Introduction to the Law of Influence for Contractors
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It is the week after Easter. March is a bit confused this year. It has actually proven this year to come in like a lamb and it looks like it is going out like a lion. The winds here in Southeastern Pennsylvania have been wicked over the past several days. Heavy winds always prove to be a challenge for construction sites. You could say that the wind practices leadership on project sites as it has a huge influence on how construction sites operate!
My name is Chris Jurin. I am the CEO of Construct-Ed. I am also a trainer with the John Maxwell Team. In addition, I also serve as the president of a commercial roofing company as well as a roof consulting firm. Most members of the construction industry would agree that leadership is a critical component of success in the construction industry. Without leadership, most projects would not finish well. In fact, most projects would never be started unless someone took the reins of leadership and got the ball moving.
But, what is leadership? Many confuse management with leadership. They are two different aspects of completing a successful construction project and running a successful construction company. Have you ever heard the axiom “You manage systems and processes, but you lead people”? What is the difference between leadership and management?
In this podcast, we will be looking at what leadership is. In his book – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – author John Maxwell states that the true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.
Explaining the Law of Influence
We have all worked for or with leaders who we can point to and make a case for them being good leaders. The real question is why we consider them to be good leaders. Was it because of their position? Was it because of their knowledge? If you dig down deep, you begin to see that those individuals who you consider great leaders are great because of the influence that they had on you at a certain time of your life.
The old leadership proverb states “A leader who has no followers is simply just taking a walk.”
If you attempt to lead, but you have no followers you are not leading! Think about this for a moment. Have you ever had someone on a project site or in a company who attempts to lead but is not able to get any followers? Or worse, they are given a leadership title, but do not earn the right to lead and as a result the crew disregards his directions? This is a failure in the Law of Influence. In order to lead, one must be able to influence the direction of their followers.
Five Myths about Leadership – In Construction
- Management Myth
Many believe that managers are automatically leaders. While managers can be leaders, if someone is good at managing they are not automatically good at leading. How many foremen understand the process of how a project is run, but fail miserably at being a good leader for their crew? This happens more often than not. Remember, you manage systems and processes like projects and tasks but you lead people. Build your leadership skills to help compliment your management skills.
- Entrepreneur Myth
Business owners are not automatically good leaders. Typically business owners in construction saw a need in the marketplace and developed a business to meet those needs. But, they developed the business based on a technical skill. That does not mean they are automatically a good leader. Entrepreneurs need to work on building their leadership skills to match their entrepreneurial skills.
- Knowledge Myth
There are many examples of skills craftsmen who are very poor at leadership. Many in management positions in construction are promoted to those positions because they are skilled at their trade. But that does not automatically lead to a skilled leader. They must be actively raising their leadership lid to be effective in their management and leadership role.
- The Pioneer Myth
Many believe that leaders are those who blaze trails. They believe that leaders must be first in line – especially when looking at the construction industry. It is not uncommon to see the leader taking a strong position on the project site where they are dictating the pace. But, just because someone takes that role does not mean they are ultimately the leader. Again, look for those who are influencing others. It is possible to be a leader, but not be active on every single project the company undertakes.
- The Position Myth
This is one of my favorite myths. Many believe, falsely so, that position dictates who is a leader. Think about this – if you are working for a company and a new foreman is assigned do you automatically follow that foreman? Chances are you are skeptical until you see how he leads. What can make matters worse is when a positional leader believes that because they have attained a certain position that you must follow. This myth never turns out well.
But how does a budding leader create influence? Many who aspire to be leaders in construction falsely buy into the practice of intimidation. Follow me or else. Others try and buddy up to their crews, which leaves their ability to lead as compromised.
7 Things To Grow Your Abilities and Influence
So how do you influence so that you are building a lasting relationship with your followers? We need to look at seven things that you can do to help you grow in your abilities and influence.
- Build Your Character – no, I am not talking about Mickey Mouse. Your character is who you are at your core. Let people know who you are and help them understand it. Communicate with them what you believe in and what you represent. Let them see your work ethic, your commitment to quality and your commitment to them.
- Relationships – get to know your followers. This doesn’t mean that you need to go to their kid’s dance recital. But, if you know something about them it creates a connection. You will learn later in the law of connection that you need to touch a heart before you can ask for a hand. Napoleon was known for his ability to know the names of everyone he came in touch with. Be known for knowing.
- Knowledge – build your knowledge of your trade. Continue to grow and don’t stop learning. Your followers will be more apt to follow you if you know what you are talking about. As John Maxwell says “Knowledge alone won’t make someone a leader, but without knowledge, no one can become one.” So don’t depend solely on your knowledge of carpentry or roofing, but if you intend on being a leader in those spaces you better be competent in those areas.
- Intuition – seek you develop your intuitive abilities. This comes with experience and with attention to detail. Be a reader of your surroundings. Pay attention to what is going on with your projects and your people. Seek to understand the mood of your company and your project sites. Address issues regarding morale, energy and timing as much as you would issues relating to a technical question.
- Experience – be patient and develop your experiences. Do not attempt to race out of your projects without learning something from your projects. Be a student of what is taking place around you. Take time to reflect on what made a project a good project. And share those experiences with your teams.
- Past Successes – people want to be associated with and follow someone who has led teams to prior successes. Imagine if you were in the armed forces and you were assigned to a commander who lost his entire force in a prior battle. Chances are you would not feel too comfortable in following him. Share your successes, not by bragging, but simply by sharing that you went through something similar but the team handled it this way.
- Ability – what are you capable of? Your teams need to know. If you are a capable plumber, show your prowess. If you are great at smoothing concrete, show your team. They want to know that you are solid in your abilities. You cannot fake it until you make it – you have to prove your authority.
Remember, leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less. You must learn to develop influence in your company, on your crew and in your life. If you cannot influence someone, chances are you will not develop into a leader. Without leadership, there is no growth within your company. Growth and success are built on leadership.
Take time to reflect.
Take some time to reflect on how you influence your followers? Is it because they are intimidated into following? Or is it because they believe in your abilities to guide them through their growth process. Talk with your teams and ask them why they are following you as their leader. What areas of strength do you have? What areas of weakness can you improve on?
I encourage you to sign up for a free Construct-Ed account to learn more about leadership and how it can improve your business’s ability to grow and compete in the market. Please feel free to leave comments below or ask any questions regarding leadership.
Thanks for joining us and keep your eye out for more podcasts on leadership for the construction and remodeling industry.