Sat, 24 October 2015
#035: Company culture, transparency and speed of trust with Jim Johnson, CEO of GE Johnson Construction Co.
This episode of The Construction Leading Edge podcast (press and hold on this link) is an interview with Jim Johnson, President and CEO of GE Johnson Construction Company in Colorado Springs, CO.
The company was founded in 1967 and made the 2015 ENR Top 100 Green Building Contractors list.
Here are a few of the topics we cover in the interview:
How important is the culture of an organization and how does it impact the bottom line?
[Jim] Our culture is more important than the bottom line, and our culture is not for sale. We believe if we manage our culture, the bottom line will take care of itself.
Our company has decided that we don't want to be a compliance department. We believe if we reinforce and keep promoting our culture, the policy manual will take care of itself.
What is your philosophy and approach when it comes to leading people?
[Jim] I am a believer that you really have to develop your own style of leadership. It's really hard to be someone who you aren't wired like. I set out on a quest to inventory my own skill sets and develop my own leadership style. During the course of that, I realized that there are people are better at the finances and better at preconstruction than me.
My collaborative style was by me admitting, "I don't have all the answers." Most of the time, my employees have the answers.
I'm smarter when other people are helping me think.
What is your advice for people who want to develop their leadership skills?
[Jim] I would listen. When I was growing up there were different people who I identified with leadership, and I would listen to those people.
I would also be honest and genuine with yourself. There are different places to try your leadership skills. They don't have to be in the workplace.
Take some risks, try some different things and be willing to get feedback.
What are some of the mistakes you see construction business owners making?
[Jim] People often forget this is a business. Sometimes the best person to deal with the complexities is not your sister-in-law. You need to decide whether you want to surround yourself with talent or family members. The most talented project engineers and superintendents may not be the right people to run the business.
Be willing to take advice from attorneys, accountants and bonding companies. It is an evolving business and one person can't do it all in more...it's just to complex and too fast.
Listen to the entire interview to learn about the importance of transparency in leadership and what Jim calls, "the speed of trust."
Resources mentioned in this episode
Bid Ocean - You can get bid opportunities for the type of work you do in the markets you serve, delivered to your email inbox.
Archisnapper - Avoid contract disputes and justify your requests for schedule extension by creating regular reports for your projects. This app would have saved a project I took over $67,000 in liquidated damages. I use this app every week.
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