Prime instructor, Allen Ross, understands the importance of leadership when he trains the drivers under his tutelage. He knows and believes he is preparing them to think of themselves not only as drivers of an 18-wheeler, but also as business owners. He understands that grasping the importance of this concept is critical to them becoming the leaders of themselves and their families they were intended to be. To him, it is a life-changing difference.
Allen, 43, is a married father of seven who has been driving for Prime for nearly five years. Although he is from the south side of Chicago, he classifies himself as a fan of “anything Midwest.” Prior to coming to Prime, he drove a school bus and was part owner in a school bus company. He said he “did a little bit of everything related to trucks,” including serving as a mechanic. In 2016, he became a trainer, in part inspired by his trainer who “treated me like I want to treat others.”
In Year Two (2017) of his work as an instructor, he was recognized as an outstanding instructor and his wife joined him at the banquet. In Year Three (2018), when he was recognized again, his wife said let’s move. Alan and his family now reside in Ozark, Missouri. He trained 42 students in the past year.
If you talk to Allen, you will quickly recognize his passion for training drivers because he recognizes the difference it can make for them to see themselves in a different light—as a business owner who can provide a good life for his or her family. He quickly recounts the importance of sacrifice a driver makes to provide for the people he or she loves. It is clear he is emotionally invested in the work he does and cares deeply about his students.
The Leader of My Life
How do you get people to see themselves as the leader of their own life? Allen begins by asking his trainees about the “why”?
“What’s your purpose? What are you here for? What’s your ‘why?’ What do you need to make a day?”
He relates everything the driver does to his reason for driving, the people for whom he is responsible. “Take some responsibility,” he says, “for the people you love.”
Allen emphasizes that to him the two most important professions are being a doctor and being a driver. “The doctor,” he says, “saves lives.” The truck driver brings the building, the supplies, and everything necessary to save lives.”
Characteristics of a Leader
Taking responsibility for one’s self, being accountable, and sacrificing for others are all traits Allen sees as critical for an effective leader.
“Don’t cut corners,” he says. “You’ve got an 80,000 pound missile that you’re driving.” Allen emphasizes the importance of recognizing the power we are all given when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle. “Why are you driving too fast? To get where? What’s so important?” he cautions.
“Take time to notice what’s going on around you. Look for the kid who’s gesturing for you to blow your horn,” Allen admonishes. “Why are you in such a hurry?”
Father of Seven
Perhaps Allen’s understanding of the importance of the “little things in life” is related to his role as a father of seven—three boys and four girls. The youngest two live with them in Ozark. He stresses the importance of having a father-figure in one’s life. He also encourages leadership activities like ROTC and participation in sports, like track and cross country.
Every year for his birthday, Allen’s kids are prepared to hear his “I Have a Dream Speech.” He does everything he can to instill in them the importance of seeing that choices have consequences. “How do you think that homeless person got that way?” he will ask them. He wants them to think about the choices they make. He also wants them to value the importance of hard work and seeing something from another person’s perspective. Being personable, being persistent, persevering—these things add up to long term success. For this reason, Allen says he is thoughtful with praise. He wants his compliments for his children and the drivers he trains to be genuine, a sincere expression of honor and recognition.
Staying Connected for the Long Haul
Allen encourages his drivers to communicate using all forms of social media, but cautions them to keep their mind on the road while driving. “Text them first thing in the morning,” he says, “to wish them well on their day and let them know what you’re doing.” He adds, “Then plan your day and your drive to stay in touch in keeping with your time zone and that of your family. That way you can connect with them at the end of your day to see how things have gone.” He believes this also ensures the greatest safety for the driver and his family.
To hear more of Allen’s story, check out his Prime Good Dads Podcast here.