Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"I'd follow [Geoff] anywhere"

A recent twitter conversation came up around leadership. My thoughts on this are a little too much to fit into 140characters, but this will be a quick post. The tweet that started it, from a guy who runs a business with about 15 people:

Leading people is tricky. If you can't earn their trust & respect there's no way they'll follow you down a dark scary tunnel. NO FUCKING WAY

and it reminds me of the leadership I would see in the tough meat industry. When you're managing people who are starting work at sometimes 3am, and kill, cut up and transport animals as their business, to do it well needs something special.

So in my first year supplying into a major customer, we (as a company) had done poorly. Quite a number of times their production line nearly sat idle with a hundred people and their customers went without deliveries because of me, as they saw it.

The MD of one of these companies wheeled out a bollocking to me. Everyone in their (big) company and ours (big) knew that this guy (let's call home Geoff) felt that I'd been telling lies rather than the truth to worm out of difficult situations.

In short I thought that Geoff was a bit of an a'hle and thought that everybody must see him the same way. I had a great relationship with everyone else at that company. We were all out to dinner, Geoff included and I was talking to another senior manager. I had the surprising:

"I'd follow Geoff anywhere, he's an honest, straight guy who you can trust."

These are tough guys, they're hard to please and they'll (very) quickly tell you if they're not happy. The fact that Geoff was held in such high regard told me something. And despite the bollocking I received in our first ever dealing, Geoff was entirely without baggage regarding me for our next six years. I even meet him in airports every now and then.

To be honest, I'd follow Geoff anywhere.

Geoff had once been known as "the stockinette kid". As a young guy on the boning room floor he cut himself a gusher. Blood everywhere, his. Geoff took some of the cotton stockinette they used to wrap meat joints, stemmed the flow and kept working.

Where almost anyone else would call it a "homer" - enough to get some compo.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Luhrs Rd,Payneham South,Australia

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