Six Huge Lessons from Three Inspiring Women Working in the Construction Industry – Amanda Wilks

mickyates Career, ideas, Industry, Leader, leadership 0 Comments

While the gender roles have changed significantly over the past few decades, there are some fields that remain dominated either by males or females. One example is the construction industry which is traditionally thought to be a man’s industry. An increasing number of women have entered the field, though, and some have risen in the ranks to management.

They often must go to greater lengths to prove their worth to their male counterparts, but the bias against females in construction is improving. The best way to continue this progress is for leaders to tell their stories and give advice to those new to the field. Some top influential women leaders in the trade include:

  • Lina Gottesman
  • Katie Metcalf
  • Sarah Carr

Lina Gottesman: Find Motivation and Become an Expert

While Gottesman grew up in a family who all worked in the construction and restoration business, she studied nursing in school and worked as a critical care nurse. In 1989, she and her husband began their business, Altus Metal, Marble, Wood, for which she now serves as president and CEO. Gottesman is experienced in all aspects of the business, from proper techniques onsite to vendor relations to accounting and marketing tasks.

When speaking to a group of young students at Millie King Entrepreneurship Program about her success, one piece of advice she gave them was to believe in themselves even when others did not. She emphasized the importance of finding motivation and drive from within, rather than always looking to others for reassurance. Instead of asking for permission to succeed in a male-dominated field, she advised them to go after their dreams.

She also explains that there are different standards for each gender, and females generally have to prove themselves assets, something often taken for granted with males. The second piece of advice she has is to become an expert at the technical side of the business. It is much easier to take someone seriously when they have vast, workable knowledge about the subject area.

Katie Metcalf: Recognize Bias and Aim High

Working at Gardiner and Theobald, Metcalf is now a partner specializing in retail building at the construction consulting firm. When speaking about her career, she emphasizes the variability in tasks noting that, in the same day, she could be on site in the morning and in an office meeting an hour or two later. Metcalf is also an advocate for getting more young girls interested in a future career in construction.

She advises them to be completely aware of the gender bias before entering the field. People are not that used to the idea that women wear work boots, the bias still exists. Metcalf explains that she has always felt the need to prove herself when starting every new project. (Source) This may not be fair, but it did help her hone her skills early on.

In management, Metcalf can definitely tell that females are in the minority. While there is a gender wage and achievement gap in many industries, she is an firm advocate for women pursuing leadership positions. She advises them to make lofty goals and fight for promotions and equal pay. Future leaders need to continually develop leadership skills through education and new experiences.

Sarah Carr: Make Connections and Continue Learning

Carr serves as a vice president at McCarthy Building Companies and works to develop training procedures and won the 2016 ‘Executive of the Year’ award. She is a huge proponent of increasing gender diversity in construction and, to this end, even helped begin WiOPS.

She advises entry-level workers to find a mentor which might be hard in this male-dominated field. Carr discusses one problem in working with mostly males is forming a bond with co-workers, employees and vendors. It is often easier to make friends and associates of the same gender. Even though it may be uncomfortable, Carr recommends making an extra effort to reach out and form relationships.

Finally, she also advises that female workers in the construction industry be realistic about their own skills and continue to improve. Carr describes that male managers give more generic, less helpful criticism to females and do not give suggesting for improvement. She hopes to see more workers fight for the positions they deserve within the construction industry.

These featured construction managers worked their way up to leadership positions in a male-dominated field. The most remarkable thing about them, though, is that they now are reaching down and helping rise the next generation in the field. Their advice is summarized below:

  • Believe in self; self-reliance
  • Demonstrate skills in all areas of the industry
  • Work hard from the beginning to prove self
  • Set high goals within the company
  • Be aware of the gender bias
  • Develop relationships with co-workers

Having both genders represented in management within the construction industry is beneficial for companies as well as employees. Both individual companies as well as larger corporations offer incentives for their employees, providing career advice and mentoring services.

New research suggests that women might even help relieve the labor crisis in construction. Keeping the above tips in mind will help future managers excel in the field and receive promotions.

Followership: Respecting and Valuing the Employees Who Follow – Ryan Ayers

mickyates Leader, leadership 0 Comments

Somewhere along the way, seemingly everyone in the business world began to think that having leadership potential was the be-all and end-all of success. Obviously, good leaders are essential to any business, and people who want to pursue this path should be encouraged to develop and pursue their leadership skills. But what about the followers? The people on your team who aren’t “leadership material?” Do you treat them any differently from the people who dominate company meetings and come up with all the ideas? Probably. Though we try to avoid biases, subconsciously we often favor people who exhibit classic outgoing leadership qualities. That makes sense. But it’s also important to recognize the value employees who follow bring to the table.

Not Everyone Wants to Be a Leader

The first thing to remember is that not everyone wants to be a leader, and those who don’t shouldn’t be pushed into doing something that doesn’t interest them. Some people prefer to work quietly on their own, being part of the team and doing quality work. This is highly undervalued in the business world. Not everyone can be an executive, and we need people who can collaborate and work for the good of the organization without aspiring to leadership. We should only be encouraging people into leadership if it’s something they truly want and care about. It’s not an easy job, and it requires a lot of interpersonal interaction—something that burns many people out.

Skewing Perceptions of Leadership

One of the reasons it is unhealthy to glorify people with “leadership potential” is that some of the perceptions of leadership are skewed in this view. Instead of valuing true leadership traits, like emotional intelligence, integrity, and good communication, emphasis is placed on being authoritative and brash. True leaders don’t need to lead with an iron fist, because they inspire respect and loyalty through their actions.

Even today, people who prefer to be part of a team instead of in charge of one tend to be portrayed in a negative light. The implication is that if you’re not leadership material, you’re not a good worker. Of course, that’s nowhere near the truth. But it’s baked into American culture that to be successful, you need to go out and found the next Facebook. There’s a stigma associated with not wanting to be a leader, a stigma that challenges many talented people in their careers. This is most common in the business world—after all, no one is really looking at the leadership skills of a radiologist too closely—they’re more concerned about who can read the images with accuracy. That’s why, as a leader in a business setting, it’s important to realize the challenges some of your employees face, and make sure you respect and value everyone for their own contributions.

Respecting and Valuing All Team Members

You have all different types of people on your team, from people who are vocal about all their ideas to those who cautiously mention something brilliant once in a while. This is your team—and they all bring something extremely valuable to the table. Usually, people who don’t want to be leaders have other brilliant qualities—they work well in a team setting, aspire to produce high-quality work, and often explore their own ideas without seeking the spotlight.

Because of this, it’s important to leverage those talents as well as those of the energetic, persistent go-getter who aspires to leadership. Give opportunities for those quieter team members to share their ideas—whether that’s through a suggestion box or through participatory exercises in brainstorming meetings. Make sure there are opportunities for everyone to be heard in a way that’s comfortable for them—that’s when you’ll see the best of each employee.

Redefining Success on an Individual Level

As a leader, it’s important to think about success on an individual level. What are your team members’ goals? As a leader, you are responsible for not only getting the work your team is assigned done, you also have to think about your employees’ professional goals. You have the opportunity to help each person grow in the direction they want to—whether that leads to a data analyst job in a quiet room crunching numbers and data, or a chair in the executive conference room. Don’t try to look for “leadership potential” in every employee—consider what they feel would make them successful, and help them move toward it.