This article marks the beginning of my third year of writing for the HVAC-Talk newsletter and is my 49th article. The past two years have been fun and they have gone by very quickly. I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I enjoy writing them. For those of you who know that I have been writing a book based in part on some of the articles I’ve written for HVAC-Talk, I wanted to give you an update. The manuscript is now complete and it’s in the hands of my editor. I expect the book to be in print by October. The title of the book is “Navigating the Marketing Maze: Secrets to Marketing Your Business Without Breaking Your Budget.” I’ll let you know once the book is in print.

There’s a lot of talk about the qualities of a leader and often writers will ask if you’re a leader or a manager? What are the qualities of a leader? What’s the difference between a leader and a manager? When do you need to lead and when do you need to manage? What’s the difference?

General George S. Patton, President John F. Kennedy, President Ronald W. Reagan, and Captain James T. Kirk, of Star Trek fame were leaders. Leaders share many qualities. What are the most important qualities for a leader to have? How many of these characteristics do you recognize in yourself?

Generally, managers primarily keep the status quo. They do not take risks, and they generally don’t inspire people, but they are good stewards of their domains. Managers generally have excellent knowledge about their department and perform their jobs well. However, they’re not going to lead their departments in some new direction or propose radical changes to the way they perform their tasks.

A leader must be inspirational. A leader inspires his or her people to greatness. President Kennedy was such a leader. On September 12, 1962, almost 50 years ago, President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” He inspired our nation and we landed a man on the Moon in July 1969.

A magnanimous leader gives credit to his or her team for victories and takes the blame for failures. A leader builds up others and helps them grow. A true leader never takes the credit for the actions of the team, but rather lets the team bask in the glory. Likewise, a leader will take the blame for failure and shoulders the responsibility.

With assertiveness, a leader takes the initiative and sets the goal for his or her team. The leader will clearly communicate objectives, responsibilities, and deadlines for the team. In addition, assertive leaders know when to step back and let others do their jobs.

When a leader has integrity, he or she keeps his or her word. Leaders that keep their promises and build trust by demonstrating fairness and honesty. That binds the team together and generates loyalty.

A dedicated leader focuses on the task and provides the necessary energy to reach the goal. A leader leads by example and a dedicated leader inspires his or her team to exhibit similar dedication. When team members see their leader pitching in to help and they’re more inclined to pitch in and help too.

An open leader is easy to approach and he or she listens to new ideas. Openness is an important quality for a leader to have. Nobody likes working for a know-it-all. A leader who listens to what others have to say also builds trust and acceptance for each team member, because they know they can speak their minds without ridicule or criticism.

Humor is another characteristic of a leader. Leaders who have a sense of humor can diffuse tense situations and help build camaraderie with their team members. Everybody likes to have a good time and leaders want the work environment to be a place where people like to come. Using humor can lighten the day and allow team members to relax and be more productive.

A leader who empowers his or her followers allows them to make their own decisions. Many people like having their boss trust them enough to make decisions. Moreover, a leader who allows team members to make their own decisions lessens his or her workload.

Leaders also coach their team members to help them improve and grow. You always want your people to improve their skills and expand their capabilities. The more your people know, the more opportunity you have to promote them. A real leader helps his or her team members to increase their knowledge and move on to the next opportunity.

Strong leaders have fearlessness as one of their qualities. A strong leader is not afraid of taking calculated risks or making mistakes. In addition, a strong leader tells his or her people that it’s okay to fail as long as they learn from the mistakes they make.

There are so many more characteristics of leaders such as Patton, Kennedy, Reagan, and many others, but I think these are probably the most important characteristics for contractors. Be approachable, empower your people, help them grow, pitch in and help your team finish a project. It will motivate your team to do even more. Many contractors say, “I don’t want to train them, because they might leave.” What if you don’t train them and they stay?

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers market themselves with less ($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.