Chapter Corner

Managing is Leading: Find and Develop Your Personal Leadership Style

Posted in: Features, September/October 2015

shutterstock_227858710.gifThe highest functioning form of management is leadership. But there is an inefficiency in today’s market – not enough people know how to manage and lead. Too many managers look at only the bottom line, rather than the correct process you need to successfully get to that bottom line. Utilizing the right process in a forward-thinking way is true leadership. That’s what really separates the “great” from the merely “good.”

Technical skills are knowledge. You can learn that in a step-by-step format. But teaching people how to lead, communicate and be accountable is much more difficult. It’s a different mindset that says, invest in your people and ensure that they succeed. Then, if they don’t succeed, step in to provide accountability. In order to do that, we need to expend the same amount of time on the management side as we do the technical side. Then we can develop spectators into truly effective managers.
It’s time to stop being a witness and start taking action. Learn how to reinforce your leadership skills to find a new, value added approach to being productive. With this in mind, there are five key elements of leadership that need to be emphasized if you are to be highly productive, effective and efficient. Let’s make our way through those elements.


The supervisor and employee should reach mutual agreement in five basic areas:
  • The work to be done. Explain the quality standards and set a deadline for each task.
  • How the job fits into the total picture and why it is important.
  • Define the performance factors, e.g., quality; quantity; job budgets; safety, and material and equipment control; and customer relations.
  • How and when performance will be measured. It may be through quantitative measures or a series of statements describing satisfactory performance.
  • How performance will be rewarded, e.g., a pay for performance system.


Accentuate the positive. Give your employees positive reinforcement when they do something well. Make sure the feedback is specific, timely, and relevant while focusing on results accomplished. This type of feedback, like other leadership techniques, is another way of creating ownership for one’s job. Remember, when you reinforce positive behavior, it tends to repeat itself.


Effective leadership requires a network of communication that is both company and employee centered. An approach to communication that goes beyond basic job information can accomplish several things. It promotes a sense of identification, a feeling of being a key member of the team. This in turn fosters the interest, commitment and closeness which are so important to harmony and cooperation. A sound communication system breeds involvement and decreases the likelihood of an employee stating, “I just do my job. That’s what I’m paid for.” When people feel valued, they tend to be more productive and will enjoy coming to work every day.


Give people the freedom to do their work without constant interference. Take positive action when an employee makes a mistake – be a coach, not a critic. Provide help and assistance in problem-solving as opposed to always giving the answer. Get them to specifically identify the problem along with the underlying causes. Ask them to provide suggested solutions.


Delegation is sharing responsibility and authority with others and holding them accountable for performance. Delegation is like a “three-legged” stool: each depends on the others to help support the whole and no two can stand alone.

  • Responsibility: the tasks to be completed on time with quality results.
  • Authority: the amount of decision- making power you will give an employee.
  • Obligation: the employee’s promise to complete the tasks in an effective and efficient manner.

When delegating, the supervisor must do the following:

  • Think and plan first.
  • Know the strengths of your people and delegate accordingly. Select the right person.
  • Clarify the results expected.
  • Decide on controls and checkpoints.
  • Be sure to follow up – check, assess, coach and correct.

It’s also important to review and understand exactly what type of leader you are and how that role fits with your team. Your leadership style directly impacts productivity, so it is essential to identify how you operate and how you can make it better. With that in mind, let’s go over the three common types of leaders:

Dictator – My Way or the Highway!

“I’m the boss and I say what goes. Just do it – no questions asked.”

This style tends to have a negative impact on productivity.

Laissez Faire – Do what you can, I hope you like me.

  • Tends to be a positive person, but ignores sub-standard performance.
  • Doesn’t like to hold people accountable.
  • Has a high need to be liked.
  • This style also tends to have a negative impact on productivity.

Team Player – We’re all in this together.

  • Establishes a positive work climate without sacrificing what needs to happen to get the job done and done right. This type of leader believes in a collective effort to achieve positive results. Establishes a Partners in Productivity climate with an emphasis on productivity and profitability – everyone is important. This in turn, establishes trust and respect among all team players on the job.

  • This style of leadership will have a positive impact on improving productivity and maximizing profits.

It’s all about answering the question, “What type of leader do I want to be?” In the end, besides being an effective manager, you must also be a formidable leader by committing to an ongoing process of inspiring excellence in others. The process cannot be broken down to “command and control.” Rather, it’s about marshaling the talents of others to do their best work, day in and day out, while remaining adaptable and flexible to challenges as they arise. Bottom line: move forward and implement these leadership elements to get to the next level of management.

Norb Slowikowski is a Productivity Consultant who has been working in the Construction Industry since 1982. He is the author of the book, “Hard Hat Productivity: 9 Critical Factors for Maximizing Profits.” For more information about his programs, contact him at