Charles Steck

Lead carpenters don’t just manage projects; they must also be jobsite leaders. Meeting budgets, schedules, and client expectations requires real leadership, which I define as: the ability to get others to do what they do not want to do and to enjoy it! Here are five leadership essentials:

1. Plan. Have a daily plan for each job (a to-do list) as well as a long-range plan (complete schedule, from startup to close-out).

2. Have a vision. By mentally mapping out what will be accomplished and how, you can actually create neuropathways that help you meet the plan. To frame a roof, for example, visualize each step: who will set the ridge and how, who will stock the sawhorses, who will cut the rafters and what they will need to consider to be accurate, who will nail the ridge, who will walk the plate, etc.

3. Share your vision with the crew. Inspiring confidence and a positive attitude can be the real leadership test. Use any or all of these methods: daily huddles, lists posted on the jobsite white board, meeting individually to assign tasks, weekly goal meetings.

4. Take charge. A good jobsite leader is a coach, not a dictator, with the mentality: “I am in charge, but I will take advantage of the strengths around me.” Make decisions, direct others in what they need to do, and follow up to ensure quality execution. Don’t simply give instructions and see if people pass or fail.

5. Inspire by example. Be the trendsetter on your job: set the pace of the work, be first to return from break, work to the end of the day without complaint, speak favorably about the need to make a profit.

—Tim Faller is president of Field Training Services, author of The Lead Carpenter Handbook , and a long-time proponent of this system.