For the January 29th Leadership Lunch, Rhonda Cardone, Chair of the SMPS NY Leadership Committee and New York Marketing Director of Dewberry, invited four A/E/C industry leaders to discuss their experiences with leadership.
The esteemed leaders each come from a variety of institutions:
- Janet Wagner, Director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, Moderator
- Susan Baer, Global Aviation Leader, Arup (previously with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey)
- John Boulé, II, PE, Senior Vice President and New York City Branch Manager, Dewberry (previously with US Army Corps of Engineers, NY District)
- Mysore Nagaraja, PE, Chairman and Co-Founder, Spartan Solutions, LLC (previously with MTA Capital Construction)
Wagner asked the three panelists a few targeted questions, and each responded with helpful insights from the unique leadership roles he or she has held. The session began with the three panelists describing traits and behaviors of successful leadership, and the each agreed on a few key points:
- You have to have people who want to follow you
- It is essential to be a team player
- Put respect out and you will get respect back
- Listen to the experts before you make a decision
Stemming from this topic, each panelist was asked to share tactics on how a leader should form a strong team. Nagaraja and Baer shared their belief that the basis to a successful team begins with clearly establishing the mission and vision at the start of a project. Nagaraja felt it was important to have people on your team who could provide the best information in order to make decisions. Baer elaborated on this point to say that in the long term, promoting motivated team members who are able to make informed decisions will strengthen other teams within the organization.
Prior to working for Dewberry, Boulé worked for the U.S. Military leading engineer units. From his military background, Boulé pointed out that he didn’t always have the opportunity to choose who was on his team. Similar to Nagaraja and Baer, he shared the importance of getting people to believe in the overall purpose prior to moving forward. Moving from the military to working in a professional setting, Boulé realized that employees would like conditions set to allow them to thrive as a part of a team. In the professional world, people don’t want to be micromanaged, and they do want to be challenged and rewarded.
All of them agreed that selecting talented people they trust to get the job done is important to the overall process and especially to running large team efforts.
In a session that provided many helpful insights into successful leadership, significant takeaways echoed by all panelists were to respect your team members, find the ways in which they excel, and provide the support to help them grow and improve.