CAREFREE, Ariz. - Attendees of The Unified Group’s Service Management Forum were given opportunities to take “The Leadership Journey.” The goal: to take leadership to another level.

“You lead people and manage things,” pointed out Woody Woodall, W.L. Gary, Washington, D.C. “Everybody in the company has to be a leader.”

Breakout sessions also pointed out different personality and generation types, as well as differences based on age.

“A good leader needs to throw away preconceived notions,” said John Speed of Shoffner Mechanical Services. They also need to be able to deal with generational traits ranging from those who seem to have grown up with instant access to material goods, to the “crusty old service tech that grew up with no shoes, and walked to school uphill both ways,” said Woodall. “Those people don’t embrace technology.”

Leadership, he said, means “finding a way to use the skills both of them possess.”


The entire group spent some time on personality profiling, using a brief exercise to point out individual strengths that can be used to the advantage of both the company and the employee.

It can help improve leadership by teaching them where employees’ natural strengths are, and showing the needs of people who work for them. The contractors can use the information to form core values for the company. Sit down for brainstorming and ask the group, what do we do and why do we do it?

Understanding what people’s needs and strengths are helps to create a coaching culture, and allows a contractor to become a followable leader, said keynote speaker Steve Thomas.

“People follow the person, not the position,” added Woodall. “You can’t become a better leader without becoming a better person.”


Increased and improved communication is the goal of understanding how various personalities work within the company. One of the key roles is the dispatcher, whose role and best practices were examined in the context of leadership-communication.

Woodall called dispatching “one of the toughest positions we have in our company. They have the first contact with clients, and with every aspect of our business, and do it with professionalism and grace.”

Common challenges were raised, said Jim Bartolotta, one of the managing partners of The Unified Group. For example, “What happens when the dispatchers have their decisions made by the salesperson?” Resolutions were presented using role playing.

It’s vital to remember that “no one’s intentions are negative,” pointed out Speed, though sometimes the ego controls the process for some personality types. They need to be reminded that “it’s about communication and respecting the process” of how work orders are processed and jobs are scheduled.

“A good leader lets you understand why we do it this way,” said Bartolotta. “A poor leader just lays down the law.”

Publication date:03/28/2011