American Author and Management Expert Kenneth Blanchard once said, “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”
Too often we hear people complaining about their circumstances, but they don’t seem to make any effort to change the situation. They’d just prefer to grumble and let others deal with the same issues.
How can YOU make the trucking industry a better place for all of us? First, think about how your negative remarks invite more criticism. Calling someone names or making harmful comments don’t help anyone. In fact, it just puts the other person on the defensive which prompts them just to shut you out.
The ability to influence means you can change other people’s behavior in a positive way. You DO have an opportunity to make a difference, but there are points to consider in the process. We’ve all heard the adage, “there’s strength in numbers.” You can easily break a twig in two, but grab a handful of sticks, and it’s much more difficult.
As an association, Women In Trucking represents both women and men employed in the trucking industry. Our board of directors has determined that as a group, we should provide influence to the industry. From legislators to regulators to carriers and even manufacturers and truck stops. Our goal is to be a resource.
How can we be the group people turn to for information? We ask our members for insight and advice. We often send out surveys to find out what issues are creating challenges for our members. We use these responses to influence those in authority to make changes.
For example, a truck manufacturer asked us for our member’s input on their truck cab design and ergonomics. In addition to surveys and personal interviews, we asked our Facebook page group for their comments. We didn't allow complaints, as we were specific about asking about how to make the truck cab better. The results were amazing, and as of today, the manufacturer has implemented many of those suggestions in the new models.
Another member, a truck stop chain, asked for our member’s feedback on their showers. The comments ranged from disgust over the dirty air vents to a lack of air exchange in humid weather. Again, the results were not only well received, but changes were made and the truck stop managers, who are required to shower in their facilities, are also responsible for making sure the vents are cleaned, and there is proper ventilation in every shower.
These are great examples of ways to make a driver’s life a little better with a more ergonomic cab and cleaner shower facilities. What about things you might think you can’t influence? What about shippers and receivers? How can we change the experience at the loading dock?
Women In Trucking has partnered with a software developer that provides shipper information, including receiving hours, the availability of overnight parking, wi-fi and even shows a Google earth map of the facility. To support our drivers, they’ve also added three questions for us to monitor for our members. First, were you treated as a professional? Next, did you get in and out in a reasonable amount of time? Finally, were there restroom facilities available?
Each month Women In Trucking receives a report that is user (driver & shipper) generated and the three questions are reviewed for negative driver experiences. The app is called Dock411 and is free for drivers. For shippers who treat drivers as second-class citizens, our goal is to help them understand and appreciate the role these women and men play in delivering their products.
In addition to feedback from surveys and apps, the Women In Trucking Association has an Image Team to give media interviews and more importantly, to provide ride-alongs with our elected and appointed officials. These female drivers take the individual along for a day or two and talk about life on the road, and how regulations affect her in her job. We've invited Senators, Congress people, Federal Motor Carrier Administrators, National Transportation Safety Board leaders and more. These are the people who create and enforce the laws for professional drivers, and we believe every one of them should have a better understanding of how their rules affect all of us. Our goal is to make sure they have some experience to draw upon when considering legislation.
We can influence others in a positive way by educating them and helping them learn from our members. Remember Blanchard’s quote, “the key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” You can help us influence positive change in the trucking industry. Join Women In Trucking Association at www.womenintrucking.org.