Advancing your career is a matter of both competence and character. When someone is good at what they do they produce value through the actions of their job (generally considered competence). Being a competent independent operator to a carrier will generally mean that you are picking up, transporting, and delivering freight in a safe and timely manner. A person can be competent and still be without much character. For instance, they can be rude, abrasive, whiny, demanding and “needy” yet they can keep the truck between the ditches and on time. They
can even lie, cheat, steal and express violence all the while delivering a safe product on time.
Character issues are not always necessary for some trucking jobs, or at least not as critical to the success of the carrier. I know of some drivers who are placed on schedules that will minimize their exposure to clients or the public, all for the safety and reputation of the carrier. Many times, the drivers even know this… or directly ask for it. Minimizing public exposure becomes a mutual cooperative venture.
Character needs in any organization are subtle and varied from job to job. Sometimes it is needed and sometimes… not so much. If a person is looking to advance their career or get more responsibility (and therefore pay), consider the ability to handle conflict and turmoil as a possible need for improvement. What can you do to make yourself more valuable? Can you become the emotional “go to guy” in a crisis? Can you keep your cool while everyone else is losing theirs? If so, you can gain ground where others are retarding (verb: delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment).
I was in a lineup at Costco the other week. A young Costco employee “barked” disrespectfully at an elderly gentleman and I was appalled. I comforted the gentleman (from a safe distance of course), acknowledging the young man’s inexperience with “crisis” situations. The senior was appreciative of the respect. Not ten minutes later the young guy again created a conflict with another customer even calling the person “stupid”. Since I heard both sides of the communication, I realized that the young employee totally misunderstood the customer and his response immediately inflamed the situation. Within minutes a female staffer (I assume a manager) got on the scene and assisted the customer in such a way as to solve the misunderstanding from both perspectives. I marveled at the middle-aged woman’s wisdom. I assumed the young lad would be let go (I do not think training alone could have helped his character).
Every job has certain needs of competence and character. The only true way of advancing in your career or market share is to grow in both as needed. Sometimes a person must practice and display their character openly, well before they would be considered for advancement. Why would anyone hire a random (or untested) person they do not know for a job? Those who do end up paying for it by having to pick up the pieces.
If you want to advance your career or market share you must/should first prove you have character beyond or outside the demands of what you are doing today. Display your patience, your calmness under stress. Can you consistently encourage people when they are down? You may not need it today, but character opens doors where competence and desire alone does not.
It may not be a perfect illustration but when a large company looks outside their own pool of employees for a leader, the statistics show they are only 20% successful. 80% of all CEO’s hired from outside the company fail within two years. I know that there are other things in play (such as culture) but without a track record of character, it is very difficult to produce sustainable positive results.
Practice what you want your future to include. Keep your cool while everyone else is losing theirs so you can gain ground where others are retarding.
About the Author:
Robert D. Scheper is a leading Accountant and Consultant to the Lease/Owner operator industry in Canada. His first book in the Making Your Miles Count series “taxes, taxes, taxes” was released in 2007. His firm exclusively serves Lease/Owner Operators across Canada. His second book “Choosing a Trucking company” is the most in-depth analysis of the operator industry available today. He has a Master degree (MBA) in financial management and has been serving the industry since he and his wife came off the road in 1993. His dedication, commitment and strong opinions can be read and heard in many articles and seminars.
You can find him and his books at www.makingyourmilescount.com or 1-877-987-9787. You can also e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert D Scheper operates an accounting and consulting firm in Steinbach, Manitoba. He has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is the author of the Book “Making Your Miles Count: taxes, taxes, taxes” (now available on CD). You can find him at www.thrconsulting.ca and thrconsulting.blogspot.com or at 1-877-987-9787. You can e-mail him at: email@example.com.