In a perfect world, you want the leaders who oversee your stores, branches, teams, business units to have a high level of skill and a great attitude that cultivates a healthy culture for the team.

BUT, if you had to make a choice to have a leader who had the technical capability to do what their teams could carry out OR have a leader who displayed the right attitude for the team morale, team performance and ultimately the impact on the customer service – which would you choose?

When you appoint leaders to lead what exactly are you asking them to do?

Be the best at the job technically?
Follow procedures?
Have all the answers?


Be the best leader of people?
Make good judgement calls?
Encourage their teams to think for themselves?

When appointing a leader of people; skill over attitude in my view is short sited.

It’s like deciding if you want a bus driver to drive the bus or a mechanic to drive the bus. One job role requires the interaction with people and the other does not. (I am being very simplistic here to prove a point).

The bus driver’s role is to look after the needs of the people on the bus. They are continually observing the people on the bus, knowing where they need to stop, watching out for new passengers, listening for the passenger’s cues and focussing on getting everyone safely to their desired destinations regardless of the unforeseen obstacles that come up on the journey.

The mechanic knows everything there is to operate the bus. They are singularly focused on the bus. They know how to fix it when it breaks down, they are able to troubleshoot when the bus is not running smoothly. They are less inclined to be concerned about the people on the bus and their needs and emotions and more focussed on making sure the bus can drive from A to B.

When a ‘mechanic’ in an organisation is given the role of a ‘Bus Driver’ the result is that the focus becomes the engine and not on the people.

This is not such a problem if we are willing to teach and develop ‘mechanics’ to interact with people, be aware of their attitudes and behaviours and develop them to be great Bus Drivers by putting the needs of the people first. But unfortunately, too many times we see ‘mechanics’ thrown into a ‘Bus driver’ role and they have not been shown or taught how to prioritise people first in their role.

Are your leaders serving people or servicing a bus?

It’s much easier to learn systems and procedures. It’s more difficult to learn attitudes and behaviours.

If the bus brakes down, we can call a mechanic to help.

The alternative is, you may have a brilliant working bus but no people who want to ride with you.

It’s like deciding if you want a bus driver to drive the bus or a mechanic to drive the bus.

Jaquie Scammell
‘Love Being in Service’

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