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Tel: 0115 9699 925 | Email: maria@constructioncoach.co.uk

Archive for category: Leadership

Time to share the industry’s great examples of good
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Time to share the industry’s great examples of good

I’d like to say I’m writing this on a sunny day in August but unfortunately the Mediterranean has kidnapped the sun and is holding it to ransom!  Despite the weather I thought I’d share with you a positive industry message for a damp summer’s day.

I recently hijacked Ann Bentley, Global Chair of Rider Levett Bucknall (which I say incorrectly in the video, a bit of a red lorry, yellow lorry moment, apologies Ann!) and member of the Construction Leadership Council chairing the Supply Chain and Business Models work stream.

Myself and Ann sit on the Construction Industry Council main board and Ann acts as our link to the Construction Leadership Council. I remember when the CLC was formed at the same time that the Construction 2025 strategy came out, it has been massively paired down since then but it seems to have focus and direction to bring much needed change and act as an interface between Government and Industry.

Given that the majority of our industry is made up of SME’s and Micro-Businesses I don’t think enough people know who the leaders are and what work is being done on their behalf so I took the opportunity to do an off-the-cuff interview following a recent board meeting. It definitely is off-the-cuff, no flashy lights or flattering camera angles (not for me anyway!) I do, however have some proper microphones and shall most definitely be hijacking more industry leaders for future interviews, so watch out!

There is some great insights into what the CLC are doing in this video but the thing that really stuck in my mind was that they are looking for ‘great examples of good’. Ann’s viewpoint is that we know enough about what is going wrong in our industry but we can learn more about what is going right.

We build amazing buildings so let’s definitely share these great examples of collaboration, productivity and what we do best. Please feel free to post your great examples of good below with links.

Bricks and the City – May The Horse Be With You!
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Bricks and the City – May The Horse Be With You!

I’m writing this whilst trying to warm up as I’ve just been to watch the Chinese New Year celebrations at the University of Nottingham which ended in the most amazing fire works display.

Although I knew Chinese New Year was this weekend I hadn’t realised until I saw the Google (other search engines are available) doodle this week that we are coming into the Year of the Horse and we’re saying goodbye to last year’s Snake!

China has come up for me a few times recently as I worked on the University of Nottingham’s Si Yuan Centre which is a new academic building housing the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, the China Policy Institute and the Nottingham Confucius Institute.  Also, a couple of weeks ago someone left me a copy of ‘The Art of Strategy’ on my desk which is a translation by R L Wing of a classic book written by Sun Tzu entitled ‘The Art of War’ which was written between 480 – 221 BC.  I hasten to add they left that and a couple of other books on my desk, they weren’t laying down a gauntlet, at least I don’t think they were?!

So, mixing all of that together I decided to do some research into Chinese New Year and what the Year of the Horse will bring….

What I didn’t realise is that it’s a Spring festival, so we say goodbye to dreary January and we’re into Spring straight away!  It celebrates the start of the season of ploughing and sowing and the arrival of new life.  The date varies every year as it’s linked to the lunar calendar, the first date is the day of the new moon and it generally lasts for around 15 days ending with the full moon.

Having done some research on tinterweb the Horse year is a time of fast victories, energy is high and production is rewarded.  Decisive action, not procrastination brings victory and you have to act fast in a Horse year.  You could also end up galloping off in the wrong direction if you’re not careful!  Horses didn’t plough the fields in China, they helped to fight battles which brings me back to the Art of War!

Last week as well as rambling about random train journey conversations I also touched on Leadership.  One passage that stuck in my mind from the Art of Strategy is the Three Errors of Leaders:-

Leaders are those who protect the organisation.  If the protection is complete, the organization will be strong.  If the protection is flawed, the organisation will be vulnerable.  A Ruler can bring adversity to the Force in three ways.  The first one is:-

By not understanding that the Force is unable to advance and calling for an advance; Or not understanding that the Force is unable to retreat, and calling for a retreat.  This is called hobbling the Force.  This reminds me so much of what I think is so common in this industry, not understanding is the same as not listening if that person is not giving you the answer that you want to hear.

New year is also a time to set goals and targets and if you want to avoid galloping off in the wrong direction, having a clear vision and communicating that to your ‘force’ is really important.

Finally, having looked through some Confucius quotes today, the best one I read was:-

‘Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance’!

May the Horse be with you!

Bricks and the City – Mind the Gap
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Bricks and the City – Mind the Gap

I’m currently writing this on the train back from London following a day of site visits. I do enjoy going to London and one of the best bits sometimes is talking to complete strangers on the train. I’ve even done this on the underground as well although I always get nervous when I see the British Transport Police!

I acknowledge that one of the reasons why I can get away with making conversation with strangers is that I am from the North East and they probably think that I don’t know the ‘rules’ but I do! I lived in London for 5 years and I remember my parents coming down to visit me one weekend. They’d parked up where I was living and got the tube into central London and I recall thinking I’d better call my Dad to tell him not to make eye contact or talk to strangers and my Dad happily told me it’s too late for that and they’d been having conversations with every man and his dog en route!

The synchronicities of train conversations are amazing and I often find people who are reading books on topics that I’ve either been reading about or would like to read about. Last year I met someone who introduced me to the concept of Mindfulness which is something that seems to be written about a lot at the moment and I have a video clip on my blog of Jon Kabat-Zinn talking about it. I have to admit, I downloaded a mindfulness app called Headspace, the concept of which is really good although I do struggle to find the time to clear my head to do it every morning, something I clearly need to work on.

One subject area I’m really interested in is Leadership. I’d never really thought about the differences between Leadership and Management before but a recent train journey conversation with a very nice Italian lady who heads up a University Department got me thinking. Her view and that of a colleague I work with is that:-

Leaders lead by their energy, inspiration and vision

Managers manage by a pre- determined system/process

The construction industry is such a massive one with over 280,000 businesses and 3 million workers, out of that massive ocean of people, who are the ones to follow? Who are the trail blazers?

Last year I wrote about Construction 2025 which was launched on the 2 July 2013 which is an industrial strategy in partnership with the Government. It’s aim is to give a clear and defined set of aspirations for UK construction and a clear vision of where it will be in 2025.

One of the headlines in the report is:-

LEADERSHIP – An industry with clear leadership from a Construction Leadership Council. This is really positive but having googled (other search engines are available!) Construction Leadership Council all I can really find are links to articles written when it was launched last year, as far as I can see there has been no further guidance as to how the strategy will be achieved and I can’t find a CLC website (if this exists, please e mail me the link).

It’s great to have a strategy and a vision but clear communication is needed on how we are going to ‘mind the gap’ between having the vision and achieving it. What does it mean?, what can we do?, what are we doing well and what do we need to do differently?

My mission now (which I have accepted) is to ask some questions and get some answers. I will report back and update you on my progress. Now, where is that piece of paper I had with Vince Cable’s e mail address again……………..?!