Why Should You Care About Leadership Development Training?July 13, 2021 | By Wayne O'Neill
If you haven’t noticed, the workforce is changing. The older generation of leaders in construction and design are retiring or preparing to retire. All of that knowledge, experience, and understanding needs to be leveraged to continue supporting your client engagement efforts.
For construction and design firms, one of the best ways to transfer expertise to the next generation is through leadership development training. Many firms already have a development program to build up your internal roster. This is an opportunity to take the next step of developing stronger leaders so that they are fully equipped to fill those vacated or soon-to-be-vacated seats at the table.
Consider some of the most important elements of leadership development training that will enable future leaders to build on your firm’s foundation of productive communication with clients.
Be Able to Discern Smart Clients to Engage With
A building block for connecting with clients is developing the ability to determine which clients are worth pursuing. This requires extensive knowledge, training, and critical thinking skills to get right.
For experienced leaders, this can be achieved at a snap of a finger. An experienced leader can look at a dataset, review a few preliminary details about the client and their project, and make a determination about whether to pursue the client. There is no substitute for this experience.
But, you don’t want that experienced leader to walk out the door without passing along that decision-making skill to the next generation. Your leadership development training should include deep dives into how the experienced leaders in your firm arrive at their decisions to pursue certain clients in the first place.
- What information is the leader looking at to determine whether a client is a smart client to pursue?
- What behaviors or red flags is the leader looking for to avoid engaging with this client?
- What key phrases is the leader looking for in the RFP to understand whether the client is looking to truly collaborate or just find a bunch of firms to put on a list?
- How can the leader determine whether the target client is looking for solutions and impact, not just experience?
There is so much insight to be gleaned from an experienced leader’s answers to these questions. Your firm needs to pull the decision-making process out of the minds of your experienced leaders to pass on to future leaders.
Why is this so critical? Because if you start off each client engagement by pursuing the wrong type of client, then your firm will continue to fall into rabbit holes of undercutting yourself on price, finding yourself in bidding wars, and making compromises just to win project work. This is the path to stunted growth and lower profitability.
Make sure your future leaders understand how to discern smart clients so that you are efficient and effective with your client engagement efforts.
Develop Empathy for Each Client’s Challenges
One of the reasons why many sales pipelines get stuck is because sales teams get too excited trying to solve the surface-level problem. It’s like trying to be the first person to answer a question in an educational setting before hearing the full question. Just because you raise your hand first doesn’t mean you have the right answer.
Your leadership development training program should include helping future leaders understand how to identify the hidden problems behind the problem that your client is facing and the larger challenge that needs to be solved.
Here’s the key. Taking this next step of digging deeper into the problem requires empathy for what the client is going through. It’s not enough to just know what the client is going through; your leaders need to actually care what the client is experiencing so that you can develop the appropriate solution to solve the larger problem.
This is what we call authentic connection.
- Empathy means caring about the diversity of challenges that your client is facing. And, that empathy leads to engagement.
- Engagement translates into crafting or facilitating solutions to satisfy those challenges.
Without empathy, you can’t engage effectively. And, if you can’t engage effectively, then you can’t win project scope or win accounts that lead to sustainable revenue growth.
Understand How to Align with Business and Political Issues
The next layer to stress to future leaders is how to identify the key business and political issues that affect decision-making in the organization. These issues could be internal, such as a shift in power or influence, or they could be external, such as new regulations introduced in the industry.
The worst kind of feeling is going through an entire presentation thinking you addressed the whole problem, only to hear one of those statements from a client such as, “Well, I don’t see anything in your solution to address the impending regulation we’re facing.” No one wants to hear that — or feel the weight of that statement.
The key to aligning with business and political issues is helping your future leaders understand how to slow down and review all available information to make sure every base is covered. This requires tremendous patience combing through client intelligence and industry intelligence to review every detail that could impact whether you are truly solving the correct problem.
There is a huge payoff to taking your time to align with business and political issues, but, the unfortunate reality is the next generation is in a big hurry. Technology has sped up everyone’s thinking, and not everyone is willing to take more time to process information and turn it into insights.
Experienced leaders need to help inexperienced leaders understand how to slow down, ask more questions, have more conversations, bring in more partners to help solve the larger problem, ask for more time, and then thoroughly review that you have covered everything.
Training your future leaders on how to think through client intelligence on the path to developing a comprehensive solution will pay off for years to come. Your firm will collectively develop the appropriate habits when pursuing clients so that you can grow in a more collaborative and intelligent way.
Find Support With Leadership Development Training
Construction and design firms typically fall into two categories when it comes to developing future leaders. It’s either staring you right in the face that you need to develop the next generation of leaders, or it’s something on the horizon that you know will become an issue down the road.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start transferring knowledge and decision-making skills to your future leaders so that your firm can continue to grow. If you’re not sure where to start, we can help.
Through our proven methodology, The Connection Process, we will provide coaching to your team on how to pursue authentic connection with clients. We’ll support your leadership development training program by working directly with current and future leaders to facilitate this important effort to grow your business.
– Contact us today to let us know how we can help you build up strong leaders to carry your firm into the next generation.