Leadership – Keep learning

Leadership in construction means continual learning

Leadership means continual learning

You’re a construction contractor.

By default, that means you’re a leader.

Through reason, that means you want to be the best leader you can be.

Because of experience, you know there are things you can do to improve your leadership ability.

In the first part of this four-part series of articles concerning leadership in the construction world, the subject is improving your leadership skills through continuous learning.

Therefore, making time for the hard work that continual learning requires is perhaps the most important step in becoming a great leader.

Resolve to have a learning attitude

So, once you’ve resolved to have a learning attitude, there are actions you can take to make it happen. Among them are:

  • Determine to improve your leadership ability constantly.
  • Take charge of your learning.
  • Spend time with others who are eager to learn.
  • Remain aware of the multiple learning opportunities surrounding you.
  • Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Remind yourself how learning will help you achieve your leadership goals.
  • Set new learning goals regularly.

Walter D. Wintle, in 1900, published a poem titled “Thinking” and it sums up the attitude question quite well.

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t;

If you want to win but think you can’t;

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;

For out of the world we find

Success begins with a person’s will;

It’s all in a state of mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger and faster human,

But sooner or later the people who win

Are the ones who think they can.

Set aside time for learning

Becoming a better leader means continually growing your leadership skills.

For instance, it could mean you enroll in a class and show up regularly. However, it could take setting aside time on your calendar marked “learning time.” Be prepared to learn by allowing for learning time. There are lots of ways to increase your leadership knowledge. Here are some of them:

  • Follow leadership blogs
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Take a class concerning leadership (online or in-person)
  • Read magazines or journals
  • Study leaders that you admire
  • Volunteer at your industry association, a club, your place of worship, or elsewhere
  • Teach others what you know (thereby improving your skills and insight)
  • Attend seminars, workshops, or courses

Learn as you go

Even though it is a good idea to set aside time for learning leadership skills, there is also merit in being aware of spontaneous learning opportunities.

It begins with being a good listener. Therefore, you’ll do well to read this article from The Positivity Blog that offers ten simple steps for being a better listener.

Of course, learn from your mentors and role models. But don’t leave it there. Here are a few others who may have something to teach you about leadership.

  • Your employees and subs
  • The partners in your business
  • General contractors or their representatives
  • Your spouse or companion
  • The children in your life
  • Friends
  • Your next-door neighbors
  • The guy or gal who cuts your hair

See what I mean? Listen to those who have something to teach you about leadership, no matter where you encounter them. For example, in your front yard or at the grocery store.

What’s next?

There is more to say concerning leadership in the construction industry. The upcoming articles on this topic are:

Practice composure

Develop an eye for the big picture

Inspire others

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction subcontractor through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers. 

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

Subcontractors – What’s Your Story?

Subcontractors tell your story to grow your business

Subcontractors – What’s Your Story?

Subcontractors create

The culture you create within the confines of your construction subcontracting business radiates. That culture becomes the story your construction company is known for. What story is your subcontracting business telling?

Are your crews known for showing up on time prepared to give it their all? Or do they have the reputation for being late and leaving the site frequently to retrieve forgotten tools?

Are your people the ones who will go the extra mile to help out the GC? Or are they the ones who fail to clean their own mess because they “don’t want to be taken advantage of?”

Can you be sure your phones answered by people who either know the answers or know how to get them?

Is all the paperwork your general contractor asks for submitted in a timely manner? Or is it only taken care of when someone in the office or the field gets nagged enough to get it done?

Creating a culture which stresses “customer service” allows you to tell a better story.

The first two questions you need to ask are:

  1. How do the GCs in my area perceive my company?
  2. What do I want it to be known for?

Subcontractors develop

The culture you develop in your construction business has the power to attract the right employees. I’ve heard Tonya express it this way many times – your vibe attracts your tribe.

When your employees and subs know you care about them as human beings, not just a tool you use to get a task done they’re more attuned to supporting your efforts. Giving bonuses and raises whenever possible is only part of the picture. Giving praise and supporting their efforts for personal as well as professional growth helps your team see you as someone who cares.

With that being said, let’s move to ways to help your team understand your stance.

Want your team to lie to you? Teach them that lying to the GC is acceptable. Or would you prefer your employees tell the truth about errors and omissions? Be sure to model that behavior.

