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Al’s column: How to pick your next leader

March 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 20

By Keith Martino

 

Ron is one of the most polite individuals you’ll ever encounter. You’ll never feel intimidated by Ron’s presence. He answers your questions as smoothly and predictably as the captain of a cruise ship. Within minutes of meeting Ron, you’ll know why he was recently promoted within a large French holding company.

Ron is pragmatically aggressive. He picks his battles carefully and is only aggressive in business endeavors when he sees a clear course to the winner’s cup. Then, and only then, does he press full throttle ahead. Ron prides himself in preparation so, just in case, there’s always an adequate stash of life vests onboard.

But wait—before you rush out and hire Ron to be the captain of your ship, don’t forget to consider Rob. He may be just what you need.

Rob’s persona is larger-than-life. He works fast and loves trading sports cars. In a crowd of construction CEOs, he can come across as a big, lovable teddy bear. However, when a casual conversation with Rob turns toward business strategy, Rob will magically morph into a hungry grizzly. He’ll show you how to eat your competition for lunch.

Should your next leader be someone who proceeds circumspectively like Ron? Or are you looking for someone who is a natural born hunter like Rob? Hint: If you need Rob but hire Ron, you’ll likely be seriously disappointed. Your patience will be exhausted. On the other hand, hire Rob and you’d better hold on to your hat.

Rob will enthusiastically and methodically pass every other car on the track. He’ll interject an energy you didn’t know was possible into every employee who is able to hang on for the ride. At the end of the day, Rob will have created new business opportunities you never thought possible.

Sure, Rob will occasionally break something, but when he puts your stock car back together it will run so much faster than before that you will be among the first to forgive him. Rob takes aggressive chances and then makes smart decisions based on the way the market appears to evolve. His ability to plan and execute simultaneously is uncanny. He shifts gears without flinching and leans into the turns. Ron, on the other hand, intuitively reaches for the caution flag.

Although their names sound similar, their styles are vastly different on a practical level. They each get the desired results when matched with the appropriate assignment. That’s why absolute clarity about which style of leader your business will need is so crucial.

Here are a few questions to ponder that may help you consider various leadership styles:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish with your company?
  2. How important is creativity/innovation in your business?
  3. Which is more important to you: growth, stability or something else?
  4. Do your key processes need incremental improvement or a complete overhaul?
  5. How much risk are you willing to accept to achieve your top objectives?

Another thing to consider when changing/hiring leaders is knowing your corporate culture. You want your corporate values to be firmly entrenched when you pass the torch.

Bottom line: Consider not only the qualities of the candidates you’re interviewing and/or screening, but also look at the needs of your business, survey the current climate and anticipate changes that might impact you in the future. In short, don’t hire Rob if who you really need/want is Ron.

 

Keith Martino is head of CMI, a global consultancy that customizes leadership initiatives in the construction, renovation and remodeling industries. The author of “Expect Leadership,” he has a passion for helping contractors and family construction business owners achieve stellar results.