Spending time in the ditch.
Posted on April 9, 2015
One of the many jobs that had the opportunity to have was working in an excavation company. While working in the dirt, learned a valuable life lesson. I thought that I would pass that on to you in today’s leadership thought.
The field of excavation deals with dirt, all kinds of dirt. At the end of the day, all that you do is move dirt. It can be from one spot to another or putting it back where you found it in the first place. While all of that might sound interesting, it is not the lesson that I wanted to pass along.
The lesson deals with the organizational chart for an excavation company. You see, the higher you rise on the org chart, the less dirty you get. When I first started working in excavation, I was given a shovel, sometimes I even had to be on my knees or deep in a ditch.
There were times when I would be in a ditch looking up to the guy in a piece of equipment; he would even have a radio playing and an airconditioning, and I would be holding a shovel down in the ditch. When we would stop for lunch, I would be muddy and dirty, and he would be much cleaner.
Over time, I ended up being the guy in the piece of equipment. Then I noticed that our boss was driving a truck. He would stop by and look at the ditch, but he never even got dirty.
That was the lesson I learned. The lesson was that the higher you get in an organization, the further you get away from the work. I have seen this to be true in everything from excavation to the donut shop that I am in right now.
Well, this might work in management however I want to let you know that it does not work in leadership. True leaders get dirty.
If you want to be a leader that a team desires to follow, you will have to be part of the team. Sitting in the airconditioned cab as a supervisor is not the same as being a leader. Great leaders sweat, they show up early, they stay late, they carry the heaviest load, they set the example.
This week’s experiment is to take a look in the mirror. Are you dirty? Are you down in the ditch with your team? If not, get down there with them and be a leader. Stop supervising, that is not the same thing as leading.