When true leaders ask others to follow, trust is implicit.
“When we say ‘move!’ that is exactly what we want a soldier to do. We don’t want them to think. If they think, they might be dead.”
Growing up, I heard those words often. My dad and I would frequently visit our neighbor, a retired general who believed in strong leadership and duty. He told stories about the tough decisions he’d made while serving in World War II. The general’s subordinates didn’t always agree with him, but they trusted his leadership.
Trust Is Implicit
What the general inspired in his soldiers went far beyond respect. When true leaders like the general ask others to follow them, complete trust is implicit.
The type of leadership the general and my dad taught me is rare indeed. It demands immense dedication and responsibility. True leaders must have a well-defined vision, an exact roadmap and the ability to communicate directions clearly and decisively. They must hold themselves to a high standard and do the hard work required. Their message must be so powerful and authentic that it compels others to follow, to trust.
As an industry, we might not be fighting WWII, but we do face some real threats. Whether we like it or not, we’re on the front lines of combat against dangerous supergerms like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). The cleaning industry’s potential role in reducing or eliminating these threats has been documented. We protect and save lives by removing real and serious dangers to human health every day. However, we don’t always tell this story well. Our failure to construct and communicate a clear message is a lost opportunity. Not only does it leave customers oblivious to the dangers around them, it diminishes the value of cleaning as well, allowing consumers to continue to view our services as a commodity.
Time to Step Up
If you are a business owner or manager, it is time for you to step up and become a leader. Clarify your vision and learn to communicate it. Do the hard work required to gain the trust of your employees and customers. Invest in professional development programs. Research and establish cleaning methodologies that are based on sound science. Learn and follow the best industry practices. Stay abreast of cleaning innovations. Contribute to the formation of industry standards. Only then will you gain the level of trust that compels people to “MOVE!” when you say it.
Think like the general. Commit yourself to strong leadership and duty. Define your vision, plan your roadmap, and tell the important story about what you do and why you do it. The cleaning industry needs more visionary leaders to show its value and potential. When we reach a critical mass of leadership, this industry will finally command the type of respect it deserves.
David Kiser owns Champagne Services in the DC metro area. He is the founding president of ARCSI and co-author of The Professional House Cleaning Technician’s Manual. He is also a principal of the Institute for Service Excellence. Click here for more information.