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The Buck Stops at Leadership


Construction industry business owners and managers continue to be stuck in the past. They fail to realize that, by squeezing out the last drop of productivity, cutting their overhead and costs to the bone, working harder, and continuing to do business the same way with the same old customers and project types won’t cut it today. Many of you ask what should companies do as the market remains flat or starts to improve. When companies don’t get the results they want, it’s not their competition, the economy, or their people. It’s usually the leaders who have gotten stuck, are not willing to try new ideas or change, and are not getting the results they need.

Start at the Top

Company owners are 100 percent responsible for everything in their company: sales, profits, growth, quality, customer service, organizational systems, people, productivity, cash-flow, and management. In other words, the buck stops at the top. Weak leaders blame poor results on circumstances beyond their control. Weak leaders sit and wait for something to happen, hope customers will call, want the economy to turn around, or wish some other miraculous event occurs quickly to change their fate. They don’t do anything different or decisive to make results happen on their own. Leaders have to do something and take responsibility for their future now.

Change Me First

Getting great results in this economy is an indicator of the leader’s vision and innovation. Real leaders make quick, decisive decisions to adjust and stay ahead of changing business climates. Poor leaders wait for something to happen and complain about everything except their own performance. Poor leaders walk into the office and say: "My employees are too slow and aren’t making it happen. My customers are wanting lower prices and don’t pay us fast enough. My competitors are too cheap and willing to work for next to nothing. I can’t make enough profit. Therefore, everyone will have to work harder and we’ll have to cut costs.”

Effective leaders realize they must have the courage to change themselves first before anyone will follow their lead. Effective business owners come into the office and say, "I’ve made a decision, I need to change how I manage, how I lead, and the direction of the company.”  They must have a vision of where they’re going, be willing to try new markets, different customers, additional project types, and go against the grain. Over ninety percent of employees rate their company leadership below excellent because they don’t see the company’s owners taking charge and going for the winner’s circle.

Are You Doing Something?

A common business challenge is to grow and make a profit. This only starts with the business owner having a dynamic focused vision for their employees to get excited about. People want to follow a leader on a mission. They won’t follow someone who is negative and complains about problems, the economy, the competition, and why they can’t compete. Leaders who really lead, stand up and say: "Here’s where we’re going, the changes we need to make, and how we’ll make it happen," instead of saying: "Work harder and we’ll see how it works out; and if we do well, maybe we’ll be able to stay in business and survive." This attitude doesn’t make people excited about coming to work and improving the bottom-line.

What’s Your Innovative Vision?

Effective leaders start with an innovative and exciting vision and connect it to specific measurable results. Some companies have visions to be the best company, offer the best service, or provide the best quality. While that’s an okay vision, it’s not exciting. Examples of exciting visions: be the leader in cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions while providing customers a unique, finished project delivered significantly faster than the industry norm; or be the ‘go to’ company for building difficult, complex projects that require technical expertise and engineering.

What’s Your Target?

After defining your exciting vision, specific results must be targeted to quantify your goals. For example, if your vision is to be the fastest service provider, determine what specific measurable results enhance your bottom line. Some specific measurable targets can include: a referral from every customer, no installation errors, or a 98% on-time completion. What specific targets and numbers can you shoot for to realize your vision and get the results you want?

It’s Time to Stop the Buck

Ask everyone at your company: "What’s the innovative vision of our company? What are we trying to accomplish, and what are our top three priorities? What specific targets are we shooting for?” You’ll get 37 different answers if you have 37 people in your company. To get bottom-line results, get everyone on the same page from top to bottom.

Leading and getting results starts with you. Change, innovate, and try new ways of doing business, new project types, new customers, and new markets. Communicate your exciting vision clearly. Define specific targets with expected results, and then make it happen. You can sit and wait, or stand up and get your company moving again. What’s your choice? Only you can decide if you will start the bucks rolling your way.

Business - Commercial Construction Industry

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This article contains general information only. Sunflower Bank is not, by means of this article, rendering accounting, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This article is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, before making any decisions related to these matters, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.