#028: 5 Unusual Ways To Become A “New-School” Construction Leader

Jul 25, 2023

Today's Highlights:

  • The Goal: Teach you 5 ways to be different and set yourself apart as a "New-School" construction leader.
  • Construction is dominated by a machismo attitude that Millennials and Gen Z don't want to deal with. New-School is the way forward.
  • Try these 5 unusual practices. They are simple actions or mindset shifts that really can help you be a better, more conscious leader.


“New-School” Construction Leadership5 Unusual Ways To Transform Yourself Today


Plain and simple, the construction industry needs a leadership shakeup.

Too many construction professionals are stuck leading the same way as their boss, and their boss before them.

You see, Construction has relied on “Old-School” leadership for a long time:

  • Machismo
  • Using threats
  • Yelling to get things done
  • Putting the job above your physical and mental health

Because it’s “the way things have always been done.”

And it’s holding the industry back.

For Construction to reach it’s full potential, it needs leaders who think and act differently.

I realized this last month when I was talking to a 9-year industry veteran working for a large GC.

He’s got a great attitude and loves Construction, but is thinking about leaving the industry!

“I just don’t see many good role models in the industry.”

It kills me to hear him say that. And it makes me realize we need to start building “New-School” leaders.

So if you love Construction and want to be a transformational leader for the “New-School”, then here’s 5 unusual ways you can get started:


Study Stoicism

Stoicism taught me 1 extremely valuable lesson:

Control what you can control.

  • I stopped trying to make EVERYONE happy.
  • And started trying to make MYSELF happy.

This mindset gave me the confidence to be different.

And I needed that confidence to start my journey to being a New-School leader — and I have a feeling you will too.

(I highly recommend Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. One of my favorite quotes below)


 Journal Daily

The best leaders know themselves deeply: They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. 

As a result, 1) they are open to hearing constructive criticism and feedback 2) they don’t need to be in control to feel important 3) they prioritize getting the right answer over being right.

As an employee, there is nothing better than a boss with these qualities.

In Construction, they are exceedingly rare.

Journaling every morning is a fantastic way to get to know yourself.

Here’s my process:

  1. Sit down with a coffee
  2. Open my journal
  3. Write whatever comes to my mind for 5-10 minutes

That’s literally it.

Over time, you’ll notice patterns and start learning so much about yourself.

As you do, you will transform into a New-School leader who is thoughtful, lives without ego, and wants to change the industry for the better.


Don’t respond to emails after hours

This is a problem for so many leaders in Construction:

  • They always feel like they have to be “on”.

Which means they respond to email as soon as they wake up, as soon as they get home, and even while they’re sitting at the dinner table. What they don’t realize is their direct reports are receiving those emails at the same times. And wondering to themselves, “Am I supposed to be working at all hours of the day?”

99% of emails can wait.

This action alone can have a big impact on the mental health of construction professionals and will help set you apart as a "New-School" leader.


Take your PTO

How does taking your PTO make you a “New-School” leader?

Because Millennials and Gen Z care deeply about their time off.

So if you don’t take yours, they’re going to feel nervous to take theirs. And when that happens, they end up resenting you and the industry.

You can avoid it all by just taking your time off.

Learn to enjoy it- you’ve earned it!


Write clear emails

Email is the primary form of communication in construction, yet I’m convinced most leaders don’t know how to send emails that:

  • delegate
  • give praise
  • give constructive feedback

Meanwhile, all 3 are super important both to you as the leader and to your direct report!

Clear emails have 4 components:

  1. Clear subject line
  2. Cover only 1 topic
  3. Less than 5 sentences
  4. Clear direction for next steps

Here’s an example:

Subject: Project Minotaur Progress Report

[Direct report name],

I just reviewed your progress report for project Minotaur.

It is well-written and very professional!

Before sending it to the client, please update the following:

  • Add a budget section on page 2
  • Delete the QC section (we’ll cover this in OAC meetings)

That’s it!

Please send to the client once complete, and thanks a bunch for the hard work in getting it done.

[Your name]


Thoughtful, clear emails can be a super simple way to connect with your direct reports and separate yourself as a leader. Plus, they take almost 0 time. Huge win.


In Summary

In summary, if you want to be a New-School leader, try these 5 unusual tips:

  1. Study Stoicism
  2. Journal Daily
  3. Don’t respond to emails after hours
  4. Take your PTO
  5. Write clear emails

Let’s make the industry 1% better together.

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