Leaders to Trust

Leaders to Trust

In choosing a carrier to drive for, operators and drivers must consider Sr. management ethics and behavior in order to determine how they will be treated in the future. In my second book I spent a great deal of time on net fuel costs and carrier contracts. Though these details are very important, they tend to be only as strong as the integrity of Sr. management. In some cases the contract may not be worth the paper it’s written on.

As a carrier, management must continuously communicate and demonstrate their submission to principles of long term (not just short term) success, no matter what its immediate sacrifice or pain. An error some carriers fall trap to is developing company loyalty to their name or leader rather than the principles that allows all employees equal access to success.

Carrier leaders should be shy of populous praise and lean heavy on the principles that built their company (such as strong customer service).

Some (or many) carriers have one or a group of drivers/operators who “praise” Sr. management, thinking they are super smart or just amazing to work for. If a Sr. manager (owner) absorbs the praise as personal (or corporate), they may be heading towards a trap. Drivers may ignore principles of success and just assume an inherent right to success because of the name on their door.

Success is not achieved simply through personality but through adherence to the principles of success. When a manager accepts personal praise (as opposed to giving credit to adherence to the principles of success), a manager may inadvertently train the driver/employee not to bother with: hard work, punctuality, attention to detail, customer service etc.. All they need to succeed is to kiss some senior manager’s backside.

Leaders must remain humble and train all members/employees to focus on a structure of success, not simply adherence to him/her. If employees are allowed to believe someone is their “savior”, they may abandon the principles of success in trade for personal loyalty… a subtle but very dangerous shift. Blind loyalty can backfire into a blind nemesis just as easily.

Many years ago I was in a position where a small group of people thought I was the “be all – end all” in the accounting industry. We had just finished a year end and found that they had grown in equity by about $40,000 (from virtually nothing). They were elated. They were middle aged and had never accumulated any financial value, no matter how hard they seemed to work. They thought they had “arrived” at easy street and decided to take some time off (without telling anyone). Within a few months of 2500, 3500 to 5000 mile per months (they were long distance), they were in a serious cash flow crisis. No matter how often I told them they were destroying their finances, they refused to listen. They thought all they needed in the trucking industry was a good accountant. They blindly put their faith in me. In just over a year they lost most everything.

My weakness and naivete as a leader did not convince me to abandon them when they abandoned their own path to success. Somehow I thought I could “fix” them.

Try as I might, they refused advice. But, just as their misplaced loyalties to success dragged them down it also gave them someone to blame…me. They proceeded to accuse me of embezzling $40,000. A two year battle with a forensic accountant exonerated me of the accusation but the rumors didn’t stop for nearly a decade. The damage was done. I learned one very important lesson. Blind loyalty and praise can just as swiftly turn to unsubstantiated rage and blame. Shallow minds have fickle feelings.

We are all the masters of our own success. We harvest what we ourselves plant and have very little else to blame. We may have been lied to but we must remember, we choose to believe that lie for as long as we did. As an operator, a major key to success is the ability to read the indicators of success and also the shadows of lies or dis-information. Though I am a strong advocate of loyalty, it must be loyalty to principles first and then to people who have proven themselves to be faithful at all cost. That type of loyalty is worth giving.

If carriers desire to build a company with quality, low maintenance drivers, they must weed out those who think they can achieve success by some lazy shortcut. If a carrier knows drivers who have significantly misplaced loyalties, they should be confronted and maybe even let go. Often times their long term presence produces more harm than good.

People who exclusively follow people for success rarely achieve any. People who exclusively submit themselves to principles of success, in the end, will hardly achieve anything else.

Robert Scheper

Robert D Scheper has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is the author of two books, “Making Your Miles Count: Taxes, Taxes, Taxes” and "Making Your Miles Count: Choosing a Trucking Company".

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