Leadership is something that the older I get, the less I hear people talking and discussing Leadership for the Future. The ones that typically spout off about leadership are heads of organizations that do not exactly coincide with the masses. What you gather from what you have read here is that most of them understand trucking; fundamentals, yet even though a major has never had a CDL- let alone spent more than 5-10 years as a driver. They are all suit wearing people now days; claiming knowledge and push for the little guys; but in reality, they collect their dues and ride the interest of the big boy donors. Put up a fight here and there, to at least garner some attention. Then in reality, they sell the small guys out one by one.
Leadership was taught to me from the front, forward toward the goal with the leader guiding and mentoring the future. Teaching the foundational principles to build a future. Leadership in the truest of forms.
The military guys understand what I mean- However, lets put this into perspective.
Training people to replace myself has always been what I did with various business organizations since I was 18/19 on the magazine crew. Door-to-door sales. (trucking has not been the only industry I have worked in! Shocker) The only way I could get promoted was to have 15-20 alter egos walking around earning positive returns every day. That is how you made management, and management ment a large income boost.
Trucking should be the same principle- Leadership would not ask you to do anything they would not do themselves.
Hence why, I am such a huge proponent for drivers moving into leadership roles.
Industry wide- with rare exceptions- do the drivers ever get the opportunity to run the operations side.
Reality is who is better trained for any of the following positions: Dispatch, Safety, Load Planning (Volume Guys), hell even sales and brokerage, contractor hiring- I can keep going.
The driver is! The guys spending 5-10 years that you lose because they understand the business. The small guys whom if they would have been taken an interest in from the Guys with large and deep pockets, then they may have stayed and came in to the operational side. These guys/gals know the customer base, they have spoken with them for the past 5-10 years in person, they know the lanes, and seasons of where and what the new guys need to do to stay safe, they know the truck and operating conditions, they know DOT hot spots, and backroads to the hilt. They even know what you tell them the freight pays for each lane! Paperwork–worries none! Handling that since day 1.
What about safety?!? Most drivers know the rules better than the officials enforcing them. How many times have any of you quoted some FMCSA rule found in the back, bottom, obscure corner that got you off a violation. I am just going to say I do not have any for a reason, and when I could have had one; I knew what I had to do to prove I was innocent. a few hungry, young DOT officers have been scratching their heads after I showed them those rules they should have known. I am sure a few thought my scalehouse sleep times were quite comical after the first 3 hours of their massacre on papers. Hey; I am not perfect, nor have I ever promised that I always followed the rules to the “T.”
Violations are done with ease by drivers. They turn logs in fucked up just to see if safety is paying attention, you know how I know? Cause I have done it a few times, just to smile ear to ear knowing if they paid attention, someone was gonna call and ask about those 2-3 days. Quite a few I may or may not have caught sleeping, just saying…..=)
I mean, come on we got to have our fun too!! We are in a truck, typically alone, few calls, and just the cb radio–in my case—I never wanted a satellite radio, too much of nothing—ads to buy something, talk shows claiming, and radios playing music………..- AM-FM worked for me even in the middle of the desert! Well Ok not always, but I never liked all that noise all the time anyway. Too much distraction.
The Trucking industry is it’s own worst enemy–Itself. Do not take me the wrong way—Driver’s we all can admit — We do not particularly help the situation either—RIGHT?!?!?!!
Think about it: majority of drivers are loners, we can not get along 75% of the time, and Yes we have seen a few fights in the parking lot of truck stops with everyone looking out for the fuzz……listen to the CB in a truck stop when it is full. You can hear some loud mouth drivers, that some just need a good ass beating…….Hiding behind that mike. I would say a Product of the Environment—but that would be an excuse. I do not give excuses. No one would listen, and most would not care to say the least.
