A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Leadership and Values – Contractors Stand Very Tall

The following article originally appeared in the October newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

Now it’s Volkswagen; they have been deliberately cheating, spending corporate money to consciously violate the law.  This news broke shortly after GM and Toyota paid fines respectively of $900 Million and $1.2 Billion for deliberate cover ups of their ignition problems that also resulted in several hundred deaths.  These headlines bring back memories of the Ford/Pinto scandal, another deliberate cover-up of problems that resulted in deaths.

Then there are the wimpy wonders of Wall Street, those brilliant minds that by their marginal schemes and lack of leadership guts brought us the markets of 2009-2012, the greatest financial collapse since the great depression.  They now whine that they are “victims” of too many regulations as the five leading global banks paid fines of $5.7 Billion for deliberately manipulating the foreign exchange rates.  And then there is “Deflate Gate.”

What do these stories say about leadership and values?  Do these leaders, all of whom are decadently compensated by human standards, see themselves as so special and privileged that they are above the law?  Remember, their actions were deliberate decisions, not inadvertent mistakes.  Further, they paid these fines relatively easily, with limited consequences to their companies.  Are these potential dollars purposefully built into their pricing models?  In terms of values, has Money, Quarterly Earnings, and Shareholder Value become “the god we worship now” to quote Hemmingway; the highest god in our land, requiring and condoning the sacrifice of formerly revered ethics and principles?

Fortunately, the answer to the above questions is a resounding NO!  These are isolated examples, albeit high profile ones.  But they do cause us to look at our own industry and our own leadership foundations – and when we do, contractors and construction companies stand very tall.  Our industry consistently attracts company owners, leaders, professionals, craft and support workers who base their lives on strongly held values, beliefs that inform and guide their decisions and behaviors.  Owners build their company cultures on this foundation.  They certainly believe in fair profits and a reasonable return on their risks, but they achieve it by serving clients with skill, integrity and responsibility – and never at the expense of their principles or their people.  This industry is a magnet for people with extra rebar in their character structure, and that makes all the difference in the world.  Let’s be proud of each other!