jeff stayed at the office an extra 30 minutes that night, but he never again walked out of the office without finishing his work.

This taught him to take ownership.

This story that Jeff shared on the podcast helped him relate to Jocko Willink’s book “Extreme Ownership.”

Through the years, he referred to the book and the notion of taking complete accountability for your actions. He also used it as he was promoted into management roles. Jeff made it a point to have the mindset that if a member on his team failed, he failed.

“Extreme Ownership” also resonated with Josh. For him, the notion of “there is no bad teams, just bad leaders” hit home. It made him realize his part in helping his team at RTA succeed.

“I love that book. It made me who I am today,” Josh said.

Another book Josh mentioned on the podcast is Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” When Josh read this book, it really hit home for him and made it clear that there were things he needed to fix on his team. It made him realize that you can’t get the results you want if you don’t have a functioning team.

“Lencioni’s books really taught me to love reading leadership books and sharpening my own axe,” Josh said.

Jeff was first introduced to “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Josh. When he was interviewing for his job at RTA, Josh told Jeff to read the book, and said if it doesn’t resonate with you, then this is not the place for you. It was essential for Josh to have his leadership team all on the same page and to embrace accountability and conflict to help reach the company’s goals. He couldn’t risk hiring an executive that wasn’t going to function with the rest of the group.

These are just two examples of leadership books our hosts mentioned on our podcast. There are countless other books out there – the important thing is to find one that resonates with you and helps you sharpen your axe.

To learn other ways you can improve yourself and progress your career outside of reading, listen to the full episode of the podcast.