Leadership in Tough Times
by Len Loewen
We are in the third week of an unprecedented time in our world. For our generation living in the west anyway, this level of uncertainty and fear is a new experience. Of course, I am talking about COVID-19. The one thing every conversation begins and ends with. Sometimes, it’s the sole purpose of the conversation.
With the provincial and federal governments making changes to the instructions that are to guide us all in our personal and professional lives changing daily and even hourly, it has been difficult to know what to think or how to respond. All the while, construction continued to proceed with what seemed at moments to be a blind eye from the governing bodies. Finally, just days ago, our work has been deemed a non-health essential service, for which I am grateful. Without work, our employees have few options and as the government employee wage subsidies are still being worked out, guys have to meet their financial obligations. They need to work. And it is my responsibility to keep them safe and to make possible for their financial commitments to be met.
Most general contractors have made or are in the process of making the appropriate site alterations to allow for the measures called for in the most recent COVID-19 construction site guidelines. As the trade who almost always has the most employees on site, we must also lead in firmly requesting the guidelines be implemented and followed. It’s our guys on the news if the site isn’t compliant and our guys that would be at greatest risk of contracting and spreading the virus. The difficulty of ‘physical distancing’ in many of the tasks we are still contractually bound to perform is lost on those looking in from the outside.
If I can encourage you with anything, I would suggest we lead our people and our industry well. Kipling writes “If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you… Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!” Let’s not give way to the panic, despite the fear. Let’s be men. That’s being professional.