There is a sharp contrast between being a manager and being a leader.
John, Business Unit Leader, for a general contractor in Battleground, WA, told Session 3 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“On April 2, 2014 I was sitting in my job shack outside of our company offices pondering my current position and my future. Our firm had recently reorganized the field operations of the company into strategic business units. I had been selected to lead the Heavy Highway business unit. I had been an estimator/project manager for many years, and had been involved in a variety of successful projects. I have always taken pride in personally developing great relationships with the owners of my projects.
“Here I was now the leader of our newly formed business unit responsible for growth and profitability. Now, instead of running projects, I had all of the estimators, project managers, superintendents, foremen, and field staff answering to me. I had worked with some of these groups before the transition. I knew, or knew of everyone but had not worked directly with them. To say that I was not “committed” to leading this strategic business unit would be a dramatic understatement. I questioned whether or not my new team had the skills and abilities to successfully run projects, and develop the owner relationships, as well as I had over the years. Now I had to trust and empower my team, with the owner relationship aspects of our jobs. The people parts of projects are the things I have always taken so much pride in being able to do so well.
“I have taken many risks on projects and they have usually paid off, but they pale in comparison to the payoff from the risk I’m about to mention. The risk I took was committing to being a “leader” rather than a manager. I committed to supporting my team and believing in my people. Seventeen consecutive months of profitability have followed and our team has built incredible relationships with many new customers. I look back now and can’t believe I questioned my team’s abilities.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that when I “believe” in my team and show it by letting go to empower them, they accomplish amazing things.
“The action I call you to take is to trust your team and show it by letting go, by empowering them with responsibility and authority to do what must be done to run your projects profitably. “The benefit you will gain is a growing team that grows your projects. A team that builds great relationships as they build great things.”