Leadership and your Elders


Effective leadership in business, politics or family is critical to the success of that situation. I have seen and I have been involved in many situations at many trucking companies, non-profit organizations and community efforts that would not be suffering but for one missing element; effective leadership. Someone with dedication, vision and a strong moral compass who walks the walk can fix almost any issue in any circumstance. I know this to be true!

Leadership used to be tied to that person being a role model but that idea is suffering badly in the public eye. I have been fortunate in my lifetime, along with many of you I’m sure, to be exposed (either through being taught or firsthand witness) to many great leaders that were in the public purview. Folks like Tommy Douglas; father of the Canadian Health Care System, Winston Churchill and his heroic stand during World War 2, JFK and the unfolding of the civil rights movement, Terry Fox, Mike Hanson and the list goes on and on! These were and are great role models and these were folks that knew the price of leadership. Whether they sought it out on purpose or it came to them as a result of a heroic effort; they rose to the occasion for all to see and stood proud.

Todays scrutiny is much more of a micro lens than the macro lens of just a few decades ago but even so, when these folks were elevated to their pedestals by “we the public” it seemed that all we did was shine a light on what was already there. Their style and classiness was not contrived or manufactured. What we saw was nothing more then what already existed and it was classy and it gave us all something to aspire to. The world seems a better place today because of the folks that were our role models of the day.

I’m confident that these same types of role models exist today and these same types of folks are walking in our midst as I write this piece. The problem is the micro examination by todays media shows every freckle, wart and hiccup that ever existed in ones past and, regardless of ones character, you will be vetted in the public eye to that situation or circumstance. Let’s face it, what person needs that type of scrutiny. Even if you were prepared to endure the focus on yourself, all of those around you will suffer the same level of scrutiny and should they have a skeleton in their closet, condemnation by association will be swift.

Where the mainstream media direct their spotlight these days is  the youth of North America. The youth are the trendsetters and the consumers. Look at what’s happened in just the past 3-5 decades. During that period our elders, who were once upon a time invaluable advisors to our youth, have been transformed from role models and knowledge givers with a life time of experience that they were willing to share, into a burden on society. The infrastructures that our elders built for us to live in is now turning on them, and many blame their elders for the high cost of supporting them in their advanced years and the high cost associated with health care and other social infrastructure.

I am no conspiracy theorist but I believe that what’s happened is that the mainstream media’s focus has lead us down a path that is directly pointed at the youthful consumer and the advertising dollars that come with selling them products and services. In doing so, they have discounted our elders in today’s society. The focus today is on youth and future possibilities, not accomplishments of the past and calling on that wisdom to offer opinion on today’s reality.

Direction is given and taken from advertisers trying to solicit young consumers by portraying them as the chosen generation; the folks who will evermore carve our trek into the future: new is better, old is bad. It was just a few short decades ago that seeking advice from ones elders was common practice and always looked upon as a prudent thing to do. How often do you hear of that today? Typically the elders amongst us are uninitiated in the world of technology and are made to feel left out of the loop, disconnected from the rest of the world and discounted in their value as people! I think young leaders in our industry would be wise to consult and listen to the successful people that went before them and who made our industry so successful.

Nothing takes the place of experience and common sense; it was explained to me this way by an acquaintance that has a PhD in education. He says that young people have what is referred to as liquid knowledge which is the knowledge that comes from studying a particular subject or learning as they move through a situation. Mature people have liquid knowledge and have crystal knowledge which is the additional knowledge that comes from having worked through a particular subject or situation once or many times. It is additional knowledge that comes from experience, trial and error, getting better and better at something, minimizing the scares, bin there done that, know the drill!

So whom do you call on when you need advice whether you’re an Owner Operator, a company driver, a department manager or a trucking company owner? We all from time to time should have an experienced confidant to bounce things off of and to act as a sounding board for the issues of today in this business of trucking. According to the American Trucking Association, the issues of today are: HOS and the shortage of qualified drivers, fuel issues, congestion, government regulations, tolls and highway funding, tort reform and legal issues, truck driver training, environmental issues and on-board truck technology. See anything new here from the last 3-4 decades? I don’t and a parting thought: “A wise man learns from the mistakes of others while fools learn from their own mistakes.”
Safe Trucking

Ray J. Haight
Co-founder, tcaingauge.com

Safe Trucking

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.