Good Leadership Can Be Taught - Up To A
By John Kreiss, President, SullivanKreiss
Those of us who run our own businesses or business
units give plenty of thought to leadership issues. When you reach an upper management position,
your most important contributions to your firm are the decisions you make and the guidance you
give to your subordinates. I've been devoting more attention, as my firm has grown over the past
few months, to the type of leadership I want to provide.
Leadership styles vary greatly
from person to person, and while some leadership qualities are innate, anybody who aspires to a
leadership role can improve their skills in other leadership areas. My friend and former
colleague, Kathryn Sprankle, who has consulted with AEC firms for many years and advises clients
on management and business planning issues, says there are several important leadership traits
that can't be taught: ambition, drive, passion for the
industry, and persistent optimism. But, Kathryn, who now runs
San Francisco-based Sprankle Leadership, believes other leadership skills such as organization,
interpersonal communication, and presentation can be improved with coaching.In fact, she says, a
lot of firms are offering one-on-one coaching to managers as an added benefit. Because most firms
today require principals to provide business leadership, not just technical guidance, employees
who aspire to upper management positions value such programs, and firms find them useful as an
employee retention strategy.
Having an outsider's perspective on tricky management issues
can be extremely valuable. I've augmented my leadership strategy and skills by working with an
outside coach, Elizabeth McAloon, of The McAloon Group (www.themcaloongroup.com). Elizabeth cites
these areas in which coaching can help AEC leaders:
- Maximizing and leveraging
strengths of emerging stars
- Enhancing communication
between management, staff, and teams as well as clients
- Using coaching tools to generate greater ownership and responsibility at
all levels of the organization
- Helping individuals
recognize ways to increase their range beyond their previously assumed
- Aligning individual and team
performance with organizational goals and vision
- Fostering creative
thinking that keeps the organization fresh and moving ahead of the
I've also found Elizabeth's advice on balancing work
and life issues - a major challenge for business owners-to be invaluable. Typically, coaching
takes place in four-month to two-plus-year engagements. Often, this consists of two or three
45-minute phone conversations per month. For coaching to work, it's important for the "coachee"
to be motivated to be self-analytical and willing to adjust his or her leadership style. And he
or she must have good chemistry with the coach. "Coaching is about the coach asking the right
questions, drawing out the answers from the client," Elizabeth says. "The client knows their
business better than anyone-the coach's job is to create the right environment to enable the
client to come to their own conclusions."
Here's an example of how a coach can help with
leadership issues from Elizabeth's experience:
|A client was a very
talented, driven leader, but with an overwhelming communication style. His daunting physical
presence, coupled with his dominating communication style, was limiting his ability to motivate
his team. He recognized that he needed to expand his range as a communicator and motivator.
Through a series of exercises, discussions, and coaching sessions, he has greatly expanded his
repertoire, has developed relationships with previously estranged employees, and expanded his
company's reach to a broader scope of customers. This has resulted in great productivity and
respect from staff, and opened some doors for business with new
Many times, upper management provides the impetus for a
promising mid-level manager to receive leadership coaching. "How you approach a person about the
need for training/coaching is critical," Kathryn says. It must be viewed as an
everything-to-gain, nothing-to-lose proposition. The coachee should have trust in the coach and
not worry about what the coach says to management.
Although coaches frequently work on
interpersonal skills, they do so on a practical level. "This is not highly touchy, feely stuff,"
Kathryn says. The advice or guidance tends to be down-to-earth and somewhat specific. Personally,
I've learned some valuable time management tips, and have developed a better appreciation of the
importance of delegating tasks. In my experience, coaching is definitely worth the time and
Reader response to foreign outsourcing article:
to all who responded to last month's article on foreign outsourcing. I received several notes
from readers expressing concern over how this trend could damage the U.S. AEC industry. I share
those concerns and will be watching how this trend impacts our business and our clients'
business. Please keep those emails coming. - J.K.
13 years of experience. Responsibilities include design and project management. The candidate has
a lot of client contact. He's currently working on several hospital renovation projects in the
$1-$2 million range in Rhode Island. Candidate has also worked on the design of several nursing
homes, assisted living facilities and laboratory projects. He has a Bachelor of Architectural
Engineering, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and is a registered Architect in Massachusetts.
Total income is about $72K. Project Manager / Facilities Manager - Construction
Expertise includes all aspects of construction and facilities management combined with
technical, analytical, and engineering qualifications. Candidate is a registered Professional
Engineer in the states of: New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and California. He has a B.S. in Civil
Engineering from the Mapua Institute of Technology. Project Manager and Engineer
in Denver, with over 23 years of diverse electrical power generation experience as project
manager, and electrical and mechanical engineer, providing independent engineering, owner's
engineering, asset valuation, plant commissioning/startup testing, operation and maintenance,
licensing, and design review of power plants. Experienced and knowledgeable with nuclear, coal,
gas, and oil-fired power generation facilities, cogeneration plants, geothermal projects, and
reciprocating internal combustion engine power generation facilities. Extensive systems testing
experience, in-service inspections and plant design modifications. Maintenance experience
includes performing maintenance evaluations and developing maintenance program/procedures,
including root-cause analyses. Extensive international experience; fluent in Czech and Slovak.
For more information on these candidates, contact:
Candidate, based in St. Augustine, FL, has over 25 years of experience in
residential construction. Experience includes land acquisition planning, construction sales and
warranty, residential subdivisions, and evaluations/renovations. Extensive experience with CAD
drafting, contact, business marketing, and business development. Candidate has many contacts in
the Florida area. Salary is in the $100K range.
Project Leader, P.E.
based in North Carolina has over 20 years of experience in the design and construction management
field. Proven areas of achievement include project management, facility design management, field
coordination, start-up and commissioning. Construction experience includes large-scale
manufacturing and pharmaceutical plants. Current salary is $95K. Candidate is open to
relocation in the North/South Carolina or Virginia area.
Candidate has 20 years of experience as an Electrical Engineer. Experience in
designing low voltage systems and power lighting, fire alarm/detection and suppression release
systems, electrical construction, and code interpretations. Currently, based in Washington,
D.C., he is upgrading central energy and designing electrical blue prints for operating rooms in
an area Hospital. Salary is $100K.
For more information on these candidates, contact:
To discuss these four candidates, contact Justin Roy at 508-393-0358, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidate has 25 years of experience, mainly working on large-scale Educational
andHealthcare Facility projects. Ideally, this candidate is looking to work in Project
Development/Construction Management for a real estate company or for a major institution. This
candidate is located south of Boston, and his current salary is
Located in the Boston area, this candidate has over 20 years of
experience. This candidate has worked as a Project Manager as well as a Construction
Administrator on multiple large-scale educational and healthcare facilities. Salary is currently
in the $75K range.
Corporate Real Estate Facility Manager
management and project leadership success at a large global financial services corporation with
offices in 23 countries. Exceptional skills in relationship management, team leadership,
strategic planning, project management, design, and furniture procurement. Fourteen years of
experience in leading and completing high profile, critical design and construction projects on
time and under budget. Managed a Design and Project Services Department with high performance
results. Extensive vendor management experience resulting in improved service and accountability,
and lowered costs. The current salary is $130K.
For more information on these
294 Crawford Street, Northboro, MA 01532 (508) 393-4933 TEL (508)
edited by Peter Fabris email@example.com, http://www.peterfabris.com
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