Convert Competition into Clients with Transformational Leadership
The construction industry lacks well-trained leadership. If transactional approaches in corporate structures were working as a business model, there would not be this current war for talent.
Companies experience more energy and higher production when people lead authentically from internal values. Internally motivated employees fulfill their workplace’s needs to everyone’s full potential.
Ambition Theory loves to align with all women, including transgender women, in construction to fuel personal and professional growth.
Nadine Spiers is president and owner of Metal Depot, a metal roofing and wall panels supplier and full-service custom fabrication shop. Nadine has owned this nearly 100% women-run manufacturing company for 14 years. Nadine shows how authenticity, education, and values shape a culture that converts competition into clients.
Check What Success Reveals
Even excellence can be dangerous if it’s not grounded in a strong plan.
Look at what is going well and what isn’t going well. Everything can look good and fun yet be on the precipice of disaster.
When asking if the company is smart and healthy, be ready for vulnerable discussions.
If the processes, financial underpinnings, and capital underlay are not secure, the company is vulnerable to all sorts of threats. Get face-to-face with those incongruencies before they sneak up and wreck the whole foundation. Surround yourself with smarter people that have more skills than you have to build teams with great cultures and relationships.
Creating Culture Starts With People
Knowing who to hire–or which company to apply to–should begin with a reflection.
- What kind of lifestyle do you want to have?
- Who do you want to spend all day with?
- At the end of the day, how do you feel?
- Are you challenged to see, create, and do more?
- Does your role energize or empty you?
Get clear on what fuels your energy, and you’ll be able to influence your team to fuel itself. Check your ego at the door, and see what happens.
Nadine discovered that creating an attractive culture meant not having to recruit.
“We exude that culture that makes people want to work for us. We have become more intentional, and we are maniacal about our culture.”
Ambition should stem from core values. Ensure that everybody on the team is in alignment, not just on their particular job, but on how their work affects the overall operation, organization, and culture.
Values are Within
Nadine suggests working to illuminate core values.
Core values are already there. Whether you know them or not, they are part of the business culture. Illuminating them clarifies what they are, and it becomes easy to recruit the right people.
We can create the things we want.
Core values can be aspirational or accidental. Honesty and integrity allow for permission to play with new ideas for the good of the company and its people.
An example of an aspirational core value is being the best in the industry and doing whatever it takes to make it happen. Looking at the clock and dashing out as soon as possible is not trying to do the best work possible. Some values are what we aspire towards.
Nadine shows that although nearly 100% of her employees identify as women, she didn’t set out to form it that way.
“I’ve always said if the right person presents themselves, then they’re going to be the next on our team. It just happens that the best people have all been women.”
Values Influence Leadership Style
At Ambition Theory, we talk about transactional versus transformational leadership. Nadine values freedom and adventure, which influences her leadership style.
Serve the team by getting out of their way and letting them do their work.
The early years of any business always require doing every role in the operation. And it’s not right to ask someone to do something that the leader is not prepared or capable of doing.
However, as the business grows, give the team space, time, and resources to do their jobs. They’ve been hired, trained, developed, nurtured, and empowered to do their job. They don’t need the leaders there every day, making sure they do their jobs. They’re adults. Trust they are independently wonderful.
Nadine travels regularly, yet the company is thriving. Healthy and empowering leaders are not on the factory floor from morning until night.
Nadine has had to explain what transformational leadership looks like, even to competitors:
“I’m not there cracking the whip. It’s just not our culture. We would never dream of leaving our team in a lurch by just not showing up. I can honestly say over 15 years–maybe twice–I’ve had temporary staff who have had that kind of attitude that somehow along their way, they felt that that was acceptable, but . . . with our maniacal culture, people don’t do it.”
I’ve always been driven by lifestyle, never money. The business is always about the people. Travel and adventure make me whole, and I let my staff know what makes me tick. And then in doing that, they support me one hundred percent in allowing me to do what I need to do, which is travel.”
Micromanaging does nobody favors.
Competitors who focus on transactional leadership are worried about supervision and delegation. How many bodies am I going to have? How many bodies do I still need? Are people not showing up? Transactional leaders feel that others are not ready to contribute and are unwilling to correct behaviors.
Transformational leaders are free to create growth and influence other aspects of business by building trust in their employees. In construction and in the world, empowerment is a worthwhile legacy.
Nadine Speirs inspires and empowers other women to grow. They should not be afraid to bring that transformational and relational perspective to their jobs as they engage with staff, vendors, and customers. Transformational leaders create environments where people don’t have to be fearful of being ego-driven.
“We can do it one person at a time. Empower one person, and they’ll lead and be an example. I have some young women working for me now. I am not naive enough to think that they’ll stay with me forever, but if at 22 years old I can keep them engaged, inspired, growing, and challenged for the next few years, then I feel confident and happy knowing they will go on to do other things. We’ve created a benchmark for them to take into other organizations from what they learned at Metal Depot.”
Leading in Construction
Some folks still feel surprised that people who identify as women successfully lead all aspects of construction, but Nadine’s culture of mindset management is part of the training. Learning to leverage stereotypes for gain is fundamental to who they are.
Occasionally, customers feel surprised that women own, lead, and manufacture construction and remodeling materials within the beautiful Metal Depot complex. That surprise is what makes competitors recommend Nadine’s company.
When people see the employees at Metal Depot with expertise, knowledge, and remarkable experience, the results speak for themselves. People do not have to look like each other to understand and provide what is needed.
Build a Business that Would Put Our Business out of Business
Think about how a competitor could successfully take you out of the market. What would they do? Strengthen vulnerabilities with strategic choices in culture.
Nadine shares the four values that drive the company and its choices: own it, learn it, share it, and deliver it.
Own it. No blaming. Neither the company nor the customer is perfect, but our job is to make it right. If we make a mistake, we fix it. No questions asked. If the customer made a mistake, fix it with grace and help them. Help us both walk away with a good experience.
Learn it. No limits. If you don’t know something, ask to learn it.
Share it. No ego. No holding on to knowledge or expertise for fear of losing later. When we all share, we all grow.
Deliver it: Make it happen on budget and on time. No excuses–make it happen.
Personal Accountability–the Fastest Path to Success
Examining what fuels our ambition is a simple-yet-challenging gift we can give ourselves. Nadine says that looking in the mirror can radically position us for success.
Look at what drives our ambition. Instagram? Wishing for change is ineffectual. Wishing for different life circumstances, different bodies, or travel options merely degrades us. “I’m only” statements are a key indicator of misplaced ambition.
Recognize that the next second, whatever choice you make–whether it’s the thought, the attitude, emotion, or food choice–it’s all your responsibility.
It seems like a small thing to look in the mirror and say, “I am responsible for my current situation, whether that is good, bad, or ugly, and I can choose to change it within the next second.” Ambition is exciting and inspiring but also scary. Real energy comes when we embrace the I-own-my-actions path.
Once blame no longer holds appeal, the resulting ambition is true liberation.
Metal Depot is a leading manufacturing company in the Winnipeg, Manitoba area. Nadine welcomes you to contact her through Metal Depot’s website: metaldepotltd.com.