There are many contributors to running an efficient, sustainable and safe fleet within any organisation. There is of course the Fleet Manager or other title such as Procurement Manager or Facilities Manager etc, the Work Health and Safety Manger, Sustainability Manager, Human Resources Manager and potentially several Departmental Managers who drivers report to.

Leadership for each of these roles is a little different however for the Fleet Manager or person responsible for the day to day operational management, it is about removing yourself from the daily grind and thinking and acting strategically.

Strategic thinking requires knowledge and a different mindset to operational management. Your goals are less task orientated and focused on organizational outcomes and require collaboration from key stakeholders from other departments.

Knowledge, you know what you know but how do you expand that? It requires you to prioritise some time to read industry news, listen to suppliers who are like birds distributing seeds of knowledge across the industry, attend industry events or further your education by completing AfMA’s Diploma of Leadership and Management (contextualized for the automotive and fleet management industries) or the Graduate Certificate in Business Management (Fleet Management) both delivered by Swinburne University.

Road safety can be both an operation goal and strategic goal. The operational goal might be to reduce the number of accidents involving your fleet drivers whereas the strategic goal might be to promote road safety across the organisation thereby achieving both your operational and strategic goals.

Thinking strategically takes time and effort, you’ll need to demonstrate leadership and influence others however the good news is other stakeholders contribute resources making your task a little easier.

An example of leadership in Fleet Management is running a project to understand the mobile phone use of all employees whilst driving work and personal vehicles. Last year AfMA in conjunction with the National Road Safety Partnership Project (NRSPP) and most Telco’s developed a guide to designing a Safe Use of Mobiles in Vehicles Guide (SUMV). As part of this project AfMA is hosting an anonymous survey completed by all employees within an organisation.

Following completion of the survey AfMA provide a report thereby providing the organisation with an accurate picture of mobile phone use whilst driving a vehicle. This knowledge can then be used to develop new policies or modify existing policies. There is no shortage of factual resources to assist an organisation to develop a driver awareness policy around the safe use of mobiles whilst driving.

In the above example leadership is about raising the project with your management team, the survey and educational materials already exist and ideally the communications and policy review will be managed by your organisation’s Work Health and Safety Committee and Human Resources Departments.

Your leadership of this project can have a meaningful impact on the entire organisation however the impact on your personal workload is limited to creating buy-in and coordination other senior stakeholders. It’s leadership such as this that provides personal and career growth for managers working within Fleet Management.

Mace Hartley is the Executive Director of the Australasian Fleet Management Association.

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