Joe was in a real fix.
The equipment he scheduled to hire from the builder’s supplier had accidentally been hired to another customer, there was no alternative machine available for a month.
Joe needed to do something fast, if he did not the job he was working on would be behind time by weeks and this delay would have a knock on effect on the whole project, impacting not just him, but other tradespeople and most importantly his client.
Delays in his industry were always costly.
He quickly began phoning around.
It was early but most hire places were open.
As he expected there was no joy from the first two, the equipment was specialised and not readily available at the drop of a hat.
The last number he tried was more promising, the sales assistant told him that they had a new machine for sale and another older model for rent.
The sales guy began trying to convince Joe to buy the new machine, Joe explained that he was saving up for one but could not justify the investment with other end of year expenses coming in.
He agreed to come and collect the older rental model and to discuss buying the new one in a few months time.
Relieved, Joe set off across town.
Ten minutes into his journey he got a call back from the sales assistant.
While they did have the older model equipment available to hire, a ‘higher authority,’ the leader at the yard had decided that if Joe wanted it he would have to order and pay for the brand new machine in full today.
If he didn’t they wouldn’t hire the old machine to him.
No amount of pleading could change the decision.
Leadership affords a person the power to give orders, make decisions, make [or change] the rules and enforce obedience.
These are the ‘whats of leadership’, but they are not the ‘whys of leadership.’
Without those ‘whys of leadership’, or a reason to serve there is no need for an authority, higher or no.
In other words, not understanding the ‘whys of leadership’ renders the ‘whats of leadership’ meaningless.
The highest function of any business is to do the right thing by the customer and to make that customer happy.
If leadership to you is about power and authority, then you are likely to misuse the position, but if it is about the opportunity to serve, to serve your customers and team, then your mind [and heart] is in the right place.
When we forget that we disempower our teams and alienate our customers.
Because it is the right thing to do, is a far better leadership strategy than, because I have got the power to do it.