Mentor Tomorrow's Equipment Fleet Leaders

Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

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Joshua son of Nun completed the final leg of the exodus recorded in the Bible. He took his people across the Jordan River, through the city-state of Jericho, and conquered 31 kings in securing the promised land. You could say he was a great leader.

But before Joshua took over, he spent 40-plus years as the No. 2 under Moses, arguably the greatest leader of the Bible. Even Moses had a succession plan.

We've long discussed the technician shortage in this space, but the manager of an organization's fleet must also be concerned about his own replacement. Where are tomorrow's equipment managers?

Most managers have identified someone in their organizations with talent and promise. In many cases, this individual mirrors the manager's background. In other cases, it's a top performer we can presume will want to move into a management role.

It's a manager's responsibility to groom a successor. It's a manager's responsibility to evaluate the role of equipment manager and determine the qualities and skills required to succeed. As asset-management principles, including fiscal and regulatory responsibilities, land in the equipment side of the business, managers need an even broader knowledge base.

We take for granted the technical skills and passion for equipment, but an effective equipment manager requires interpersonal skills, too. He must be able to deal with people, not just machines. He interacts with his employees, his peers, and his superiors, including corporate-level superiors in many cases.

Managers can employ three strategies to groom a successor. Training, of course, is an obvious tactic. Guided experience is another. Make sure the employee has ample opportunity to be involved in decision-making processes, for example.

The most effective strategy, though, is mentoring. Bring an individual into a one-on-one relationship that goes beyond simply passing along knowledge. A mentoring relationship provides for an even deeper transfer of traits.

Moses built a mentoring relationship with Joshua. Joshua had a passion for the promised land, but Moses molded him into a leader.