The unique team traits of good leadership – How we lead people at Woods
From a personal perspective, good leadership stems from trust and giving people the confidence in themselves to proceed or make decisions. When good leadership is present in an organisation, there are unique team traits that come out of this. Unique traits that we are proud to see every day here at Woods.
A sense of ownership of projects.
If a team has their leader’s confidence and trust to do the job, it becomes a bit more personal. They tend to believe in themselves and take more ownership of the project, or the job, that they’re dealing with. Certainly in our industry, there are a lot of self-starters and people who like to get things done so it’s important to give them that opportunity – within boundaries. Often, it becomes a bit more than a job, which is part of our culture at Woods: work should be more than just a nine-to-five, you need to enjoy what you’re doing.
High retention of experienced staff.
Over the last 10 years, Woods has been able to keep many of our staff who have now become the engine of our business. Good leadership breeds good leadership. Our senior staff members are now experienced, they’re competent, they have good contacts, and they know what they’re doing and are good communicators. This results in the teams below them functioning effectively, and enjoying their work, because of our senior members’ leadership and their knowledge. It’s a virtuous cycle.
A positive workplace and culture.
We’re proud of the culture, vibe, and team we’ve created at Woods. Third-party testing of staff engagement and workplace surveys provide positive results and we received Aon Best Employer in 2017 which gave us further external verification or validation of what we believe are the benefits of good leadership.
Long-lasting client relationships
Some of our land development clients have been with Woods’ since the early ’90s. Our people have a reputation for doing a good job and taking ownership of the job – not just the successes, but also the failures. At Woods, if it’s a mistake we’ve made, we’ll accept it and be responsible for it. Our clients appreciate that honesty. They also know that their job is important to us because they see the teams are taking ownership of the projects, they can see that it means something to our people – clients appreciate that too.
Here are five of the essential elements of how we lead people at Woods:
1. We trust our people and their advice.
You need to trust the advice that you’re given by your peers, and you need to trust the people that you’ve given the responsibility to do the job. Let them know that they have your confidence, that they have your support throughout the process – if things get hairy or a little bit squeaky they need to know that you’ve got their back. Keep a watching brief, but without interfering, and then be there when they have questions.
2. We monitor the ability of our people to have a work-life balance.
Although work is important, families are important too. Generally, we are all family people at Woods. We don’t want people to be working 50-60 hours a week consistently; it shouldn’t be like that. If our people need to work extended hours, consistently, that interrupts their family time and we need to change things.
3. We treat our people as equals in terms of value.
At Woods, we have a culture where everyone is in it for the right reasons, and we enjoy what we do. While we have directors, senior management, and senior leaders – that hierarchical structure is based more on responsibilities. There is equality in the way we run our business; everyone has to do all of the same things, and everyone is of value. Everyone has to fill in timesheets. Everyone has to log their annual leave.
4. We are upfront, honest, and courageous in all we do.
In whatever dealings you have with your client, or your staff, be as upfront, honest, and courageous as you can. You’ve got to be able to say, “Yes, we’ve made a mistake,” or, “No, this wasn’t our fault or error,” and front people about pertinent issues. As a leader, you have to make the hard call or big call, sooner rather than later. Once you have researched it properly, or you have the right advice, don’t put it off or defer it to someone else. Front up, be courageous.
5. We let go of the steering wheel.
Part of our culture at Woods is that our leaders are ready to let go of the steering wheel and give it over to someone else. Of course, you have to do the work leading up to that stage to have confidence that they’re not going to steer you into the ditch, but at some stage, you just have to take that leap. Put in enough provisos or coverage that you can pick it up at any time.
It might feel like you are never ready, but you can start with a gradual approach – just let out a bit more rope and if your people are succeeding, then give them some more. As you start to see the unique team traits that come from good leadership in your organisation, this will give you and your team the confidence to succeed.