One of the great joys of my job is when I get to speak with contractors — the entrepreneurs of this industry. Whether it’s through research for an article I’m writing, an interview for a feature or our 20 Questions column, or simply a casual conversation at an industry show, I learn the most when I’m speaking with you.
Our conversations revolve around a variety of subjects, but often times the topic of leadership and management come up.
It’s a topic which always garners the most readers whenever we feature it in the magazine or online — and is always at the top of the list when we poll our readership on what they’d like to learn more about.
One of my favorite questions to ask is one that always seems to give pause (which means I know I’m going to get a thoughtful answer): What’s your management style?
We all have a management style, but we often don’t think about what that might be until we’re asked to describe it. And while everyone has a somewhat different approach to management, there are common threads throughout the styles of those leaders who are most successful.
Sometimes, when you really think about your management style, you end up taking a closer look at how you lead your team — and how you want to lead your team.
I have no doubt that hearing how other successful contractors describe their own management styles can have a profound impact on how you shape your own. So I thought it would be nice to pull some of the answers I’ve gotten from this question over the past year and reprint them here.
Take a look at them. Then ask yourself what your own style is, before someone else asks you.
Mike Grassle, Hetter Heating & Cooling
“It’s very grassroots … I try to keep my finger on the pulse of this company throughout the day. I’m a huge ‘numbers guy’ and I believe numbers don’t lie. I watch all of the numbers every day.”
Corey Hickmann, Comfort Matters
“I should be more flexible, because I’m sometimes a little brash. I’ve learned to really hold back on a ton of stuff. It’s pretty amazing what toleration can get you. I don’t take things personal, so I can have a hard conversation with someone and we’re done after that conversation. That’s it. We’re good. We’re done. We’re friends again. Everything’s clean. I don’t look to hold onto things like that. Trying to create my leadership skills has been hard, but I’m focused on that process and want to continue to get better.”
David Indursky, Encon Mechanical
“I am not someone that’ll micromanage someone’s job. I use the expression quite candidly that if my son told me he brushed his teeth, I don’t go check the toothbrush to make sure it’s wet. We live on the honor system. If you say, ‘It’s done,’ it’s done. If you say, ‘It’s not,’ be honest with us. Nothing’s perfect.”
Eric Knaak, Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning
“It’s evolved. I like to be hands off and allow our managers and leaders to make decisions and to make the mistakes the same way that I did. I’ve learned that, as a leader, once we give you thoughts or opinions, it seems like a lot of people will start to shut down because you’ve already said what it should be.”
William “Bill” Lewis, Southern Air Pros
“I’m more of a team player. Anybody we hire, we hire them based on their attitudes and then we train them up from there. It’s pretty much a two-way street. If one of the guys catches me shortcutting, they’re welcome to speak up and say, ‘Hey, that’s not how you taught me to do it.’ So that’s the style. I don’t do a lot of micromanaging, but I spend a lot of time training up front.”
Eddie McDonald, Zen Air Heating & Cooling
“I prefer to delegate and have the right people in place that can do the job, and I let them run with it. At times, I do tend to delve into the details and do a little micromanaging, but that’s not the best way to be successful.”
Rob Minnick, Minnick’s
“We have operation manuals for every position that we have here. That was one of the things that the consultants brought on board and it makes it really simple. It takes away from all the, ‘Well, I told you this, I told you that. Why are you calling telling me this or that?’”
Michael Rosenberg, Rosenberg Indoor Comfort
“I like to communicate with the individual and tell them, “This is what I expect and this is what your goals are,” and then I leave them alone and let them do what they need to do. I don’t micromanage.”