Turbo Leadership Systems

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September 15, 2009 Issue 243 To our clients and friends

Clean Up Your Act

Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Appeal to their noble motives.

Wayne, a project superintendent for a large building company in southern Oregon, told the Leadership Development Lab:

"In August 2005, the company I was working for at the time had taken over as general contractor on a University of New York project in Albany, New York. The condition of the project site was very bad, with construction debris from every crafter strewn all over the site. I can't remember a time when I had seen this much clutter.

There are at least four reasons why an unkempt job site is unacceptable;
1. Poor productivity for all the subcontractors, all the crafts;
2. Low morale, lack of esprit de corps, pride and teamwork, which leads to craft disputes and a lot of territorialism;
3. Safety risks, including OSHA violations, and finally,
Very poor client relationships, complaints, letters, and excessive withholds at the conclusion of the job.

My manager instructed me to get the building site cleaned up. I called a meeting with all 130 of the union workers from the various trades on the project. After thanking them for showing up, I informed them that I would be assigned to another job our company was starting in a few months, before this project was complete. Then I went on to say, 'You will still be here and looking for more work in this community and on this campus. In other words, 'This is your project your chance to show the college what you can do' and reminded them how a clean, tightly professional jobsite would reflect on all of their various individual subcontracting companies. At the end of the meeting the project foreman suggested a composite clean-up crew made up of representatives of the key subcontractors. In one week, the building was completely cleaned up of all debris. It was like day and night. It was one of the

cleanest sites I have ever worked on. I may have been projecting, but people seemed to move faster, more briskly. There were more smiles, and there seemed to me to be greater cooperation between the subcontractors all around.

The lesson I learned from this experience is the importance of leading from high ideals, the power of Leadership Principle #15 - Appealing to their Noble Motives, to their pride and professionalism. The action I call you to take is to set high standards, throw down a challenge (Leadership Principle #10 Stimulate Competition), and appeal to the noble motives of your team. The benefit you will gain is performance that will exceed anything you will ever get with threats and intimidation. Always remember that you can make a difference. Your job as an empowering leader is to secure the discretionary effort of your team. That is you job."

Yes, Wayne is right, that is your responsibility as an empowering leader. I defined empowering leadership a long time ago as "bringing out the best so results exceed high expectations". How do you measure a leader's success? What is the test of an empowering leader? Are you securing the discretionary effort of your associates? Are your associates willing to sacrifice for your cause? Are they disciplining their peers? Are your associates aligned with your values? From what I can tell, Wayne passed the test Wayne is an empowering leader.

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