Southland Industries’ Michelle Peters and Jessica Baker recently collaborated with Pankow Builders on a Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) panel featuring six unique individuals. The panel focused on how leadership impacts the success of projects, careers, and lives. After sharing some startling statistics, the panel discussed a few tools with the audience to encourage future leaders to take hold of their leadership development.

According to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, only 9.1% of the construction industry is made up of women. Although construction is a non-traditional career path for women, many industry leaders are trying various tactics to increase the percentage of women in construction. With such a low number of women in the industry, it becomes vital for females to feel encouraged to lead and to advocate their skills. The leading ladies of the DBIA panel highlighted four tools they found helpful throughout their journeys to becoming industry leaders.

  • Structured Programs: Many industry organizations offer formal developmental programs, while others may not. At Southland, there are a few tools already in place for employees, such as our Built to Lead If your organization does not have an existing program, there are resources out there to help you develop one. Whether you are provided with these resources or not, there are other existing tools pertaining to leadership, including Ted Talks, online learning, mentorship, and other resources that lay out how programs should work. By seeking out various resources, you can develop a program that allows you to hone in on your own skills outside of your formal working environment.
  • Self-Advocacy: Whether you are in a program designed by your organization or you stepped up to the challenge of crafting your own, you must be a self-advocate. To develop as a successful leader, it is important to find a mentor you admire. Seek out a leader who has been in your shoes and is in a role that you desire. Work with them to understand their journey and learn from their successes and failures. If your true passion is to become a woman in a leadership position, be a self-advocate.
  • Coaching: The sole purpose of coaching is to ask thought provoking questions that encourage individuals to self-solve problems. To find the perfect coach for you, it is important to find someone you are comfortable with–and preferably, with an outsider’s perspective and unbiased opinion of your daily tasks. You need someone who can ask the tough questions and walk through concerns or conflicts. With coaching, skills are constantly being developed, which inspires individuals to further expand new skills needed both in and out of the workplace.
  • Grow: The GROW model is a simple tool that can be used to develop yourself as a coaching manager. It provides the right framework to allow employees to gain their own insights into problem-solving. This specific model can be used to identify the goal, understand the realityof the current situation, brainstorm options, opportunities, and obstacles, and commit to action on a way forward.

Anyone can utilize these tools for leadership development. The key is to use these tools to inspire and encourage you to seek out further developmental skills. The best way to start is to pick one of these tools to focus on and further develop your leadership ability. The only way a leader progresses is by taking action.

The key to succeeding in the construction industry lies within you. Find yourself a mentor who can coach and stand up for you, but also learn to stand up for yourself. Know your value and what strengths you bring to the table—and make them known. Above all, be open to learning. With such a low percentage of women in the construction industry, it’s important to be open to learning from those who have already found success.

What tools do you rely on to develop your leadership skills? Let us know in the comments!


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