Leadership Failure

“What we have is a failure of Leadership”

The Secretary of Defense has replaced the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff . This happens very rarely in the Pentagon. There were several reasons cited in the announcement. The transfer of nuclear weapons. A questionable $50,000,000 contract award and the responsiveness of requests by the Secretary of Defense.

I was somewhat dismayed when I read the article as being a Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff are highly regarded leadership positions. The term: “Everything rises and falls on leadership” is not just a cliche. While in my time in the Air Force, I observed really outstanding leaders. In my first assignment, the Systems Project Office was led by Colonel Ed O’Conner, who later became a three star general. Colonel O’Conner was an excellent leader. In my second assignment, we had a Lt Col who had no business being in a demanding R&D position. So like in the Air Force as well as business….there are some great leaders and some folks who should not be in pivitol positions in business and organizations.

Leadership is one of my big soapbox issues. In my experience, without effective leadership, an enterprise, whether business or social is doomed to failure. Leadership can be learned. Excellent leaders spend time and effort to become better leaders….they want to learn more on how to accomplish the mission and reach the vision for their organization.

For great leadership stuff: see John Maxwell, Warren Bennis, Tom Peters







No Hot Water

My Latest Hot Water Experience (or replacing a hot water tank is not so easy)!

Last week we were gone for the better part of the week. Upon returning home we found we had no hot water. The hot water tank was about 15 years old so I was not surprised. Yet somehow furnaces, air conditioners and hot water tanks seemed to be programmed to go bad on weekends. So a new tank needed to be installed….nothing extraordinary or so I thought. I usually am well prepared in doing my homework when it comes to major purchases. However, no hot water is an inconvenience….not a real big deal….but an inconvenience.

So off to Lowes on Saturday morning. They along with Home Depot market quick installation on things such as this. Went to the right department….made the arrangements for an evaluation ($35)….but no installer was talking calls over the weekend. It seems that they should at least have one that is available on weekends. Monday at 2:00 pm installer comes to evaluate. Now he is suppose to get back to Lowes with the details so they can provide a final quote. Tuesday, no quote. Wednesday , no quote. In the meantime I called our regular plumber….he can’t find a suitable replacement….no call back from him. He is now no longer the regular plumber. Wednesday, I call the gas company. They visit and say they can install one in a week. Our hot water use is relegated to filling a pail….sort of like camping out.

On Thursday I become more proactive. Our old hot water tank was made by State Select found through an Internet search. They make a current model that fits our space. I call the distributor and they recommend an installer. I call the installer, Project Services Incorporated, on Friday morning at 9:00 am. Joe gives me a price over the phone. Says he can be there in 45 minutes. At 10:00, Joe and Jeremiah show up with the hot water heater. Two likable young guys.  By 1:00 pm, we have hot water. The bill is less than the gas company. I use a $25 web site coupon. “Thank you Mr. Baker, any problems call us.” “Don’t forget to register your new State Select Hot Water tank with the manufacture.”

Lessons Learned:

  • Businesses solve customer problems. Lowes/Home Depot exist primarily to take the order with minimal selling.
  • Do the research….seek out good businesses.
  • Evaluate the product.There seemed to be several problems with the Whirlpool brand sold by Lowes. Stand behind your product/service.
  • Respond as quickly as possible to customers. Lowes finally called at 8:30pm on Thursday with a quote.