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The Law of Respect – Leadership for Contractors

Introduction to the Law of Respect

07laws-of-leadership-for-contractors-course-imgOur discussion today will take a look at the Law of Respect.  This law is one of twenty one laws that author John Maxwell discusses in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.  We are going to look at how the Law of Respect plays fits into the world of construction and remodeling.

My name is Chris Jurin.  I am the CEO of Construct-Ed and I am serving as your guide through these podcasts on 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.  For more information on Maxwell resources, you can go to my Maxwell team website at http://www.johncmaxwellgroup.com/christophorjurin/

What role do you play in the construction industry?  Do you have a boss?  Actually, all of us have bosses.  Bosses come in many forms.  They may be actual supervisors or company owners.  But even company owners have bosses.  Bosses can include customers, stakeholders such as insurance companies or banks as well as government agencies.  

A loose definition of a boss is anyone or any entity that we have to be aware of and meet or exceed their expectations in order to remain in business.  That definition may create a bit of ojida for you.  But it also may help you understand some of the pressures that your boss may be under.  

Bosses who build rapport with their teams get a lot more from their teams.  Trying to lead a team without building rapport is kind of like driving a car with the emergency brake on.  It will be as hard as anything to keep moving and it will whine uncontrollably as you force it to move.  

What type of boss do you respond well to?  Notice I said “well to”?  We all respond to everyone, there are just some people that we respond better to.  What type of leader are you more willing to follow?  Is it someone that you respect or does respect not even factor into the decision?

Exploring the Law of Respect and how it relates to the construction and remodeling industries.

We have all been on many job sites.  And we all know that there are a lot of politics that take place on project sites.  People are constantly jockeying for position among each other.  Many crew members attempt to assert their position as their basis for their authority.  

John Maxwell has a great book on leadership called the 5 Levels of Leadership.  I highly recommend that you take a look at the book.  You can click on this link in the transcript of this podcast, go to my JMT website and click on the products tab. http://www.johncmaxwellgroup.com/christophorjurin/  

Search for the 5 Levels of Leadership.  It will really help you gain insight into these key levels of leadership and how to grow from one level to the next.

But there are times when we have been on project sites and a leader comes onto the site. You know that the leader is on site as everyone has a tendency to look towards that leader for guidance.  And more importantly, the first leader who was in fact running the project before the advanced leader arrived appears to hand the reins of the project over to the advanced leader.  They recognize and look to the advanced leader.

Why is this?  As John Maxwell points out The Law of Respect is built on the premise that “People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves”.

Leaders can be rated on a scale of 1 to 10.  What is your rating?  Even more important, what do others say that your rating is?

If you are an 8, you will attract leaders and followers who are at a 7 and below.  But, you will probably be more apt to follow or work with leaders who are a 9 or a 10.  If you are a leader who puts together a team to work together, how are you using the Law of Respect to organize your crews?  Are you building a level 8 leader to lead your crew?  Or are you attempting to have a level 3 leader lead the team which will never turn out well.

Recall the Law of the Lid – the overall success of the team will be capped by the leadership capabilities of the leader.  If you want to build a great crew or team, you have to build the leader of the crew.  This may require investing in a potential leader, or replacing a low-performing leader with someone much more capable.  

The potential to lead is based on the ability of the leader to earn the respect of those he or she is leading.  So how does someone earn the respect of their teams?

John Maxwell points out six ways that leaders can earn the respect of their followers.  Let’s take a look at how these six tools can be implemented into the construction industry.


6 Tools to help you Earn the Respect of your Teams

  1. Natural Leadership Ability – do you have natural leadership abilities?  

There are some people who are blessed with more leadership abilities than others.  Are you someone who can immediately command the crew or someone that people naturally look towards for direction?  There are rare individuals within the construction industries that possess natural leadership capabilities.  These people are few and far between.  They are the foremen and superintendents who can relate to everyone on their crews.  They produce results and remain unflappable in the face of adversity.

But, there is a pitfall that these leaders need to be aware of.  Overconfidence can become their achilles heel.  Be wary of reading your own press releases or drinking your own kool-aid.  Continue instead to build your leadership abilities.  Natural athletes still need to practice and be coached.

