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Three Leadership Attributes Every Employee Will Follow

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Construction leaders must possess a variety of attributes, characteristics and qualities to earn the respect and loyalty of their employees. However, for an employee to become—and remain—a life-long follower, it’s wise for them to develop and refine these three characteristics above all others: caring, communicative and consistent.


If Leaders Don’t Care, Why Should Their Employees?

All employees want their leaders to show they care about them as people—their wellbeing, their family and their interests. Making a personal connection with each individual goes a long way.

Employees also want their leaders show interest in their ideas, opinions and future. Do they care enough to invest in their professional development while providing ways to advance their careers?

In construction, employees especially want to know their leaders care about their safety. Do they provide high-quality PPE and the right tools to do their jobs—whether in the field or in the office?

All employees desire to be treated with dignity and respect and to work in a positive environment. To make that happen, the formula is simple: listen more, think more and act more.

With busy schedules in a fast-paced industry, construction leaders can’t take their employees for granted or become complacent in their acts of consideration. It’s essential for them to intentionally show they care.

If Leaders Are Not Communicating, Who Will Employees Listen To?



When little or no communication from leaders prevails, a negative outcome follows. Whether it’s chaos, conflict, anger, confusion, mistrust, waste or something else, leaders in the construction industry cannot afford any of these. The risks of dealing with injury, inaction, wrong action, financial loss or employee turnover are simply too high. 

Ineffective communication occurs in a department and between departments, setting up costly problems that can take years to overcome. Employees welcome these kinds of messages:

  • transparency to build trust;
  • honesty to build credibility;
  • clarity to cut through potential confusion;
  • inspiration to deal with challenging times;
  • timeliness to minimize surprises;
  • appreciation for their efforts;
  • positive versus negative language;
  • understanding, encouraging and supportive; and
  • authoritative without being overbearing.

Informed employees make up the components of an engaged and productive organization. To fully motivate them, construction leaders have to employ a variety of communication strategies effectively. The exceptional ones become masters at finding the right communication technique for each situation. 


If Leaders Are Inconsistent, Everyone Notices 



When leaders show they care and constantly communicate well, then the key to long-term employee success lies in their consistent actions. The three areas of highest importance for consistency include character, accountability and decision-making.

Character
To earn trust and respect requires leaders doing what they say they’ll do—all the time. They show character through living the values of the organization. As an example, when employee respect is a value, good leaders treat their employees respectfully in all situations while cultivating a culture that supports this value throughout the organization.

Accountability
Consistently holding themselves and others accountable preserves the leaders’ credibility. They know that regarding mistakes as a learning experience is understood by employees, but tolerating mediocrity is not. Not consistently holding employees accountable for their performance and behaviors can lead to leaders being viewed as unfair and untrustworthy.

Decision-Making
Exceptional leaders use their organization’s vision, mission and business values as their guiding light to making good decisions. Because these values form the foundation of the business, ideally every decision supports that foundation. When a decision does not, employees notice. What follows is confusion and uncertainty about the right direction to take. To guard against this, leaders have to allow for time to think, plan, reflect and anticipate.

Any leader who doesn’t show caring and who doesn’t communicate consistently is headed for trouble. What can set in? A culture that lacks trust and understanding, a rumor mill that won’t stop and a disengaged workforce with high employee turnover.

Reprinted from Construction Executive, Dec. 8, 2020, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

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