Leaders Make Decisions – Especially the Hard, Life Altering Ones


Leaders Make Decisions – Especially the Hard, Life Altering Ones

Clyde Wilson

CEO of the Parking Network.

What makes a Leader?

Leaders have the natural ability (not trained ability), to accomplish the following:  

• Chart the course

• Make the decisions, especially the hard, life altering ones

• Give credit to the team for success

• Take personal responsibility for the failures

• Exercise self-discipline

• And be the person everyone can count on.

What is the different between a leader and a manager?

See #1 above. Managers are an essential part of any organization (Team). They must juggle all the balls and keep the company moving forward to reach the goals established by the Leader. Without great managers it would be impossible for a great leader to be able to lead. 

How do you motivate yourself to see things anew every day?

If you need to motivate yourself, you are not a leader. Looking at your business and industry and planning for growth and renewal comes naturally for a great leader. About 20 years ago, I started adding a one-liner to my presentations that I thought was important. However, when I stated it, the audience thought I was crazy. The statement was, “Everything you are doing today is wrong, if not today, it will be sometime in the future.” 20 years ago, cell phones were still new and were nothing but a phone. They could do nothing else. Cars and airplanes did not come equipped with GPS, the internet was still dial up, the cloud did not exist, internet purchases had been attempted and failed (Dot Comm Bust), we used fax machines, etc. Since I made that statement, everything about running a business (Parking Business) has changed. We need fewer people, tickets are going away, internet purchases are here, very little cash is used, and cloud-based communications are here and preferred. With this level of change, if you want to call yourself a leader, you better get up every day looking in front of you and figuring how your organization fits into the future.
To answer the question, I get up every day realizing that today, more than ever, everything we are doing today will be different in 5 years and in 20 years all our processes will be totally different. 

What are the biggest challenges you face today in 2022 as a leader? 

The first challenge is the pace of change. The industry is managing numbers, reporting information, accounting, sales, marketing, operations, and technology that is used to improve the efficiency of each of those items just mentioned. The tech people are new to the business and are constantly improving their products to assist us in our ability to accomplish those tasks. As a leader you must be able to make the decisions and not bounce around from new tech to new tech. If you look closely at our industry, change has not really happened exceedingly fast, but it is unending. 

From historical figures to people in public eye, who would you want to be your leader/CEO? 

The answer to this one is easy for me because I was hired into the industry by him and worked for him. Monroe Carroll, the owner of Central Parking System, built a family-owned, one-city business into the largest parking company in the world. Monroe had all the leadership characteristics mentioned above but also had some extreme difficulties. My top person is Gene Kranz. Gene was Flight Director during many of the early space missions. Most notably he was director during the Apollo 13 mission. I have been fortunate enough to meet him and have studied the course of events that transpired during that mission. I totally believe that Gene is the only leader who could have brought those astronauts home. 

What are the essential ingredients for a successful team? 

The first is a true leader as described above. Second is a team that fits the goals. In a sport like baseball, the physical and mental characteristics of a catcher are not the physical and mental characteristics of a 2nd baseman. The same is true in any successful team. Every member of the team must be filling the role that best suits his or her ability. Third is commitment to the goals. Every person on the team must be committed to the same goals and policies to achieve them. 

How do you re-invent yourself daily to avoid being complacent?

I’m not sure who would think re-inventing yourself daily is a good plan. I am constantly re-evaluating myself and what I need to do to step up to the challenge. I am constantly reinventing my company and what is the best role for us to play in the industry. //

Clyde Wilson is the CEO of the Parking Network. 

Article contributed by:
Clyde Wilson
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