Three Important Leadership Lessons from Randy Iwasaki:

  1. As a leader, know when to step back and rather than do everything, motivate your team to do things in innovative ways. (4:18)
  2. As a leader, be willing to take risks. (17:50)
  3. Take time out of your day to think about and look towards the future. (29:30)

This episode features an audio interview between host Sue Dyer and guest Randy Iwasaki, Executive Director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Before coming to CCTA in 2010, he was the Director of the Department of Transportation in California (CalTrans). He is a licensed civil engineer who has won several awards and is one of the leaders in the world on autonomous vehicles.

Subscribe to Construction Dream Team

The following show notes are a transcription from the Construction Dream Team Podcast episode 13 audio interview between Sue and Randy. Please subscribe to Construction Dream Team for the latest episodes on our website, iTunes or Stitcher! We would LOVE a 5-star rating to help us show up in the search engines so more of Construction Nation can listen to industry leaders and experts on their computers, phones, or tablets!

Randy’s Leadership Journey

Randy was hired by CalTrans in the early ’80s as an entry level civil engineer after college. He left 27 years later as the director of the department. His time spent at CalTrans helped prepare him for success as Executive Director of Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

Strengths As A Leader

At CCTA, they employ great people by spending a lot of time in the hiring process. They look for people with the entrepreneurial spirit, who are able to deal with change and risk-taking. Randy thinks his greatest strength in his current role is that he is a good motivator; he sets standards for employees on how to make decisions that will make the company better partners providing exceptional customer service. Another strength is the very diverse group of people that they have employed who provide many different perspectives. Randy sets the end goal, but the employees ultimately decide how to get there. At CCTA, there are about 20 employees that manage multi-million dollar projects and programs.

The greatest strengths of Randy and CCTA are the people and motivation. These strengths help create an environment and culture of innovation. In particular, the leader needs to be able to lead more with motivation rather than by trying to do everything themselves. It is important for leaders to step back and let go, allowing members of the team to figure out how to do business in different ways (it doesn’t always have to be done the way the leader has done it).

Importance of Vision

You need to be able to articulate to your team what the vision of the company is in order to lead them on the right path. The vision of CCTA is to be the best transportation agency and the team really believes in this vision which improves performance and opens up the conversation about change. They spend a lot of time making sure their team understands the vision and where they are headed as an agency.

Leadership Pitfalls to Avoid

The main issue with leaders is when they aren’t willing to take risks. If you aren’t willing to take risks, you probably have issues with motivating employees. Employees look up to leaders for guidance, so if their leader doesn’t take risks, the employee will probably not feel as confident in taking risks. Leaders should try to lead by example, which will motivate employees to be better and want to be more like their leader which can end in a better future. 

Advice to Live By

One of the best pieces of advice Randy had gotten was from his boss, and the advice was basically to think, use your brain, delegate tasks to the team, and look towards the future.

Listener Resources

Randy suggests that Construction Dream Team listeners take time to listen to Ted Talks; they can be really relevant and can teach you about what others do to motivate and lead.

Watch the TED Talk about How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek

The second resource Randy suggests is the book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson because Steve Jobs and his innovative approach to product development, technology, leadership, and business changed the world.

Get the book Steve Jobs (affiliate link):

Kindle Audible Hardback

Contact Randy!


            -LinkedIn: Connect with Randy

            -Twitter: @Riwasaki2

Parting Advice

Take 5 minutes out of your day and think about the future; if you can see a future, you need to find a way to get buy-in from your employees and talk to them about that future and how to get there!

Construction Nation! Dream Teams don’t just happen they are built one step at a time. Why not send out this episode to your team, so they can help you. The more people you have helping – the faster you can build your Construction Dream Team. You can’t have your dream until you build your team! Please head on over to to sign up for our newsletter and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fourteen − ten =