I am currently reading a book by Ken Blanchard “Servant Leadership in Action.”  The book is a collection of roughly 15-minute essays by 40 different authors.  I found it gives me a taste of a wide variety of perspectives.  Most of the authors are people I have read and enjoyed before.  People like Mark Sanborn, Simon Sinek, Stephen MR Covey, Craig Groeschel, Patrick Lencioni, Henry Cloud, Jon Gordon, and Dave Ramsey.  Several others are from people I will look for when I’m looking for a good read.

While reading, I found a great passage that perfectly fits the construction industry.

I highlighted a quote from Chapter 26, Jesus: the Greatest Example of Servant Leader. When Blanchard discusses how Jesus trained, he mentions how he saw Jesus change the way he trained people based on their experience level. He uses the construction model as his guide.

Blanchard sees the stages of learning, novice, apprentice, journeyman, and finally master, leading a shift in training methods and not just material.

To enable that kind of transformation, trainers or leaders would need to change their leadership style from directing – which is appropriate for learners at the novice stage; to coaching – for an apprentice; to supporting- for a journeyman (someone capable of working independently but lacking the confidence to teach others); to delegating – for a master teacher (someone highly skilled who has the competence and confidence to teach others).

I would recap it like this:

  • Directing – Novice
  • Coaching – Apprentice
  • Supporting – Journeyman
  • Delegating – Crew Leader (He says master, but at Willmar Electric, this level is called Crew Leader.)

Many people need help modeling their servant leadership to different levels. At a minimum, they struggle with the idea that they must work with people at different levels of understanding. I have encountered people who are frustrated with hand holding of the novices and apprentices. I have also encountered people who continue to handhold people who need support or delegation.

I love Blanchard’s simplification of this centuries-old model.  Direct the people who are just starting.  Coach the apprentice so that they can grow in the trade. Support the journeyman so we all accomplish more and continue to grow. Then finish by delegating so the team grows more opportunities for everyone in the organization—top-to-bottom growth at every level.

Often, I have noticed that other companies focus so hard on directing and getting the most out of people that they limit themselves in the long run because they never move to the coaching or supporting phase.  If the people within a company aren’t growing, the company can’t grow.  We take great pride in our apprenticeship classes on growth opportunities at Willmar Electric.

I will keep an eye out for the directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating concepts of the people I encounter. When I see people changing their methods based on the experience level of the people around them, I will point it out and celebrate it.  I will be self-analyzing to see if I am using it correctly with the people I work around.

When I see others treating everybody the same, I will encourage them to adapt to the people and their learning needs.  Help them understand that people aren’t all at the same level and must be led differently.

The construction industry has a great model.  I agree with Blanchard that it is a perfect model for understanding the different stages of training.  Understanding it will help us grow more people.  In the construction industry specifically, it will help us grow people so we can close the gap we have with our current shortage of skilled craftspeople.