Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. -Steve Jobs
Not too long ago a friend of mine asked how to tell a reputable plumber or tradesman from the “cowboy” fixit men (those who talk fast, do poor work, and never return to fix their messes) who seem to be everywhere here in London. They all have websites and email, they all tout excellent references and talk convincingly. Some even offer a free evaluation. What makes this a difficult decision is that in many places in London people don’t really know their neighbours (lots of second homes and transient expatriates who come and go frequently), so getting a reference from someone you know is not that easy.
The way I see it, there is actually a very simple way to determine the reputable from the “flim-flam” man, and it’s based on the principle of “shadow of the leader“. This is a key principle in our work in understanding corporate culture and its impact on the performance of an organisation.
Organisations are shadows of their leaders; that’s the good news and the bad news!
In general, the principle of “Shadow of the Leader” says that the behaviour of people within an organisation tends to be a shadow, or reflection, of the behaviour of the leaders at the top. One of the best places to quickly understand this principle is to look at the big banks. The cutthroat culture of RBS several years ago was a clear shadow of Fred Goodwin. The “above the rules” behaviour at Barclays Bank concerning the Libor rate fixing scandal a direct reflection of Bob Diamond and those he surrounded himself with. Culture shows up in how people behave, how they treat customers and each other, and in their work habits.
Now, returning to my friend looking for a trustworthy and quality tradesman, we need look no further than the back of his van for a clue into the quality of the individual. If you are looking for someone who takes pride in their work, who will treat your home with respect, who takes pride in their own equipment, who understands the importance of quality, then take a look at the back of his van. A man’s van is a direct shadow of his work!
Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear a word you are saying. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The two van’s above show very clearly the principle of a visible corporate culture and the mindset (attitude) of the employee and his company. Want to know which would be the most reputable and high work-ethic tradesman to hire?
Pretty obvious when you know what to look for.
Written and Posted by: John R. Childress
Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid
John also writes thriller novels!