4 Important Lessons To Share With Your Team!
- Stop managing and start leading.
- Drive out fear!
- Build trust.
- Don’t let the past predict your future.
(more detail on each of these topics can be found in the show notes below)
The Trusted Leadership Model
This bonus episode of the Construction Dream Team podcast is here to help you and your team learn tested leadership principles that you can put into practice starting today! Many of our episodes revolve around leadership and it is Sue Dyer’s firm belief that you can’t create a dream team without good leaders. This episode highlights why leadership is so essential along with a different perspective on the topic.
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For years, Sue Dyer has worked with thousands of different project teams, leadership styles, and different approaches. She has recognized patterns on what works for creating high-performing, innovate teams that generate exceptional results.
Sue’s Definition Of Leadership
Most people think of a leader as someone who has authority, position, or status i.e., the person in charge. Sue’s definition is that a leader is someone who people want to follow and that following is 100% voluntary. Regardless of status or position, without people who want to follow you, you cannot be a true leader. People believe in what you have to offer.
Leadership does not only take place at the top of an organization or project but is needed all the way throughout your entire team. Every level and every person needs to become a trusted leader because everyone leads in something, be it a conversation, team, meeting negotiation, crew, etc.
How Sue Began Thinking About Leadership
One Saturday, Sue asked herself the question of if she could change one thing about the construction industry instantly, what would that be? Because of her extensive background developing teams, her belief is that the entire industry would improve if we changed how we look at leadership.
The Benevolent Dictator/Trusted Leadership Continuum
On one side of the continuum, we have the benevolent dictator. This has been the status quo in the construction industry for a long time. We teach people how to become this type of leader who can drive a project and crew in order to get results. This focuses on obedience. Employees stay and obey out of compliance, coercion, and fear.
Sue and her team did research on dozens of teams and every team knew exactly which punishments existed for different behaviors. “Do what you’re told or you’re fired” was a common expectation. The problem with this line of thinking is that people who have the ability to identify and communicate issues and solutions typically don’t, or when they do their feedback is not taken seriously. This robs employees of power and creates a rigid/stagnant culture that does not respond adequately to the challenges of the industry and of projects. On the extremes of this paradigm, organizations can die and projects can fail. This methodology has been in practice for decades.
Sue’s team performed research on mega-projects which turned out to be failures. They found that on every single project they studied (over a dozen), each project went down the exact same path of leadership. Teams knew what the problems were, but didn’t take appropriate action or communicate effectively.
Sadly, construction has been the lowest performance industry for about 50 years and something needs to change. Becoming a Trusted Leader is one tested, sure-fire way to create an environment of high trust which can transform teams and projects for the better.
What is a Trusted Leader?
A Trusted Leader is someone who can create a sense of trust within a team that becomes cohesive and transformative. People have a sense of purpose, a sense of mission and togetherness that leads to commitment. This commitment does not come as a consequence of fear or manipulation, but of genuine commitment to the leader, the purpose of the team, and the team’s success. This atmosphere allows creativity to emerge.
Throughout the 1980s, the construction industry focused on total quality management, continuous improvement, and tried to implement things other industries were doing well yet were unable to make them work. Until you create an atmosphere that allows for creativity to emerge, you cannot have continuous improvement and these types of processes work. It’s like having your foot on the gas and break at the same time. Innovation cannot occur without the creative atmosphere in place, and any innovation – be it large or small – is beneficial to the overall health of the construction industry.
4 Steps for Becoming a Trusted Leader
1) Stop managing and start leading
Managing deals with transactions – schedules, minutes, material ordering, task delegation. These transactions are necessary job responsibilities that matter, but they are rarely the root cause of whether a team succeeds or fails. We want to lead rather than manage which deals with transformation: engaging people so they become what the team needs instead of just a task performer. Being is more powerful than doing. Focusing on developing a mindset and behavior for success heads everyone in the right direction.
2) Drive Out Fear
Some people feel that through authority, they can make people follow. This typically leads to coercion, which in turn transforms into fear. When fear becomes the underlying motivation within a team, you don’t have leadership because no one will volunteer to follow you on their own accord. Fear and trust cannot coexist! The two are mutually exclusive. There must be high levels of trust for leadership to exist. As a leader, you must constantly scan for where fear exists within your organization. Even small pockets of fear can undermine the trust required for success.
In order to combat fear, you must create an atmosphere of trust through dialogue. Dialogue is a special conversation that focuses on understanding rather than talking – you end up listening to what the other person is saying deeply. This helps people get the truth in their minds out into the world. Just because two or more people have differences of opinion or personality, doesn’t mean that anyone is necessarily right or wrong; it just means they are different! Focusing on who is right or wrong creates conflict and stifles people’s ability to feel they have the power and confidence to solve problems. They lose trust in themselves and their ability to work well with others. Only when you allow truth to surface in a safe environment can you deal with issues appropriately and work to understand.
3) Build Trust
We’ve asked project teams we’ve partnered with to tell us how much trust exists on the team. There has almost never been more than a .5 point difference between responses. Everyone on a team knows how much trust exists within the team. Trust is your critical path to success. Monitor the level of trust within your team and actively work to improve it. You can do this with a monthly scorecard that measures the level of trust and teamwork – we do this on every project we partner with. You can tell exactly what’s going on with the team and determine where the issues lie. We often measure output, schedule, etc., so why not measure the levels of trust to see how well the team is working together each and every month!
4) Don’t Let Your Past Predict Your Future
Many times we just can’t let go of something. Something that happened in the past plays out in our minds and projects itself into the present and future. This projection of our own mind is a great predictor of what will actually happen because we are making it happen! As a trusted leader, you must not allow the past to predict your future. Forge a strong positive vision which has the power to overcome past problems, issues, or failures!
Lack of trust is evident to everyone on a team. Part of creating a high trust culture is by working trust into the policies and transactions carried out by the team and organization. This is most evident in the transactions you have with outsiders. For a sample contract, for example, is there fear built-in? Never ending risk mitigation? You will never be able to cover ALL of the potential contingencies that could happen. Trust cannot be replaced. Don’t allow what has occurred in the past decide the future of your team and of your project.
Keep moving forward towards the Trusted Leader side of the continuum. It can enable you to become the Trusted Leader you strive to be and I want you to produce exceptional results.
Remember, Construction Nation, this is a journey and not a destination, but it is a journey that is worth taking.
What can you do to improve the level of trust in your project and create a trustful atmosphere for your team?
Construction dream teams don’t just happen, they are built one step at a time. Send this episode to your entire team, so we can build more trusted leaders! We hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting and informative episode of Construction Dream Team with your host Sue Dyer!
Email a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org with your team next to the photo and be entered to win a free team lunch!