John Macdonald is a respected and experienced Superintendent on the Shiel Sexton team with over 40 years of industry experience. He has written multiple perspective pieces in our newsletter about his role as a Superintendent including: We Are About Change and A Breed Apart.  

In my years in the construction business I’ve gone through many stages of growth and I’ve learned to be a more effective leader.  I believe the one overarching theme is communication.

I’ve always believed that one is either a leader or one is not. These are innate qualities that are not easily learned. They can be taught, but with varying degrees of success. A person which is technically superior can’t just be taken, placed in charge, then expected to be an effective leader. 

There are several parts to effective communication. Two of those are listening and speaking. You should always listen to the opinion of others, whether from a laborer or a client. This doesn’t mean decisions are made by committee. The decision is still yours, but again there are options. At times articulating my plans can be challenging. In my mind, I’ve been clear, but to others this is not the case. Clear and concise communication is important. Make sure people understand the plan as you’ve explained it. 

Another part of effective communications is refining your people skills. I’ve known people who believe they have great people skills, and they do, as long as they’re communicating with a superior or at least an equal. These skills desert them when they’re speaking with someone they feel is inferior. They are often condescending and abrasive. There is an adage I read recently that applies here – “leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say”.

As a leader, the goal is for everyone to be working together. A team atmosphere is not being created by alienating members, but by effective and collaborative communication. Everyone should be treated with the same level of respect and have a voice whether they’re a laborer or the CEO.  In both cases taking responsibility for your action is pivotal to good leadership. Without honest introspection there is no growth.

The Messenger | September 2019 | More from this issue