I recently met with a Director of one of the UK’s leading construction companies. The context for the meeting was an invite from him to present my award-winning courses about Building Services and Commissioning. Both areas are causing their business pain.
Two revelations about character took place in the meeting; the first aggravated me and the second astounded me.
Al Pacino’s character Michael Corleone in The Godfather
Let’s start with the aggravation.
I’d travelled 2 ½ hours to the meeting at his request and, as usual, had prepared a very professional presentation. Yet throughout our across-the-table encounter, he was constantly fiddling with his mobile phone. I know that this lack of courtesy is common in our ever-connected world, but I found it very disrespectful.
The second incident was even more revealing about this person’s true character. I had common ground with him because another party had asked me to do a bit of troubleshooting on one of his projects that had not been well-managed. I mentioned that his company’s Building Services subcontractor had a really difficult time on this project and suffered financially as a consequence. “Yeah, but we still made money” was his instant, unfiltered response.
Some of the best movies ever made engage us because they reveal a person’s true character – not what they appear to be from the outside, but true character revealed by the choices they make and the actions they take under pressure.
For this reason, people like Erin Brokovic, Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Rick Blaine in Casablanca, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Woody in Toy Story, Chief Brody in Jaws, and Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird make compelling central characters in movies.
Julia Roberts playing Erin Brokovich in the movie of the same name
So, despite this Director’s plush offices, his expensive suit and Rolex watch, and the words coming out of his mouth about supply chain management and partnering, the two small incidents that I have referred to revealed his true character.
This now means that I have a sense of mistrust about this person and the business he represents. If I choose to work with his company, and hopefully teach them better working practices, I shall do so very carefully.