Monroe Porter is a business columnist for Roofing Contractor, and we’re privileged to share his insights with our readers every month. He’s also the president of PROOF Management Consultants, a company specializing in seminars and business consulting for contractors, and the founder of PROSULT Networking Groups developed to help noncompeting contractors, so my guess is he’s seen it all when it comes to running a business.
If you’ll be in San Antonio for the IRE and you’d like to see him in person, stop by one of his seminars. He’ll be presenting two of them on Wednesday, Feb. 6:“How to Prosper as a Roofing Contractor” at 7:45 a.m. and “Be a Hero, Not a Zero: How to Effectively Lead Your Company and Crews” at9:30 a.m.
“I think most business owners and managers aspire to be a leader, but the day-to-day challenges of running their businesses get in the way,” he said. “We all have the best intentions of training and inspiring others, but when you are knee deep in alligators, it can be hard to remember that your mission was to drain the swamp.”
Porter defines leadership this way: “At PROOF© Management, we use the definition of leadership as influencing others to accomplish organizational goals. Notice we use the term influence. While we can’t make people do what they do not want to do, we can certainly encourage certain types of behavior. But do you take the time to reprioritize your company and set annual goals?”
Porter listed these six tips for improving leadership in your organization:
1. Commit to it.Establish a mechanism that forces goal writing and re-establishment of long-term priorities. We started our networking groups for contractors on a pretty simple principle. We felt it was important to get away from the day to day to focus on the long term. What is your mechanism to force planning? Without a commitment to an event such as an annual retreat, a board meeting or some other process, most companies simply never get around to it.
2. Be a bigger person.You are not nine years old anymore. Don’t be petty. Rise above the personal haggling and look to the big picture. If you want someone to like you, you can always buy a dog. It is important to be responsible to the organization and protect the greater good. Employees don’t need buddies. They need to work for a profitable business with leaders that protect the company and their livelihood.
3. Stay connected.Relationships fall apart when we disconnect and start to make decisions in a vacuum. There is a tendency to avoid confrontation and to build a case against the other party. Such isolation is not healthy and frequently will lead to poor conclusions. Leaders understand that clear communication points to choice and employees terminate themselves when their behavior is not appropriate.
4. Hire slowly, fire with honor.Build an organization of the best possible people. Don’t be satisfied with the next warm body that will fill a slot. Strive to continually improve the organization. When someone is not working out, simply move on.
5. Communicate a plan.You don’t see John Wayne in the old war movies yelling at troops that they are all going to die. Your employees want to know the boss has a plan and that your organization is a progressive place to work.
6. Don’t set people up to fail.All too often, we promote the next available person full well understanding that they are going to struggle. To make matters worse, we offer that person little support and coaching. Understand what people can, can’t, will or will not do. You might be able to teach a chicken to climb a tree but it might be a lot easier to use a squirrel for that job.
Remember, leaders get commitment, bosses get compliance. Leadership must be earned and is an issue of respect. You can be the boss, the boss’s son or have any title you want, but when the shooting starts, people follow the folks they believe in.