Transcript ( Thursday, January 27, 2022, unedited).
"It's time to start talking about trusted leadership. Well welcome back this is bradley waldrop and today we're going to talk about trusted leadership. And as as we talked about this might or might not resonate with you will have to see i do want to give a lot of credit back to i think it's stephen m r covey that introduced me to one of these concepts. Money concepts is the speed of trust there's a book out there called the speed of trust and the speed of trust. Is really an important concept is important interesting it sort of a bit of ideas and what are the reasons why for us it seems to be really important he is if you go back and you look at the profession of civil engineering chemical engineering electrical engineering sort of those those folks that are that are licensed to practice engineering. They are in an in an elite class of individuals who are trusted by the public to deliver something that is safe. Manny's practical unusable i say the practical unusable part 2 pretty quickly because not every project is. Dedicated to being practical and whatever project is is practically project fits the mold however you are a part of your responsibilities as a professional is. Public safety need your your. Start of a persona in the the sort of practice of civil engineering the practice of mechanical or any of the other discipline is the practice of that engineering is. To be able to follow code that's been provided help develop code that if you if you need to and you know all in all the when you stamp & sign something you're taking responsibility for the work and in taking responsibility for the work you're also taking responsibility for for adhering to the public safety guidelines and rules that are available to us. And. All of that to say you know if if. There are ways for us as a profession and you as an individual to sort of set yourself apart it is to sort of lean into the trust side of the business so really really successful let me go back and let's let's talk about maybe at the story a little bit. One morning i was walking into end of the engineering officer about seven 7:30 in the morning. And lo and behold there's a voicemail on my on my. Machine at the same time we're getting on the phone when i walked in and it was hey bradley this is so-and-so from someone so can you give me a call as soon as you get in and go okay what is only happening in 15 minutes prior. So i give him a call back and i said hey what's going on steve said i have this problem. Are there's a bridge that was cut in half. And i need some help. So i ran ran to the closet and made sure i had a hard hat and vest i had hard hat in my car grab a vest and everything else i need for pve run out to the job site which was about an hour and 15 minutes away from the office and so i was going as quickly as i could i got to the job site. And being at the job site they were there was traffic kind of everywhere it's all all you know backed up into different directions and there was a contractor with just looking at me like what what do we do now. Mark lyon steve was also saying what do we do now and what's interesting is no one had a contour died and have a contractor perform the work that i was being asked to do but i was being called because i was a trusted advisor i was on the speed dial for problems that happened in everyday life for steve steve viewed me as one of those guys that could come out to a job site. Quickly assess what was going on and helped him get through the tragedy of of what he was seeing writing in tragedy it is all relative right if your day has not a whole lot going on and someone cuts a bridge in half lengthwise. All of a sudden that becomes a tragedy right you got to you got to worry about getting people safely to and from you have to worry about how much it's going to cost you have to worry about who's responsible for it you got to worry about how to communicate with everybody else on the team there a lot of things going on and steve was relying on me to take care of. The immediate need of making sure that this thing was safe for folks to be able to travel on. So sad and talked to the contractor for maybe 10 or 15 minutes gave gave me the skinny so what was going on is if you guys can remember in the. Probably late 1990s early 2000's there was a huge push certainly in california i don't know if it was a huge pushing every other state of to put fiber optic in the ground and fiber-optic was so lucrative at the time. That what they would do in order to budget for the project is that they would find an alignment. They would count up all the utility crossings in the alignment make the assumption they were going to cut through every single one of them tried to figure out what it would cost to repair those and that was the fee in order to install fiber optic so when they didn't hit utility they made a truckload of money when they did hit a utility they were at least prepared with a contingency plan figured out how to make these repairs in in the field as they were going you know going along and. That's how fiber-optic was going into the ground in our area right i can't i can't say that that's how was being done everywhere in the nation well so this team was discussing it with me and they were they were telling me what it is that they were challenged with and and as they were cutting a trench by the trenches only dina 46in wide they were cutting the trench and as they were cutting the trench they continue to go through blades one after another after another and they couldn't figure out what's going on with sort of like you know really hard asphalt that they were trying to cut through in order to get this fiber-optic line put down. Well. After they've after they destroyed all these blades they they got this all cutting off we are the sod cutting machines off of the road and. They brought in a ripping tooth on the back of a backhoe and they would hit the the the piece that was in the middle to break up the asphalt and come through with either a shovel or skip loader and take the material off of the site now they have you know that now they're down to base or they're down to native material and then they use a normal trenching machine to cut through the regular soil and potentially all the other utilities that were in the white well they continued it to tell me i never imagined it would take this many saw blades in order to get only this far did was was really a small bridge it but but the bridge itself. Was it sold. T beam bridge and they they saw cut it lengthwise between the girders. And i didn't even know what they were doing but it cut all the rebar in concrete right so what had really happened is if you look at the roadway the roadway was asphalt it was an asphalt overlay on an existing bridge they didn't see the barrier rails the barrier rails we're sort of off of the the roadway nobody's really paying much attention to it. And the shoulders were we're not. The shoulders the shoulders you couldn't see the bridge section there was a slight amount of soil on the shoulders of for the for the bridge itself and so they and their own mind just imagined that it was a culvert underneath there and they were we know they were on their way so so what happened was they hit with a ripper tooth. And after the haircut at the hit was referred to the tooth and sure enough sections of the bridge deck went right down into the water and standing on the bridge deck gazing through a 6 inch wide slot cut lengthwise down the entire length of the bridge. And it was my job to figure out how to make sure that it was safe. And get traffic back and forth and then come up with a scheme for them to have to do to repair the bridge and then hold them accountable to do the work in the field so. We were able to do that we got it back open to traffic within only a few hours and then we successfully passed the bridge over the over the following few weeks and got everything taken care of but the point of that story is. If i wasn't their trusted advisor they would have never called me to try to you know have me come and help. We want to be in the driver seat within our own career we want to be the trusted advisor for our clients. We want