High-Performing Contractor Newsletter July 2011 - Issue #94
**************** Leadership – What you should Avoid
All companies have managers but few have effective leaders. Good leadership is critical for high-performing contractors to succeed. The challenge is recognizing the need to change and being a good leader. Here are 5.5 actions good leaders avoid and, conversely, poor leaders often exhibit.
Playing the Blame Game.When leaders make excuses, and often blame others for problems, they lose credibility and integrity. Every company and individual faces problems. Blaming anyone or anything does not move the company forward. Instead, real leaders identify the actions they will take to address or mitigate problems and don’t engage in the 3 W’s of whining, wailing and worrying.
Refusing to admit fault.Blaming others is not good and is compounded by not owning up to one’s own mistakes and poor judgments. Good leaders are quick to admit when they have made a mistake. They apologize quickly when they have hurt others. Employees are more willing to follow someone who takes ownership for failures and works to mend the situation, rather than one who thinks he or she is perfect or is afraid to admit a mistake.
Assuming They Know. Weak leaders assume their people understand the company’s purpose and its values. Maybe they did when the company first started, but with changes in personnel, what was true then, is not today. To stay the course people need to know what “True North” means for the company. They need to know how they are expected to treat customers, fellow employees, and business partners. They need to hear the company’s shared purpose and values often, and see it lived by their leaders.
Taking credit for other’s good work.Poor leaders blame others for failures and give themselves credit for all successes. This is like the pointy ear boss in the Dilbert cartoon strip. Sadly, it is the way many managers run their company and projects. Real leaders give everyone else credit for successful projects and assume more of the blame for ones that fail.
Giving all the answers.The role of a leader is to develop his/her subordinates into leaders. Leaders who feel they must give all the answers, do a double disservice. They fail to cultivate critical thinking among their direct reports, thus not developing them. And they don’t generate buy-in through involving the employees in solving the problem. When employees come with a problem, ask them for their thoughts on the possible causes, and countermeasures to take. Ask in that order. Avoid telling them what to do even if you “think” you know the right answer. Ask questions to guide them to arrive at the answers.
Hearing but not listening. Most if us listen while multitasking or only listen to the point we have determined our response. Real Leaders look people in the eyes and apply good communications techniques such as paraphrasing back what people have said. This is especially important if one is asking questions about the problems, not giving answers.
There are many leadership traits to master, but start with these. Just being aware and recognizing when you might be falling into using one is a great step forward.
Thoughts taken from article in the American Express OPEN– “The 11 Leadership Styles You Must Avoid” - Mar 02, 2011.
I like what Ted Garrison said about trust in our industry in his July 2011 newsletter. I am including it here.
Do Your Clients Really Trust You?
People often think of trust as a soft social virtue, but it is way more than that. Stephen M. R. Covey wrote in Speed of Trust that trust is “a hard economic driver that makes organizations more profitable.” In an NCS Radio interview, he stated that when trust is lost, projects slow down and costs increase. He added that the opposite is also true. When trust develops projects speed up and costs go down.
However, Covey isn’t the only expert hammering away at trust. Business strategist Russell White stated in an NCS Radio interview that today contractors need to build a legacy of trust. You may ask, Why a legacy? White’s answer was that today’s society is highly skeptical. The old model where people trusted people until they had reason to not trust them doesn’t apply any longer. Today people tend to be wary of others until trust is earned. With existing clients you can earn their trust by your direct actions with them, but how do you get past the front door with a new client? The answer is by building a legacy of trust. This allows previous clients to spread good comments about you.
White went on to explain that you build this trust by being transparent and seeking feedback. You must be up front with clients to avoid any unexpected surprises that destroy trust.
Well, that sounds like great theory, but does it really work in the construction trenches? The last couple of months I’ve focused on the best value approach advocated by Professor Dean Kashiwagi. So what does he say about this?
Kashiwagi argues that you shouldn’t award work based on trust or relationships. So you think he disagrees? Well, I think you would be wrong. What we have is a difference in language, not a different intent. What Kashiwagi means when he says you shouldn’t award work based on relationships is you shouldn’t award work to someone because you like him, play golf with him or have any other social relationship with him. But obviously if you are working with someone to deliver maximum value, you have a relationship of professional collaboration. This is the relationship that both Covey and White are talking about, not a social relationship.
Kashiwagi has also said you shouldn’t award work based on trust. This is probably one of the most difficult ideas to get one’s head around. Kashiwagi is talking about blind trust. In other words, trust should not be based on the belief that you think the contractor can deliver the desired result. He argues that selection should be based on what he calls dominant proof, or proof that all thinking people can understand and agree with. In Kashiwagi’s language no decision is necessary because the answer is obvious. You don’t have to trust the person because you know without doubt he can perform. In essence, the selection is based on fact, not trust. However, the trust that Covey and White are discussing is not blind trust either, but dominant proof of past performance. This is what White meant by a legacy of trust, an unquestionable track record of past performance. Despite the difference in language, White’s and Covey’s intents are no different than the Performance Information Procurement System (PIPS), where contractors are required to document their past performance, except that PIPS has a formal documentation process.
When you know someone is an expert, you know that person can perform. In Kashiwagi’s language, if you know something, it doesn’t require trust. Covey and White expressed a similar process but used the word trust. The point of this report is to point out that a difference in the language doesn’t mean a difference in the intent. All three men advocated a similar process, namely perform, document your performance, be transparent, be up front, avoid surprising the client and do what you say you will do. If do you those things, clients will trust you and have confidence that you can perform, not because you are a friend, but because you have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you will perform.
Ted Garrison, president of Garrison Associates, is a catalyst for change. As a consultant, author and speaker he provides breakthrough strategies for the construction industry by focusing on critical issues in leadership, project management, strategic thinking, strategic alliances and marketing. Contact Ted at 800-861-0874 or Growing@TedGarrison.com. Further information can be found at www.TedGarrison.com.
****************The 2011 Muda Walk for a Month is Coming
September is Muda Walk for a Month. This is the 5th year for this event and special activities are being planned. If you want to participate send an email to dennis@YourQSS.com You must sign-up by Aug. 26, 2011
**************** Learning Opportunities
You may be interested in attending one of these training seminars:
Sept. 22, 2011- Getting to the Root Cause: Real Problem Solving- Sponsor – P.I.P.I. & 469 JAC – Phoenix, AZ - contact Cathy Mayeux at email@example.com for details.
Sept. 26, 2011– Industrial Fab Productivity – Breakthrough Performance through Lean Practices - SMACNA 2011 National Convention - Colorado Springs, CO. Details at http://www.smacna.org/events/annualconvention/
Oct. 20, 2011- Designing and Achieving World-Class Performance in Construction- Sponsor – P.I.P.I. & 469 JAC – Phoenix, AZ - contact Cathy Mayeux at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Contact Dennis if you are interested in having a customized workshop specific to your company’s needs.
**************** Thought for the day
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams
For more information about the High-Performing Contractor assessment process contact Dennis Sowards at 480-835-1185 or at dennis@YourQSS.com (see www.YourQSS.com)
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