[July 16, 2019] There’s an old joke that circulates in the Public Works Department of most large cities. It goes something like this; If King Kong fell off one of our buildings, our road crews wouldn’t be able to find him. If you ever heard the phrase, “That’s not my job,” you are not alone in discovering that poor leadership is all too common.
I chose the Opossum painted over with the double yellow-line on a roadway to represent my topic today and thus the thumbnail photo. This is not joke. A quick search of the Internet turned up hundreds of photos of animals that were not removed before the road paint crew came along. They just kept on going, painting away, without giving any thought about doing a good job.
In many states of the U.S., the roads are often littered with dead animals in the late Spring and early Fall. Animals are moving about and crossing roadways are frequently killed by passing cars. In one small town near where I lived, the municipal road crew painted over a small deer. They actually had to lift their paint machine to clear the deer but kept right on going. When asked by the local newspaper, they said it was not their job to move dead deer on the road.
Maybe they were just missing some common sense. A better explanation was the lack of leadership on behalf of the local town. There was no practical oversight on the Public Works Department and it made sense that those employed there believed their job was not worthy of notice. Oh, people did notice after the painted deer episode.
Leaders don’t pass by problems with doing something productive. If it’s not the leader’s job then that leader has the responsibility to get the problem to someone what has both the responsibility and authority to take corrective action. Any leader that passing a problem without action has just set a new, much lower standard of approval. Good leaders act. Poor leaders make excuses.
I heard this phrase mentioned several times by a few of the younger staff members at the Boy Scout Camp that I’m currently attending. I politely provide timely advice; how to solve the problem by letting someone else know instead of ignoring the trouble. So far, it seems to be working. Now, back to the hot, humid, buggy weather.