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Industry Perspectives: Transcend mere management and watch your bottom line soar

Janice Quigg
Industry Perspectives: Transcend mere management and watch your bottom line soar
Janice Quigg

Effective leadership is crucial to the success of any business.

But construction, with its web of interdependent activities, has some unique difficulties uncommon in other industries.

Some of these challenges include seasonal work, unforeseen conditions, delays, design errors and the uniqueness of each project. Without strong leadership, a project can quickly derail, resulting in significant losses.

Many people use the terms management and leadership interchangeably, but they are very different concepts. Managers are proficient in the so-called "hard skills," including planning, budgeting, directing, controlling and evaluating. Leaders excel at "soft skills," such as inspiring, influencing, motivating and creating vision and strategy.

Managers develop employees who work for them, while leaders develop people who follow them because they are inspired and motivated. To create an exceptional construction business, owners need to excel at being both a manager and a leader.

In this five-part leadership series, I will explore the components of my leadership model, LEAD (Leading with your heart; Excelling at conflict resolution; Adding value by serving others; Developing trust).

We’ll look each component specifically as it applies to the construction industry. Today, though, I want to open the series by looking at what international leadership expert John Maxwell considers the five levels of leadership: position, permission, production, people development, and pinnacle.


The lowest level of the leadership pyramid. You are a leader only because of your title and position. People follow because they must, not because they necessarily want to. Positional leaders usually find their people are only prepared to do the bare minimum to get the job done.


At this level, leaders develop relationships with their people. You acknowledge the value of your employees in any number of ways, which could include a bonus, extra time off, etc. At this level, people start to follow you voluntarily, because they like you and appreciate the way you treat them. You develop trust. This level is much different than the first as you become more skilled as a leader.


This level of leadership is where leaders not only create a culture where employees feel valued but also where productivity is high. People follow leaders at this level not only because of who they are but also because of what they have done for the organization. At this level, work gets done, morale increases, goals are achieved, retention increases and so does profitability.

People Development

At this level, leaders become exceptional because of their skill at empowering others. Leaders take advantage of their position, relationships and productivity to invest in and develop their people to become leaders, as well. Because there is growth in the number of employees taking on leadership roles, teamwork is enhanced as relationships deepen, loyalty strengthens and performance peaks. Leaders are powerful because of their ability to empower others. People follow leaders because of what they have done for them, and these relationships are durable, often lasting a lifetime.


You have achieved the highest level of leadership. Few leaders reach this level, the most difficult to achieve. Most people can learn to progress through Levels 1 through 4, but Level 5 requires a high degree of talent, in addition to skill and effort. At Level 5, leaders develop others to become Level 4 leaders. By doing so, Level 5 leaders foster increased opportunities. More than that, they create a leadership legacy. People follow them because of who they are and what they stand for in life. Leaders at Level 5 often transcend their position, their company and even the construction industry.

There is some debate about whether leaders are born or created. I believe that leaders are created when they focus on acquiring the skills necessary to catapult them up to the top of the leadership pyramid. Leaders, I invite you to reflect on your position in the leadership pyramid and how you might rise to the next level. What is your organization doing to develop those fulfilling the role of both manager and leader?

The second part in this leadership series explores the "L" in my leadership model "LEAD," being "Lead with heart."

Janice Quigg has extensive experience as a lawyer, coach, speaker and author and is a Canfield Certified Trainer who specializes in not only constructively resolving conflict but also teaches how to embrace it and use it to serve an organization’s goals. For more information visit Send comments to

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