The Price of Leadership

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I try to be as optimistic as I can be about most things, I believe that being a glass half full type of person is critical to being successful in any endeavor I also believe that it is a critical element of leadership. Just the other day I ran into a situation where someone had reprinted one of my articles and neglected to put my name on it, this is a big deal for me and I was not amused. When I confronted the person responsible for the situation I was told that it was one of their staffs responsibility and that this person wasn’t doing their job properly. This only compounded the issue for me, I immediately inquired as to who was the leader of the company was, because it was my impression that the person I was talking to was in charge. When I was told that they were in fact in charge I was disappointed to hear the deflection of responsibility and I immediately recognized that this person had no concept of the price of leadership.

Leadership comes with it a cost and that cost is responsibility for the actions of the entire entity that the individual administers. The correct response should have been that they were sorry that the company had let me down and that they would fix the situation immediately and then this person should have taken responsibility as the head of the company for the error and then ensured me that it would never happen again. That type of response would have been one that I could accept, respect and live with. Instead I got taken down the rocky road of the blame game, which is a road that I have no respect for, I am now reviewing my relationship with the company and will likely sever future dealing with them.

It is my experience that people want to succeed in their daily lives and that they want to excel at their work, no one goes to work on a daily basis and looks for ways to fail. If you accept this line of thinking then how much sense does it make to immediately go looking for heads to role when things go wrong, it is somehow engrained in some folks to play the blame game when if fact 90% of the time it is the system that is usually broke and only 10% of the time has someone simply messed up. For all you leaders out there this is a rule that I followed during the times that I found myself dealing with issues of contention, look to the systems first, that is usually where the problem lies not with the people. When it is the person that of course is also something that needs to be dealt with, this is where coaching comes into play, learning from mistakes is essential to success.

It is difficult to read the paper and see the daily failures written in bold print as our national and local politicians embarrass themselves with both trivial and monumental errors in leadership. Whether it is Dalton McGuinty moving power plants during an election bid to buy votes or in my hometown of London where our Mayor Joe Fontana thought it wise to have the tax payers pay for his son’s wedding reception. Where did these folks go wrong and how is it that they continue to find their way into power?

It is my feeling that there is a lust on these folks part for power and leadership is just a distasteful element that is necessary to get to be the person who has all the power. I wonder what their definition of success might be if they were to be made to bare their soles. Would it be their family’s success and the happiness that comes from open honest relationships with their friends and peers or would success look more like the control of power?

We can measure behavioral traits in folks in a fairly accurate manner, I myself have taken some these test and am currently involved in a behavioral modeling process to help companies identify good professional truck drivers to add to their fleets. The science behind this technology works and it is employed now in many government sectors to screen new employees. What I am getting at is wouldn’t it be great if we could identify those folks who want to lead our country who are actually leaders. To peel back the onion so to speak and reveal folks who have a true calling to act in the greater good of we the people, as opposed to those who are just there for the power and the control of the purse strings. An interesting thought but unfortunately for this to be put in place the politicians would have to design the system and that of course is not going to happen anytime soon!

I have been very fortunate to meet many great leaders in the trucking industry, folks from some of the largest companies in the industry and many from smaller companies. So what is the common denominator amongst these folks, this is a hard question. The best leaders take responsibility for their actions and the actions of their entity, they empower their people to be self-supportive and they support them with coaching and feedback. They engage and solicit their people for their feedback as they challenge them to achieve the next level of accomplishment they push for improvement. They never divert criticism or responsibility for error while at the same time they divert the spotlight and the recognition of a job well done to their people. They also make the tough decisions when they are needed. They also now that creating a sense of community within a company can be a very rewarding experience for everyone involved and that doing so is what builds successful longterm businesses.

As always I would enjoy your feedback on my thoughts, the good the bad and ugly are all welcomed.


Safe Trucking!



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Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.

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  • Thank you Mr. Haight for your article thus allowing me to continue to learn from other leaders like yourself. I would like however, to make a comment/observation/pose a question, with relation to one of your statements and how it relates to your situation you wrote about in this article and specifically “who is responsible”, I agree whole heartedly with your article, unfortunatley, because of the articles content, the worst thing that could happen is to have a human mistake/error in your article where the responsibility, again, must fall somewhere. I am referencing your statement “I myself have taken some these test”. Although one could conceive that your article was re-typed, or some may conceive that you may have wrote this which could carry the same credibility issues as encountered in your situation you shared with us. I know your point was directed around how to handle leadership responsibility which I 100% agree with, my point is that the person you spoke to that was in charge either was not a leader or needed some leadership training, I am not convinced that stopping to do business with them is necessarily the right answer, like you said, it is not likely that this person in charge went to work that day looking for a way to fail.

  • Ray, I read your article in the OTR magazine, in regards to the drver shortage problem. At the end of the article you asked for suggestions thhat may help some of the problems, In particular you mentioned respect. The driver;s in a lot of cases have no respect from customers or dispatchers because of their attitudes. In the last generation i have seen my industry go down hill a long way. Companies would hire anyone even with criminal records to get a driver behind the wheel. Scruffy ,dirty, poor hygene individuals who would stay behind the wheel. One thing that may help is that companies big and small put the driver,s in uniforms, Demand the clean up there language when with customers, you cannott teach manners if an individual has never had any. The pay has to increase, This industry does not require a lot of education but it does require, Patience and manners and professionalism. You get respect when you show it. The market is flooded with trucks and driver,s The companies can take the cheapest rate hauler and the cheapest wages at any time. This is why the industry looks so bad. Those drivers with a know it all attitude and foul mouths make us all look bad. I hear nothing but negatives from driver;s and some complian and complain forever dragging the industry down. If you do not want to be a driver and learn the industry then get out. This does nothing to help the rest of us trying to make our living in a professional way.

  • If an occasion such as this were to have cost you in some way other than a “one off” or the slight of omission, it could have afforded merely a monotone acknowledgement of the mistake. Possibly with the follow-up effort of touching base. Humans are imperfect and have less than perfect judgement when confronted. The most glaring omission by politicians and leaders alike, is the failure to give gravity to a situation that warrants it, and petulance to that which doesn’t. Its important to identify who the professionals are so that they be seated rather than the ones that feel that it’s the seat they ended up with in life, but, in my opinion the system makes a glaring omission by having a graduated licensing system for motorcycles and cars but, nothing for the safety sensitive position of an AZ license. It doesn’t stop a novice driver from operating a 300 hp automobile or a teenager from strapping into a motorcycle capable of 300 kph. There are also tens of thousands of motorists driving without insurance. If the checks and balances are ignored at this level, then it’s no wonder that there will always be a need to weed out what is not professional. Not to mention it makes the numbers look good. This is the way the system appeases the wants and needs of society in the popularity contest. Anything else executed at a staunch and disciplined level would be considered “Tyrannical” and be met with great opposition. A testament to the spoiled entitled brats we have become. In any type of schooling, the norm seems to be a “free pass.” Politicians and leaders have skin in the game and can only take the message so far so they nibble around the edges without clear direction to the core unless it can generate revenues.