Written by Josh Reeves, LEED AP
Leadership principals are always on my mind, but the past few weeks have been an inspiration for me to think a lot more about leadership and management. Recent training at GBA Builders, and our affiliated companies, has made the topic top of mind for me and my colleagues. We engaged in IQ (Initiative for Quality), with an excellent guest speaker Dan Oblinger, we had a weeklong bootcamp with the LeaderScope consulting team, and we had our annual stockholders meeting with about 80 of our business partners. After these events I enjoy connecting with my teammates and discussing our “aha!” moments. Needless to say, there were A LOT… and most of us have been humbled!
As I reflect on these fantastic events, I would like to share a few lessons I have learned, or re-learned, that will help me improve as a leader and communicator.
Leadership and Management
Google told me that “Leadership” (a noun) is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” For me, leadership is about motivating and inspiring PEOPLE with a clear vision and strategy, so they want to follow and be part of a highly functional team. It is about coaching, mentoring, LISTENING, empathy and empowerment of PEOPLE to pursue the vision and strategy.
After a few more clicks, Google told me that “Management” (a noun) is “the optimal way to accomplish tasks and achieve goals using planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling functions or processes.” Our LeaderScope bootcamp was the epitome of this definition. My personal definition of management is about adherence to processes, procedures, and ultimately RESULTS for the business.
It takes a certain amount of leadership skills and tools to be a great manager, but I believe great managers of processes and results don’t necessarily make great leaders of people. When you are results driven, as managers should be, being a visionary leader who inspires and motivates doesn’t always align. All too often organizations will promote great managers into leadership roles. Or even worse organizations will promote people into leadership roles because they have tenure with the organization. Staying power never equates to great management or leadership skills.
This is a BIG topic and my personal “aha!” moments centered around self-awareness. Having a clear understanding of how others view your actions, behaviors, and communications is extremely valuable information. You need to adjust your messaging to your audience for maximum impact. Some people excel at this but most fall short, including me. I can come up with numerous excuses…social media, devices, politics, the weather patterns, shiny objects, etc. to place blame on distractions that cause me to lose focus on my behaviors. Take a few minutes to slow down and think about your next move and how it will affect someone else. As one of my fantastic mentors says, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”
Communication can be complicated; and done poorly it can cause big problems. Effective communication can lead to great success. A wise man once said, “95% of the world’s problems boil down to miscommunication.” A lesson that has stuck with me, and occasionally hits me over the head, is that teams need to talk, AND LISTEN! I’ve participated in and witnessed some pretty poor teamwork which simply consisted of too many cooks in the kitchen. Everyone wanted to elbow their way into the discussion and be RIGHT about their perspectives instead of being respectful and listening. I continue to re-learn these tips to help me be a more effective communicator; slow down and be curious, ask open ended questions, listen to the speaker instead of planning your challenging rebuttal, and be respectful. I’m still a work in progress.
In 2021 we are redefining our vision and strategy with current initiatives. In our fast-paced world everyone wants to know, “what’s next?” before they are finished with their current initiatives. LeaderScope provided us with amazing planning tools to help us get crystal clear about what success looks like before we get bogged down with problem solving. This is HIGHLY counterintuitive because we’ve been taught since grade school to solve problems without always knowing why or what the end goal is. The lesson learned is, slow down and figure out the “why” before diving into the deep end of logistics and problem solving.
For years I have made fun of myself by saying, “I have a genetic defect that runs through the entire side of my dad’s family. We think we’re always right.” Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery! Seven years ago, an opportunity allowed me to change directions in my career and embark on a new adventure. Since that time, I have been humbled on a daily basis. Why is that you ask? GBA Builders focuses on specialized markets that are complicated, regulated, controlled by the government, and/or have zero room for error. Those parameters require some very special teammates to execute the work. Those teammates are extremely intelligent SME’s which have focused their entire careers on Life Sciences, Mission Critical, Healthcare, Government, and Industrial markets. I am not specialized in any of these areas, and therefore, I’m proud to say, “I’m surrounded by a lot of fantastic teammates who are smarter than me and experts in their fields, I’m humbled by their knowledge and experience daily.” Today, I have to practice what I preach and slow down. I have to remind myself that my new reality is that I’m rarely “right” and that has to be OK.