Honesty, good judgment and action
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
Seems like the one thing I learned as a kid still holds true today: the importance of being honest. As I grew up, Dad emphasized, time and time again, a lesson that Grandpa always told him. He’d say, “As you go through life, maintain the qualities of honesty, good judgment and action.” After being in business for more than 27 years now, I understand this more than ever, and believe the most important quality a leader can have is honesty.
Now, this wasn’t a lesson easily learned. When I was a child, I would often get in trouble, and then try to explain my way out of it. In doing so, I would tell Dad what I was going to do to change. Knowing that I may not be telling the total truth, Dad would always say, “Don’t tell me, show me.” Man is that powerful.
What Dad was saying is that he’d better see it in my actions; he wasn’t too convinced by what I said for the sake of forgiveness. The only way he would accept the behavior was if I displayed it in my everyday actions. Today, my employees look at me much the same way as Dad did. I have to “walk the walk.” Employees are observing constantly the actions of their leaders to see if they are being totally honest with them.
And, if you expect them to be honest with you and represent your company as honest to the customer, set the example. Show them the proper behavior by being honest yourself, all the time, even when the truth isn’t pretty and might sting a little. Remember, eventually a leader will have to pay for mistakes (big ones), like teaching his people that it is alright to be less than totally honest. It’s a lot like kids who are growing up to be just like their dad or just like their mom. They see what their parents do and believe it is the way people should act. Don’t tell them to be honest, and then forget to look in the mirror.
Do your employees view you as honest? Ask yourself these questions: Will your people follow you down any path you decide to take? If so, how do you know they will stay on the path behind you without your having to keep looking back?
The direction you’re taking them in doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they believe your intentions are good. In fact, you won’t always be going in the right direction, but if they trust you, they will follow you anyway. That’s why honesty is so important.
As you weather the economic storms of today to continue to build the culture of your business, I suggest you build it upon trust. Honesty can only start in one place: at the top. The respect your employees have for you will be related directly to how well they trust you. So, don’t tell them things that aren’t true, even if they are about minor details. And, better yet, show them in your actions every day that you can be trusted as they follow you down any path you take. I have never regretted taking that approach with my people, and I don’t believe you will, either.
About the Author
Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-749-3512.