Do you want your team to steal from you? Show them that cutting corners is the only way to get ahead. Or, does it make more sense to teach them that your expectation is for excellence and “good enough” is never good enough.

Do you prefer your team members show up on time? Then of course, you must be their example. When you call for a meeting, you must show up before the meeting starts, not a few minutes later.

Subcontractors lead

If you don’t already have the skills of a leader you need to develop them. Here is a great graphic which depicts the difference between a boss and a leader. You can check the graphic to see which skills you need to improve or strengthen.

Want your folks to feel all they do is work hard for a paycheck? Neglect to let them know what it is they really do. Want them to get the vision? Show them the vision.

And the way to frame that is often with the end game in mind. Are they laying brick or helping build a medical facility which will save lives? Do your hands think they’re painting walls or do they believe they’re putting the finishing touches on a space which will provide jobs for the community? Are they laying wire or pipe or rebar which will not be seen when the building is complete, yet will bring integrity and ultimately usability to the shopping district?

The next questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. How do my employees feel about their jobs?
  2. What do I want our team members to feel about their jobs?

Subcontractors improve

When it comes to company culture and telling your story there are likely areas in which you can improve. Because, as you know, if you’re not getting better . . .

The purpose of your business (why your company exists) is where your story begins. How do you fit into the big picture in the construction industry? How well do you pass on your vision?

Look at your mission statement, values, and long and short-term goals to get a handle on your culture. The next step is to observe how your employees reflect the statement, values, and goals. Be sure your mission statement isn’t just a bunch of words, rather that it captures the essence of how your team operates. Know what values are important to you. Devise a way to pass on those values to those in your employ. Be sure everyone is on the same page concerning long and short-term goals.

See to it your team has a clarity of purpose. Work to be sure your employees are engaged, not just getting by. Trust your team and do all in your power to let them know they can trust you. Always be learning. See to it you’re providing opportunities for your team to learn and improve. Finally, make sure your company policies align with your company culture.

The final set of questions to ask and act upon are:

  1. What is right about our company culture?
  2. How can it be improved?

Develop an excellent company culture and tell your story so you’re able to:

 

  • Capture General Contractors’ Attention

 

  • Enhance Recruiting and Retention Efforts

 

  • Improve Your Business

 

Control your story both internally and externally.

 

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses. 

Providing Accounting and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs. 866-629-7735

Dancing into a Leadership Role in Your Construction Contracting Business

While it is apparent learning to dance takes time and effort and mastering the moves takes practice, we sometimes forget that being a good leader also takes time, effort, and practice (and it doesn’t hinge alone on how much innate talent you have.)

Knowing you have the skills of powerful leadership

As the owner of a construction contracting or service business it is imperative for you to take the time, make the effort, and be willing to practice the skills involved in leading your team. So, how do you know you’ve got it? Step back, listen, and see (really see) what your team members have in their minds when they see you, think about you, or (suck it up) talk about you.

[Note: I know some of you are male and some female, yet I don’t want to go through the language gymnastics of switching between genders while writing, so please understand I will use the words “he, him, his” in their age-old concept of mankind which encompasses both male and female.]

While your team may not recognize the bare, basic fact that you’re good at communicating and motivating they will be likely to say these things about you.

  • He listens to what I and the others tell him.
  • He handles dissent or even polite debate well.
  • He’s good at understanding strategy.
  • He has an ability to execute plans.
  • He’s good at project planning and gets the concept of following timelines.
  • He connects with all sorts of different people.
  • He is good at getting people to learn and grow.
  • He takes responsibility even when he has been wrong.
  • He has credibility and integrity.
  • He’s someone you can count on.

Making your vision become everyone’s dream

Be a leader who is confident enough to hire people you can trust, people you let do whatever they do best with a minimum of oversight.

Allow your mentors, advisors, and trusted employees to share their opinions before you make decisions.

Establish habits, structures, and procedures that help you and your team keep your vision in sight.

Take time to acknowledge (in big ways) your employees and team members for their effort or accomplishments.

Putting on the right dance shoes

Whether you wear work boots, tap shoes, or some other footwear keep in mind growing your construction contracting or service business, scaling into a profitable position will include time, effort, and practice at leading well.