Lawnmower Man, Part II

Published: October 27, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Last week, I told you about a reader and homeowner who had written describing how a couple of teenagers in their area had defaulted on their promise to cut the lawn of the property owner in a professional and reliable way.

At one point, the homeowners were so disappointed they cancelled the service.  However, the teen returned and, without authorization, cut their lawn, anyway!  When they contacted him to complain, his e-mail commented that although he “strongly disagreed,” he would not bill for the “bad” mowing, but would be billing for the “unauthorized” mowing.

What’s astounding is the fact that the teen acknowledges that the mowing was unauthorized and is billing, anyway!

My response to the homeowners:

“Based on what you’ve described, it clearly sounds like you no longer trust the people involved.  If you’ve taken the time to repeatedly explain the poor work, the best thing is to simply move on.  Hire someone else, but first sit down with them and carefully explain what is expected.  Also ask for references.

“As for the teens involved, when they go out into the workforce, they will find out soon enough, that their work ethic just won’t cut it.”

I recently read a review of a new book by leadership expert Tony Simons, “The Integrity Dividend:  Leading by the Power of Your Word” (Jossey-Bass).

According to, “Simons… surveyed thousands of employees, collected financial and operational numbers, and interviewed over 100 senior executives and executive coaches.”

He determined that keeping your word and living up to good values leads to lower turnover, loyalty and superior customer service.

“The credibility of leaders,” Simons says, “makes or breaks companies.”

It also can make or break the career of an employee, as well.



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