Swallow Your Pride, Open Your Mind

As a CEO, coach, manager – the ability to internally examine, identify and accept weaknesses, is a key factor in success

by  Garrick Hatfield  | 


As a CEO, coach, manager – any kind of leader, the ability to internally examine, identify and accept weaknesses, is a key factor in success.

In the automobile industry, we are often required to attend “training sessions” led by a consultant. Now with leadership comes an inherent sense of ownership (ahem, stubbornness, pride) that makes us wary of outsiders telling us how to conduct our business. A couple weeks ago, I received a call from Mercedes-Benz informing me that J.D. Power would be visiting the store. It was like the world stopped turning. I leaned back in my chair and thought, “Do we really need this? Right now?” Reluctantly and quietly (which you only see from me on very rare occassions) I accepted and asked when we could expect them.

It usually goes down like this: In comes the consultant, introduced as having something like 50 years of experience, someone who has “done your job” and “been in your shoes” and can “relate” and all the while I’m thinking, “Here we go again…” But this time was different. Prior to the consultant meeting, thorough a series of discussions with my team and my wife, I decided to change my mentality going into it. This time was going to be different. After all, you get what you want to get out of life, right? So I promised myself I’d welcome this consultant with some southern hospitality, open my eyes and ears and soak in as much valuable input as I could.

Let me be the first to tell you what a huge difference that mentality shift made – and not just for me. My new outlook was infectious. I looked around at my team, sitting upright, engaged, and right then and there, learned my lesson. A good leader keeps an open mind, and is able to swallow and nod when their flaws are pointed out. Our recap meeting, scheduled for 30 minutes, ended up lasting 2½ hours. We had a great discussion about how to implement the consultant’s ideas to make positive changes to our dealership. The meeting ended with handshakes and hugs (you know me, I’m a hugger!) and we were off to the races. Now Alex Rodriguez has started the next chapter in becoming the greatest place to work while continuing to provide world-class service.

Later that night, my wife asked skeptically how the consultant was. I replied, “You know…” as she held her breath for the inevitable, “It was incredible!” in all seriousness. Because it was. So thank you, Mercedes-Benz and J.D. Power for that little nudge to welcome an outsider’s opinion that will help us grow and develop as leaders and as an organization. We are grateful!

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