Mark Robert Halper Photography

Has there ever been a greater need for leadership? Your staff, your potential clients, your vendors and trade contractors: all are worried. Of course, defining leadership isn’t so simple. Google provides 142 million citations for the term. My definition is simple: A leader is someone you look to when you feel lost. Even if the leader too feels lost, he or she masks that worry and digs in, reenergizing and giving direction to followers.

Six Consistent Qualities

I believe that six key qualities reinforce leadership in remodelers, their key staff, and their trade partners. The first three come from Peter Drucker, the business management guru. In identifying three key qualities that every leader shares, he noted that all must be accompanied by consistency and hard work.

1. The ability to build and articulate a vision that others want to achieve. Strong remodeling leaders engage their staff in developing a written statement of the company’s vision, mission, and core values. Those ideals are then brought to life through their constant communication and use within the company. Every person on your staff wants their daily work to be part of something bigger than they are — something grander and more significant.

2. The acceptance of leadership as a responsibility, not a rank. Strive to find and nurture this precious ability anywhere and everywhere on the organizational chart. Constantly develop leadership among your staff by modeling the company culture as you visualize it, by training at every opportunity, and by delegating responsibility where possible. Let good folks fail when the consequences are not too severe. After all, that’s how you learned — that’s how all leaders learn.

3. The ability to earn and keep trust. Why do we trust certain people? Because they deliver on their promises even when doing so is difficult and the cost is high. We can count on them. Similarly, strong remodeling leaders model the values and behaviors they want in their staff. By taking responsibility for your own mistakes, you are creating a safe environment for others to do the same.

And now for three additional qualities that I have observed in great remodeling leaders.

4. The charisma and vision to establish a company’s direction and motivate staff to believe in and follow that direction. I can’t think of a time when this has been more important. As you downsize, juggle job assignments, take pay cuts, or make other adjustments, your staff must believe in you and your plan. Show them “the pony in the manure pile.”

5. The courage to make tough choices — to fire, downsize, change direction when necessary for the health of the company. Over the last two years, most remodeling leaders have had to make many such choices. I hope you have made them with minimal procrastination and have always communicated them in the context of the bigger picture.

6. The ability to drive continuous improvement. To develop strong leaders within your team, share accurate information that enables them to offer good suggestions and make sound decisions. Even in tough times, this requires allotting time for staff to work on the company — and not just in it. Allot that time for yourself as well, and know that it will return substantial benefit and is the only way to ensure consistent company success.

Anybody within a remodeling company — whether owner, carpenter, designer, or office manager — has the ability to be a leader. Nothing on this list of six qualities is impossible, yet truly achieving any of them could require some work. I encourage you to focus on every item of this list. You will be amazed by how many folks fall in line behind you and help you achieve your very significant vision.

—Linda Case is founder of Remodelers Advantage, a national company that gives remodelers the tools to achieve consistent profitability and success through one-on-one consulting, the Roundtables peer program, and an online learning community, Advantage Associates. 301.490.5620;;