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The Right Thing To Do

Joe was in a real fix. The equipment he’d been scheduled to hire from the builder’s supplier had accidentally been hired to another customer, there wasn’t an alternative machine available for a month. Joe needed to do something fast, if he didn’t 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 machine for sale and an 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 couldn’t 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 equipment available to hire a ‘higher authority’ at the yard had decided that if Joe wanted it he’d have to order and pay for the brand new machine in full today. If he didn’t they wouldn’t hire the machine to him. No amount of pleading could change the decision.

Authority affords someone 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’ and without those ‘whys’, or a reason to serve there is no need for an authority, higher or no.

The highest function of any business is to do the right thing by the customer and to make that customer happy. When we forget that we disempower our teams and alienate our customers. Because it’s the right thing to do, is a far better leadership strategy than, because I’ve got the power.

Image by Pict73.

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