Chapter Corner

Leading People to Better Performance and Higher Profits

Posted in: Features, September/October 2015

BetterPerformance-Feature.gifLeadership – the action of leading a group of people or an organization. Certainly this definition is applicable to the contracting industry. This article seeks to help you think about your leadership skills, how they can be sharpened and applied to help lead your people to better performance and higher profits for your contracting company. There are many books on leadership practices that outline actions one may take to be a better leader. There are manuals that outline strategies and formats for leadership styles and there are even gurus that will come to your place of business and coach you on how to improve your leadership attributes. I hope you will take advantage of each of these tools because developing great leadership skills is a process that anyone, with diligence and hard work, can succeed in building. Your leadership skills are integral to the vibrancy of your business and are either the catalyst to stellar performance or the anchor that restricts your company from success.

Today’s workplace is so diverse that it requires great leadership to get people united in the common goal of taking care of customers. With so many groups working together in your business the ability to influence an employee’s thinking and actions is important in obtaining that common goal. The variance in education levels means the leader must help every employee develop the proper skills and the desire to complete their tasks with excellence. No longer will employees just do the right thing because the boss says so. Even if they do, they will only do it for a short period of time or at minimal levels. This means that you, the leader, must influence your employees to care about customers, deliver superior service and convince employees to do their work right the first time, each and every time. This task is monumental, but with proper leadership and time your efforts should be rewarded.

Working on such an immense task is an exercise in process and requires you to develop excellent leadership skills over time. You should not believe you can master all leadership skills in a short period of time. As many leaders will readily acknowledge, they learn new ways to lead each day. Just like any professional, you need to plan for your own personal growth and create a plan for developing your leadership skills. Personal growth and skill only come with practice and the proper kind of practice. Take a moment and review where you are investing your time and effort each day. I hope you find that you are devoting time to yourself, building your skills and, just as importantly, developing the skills of your employees. Leadership contains two critical components, serving others and showing others. Leaders actively seek and acquire the skills they need, then they share those skills with others over time. This investment of time and learning pays off and leads to improved performance and profits.

Serving others sounds counterintuitive for the leader of an organization because one typically believes that employees serve the leader. However, when you analyze the act of serving others you find that you serve your customers each day. Without satisfied customers there is no business! As you carry that thought forward you begin to realize that your employees deliver your services to the customer so they must possess the proper skills and commitment to serving your customers as well. When you serve your employees by helping them build the technical skills they need to be successful then you find you have followers. As a leader you are constantly building relationships with people and that requires dedication and service to the success of those relationships. Your employees need to trust you and believe that you have their best interest at heart so they can focus on serving the customer. Your service to the employee in helping them build their skills leads to impassioned service for your customers.

Successful leaders build the confidence of their followers by possessing knowledge and using that information to build a vision for their followers. A vision the follower understands; supports and visualizes as important to their success. Learning information about your business sector and making good decisions based on that information builds employee confidence in your leadership skills. The more times you show success in displaying your leadership skills the more your followers will trust your judgment and invest in the success of your company. Your successful track record of making good decisions and your capacity to improve your skills distinguishes you from your followers.

Developing great leadership skills is within your reach, but the price is high. Make a conscious decision to grow your leadership skills. Spend time reading books and reviewing leadership blogs. I highly recommend books by John Maxwell, a respected author and philosopher on leadership. He has a long legacy of helping people build their leadership skills. One book that Stephen Covey says “will change the way you live and lead” is Maxwell’s book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” Mr. Maxwell states that he wrote this book to make a short list of everything he has learned about leadership.

Be sure to leverage the knowledge of your peers. Many of them know the journey takes time and dedication, as good leaders they are willing to share their knowledge and life lessons. Your job as the leader of the organization is to galvanize your employees and teach them to serve customers in a manner that leads to a sustainable business and higher profits. You do this by wielding great influence on their actions and outcomes. Take time to share your vision, develop their skills and lead them to devoted customer service. Take time to develop and practice your leadership skills and the results will thrill you, excite your customers and lead to higher profits.

Todd Hawkins, CAE is the Training Director for IEC Atlanta & Georgia Chapters.