Incredibly, I find many contractors totally inept when it comes to leadership. Talk about equipment — “Great.” Discuss direct costs — “Got it.” Perform job layout — “In my sleep, pal.” But ask them to lead today’s worker and they move to the back of the class.
Look, you can lead. Certainly there are many challenges for today’s concrete contractor, but we must move positively ahead as it relates to leading our workers. Let me briefly share four key habits of effective leaders.
Establish Your Own Leadership Vision
Coaching construction leaders over the past 20 years has displayed many examples of how “not to do” this leadership thing. In every situation where I observed great leadership effectively demonstrated, there was always a contractor or field leader who had a clear vision of his (or her) leadership presence.
More importantly, that vision was also observed, received and embraced by those following. If you want to take your next step in leadership then it would be wise to begin by clearly establishing your vision and living it daily.
Get Rid of ‘Me’
One of the necessities of reaching a leadership position is accepting that your work isn’t about you anymore. Stop thinking about “me.” Boy, this discovery is quite sobering for anyone who has worked hard to become a senior leader.
The best leaders in construction recognize that with acquiring the leadership role, whether through promotion or purchase, you must quickly and consistently lead by taking your personal pride, wants and benefits out of the picture and refocusing on those who will reward your leadership with performance success. Therefore, getting rid of “me” must be replaced with giving more of your time, availability, support, expectations, boundaries and wisdom to others.
Set the Expectations and Objectives
For the “thoroughbred” employee all you need to do is to share your expectations about how you want to see work performed and the clear and measurable objectives for a project or task. For the “challenged” workers you will need to emphasize your expectations for their performance and behavior and your company’s reputation for quality, safety and organization. Likewise, you will need to develop measurable goals that can be monitored and integrated into daily and weekly conversations and meetings to help keep the entire workforce focused and on the right path.
Practice the A.C.T.S. of Leadership
This simple acronym stands for Accountability, Consistency, Teachability and Strategy. Adopt these A.C.T.S. in your leadership style.
Being an effective leader begins with being accountable for doing your job each day.
Consistency recognizes that you must practice good leadership, show respect to others and be thorough in decision making over and over and over again … thus consistency.
To be teachable is to always be in a mode to learn. When your followers see you learning, and enjoying new lessons, then you may inspire them to also want to grow and learn.
Finally, leaders must be more strategic in their decision-making, scheduling and planning. Most laborers in construction are short term in their view and tactical in their approach. Many workers will choose the easiest way to do something; leaders must be strategic and capable of making the decision to do something the best way.
There are countless other leadership techniques that exist; however, without establishing the leadership efforts presented here in your daily walk you will be leading as if walking on thin ice. Deepen your foundation and core as a leader by possessing a clear vision for your leadership, refocusing on your team’s needs, projecting clear expectations and objectives, and practicing the A.C.T.S. of a leader.
Yes, you can lead — now lead!