  1. Respect for Others

How do you feel about those that you are leading?  Are you comfortable with those that you work with?  Do you motivate those around you because of how you work with them and how you treat them?

The construction industry is famous for its initiations for new members.  It is a tight fraternity and most members feel threatened by newcomers.  Good natured ribbing can quickly turn into an abusive situation.

Build your respect for others that you work with and who work for you.  Make it a priority to lead your company, your team or your crew in a way that respects the contributions of everyone on the team.  Learn to see the contributions that everyone makes, and make it so that everyone can contribute to the team.

  1. Practice Courage

Construction projects have been referred to as the peacetime equivalent of war.  All projects to one extent or another are a disruption to the location where the project is unfolding.  Teams are attempting to accomplish something in the face of adverse conditions.

Roofing contractors who are replacing a roof are battling the weather.  A general contractor is attempting to marshal the forces of the specialty contractors to complete a project on time and under budget.  

Courage is defined as the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous.  Construction projects are difficult, and in some cases are dangerous.  No where else is courage needed more.

Courage requires boldness.  But a leader must be careful not to allow boldness to become arrogance.  Practice being bold and taking ground, but do not overextend yourself or your teams.  

  1. Build and Share Success

What is your average size project?  Are you a smaller contractor who specializes in small home remodeling projects?  If so, you have probably had successful projects at those levels.  As a result, your followers are willing to follow you into those projects and work alongside of you as you tackle similar projects.

But, let’s say for a moment that you are a interior renovation contractor specializing in kitchens and baths.  A former customer has asked you to tackle building a home for them.  Do you have success at that level?  If not, it may be harder for you to get followers to trust that you can in fact perform at that level.

Remember the Maxwell’s Law of Process?  Leadership is developed daily, not in a day.  Allow yourself the opportunity to build success stories as your company and your skills continue to grow.  At the same time, share your successes with your followers.  They want to know your successes.  It helps them build their respect for you.  

  1. Practice Loyalty

Loyalty is a rare commodity these days.  All to often people are ready to sell someone out for a nickel.  And employees are ready to leave their job for an offer of a $1.00 per hour more.  For leaders, the price of loyalty can be the difference between growing a team and having the team mutiny against them.

How do you deal with your problems with your people?  Are you someone who sees the good in people and looks to build them?  Are you able to look past some possible short-term poor behavior and help them get back on track or do you execute for a simple infraction?

Leading people can be difficult.  It is a fine balance between helping someone through a rough patch and having someone take advantage of your good will.  There are no rules that can be written for this.  You have to feel your way through the situation and make a call based on the situation that you find yourself in.  But, how you handle these sticky situations will not only speak volumes to the individual that you are addressing, but also to the remaining team that is watching.  And trust me, they are watching.

  1. Add Value to Others

When you appreciate the efforts of others and see the value in others, you look for opportunities to help them grow and build.  When you take your time and resources to add value and build others, they take notice and their respect grows.  

Practicing the Law of Addition (Chapter 5) in John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership will help you build respect among your team members.  And when you build respect, your leadership level grows and you are able to attract more followers and potential start to build other leaders.  

For those of you who are hockey fans, you may have heard the statement that you need to “Skate with your head up”.  This is so that you are ready to receive the puck when it is passed to you.  If you skate looking down, you are going to miss the pass each and every time.

When seeking to add value to others, learn to skate with your head up.  Look for opportunities, and attack those opportunities to take advantage of them.

Closing –

Respect in life is something that we all desire.  We want to be respected by our family, by our community and by those that we work with on a daily basis.  Respect is not something that we can demand, it is something that we must earn – and continue to earn on a daily basis.

One of the best ways that we can earn respect for those around us and from those that we lead is to respect them.  Respect who they are and the respect will be returned.  This does not mean to look to make them happy so that they will like you.  This isn’t a likability contest – it is focused on respect.  Continue to have courage for what you know is right.

As Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Have the courage to show someone respect.  Listen to others and hear them out.  And when the opportunity presents itself, speak your mind.  Build respect among your teams and you will reap the rewards.  

Thanks for tuning in to our discussion on the Law of Respect!  Continue to work on building trust and connection with your team members.  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.

Check out Construct-Ed (www.construct-ed.com) for more training and education resources related to leadership in construction.

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