Clay Adams | May 7th, 2015
No, this blog has nothing to do with the Lower Mainland transit plebiscite. Some of my colleagues have already shared their views on that one.
It also has nothing to do with the state of buses and transit. As a transit user, I can truly appreciate how good – and crappy – public transport is. The West Coast Express is comfortable (unless it is stuck on the track for uncontrolled delays); the Canada Line is fantastic (truly); and buses are, well, a bit like attending a family gathering. I never quite know what I’m walking into and, when I do, I usually regret it and want to get the hell out as soon as possible.
But that’s not the “real” reason I hate buses. I hate buses because they are dangerous. And they’re dangerous because we don’t expect them to be dangerous. I’m not talking about the 14 or so people who lose their lives in bus collisions annually, although my heart goes out to such victims and their families.
My fear is for those whose lives are changed forever by being thrown under them.
To “throw someone under the bus” is a phrase meaning to sacrifice a friend or ally for selfish reasons or personal gain. My experience is this usually occurs because someone doesn’t want to take responsibility for their own actions, so why not blame someone else?
I have seen people thrown under the bus over the years. In some cases it was by a manager, director or even CEO choosing to preserve their own butt by throwing the blame for their actions onto another. I’ve also seen colleagues do it. There was a time, sheepishly, I would just watch it occur, hanging my head in shame because I failed to defend them.
Only recently, I too was a victim. Thrown under a bus by someone who did not agree with my perspective that what they wanted was not the right approach for the organization. A quick email and BAM!
Thankfully I got up, dusted myself off and mumbled a few less-than-polite comments about the person. Most of all, I couldn’t understand why they took that approach. Certainly it achieved nothing. I continued down a different road. The job was done, and life moved on. All was fine other than the bruised ego of the person who pushed me because they didn’t get “their” way.
Trust, respect and support
Which gets me to the point of this blog…it is time to make our career journey safer. It is time to act and no longer be silent. Meeting recently with a bunch of new VCH managers, I was asked what I thought the secret to being a good leader is. That some may have thought I actually had some insight to the question is flattering, but to me the secret gets down to two words – trust, respect and support.
Okay, three words. People say a good leader is someone who encourages hiring people more skilled than they are. A nice philosophy, although one that would suggest the CEO is the least-skilled person in an organization – something that is absolutely, definitely not the case at VCH which has the most amazing, fantastic and superb boss in the entire world (sucking up ends now).
To me, being a good leader means obviously attracting the right people but also giving them the ability to do their job the way they are trained and capable of doing it. It means recognizing mistakes may be made but being there to support and guide them through it.
I’ve made some mistakes in my life, all of which became learning opportunities. For example, I no longer drink half-a-bottle of scotch in one sitting. Or cross the road on a “Don’t Walk” sign. Or run…anywhere. I also learned not to be baited by dumb asses or stupid questions.
Most of all, I learned that by being supportive as a leader and colleague you can be a better person and part of a great team – and that is truly something special.
So, have you been thrown under the bus? If so, do you want to share your story (minus names as, after all, we must be respectful) so we can all learn from it?