Even with senior management support, implementing a green fleet sustainability program is not for the faint-hearted. Inevitably, there will be pushback from all sides, which, at times, can seem overwhelming. A fleet manager’s mettle will be tested, but there are 13 traits that will help you be successful:
1. Believe in What You Do. Successful fleet managers find personal gratification in implementing sustainability programs. They are passionate about their responsibilities of managing a green fleet. Their passion about sustainability inspires others to, likewise, embrace corporate green-fleet initiatives.
2. Good Stewards of Corporate Monies. Fleet managers struggle to implement green fleet initiatives with static budgets; however, a successful fleet manager can somehow, someway, succeed in attaining sustainability goals. They are fiscally creative.
3. Environmentally Responsible. Fleet managers view themselves as environmental stewards. Environmental regulations and EPA mandates have added complexity to fleet operations, especially when operating in-house maintenance facilities. These fleet managers don’t grumble or become negative; they know they are doing the right thing.
4. Strategic Vision. These fleet managers are strategic thinkers and visionaries. They have the ability to develop and communicate a strategic vision of fleet sustainability that is practical. A fleet manager who practices sustainability is long-term driven.
5. Leadership. Successful fleet managers lead not only the fleet team, but also their drivers and multiple management levels in adhering to corporate sustainability goals. These fleet managers are able to inspire people toward a common purpose or vision. In addition, they possess a passion to reduce corporate emissions and understand that management must be a role model.
6. Ability to Influence and “Sell” Sustainability. Successful fleet managers are persuasive. They have the ability to influence others who can drive change in their organization. They have the ability to “sell” sustainability and are viewed as influential within the company. They are able to mobilize others help to implement corporate-wide green fleet initiatives.
7. Change Agents. Successful fleet managers are also change agents, always supporting their positions with empirical data. They take the emotion out of the discussion and decision making, and know their data backward and forward. They are subject-matter experts who can intelligently defend their decisions. They also recognize there is always a new program or technology that needs to be examined to attain sustainability targets.
8. Excellent Communication Skills. They have the ability to conceptualize the idea of corporate sustainability and communicate it. They can persuasively articulate these thoughts to others.
9. Results Oriented. These fleet managers are committed to achieving sustainability results and manage their fleets accordingly. This results-driven orientation pushes these fleet managers to be creative in addressing implementation challenges.
10. Goal-Oriented Sustainability. These fleet managers are goal setters. They are goal oriented in the implementation of green fleet initiatives and employ metrics to continually benchmark to ensure they achieve specific results and govern their operations with these results in mind.
11. Metrics Oriented. It is important to measure everything pertaining to sustainability. These fleet managers understand that what gets measured gets managed, and hold themselves and team members to goals. They drive for continuous improvement to achieve specific sustainability results.
12. Innovative. These fleet managers are innovative and use out-of-the-box thinking to develop new ideas to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions. They are able to anticipate both challenges and opportunities, and are prepared to be proactive by using a unique combination of analytical and conceptual abilities.
13. Receptive to Technology. Successful fleet managers embrace new technologies, though remain realistic about them. These fleet managers use data to drive decisions. They use technology to measure the sustainability performance of the fleet.
One Additional Trait
I am continually impressed by the caliber of fleet managers implementing green fleet initiatives; however, the achievements of these fleet managers are sometimes not properly recognized by their management and drivers. With this in mind, Green Fleet magazine developed the Fleet Sustainability All-Star Awards to honor significant sustainability achievements, and innovative ways to reducing emissions and fuel consumption.
However, no matter what you do, somebody won’t like it, and they’ll be sure to let you (and others) know. Based on my observations, there is one additional trait successful fleet managers have in common — they all possess thick skins.
Let me know if you agree.