Great article from Stephen Ashkin*
One of the things we hear frequently in the professional cleaning industry is that we do not appear to be attracting millennials. The most-often-heard explanation for this is that marketing high-technology tools and equipment like computers and smartphones is a lot more fun and exciting than selling mops and buckets.
However, I beg to differ. I think millennials-along with scores of other highly educated and motivated people-will join our industry as more (and better) leaders come forward.
Looking back, we can see that many of the early leaders in the professional cleaning industry had considerable foresight. They looked at where our industry was at the time, where there were opportunities, and the next steps the industry – and their businesses – had to take in order to be successful.
Today, we need to see more innovative and risk-taking leaders in the professional cleaning industry come forward and with them, so will the millennials and other high-caliber people we want and need in our industry. And the key reason for this is because leaders, just like those who have lead our industry in generations past, make great things happen.
I see this today with my involvement in the Green Sports Alliance and the Healthy Schools Campaign. Leaders in these organizations are inspiring others to work harder, make commitments, find ways to accomplish things, build teams, be decisive, and want to succeed.
Do we need to start new companies as we did 60 years ago to find new leaders for our industry today? No. But we must encourage people young and old to step forward and take leadership roles.
The following are some key attributes I believe make for great leaders in the jansan industry:
A clear sense of purpose:
Great leaders in our industry realize that our purpose-our industry’s mission-is to protect human health. This has to be engrained in them so that they can instill this same crucial sense in others.
The right attitude:
While we must never minimize the importance of a quality education, in many cases great leaders are not necessarily the smartest people but those who have the best attitudes toward their work, their teams and co-workers, their companies, and the industry.
Pride and passion:
One of the great things about people who are proud of their work-whether they are working in a jansan factory, selling cleaning products, or cleaning restrooms-is that their pride and passion are infectious. Others love to see people with pride and passion, and they want to help them, work with them, and join their team.
The ability to inspire:
Many people in leadership roles today are having difficulties getting the most out of their staffs because they use a carrot-and-stick approach to leadership. Especially when it comes to today’s young people, we cannot coerce them to accomplish things, but we can motivate them to accomplish things. While carrots and sticks likely will always be necessary, a great leader realizes that great results come when people and teams are inspired.
The strength to admit mistakes:
Admitting that a mistake was made is not necessarily a weakness. Admitting a mistake can help instill trust and confidence and encourage everyone to get up, accept the mistake, and then do what is necessary and can be done to correct it and move forward.
The courage to make difficult decisions:
When it comes to making difficult decisions, management consultant Peter F. Drucker said it all when he said, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
Being a great leader means making great and important decisions. It is people with all these attributes who will take our industry to the next plateau.