I think the challenges we face today will teach us to look within in adverse times, and seize the opportunities for growth and learning.

Leadership in today’s unpredictable landscape

Our company is our people. As president of CDO Group, I think about that every day. What we do and how we do it is a reflection on each and every one of us. Ask me and I tell you that when we take on a job, we take it on as a family.

That starts at the top. And in these extraordinary times we are operating in today, the pressures and challenges have risen to new levels. When most companies were forced to shut down when the pandemic hit at full force, companies like ours stay in the fight. As essential workers, we kept the same diligence under adverse circumstances.

When we started CDO Group in 1998, we started under the premise to provide better construction. Over the years, the standards and procedures we use have expanded. Working together, we do what needs to be done to finish the job.

So yes, today’s landscape has changed the game a little, leading to scores of questions about safety, processes, and what it takes to succeed when success seems ominous.

As a former construction attorney with years of experience in construction law, litigation, and procedures, I thought I would take some time to offer insights into how we approach today’s jobsite protocols and how leadership factors into the process.

What does the mantle of leadership mean to you?

It means several things. A great leader is someone who, through his or her support and example, allows others to grow. A leader must also trust and respect, not be afraid to fail or get his or her hands dirty when necessary, and always be accountable. Leadership has some tricky lines to master. It requires allowing others to shine while holding yourself accountable for any result or failure. The mantle means that I assume a leadership role and all of the responsibilities that go with it.  

Why is it so important in times like this to be a good leader?

There is so much adversity and unknowns. A good leader must be able to see and seize opportunities as they present themselves. To lead is to recognize the weaknesses proactively, step up to the plate, and act. This is easier and simpler. But in periods of crisis, like we are facing now, a true leader must identify the challenges and do something about them. It is through our steps and actions that actual change and innovation happens. It is where real growth and survival occurs. It is an opportunity to seize the real moment of growth.  

What are the three traits that define any good leader? 

Leaders must be effective communicators, accountable, and passionate. To be an effective communicator means knowing when to talk and, conversely, when to listen. More importantly, it means being open and available for both talking and listening.

Being accountable means displaying the values you want your company to be. If you want people to take ownership, you must be a responsible leader. It is imperative to take ownership. 

When you make a commitment, you must be seen meeting those commitments. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Passion means having a clear vision. You must be future-focused and have the capacity to engage others to realize the goals.

What do you think leaders in our industry must do keep morale strong today?

You must share your company’s vision. Let your team know where the company is heading. Be positive and clear about that direction. Also, you must make every single employee feel part of that vision. I think employees want to be an integral part of the company. They want to be a contributing factor to the company’s success. At CDO, we are a family. It is our goal that everyone feels like they make a difference—they are an integral part of what we do. That inclusion creates a great culture and incredible pride.  

The virus has made job sites more challenging to navigate. What precautions should contractors take? 

There are organizations in place dedicated to protecting the job site. Do as these they suggest. For example, OSHA recommends, among other things, that contractors should:

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they are sick
  • Allow them to wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent spread
  • Increase personal space where possible to at least 6 feet
  • Promote personal hygiene
  • Clean and disinfect/fill sanitizer dispensers
  • Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns

If we require our children to take such precautions in schools, we need our employees to follow the same requirements on our jobsites. If a seven-year-old can do it, we can, too. At least for now, we are all dealing with this virus together.          

How do you enforce these precautions when using subs?

The bottom line is that enforcement is leading by example. You must communicate your expectations and hold everyone, including your own team, accountable. You must be passionate about it. Sound familiar?

What are some of the changes CDO Group has implemented in this regard?

At CDO, jobsite safety is as important as getting the job done on time and on budget. Having said that, CDO holds itself accountable to following the suggested health guidelines. Wearing masks, sanitizing, and social distancing are implemented and encouraged. These are small changes and small sacrifices in the grander scheme of things. We should be thankful that, for the most part, our industry is still producing and performing during this time. I think we all need to show some gratitude.

What is the best way to navigate construction conflicts?

Given my background in law, I’d say you have to deal with the conflict early, at the onset. You also have to be fair. By its very nature, “construction” means problems. You must understand going into every project that there is no perfect job and no perfect world. Communicate the issues promptly, and at the moment they arise. Then, no matter what side of the coin you are on, deal fairly. One thing I know is that relationships are king. It’s a small, small world.  

What are the best ways to be totally prepared across all fronts as it pertains to safety on the jobsite?

You have to make sure that safety is part of the daily norm. Make it the pattern and practice, or the regular routine. It should be like brushing your teeth. Don’t treat it as a nuisance or a forced requirement. Make it integral—safety first. 

How will what is happening today transform our work processes and procedures moving forward?

I think the challenges we face today will teach us to look within in adverse times and seize the opportunities for growth and learning.

What are you expecting to see?

I expect us to grow as necessary, and to face head-on any new challenges thrown our way.  

What does the future hold? 

Anything and everything. I’d like to think that the future is limitless. I believe we will all overcome it.