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By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them . . .

By Art van Bodegraven | 07/05/2013 | 10:03 AM

Bear with me just one more once, and I'll get off the leadership rant.  But, I was struck at a recent conference by how constant and consistent the behaviors of leaders is.  Not that they don't change with the shifts of tectonic plates in the realities of what's happening in supply chain management; there's every chance that they are the forces behind some of those shifts.  Whatever the circumstance, they do tend to stand out from the crowd, though.

Take the case of the trucking CEO who put aside the temptation to stick it to customers in our capacity-constrained initial recovery from the Great Recession.  Rather than join his contemporaries in getting even, price-wise, with the customer base, he announced that good past customers, essentially, would receive favorable treatment as they faced the swing of the pendulum in another direction.

Very recently, he publicly advocated for a mighty mode shift from TL to rail carriage, a rank heresy in the trucking world.  In sum, his position was: 1) customers should make the right cost and service decsions for their own business models and relationships; and 2; more freight movement by rail is one of the keys to mitigating - the difficult - and escalating - challenges we face in driver shortages.  His analysis indicates that even the best operators are not going to be able to get drivers sufficient to support looming volume growth. 

Meanwhile, his competitors, who are more focused on short-term managerial approaches, are trying to woo more drivers with penny-ante per-mile rate increases.  The resulting circus would be amusing if it weren't so sad, with the perennial problem of driver turnover significantly exacerbated by tempting professionals with peanuts.

So, genuine leadership can be a lonely calling, with far more managers busy watching the wrong ball, and precious few at the top who can formulate and move toward visions of the future.  Let us be grateful for those we do have.

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