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Law of Magnetism – Leadership for Contractors

Learn the law of magnetism, for contractors and construction professionals.


Introduction to the Law of Magnetism

Welcome welcome!  I am glad you are back for another Construct-Ed podcast episode.  In this series we have been exploring John Maxwell’s best selling book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  We have been looking at how those laws can be used in the construction and remodeling industries.  In this episode we are going to be looking at the Law of Magnetism. My name is Chris Jurin.  I am the CEO of Construct-Ed which is an online elearning community dedicated to the construction and remodeling industries.  I am serving as your guide through these podcasts on leadership as we look at John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I am a trainer with the John Maxwell Team.  In addition, I serve as the president of a commercial roofing company as well as the president of a roof consulting firm.

In this episode and chapter, we are going to explore the Law of Magnetism.  What is magnetism?  Many of you have probably gotten a chance to see the most recent Star Wars movie that came out this winter.  If you missed it somehow, it may be time for you to crawl out from under your rock.  Is magnetism some sort of Jedi mind trick?  Does this mean that you need to start practicing your Darth Vader stance when you are talking with someone? No, don’t worry.  It isn’t time for you to borrow your kid’s light sabre.  Magnetism does not require you to practice some crazy process.  What it does require you to do is simple.  Be aware that you are going to attract people who are similar to you.  Take a look around you.  What do you see?  Chances are that you are not staring at a diverse crowd.  More than likely, those around you are reflecting who and what you are.  

Construction companies face challenges

One of the biggest challenges that the industry faces is overcoming the skills gap in the workforce. In part, the skills gap has occurred because of the age gap that has developed as well.  Read any trade magazine and chances are you are going to hear or read someone say that the greatest problem that the industry faces is attracting new talent.  Attracting new talent is in part a failure of the industry to recognize and respect the Law of Magnetism.  How does the industry attract new members?  How does it retain existing members?  The industry must recognize the underpinning of the Law of Magnetism – who you are is who you attract. The movie Rudy, is a true life story about the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger.  Rudy has a dream to play football for the University of Notre Dame.  By the end of the movie, he is allowed to dress and play with the Fighting Irish in his last game of his senior year.  His dream came true.  However, he was raised in a family where his dream was not recognized nor was it respected.  His father suggested that he forget his dreams.  But Rudy never let go. During his early childhood, his father downplayed anything that would allow him to be successful.  He not only lived this with Rudy, but also with his other sons.  The community itself appeared to be cut from this same cloth.  This was a great example of the Law of Magnetism.  They each kept each other down.  It took Rudy’s incredibly strong will to overcome the draw of the culture in which he grew up in.  

The Law of Magnetism is a law that can apply in both a negative and positive way.  A negative person will attract negative people to them and positive people will attract positive people.  

Exploring the Law of Magnetism in Construction

The Law of Magnetism is the ninth law in John Maxwell’s best selling book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  The law is built on the premise that “Who you are is who you attract”.  As with most industries, the construction and remodeling industry exhibit this.  Look around you and most likely you will see people surrounding you that have something in common with you. So, what qualities do you expect in your teams?  Most construction companies want someone who is technically competent.  But they also want people who show up on a daily basis.  And some may even want good leaders, depending on the position that the person is playing. Question for you – are you getting candidates and do you have employees who are meeting your expectations? If not, you may want to do a bit of self-reflection.  

John points out in his book that who you attract is no determined by what you want, it is determined by who you are.  So when you look around at your team members, are you seeing someone that reflects your best qualities or are you finding yourself surrounded by those who may be less than what you are expecting?  Is your foreman respectful of their crew?  If not, are you respectful of your foreman?  Your actions and how you relate to those around you will ultimately determine what type of team member that you attract. For example, have you ever been around a foreman that complains about his team?  Have you ever been around an owner of a company that complains about the attitude of his managers in the field?  If so, have you ever noticed any similarities between what the complaints are and of the faults in the person doing the complaining?  We have a tendency to be a critic of someone of our own greatest fault that we see in them.  

What are the most critical areas to examine?  

Construction companies and disciplines require a very specific set of skills.  The minimum skills typically include the technically related responsibilities of the position.  If you are a commercial roofer, you best be able to clean a roof for a patch.  If you are a plumber, you should be learning how to sweat a pipe. But what other areas are there?  John Maxwell suggests that there are seven key areas where leaders should reflect upon.  Some of these areas that should be examined are areas where you want to see diversity.  Others are areas where you want to make sure that they are reflective of your core beliefs.  And if you do not like what you see, there is no better time to change than now.  

