Thursday, March 28, 2013

Influencing Others: Cathedrals to Windshields

Yesterday I used the contrast of how two different stone masons building a cathedral approached their work to make the point about how leaders can create a broader frame....a line of sight between individual work and organizational purpose.  Today I'd like to re-emphasise the point by using another example with a less majestic purpose than building a cathedral.

Not long ago I had the windshield replaced on one of my cars. These days in the US a mobile repairman comes to your home and replaces it on the spot rather than taking it to a repair shop. I started a fairly lengthy conversation with the repairman as he did his work. I asked how he got into the windshield repair business. Answer: He went to work for a friend's family business when he got out of the Army. I asked how he was trained. Answer: On the job training, but now most training is provided by the company in exchange for a 3 year commitment/contract. I asked about certification/accreditation. Answer: Certification required every two years..combination of written and hands on demonstration of tasks. I asked about government regulation and audit. Answer: Federal OSHA(Occupational Safety and Health administration) audit certifications. I commented that that seemed like a lot of administration/regulation for the windshield repair business. The repairman stopped work, looked at me and said "Oh no, sir. Anytime you get in this car from now on, your safety is in my hands."

I couldn't help but be impressed by this simple explanation of vision and purpose. This repairman knew he wasn't in the windshield repair business but in the safety business. I have to believe that his commitment to excellence, attention to detail and professionalism are driven by that simple understanding that "from now on, your safety is in my hands".

You don't have to be a leader in a grand enterprise to create purpose and meaning that inspires people to their best effort.  It can be done in something as simple as replacing windshields in automobiles.


No comments:

Post a Comment