Let’s Conjure that for a moment. The drivers are always the front line from customers, the front line from Corporate, and main responsible for the equipment care and upkeep. Not to mention, DOT and Government officials always point our way, and if you get a violation anywhere here comes corporate again, first dispatch when you call in and say what for and where, then safety, then possibly a trainer to train you on preventing it again…….I mean when I was with the majors—-way back in the day during my first few years……..GEEZ—for real! I was not getting shit if I could help it……..FUCK UP my 5 hour ride through the desert before and after reception (those driving before Satellite Radio took hold, know exactly what I am talking about)!! For Real! Not to mention the extra time to reroute back to a main terminal and waste a day!! Dare you be one of the guys who are paid percentage and you request your copy of bills to see the numbers to verify your past 6 months of bills—-Yes, I did do that to keep me busy and learning; more than one time; due to my need to tell dispatch to fuck off cause they knew not what the hell they were saying to this country boy…….I do not hide behind a mike, nor do I let some piss ant who thinks they know, when they just know what they were told. Had a few of them that did not speak to me for 3 days while I made them route me to a terminal they were working. I am no means a HOT HEAD, nor do I just have to “give my opinion about being lied” about and consistent blame for a customer who I saw on a regular basis; when it was the shipper and everything to do with the 8 hours of layover, and 4 hours they made me wait on the dock to start loading; and the customer knew—he just didn’t know when or if the carrier would tell the truth….cost more than one customer cause they consistently told them it was the driver’s fault—instead of the real reason why they were never on time……..Ya’ll have all been to those spots, there are still a few still pumping them out consistently……that particular customer became a long term client of mine- for me cussing that some bitch out on his office phone; laughing the whole time cause he knew sooner or later a driver would make his day and call the Carrier main office out………….No Shit!
Quiet until necessary, I like to say…… I tend to like my dark and little corner; kind of grew fond of steel horse- Old Faithful-never let me down, always went where and how I told her, and always told me when I needed to shut down cause it was time— that is my world……….alone without the outside bullshit.
It took me a bit of time to get here; but for the driver’s who desire to become leaders, I cannot say it will be easy. It has been trying more than none; it has also been a long road of realization that I never foresaw coming when I started to pursue the dream of helping the industry. Not quite where I wanted, nor did I want to be the guy who during times wondering how in the hell some of these people who work our industry afford to eat……much less eat and provide for the family……..many times I questioned whether I needed to keep going or just push from that point. I made it through and had quite a bit of joy when I realized that I truly knew the industry and what they did not want us to know. More so, the lack of teaching the ones who made all the profit’s become realized.
I wondered what could be so bad. Those of us that were going to have a part one way or another would still be here. The others I am not real sure. When they realize how much of the money they thought they were making was really only a 80% portion- they were paid on…..or when they realized to move up they have to open their own outfit: without the time, without the proper knowledge, without the proper how to, and without knowing anything about a new business.
For this too shall pass!
I hope that those that seek to pursue leadership and management roles; that you go sit for 3/4 days every few months for free to learn what dispatch does, to take 3/4 days every few months to learn the recruiting aspect of the fleet, learn Safety department and how they operate and what they actually do for the carrier. Billing and Accounting, even the lawyer many carriers have on staff–with a paralegal or assistant to assist with the in house attorney needs for law and how they operate the corporate documents, files to maintain the corporate veil; even to the load planners, Sales, Brokers. I hope that you empower yourself to learn for the future so that you can lead the next coming round of drivers being brought up to be “ignorant of what is going on” or to be forced to “stay in their station” behind and to the bottom preventing the knowledge from passing and us building a better future.
Now this I know. If they even say NO- I know you smooth talking S.O.B’s can get yourselves into the door and find what you seek, just remember just because you work for a carrier who has a NO Driver being taught “unwritten” policy; does not mean there are not people who are willing to teach you what they know. Listen Learn and Grow; build the better future for everyone, and let leave this industry better than we found it, so where ever we find ourselves, pushing those deliveries and teaching the “wet behind the ears” hungry driver that barely have been shaving 3 yrs at their young ripe age of 21 (which is the requirement for interstate operations for those unsure); we pursue the betterment of our industry, each day, each driver, and each supporter—to give our knowledge and pass a brighter fundamental change that knows who made their fortune, who is the reason for those customers, and why they were allowed passage into greater things for us as a whole………….because the Forgotten —– will no longer be the Forgotten nor will we be the step stools, the number, nor the annual profit on the P & L; Now we are the the fundamental change where we choose to guide ourselves to a higher standard, and better ideal, not only ourselves but the brotherhood we are a part ………….Rewards that are paid in Years of teaching; when that new kid is no long new, but a owner with 120 trucks, and you to his right or left because you took that time to teach him for a better future for himself and his industry that he loves. We are the future leaders that can change the perspective from Carrier to Driver—Driver to Carrier—and the Industry to the people we serve with Pride.
You are welcome to comment below, and share to any who will at least read and spread the message. I hope at least one driver will find a way to teach and mentor another, guide a new era of knowledge–for the future of our Industry, our Country, along with our neighbors, family, mentors, friends and those that forgot us along the way.