Start by looking at generations.  Many of us have a tendency to feel more comfortable with people of our own age. For some this is more important than others.  But imagine if you are a young owner approached with the opportunity to hire a more experienced older employee.  Would you feel comfortable with the opportunity or would you feel threatened in having to figure out how to manage and lead someone older than yourself.  By limiting yourself to age, you can miss the great opportunity to gather experience and wisdom from someone with more experience.  

Next is attitude.  What is the overall attitude and morale of the teams that you have around you?  Is your team willing to run through a wall for you or more literally work longer and harder to help you deliver your project?  Or are they quick to clock out and leave you hanging?  There is another movie reference for you – this time it is Remember the Titans.  There is a scene in the movie where two players are arguing about an assignment that they were given to get to know each other.  The team captain chastises the other player for not giving it his all.  Julius snaps back at the captain by saying “attitude reflects leadership”.  WOW – powerful.  Is your attitude leading to you receiving the same attitude from your team?

Background is third.  What is your background?  And are you recruiting and leading a team that reflects that background above all else?  If your background is a strength, this may lead to your team’s success.  But if your background is a weakness, attracting more of the same will not be a benefit.  You may also find that your background is precluding others who may be able to contribute to your team’s success.  Finding a lack of diversity may also indicate a change that is needed.

Values.  When owners establish a business they need to cast their vision, establish their mission and declare their values for their team.  Values are in many ways the line that is drawn that no one will be permitted to step over.  They are the non-negotiables in business.  Do your crews and the services they deliver reflect your values?  Are your projects delivered in such a way that you can take pride in your name being on them?  This is not only from an owner’s perspective, but also from the leader at the foreman, superintendent or manager position.  Believe that your name is on all that you touch – are you willing to lay claim to the work that your teams have done?

Energy is critical.  Positive energy, especially in construction, can impact your ability to be successful on a project site.  Negative energy leads to low morale and can destroy a project.  More aspects of the project will suffer beyond just the profit of the project.  Is the energy of the crew down?  If so, is your energy down.  Remember, attitude reflects leadership.  Energy reflects leadership as well.

Giftedness or as I like to refer to it – skilled.  How talented are you in the areas where you are attempting to lead?  People join the construction industry looking for many things.  Some join just looking for a paycheck.  Others want to contribute to the end goal.  And if they want to contribute to the end goal and develop a career they are looking to learn from those around them.  They want to be trained and mentored.  In order to train and mentor, the expert must be skilled in their trade.  If you are not skilled or you have a weakness – learn to hire and let others cover for your weakness.  Admit the weakness.  Your followers can see it – it is easier to deal with when it is out in the open and someone else helps with the heavy lifting.

Leadership ability – recall the discussion about the Law of Respect.  In construction, people follow for many reasons.  Typically they will follow in the beginning because they want to get a paycheck and stay employed.  But that feeling does not take long to fall off.  They become discouraged and start to drift. People want to follow leaders that are stronger than themselves.  If you are attracting low level leaders, consider looking at yourself and raising your own leadership lid.  Build your skills and you will attract higher caliber people who can contribute to your goals.

Closing –

Look around at your company.  Look at those that you are responsible for.  And if you are not leading anyone, look at yourself.  What type of person are you attracting?  If you are not attracting anyone, ask yourself why not.  Everyone is a leader of themselves, but remember that leaders will attract others.  If you are not leading yourself, you won’t attract someone else.  And if you have been without followers for quite a while, chances are that you are performing well in leading yourself.  

Looking again at the Law of the Lid – everything rises and falls on leadership.  A leader’s lid puts a lid on the growth potential of the organization.  Are you happy with what you see around you?  If not, begin by working on yourself.  Increase your leadership abilities.  Work on your character.  Look at purposefully recruit those who match your core values but who have strengths that compliment your weaknesses. John Maxwell refers to staffing your weaknesses.  Everyone has a weakness.  Recognize it.  Be humble enough to admit it to those around you.  And then fill that weakness with someone who has a strength in that area.  The team will be more successful for it, and your team will respect you for your honesty.  

The John Maxwell Team has outstanding resources for helping you develop your leadership skills.  These skills can be developed in a way that will help you in both your professional and personal lives.  I would suggest that you look at resources including the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  You can access the online store for order these resources by going here.

Thanks for tuning in to our discussion on the Law of Magnetism!  If we can answer any questions for you on leadership topics, please feel free to list them below and we will do our best to get some answers for you. Listen to all the podcasts in this series here.


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