By Ana Hengist

Looking back at everything I’ve learned so far in parking, I think about people who taught, inspired, and engaged me. Some of them were parking owners and directors, with great knowledge and power. Others were not necessarily decision-makers. Yet, they had an incredible ability to influence and encourage everyone else to move forward, learning from their mistakes, overcoming obstacles, and finding success in parking, transportation, and mobility.

Very often, employees become supervisors, managers, or directors and expect people to follow them just because of their titles. However, without strong leadership skills, they will most likely struggle to get the results they want.

Author James C. Hunter, redefines what it means to be a leader in “The Servant,” telling a story of a man who spends a week at a monastery and learns that the true foundation of leadership is not power, but authority, which is built on relationships, love, service, and sacrifice. Leadership skills are not related to a job title, and anyone, anywhere can turn into a great leader.

A parking employee may learn about operations, management, and procedures and gather enough knowledge to stand out and earn a high-level position. A new operations manager can be easily developed and master the ability to oversee daily operations, dealing with regulations, technologies, new procedures, and sustainability trends. None of these skills guarantee this person will necessarily become a great team leader. On the other hand, only a great team leader can take employees to the next level in customer service, by treating them the same way customers should be treated.

The world is changing fast and so is the way people relate to parking and transportation. From the customers’ perspective, garages and parking lots in general are usually not the warmest place on Earth. Yes, there are several ways to make parking a great experience—new technologies, well-designed facilities, and modern lighting and landscaping. I have seen parking lots and garages with beautiful and innovative installations that certainly attract customers’ attention.

The next step is to connect people, improving the interaction between customers and parking professionals (remember that cars, apps, and facilities are already connected!). With so much technology taking over, parking can make an effort to become more humanized and, therefore, more welcoming. The only way to do that is to make sure true leaders are ahead of our teams, engaging and inspiring each employee to be closer to the customers and going above and beyond to provide an excellent service.

Parking now craves inspiring leaders, not bosses.