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What businesses can learn from government mistakes

BY Joe Scarlett

Two recent high-profile incidents have proven there’s a lack of basic leadership at the highest levels of government.

The first involved Government Services Administration members partying in grand style all over the United States. The second was the Secret Service prostitute scandal before the hemispheric conference in Columbia. Both examples show a blatant disregard for basic leadership by chief executives in some of our top agencies.

Unbelievably unethical

The GSA left a trail of over-the-top carousing from Hawaii to Las Vegas while a nation in debt continued to fall further behind every day.

There’s no excuse: While the GSA leader did not even attend the infamous near-million-dollar Vegas conference, she certainly still had oversight responsibility. Taxpayers (the employers) expect the GSA to fulfill its mission of maintaining government buildings and related services at a reasonable cost. We don’t expect to be supporting our leaders’ wild nights on the Strip.

The case of the Secret Service demonstrates an even greater lack of leadership. If the Secret Service director had regularly communicated a culture of ethical behavior and shown a passion for the integrity of the organization, it is unlikely that any Secret Service member would have ever considered hiring a hooker on a presidential mission.

Even if one agent got out of line, you’d expect others to jump in to correct the situation or turn in the offender. Sadly, devoid of ethical leadership, these entitled agents felt no sense of responsibility to themselves, the agency, the president or the public.

Learning our lessons

Similar issues raise their ugly heads all the time in the business world. There are stories daily about value breakdowns by corporate leaders who have failed to set the right ethical direction. Instead of endless investigations into why these situations occur and irrelevant laws to prevent them from happening again, the action we should take to prevent ethical lapses is re-instituting basic leadership principles for chief executives.

Here’s a refresher on Leadership 101:

• Be clear about values and never bend those values.

• Passionately discuss values so everyone, without exception, is on the same page.

• Set clear direction and expectations that will lead to achieving the expected results.

• Define the central mission clearly and repetitively so no one is confused.

• To be sure your message sticks, say it 10 times or more since people only retain 10 percent of what they hear a week later.

• Communicate regularly so people can understand and follow your mission going forward.

Strong, ethical leaders are the foundation of good government and back-to-basics business. It’s up to each leader to start changing our world one principle at a time. 

Joe Scarlett is founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute and the retired chairman of Tractor Supply Co. He can be reached [email protected].

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R.Me says:
May-07-2012 05:59 pm

Well, yes, to my mind,
Well, yes, to my mind, effective leadership possesses certain qualities such as integrity, fairness, communication skills and foresight. An effective leader is a leader with integrity who follows through on his word, exceeds expectations and lives out the standards he preaches. A good leader is fair in all situations, not showing favoritism or prejudice. An effective leader is also able to communicate effectively interpersonally and organizationally, and is able to foresee issues, successes and potential difficulty to plan accordingly, like taking online loans no credit, launching a new business campaign, etc.

kclark says:
May-04-2012 06:58 pm

"Strong, ethical leaders are
"Strong, ethical leaders are the foundation . . .." Well said.

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Butler did it: A green roof comes to the college

BY Ken Clark

Indianapolis-based Eco-Roofs, a producer of environmentally friendly roof systems, has completed a 1,300-sq.-ft. green roof installation atop the four-story, 67-year-old College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis.

This is the first green roof undertaking for the University and was installed entirely by an all-volunteer crew of students, faculty and university staff, led by Eco-Roofs’ accredited Green Roof Professional and project coordinator Pat Maloney.

The project was initiated by Butler biology student Sarah Strobl while researching green roofs as a topic for her honors thesis. Strobl led the effort to secure funding from the Student Government Association in order to see the project completed before the end of her senior year. After conducting feasibility studies and other background analysis, Strobl and University officials, including campus engineer Rich Michal, consulted with a number of green roof manufacturers in January 2012 and determined that Eco-Roofs was the only system that could meet all of their needs. 

Core to the university’s objectives was that the installation be a learning experience for students and provide ongoing opportunities for scientific study, in addition to being an interactive green space that can be seen and used by university staff and students. One of the key features of the Eco-Roofs system is the ease of installation engineered into the modular system of plant trays. 

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Market Recap: RISI Crow’s Construction Materials Cost Index

BY HBSDEALER Staff

 

A price index of lumber and panels used in actual construction for April 27, 2012

*Western – regional species perimeter foundation; Southern – regional species slab construction.

Crow’s Market Recap — A condensed recap of the market conditions for the major North American softwood lumber and panel products as reported in Crow’s Weekly Market Report. 

Lumber: Strong demand allowed SPF mills to raise dimension lumber prices $5 to $10. Low inventory levels prompted buyers to replenish. Wholesalers purchased, sold those volumes and then purchased again, contributing to mill order files extending into the week of May 14. Despite reports of gradual slowing in the Southern Pine lumber market early in the week, demand remained solid enough to keep order files out two weeks and dimension prices rising by double digits. Treaters remained a key force behind price increases. Diminished production levels and solid demand kept upward pressure on dry Coastal species dimension lumber prices. Dry Doug Fir prices experienced price appreciation across all dimensions, while trading levels in green Doug Fir saw an uptick. Inland species lumber producers remained in control of the market for another week, as buyers looked for quick shipments and specified tallies. Most were unsuccessful on both counts. Limited selections at mills forced buyers to compromise on their needs or look to secondaries for coverage. Radiata Pine Shop offerings were limited, as was Mldg&Btr. Prices were firm. Market conditions for Ponderosa Pine Moulding and Shop were little changed. According to buyers, 5/4 #3 Shop was readily available, but 6/4 was more difficult to find. Lack of availability and moderate demand combined to keep Ponderosa Pine Selects and Commons on firm ground, for the most part. Eastern White Pine producers continued to concentrate on shipment schedules. Prices remained firm. Activity for ESLP remained steady, as exports and three week order files helped producers remain in control. Western Red Cedar producers sold steady volumes, which kept several prices on an upward tilt. Order files often extended into June and even July in some instances.

Panels: Just when it looked like OSB markets were on the verge of collapse, a rally at mid week breathed new life into the market. Driven by strong sales to U.S. destinations, mills were able to extend order files out and firm or raise prices. Most Southern Pine plywood prices remained on firm footing after a week of steady demand. Producers continued to push order files out another week. Volumes sold in the Western Fir plywood market eliminated any early inclination among producers to listen to counters. Producers accepting modest counters firmed prices by late Tuesday and joined other producers in raising them $5 to $10 by the week’s end. The Canadian softwood plywood market remains firm in spite of a quieter pace to sales this week than previous weeks. Order files are out to the week of May 28. Particleboard producers posted another good week of sales, while those MDF producers reporting a slower pace last week often saw buyers come back into the market to replenish.

For more on RISI, click here

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