to be the trusted advisor for the community in which we live. Because that's what we do right we help other people and we want to be in the ditch in a career in which we provide this really great service and we're respected and thank for the work that we provide. Now that trust doesn't just just doesn't happen by itself right you have to figure it all out and and sometimes trust occurs over time as you're sort of doing the dance together you're hearing very clearly from others whether or not you know you're making good on the promises you're delivering and how all of that sort of works together. But one of the other things that does occur in there is that they're so they're sort of the formula to help develop trust. Amongst your team amongst your peers amongst your supervisor in amongst your. Your clients and that formula is pretty basic but if you don't pay attention to it you're going to kind of get sideways. So here's the way it works in my own mind. If you if you go and there's really sort of three categories of of things that you need to deliver in order to be trusted and and have that trusted advisor status. So in order to provide trust you need three things those three things are you got to have the technical chops to get the work done you got to have really good, solid character and you have to have a process that people don't get schizophrenic about so let me kind of walk you through that and tell you why that's important so imagine for just a minute you're going to delegate some things to someone in this is a really good delegation kind of exercise to think about and it's one of the reasons why we don't delegate is people don't have the technical chops to get the work done right if if i look at my to do list and only do the things that i can do. And and i have a whole bunch of things that i'm trying to push off to someone else so that they can do it and make most effective use of my time make effective use of their time if they don't have the technical chops to get the work done i may not want to train them. Well i guess that means that i also don't have enough trust that they'll get it done maybe they don't have enough initiative to learn it on their own maybe they haven't demonstrated all of all of that and end their capabilities. So. I might be real hesitant to give it away well our clients are the same way our bosses are the same way our peers are the same way our teams are built the same way right if you're trying to ask someone to do things or you're trying to get them to help you out and they don't know how to do the work unless you're in training mode and you have this mentality that it's going to be okay. You're really really reluctant to give it to them along the way so. You got to have technical chops to get the work done alright and you're going to hear this over and over and over from me. When we're building teams. Rebuilding teams based on technical chops well some of those technical chops are real hard skills of math and science some of those heart or some of those skills are soft skills about talking to people about working through relationships about dealing with conflict and all this other stuff so it let don't don't think that technical chops just means that you got to be good at math and science all right it's how to get to work done you can execute well alright so that's the first thing. Imagine you're right so if you had if you had something to give away to someone or you ask them to help you and they didn't have a technical chops but they have really solid character and they have a really good process. All that all that means is if they're going to try to do the right thing but they may not have the skill to just even execute anything right and you'll be able to predict what's going on but that's that doesn't help you. All right so the second is. You have to have. A solid moral character. And what i mean by that is that as you're working with individuals you have to be trustworthy you have to be respectful you have to be you have to have a set of core values that the other person honors right so what doesn't matter what your upbringing is most of the sort of solid core moral characteristics are are displayed in some sort of judeo christian background we have a lot of it in the law that we have here in the united states and it is a set of rules by which we have all said we need to operate correctly right we need we don't need liars we don't need cheats don't need these we don't need murderers we need people to behave well. Well. That's easy to do. When the chips aren't down right when what everything is going swimmingly well it's easy for people to behave well but when things kind of get compressed and there's a big stressful event you're going to start to see the character of the individuals that you're working with. And if you haven't been able to demonstrate that character or people have not observed that kind of character they're reluctant to give you a task to do because if it does not go well they are afraid that it's going to turn into a disaster it's going to be people who were screaming and shouting it's going to be people being disrespectful and all this other stuff right so if you have the good technical chops to get it done. But your moral character is lacking there could be a wake of destruction as you're getting it done. Even though there's a solid process in place to get. Right so you got to have you got to have the three things those three things include. The the technical chops to get it done good moral character good moral character and then the third b is a a process that is understood that's predictable so that you take the schizophrenic behavior out of the other people that you're working for working with. Let me give you a kind of an interesting example so if if i were to take on a project and someone said hey bradley i need for you to design this bridge over here i might have the technical chops to do it and i'm a good i hope i have good moral character there been mistakes in the past but we can talk about those later. But. If if i am if i stand up and say hey like i'm here and i'm committed to do the right thing by you the entire time we're going to work together on this. Don't worry i'll get it done. And if someone is reluctant. To give it to me they might be reluctant to give it to me because they don't understand the process i'm going to use. I didn't know the flow of work who's responsible for what when they're going to be communicated with and how that whole thing kind of plays out however if i had time in and said alright i appreciate it you know you've seen my resume and and i am really good at these bridges let me tell you a few stories about how things didn't go right all the time. But how we behave and and how we are going to be no plan on getting through any of the challenges that we met might have here on this particular project for things that i'm not in control up. And and what i would expect everybody's behavior to be and and not allow it to get out of control. And let me walk you through the process i'm going to use in order to develop the design have you interact with the development team and then bring it out to construction. All of a sudden you're very very settled right because now you know what to expect. Well so these all three things have to happen at the same time you have to have the technical chops you have to have good moral character and you have to have a proven predictable process in order to get the work done for people to be trusting of you and. That's kind of where i was witness previous story was steve he called me because i was already working on bridge work for him so he understood my technical capabilities we had already walked through some sort of character challenges where we had had back and forth between us to negotiate we had back and forth between us to talk about staffing and things that he was happy with a not happy with and i was respectful and i honored him and then in the third bit he knew that as i was on the phone with him i was trying to collect data so that i could explain to him where we were headed in this and then as i was on the phone the phone on the road i was talking to him about the things that i needed for him to do so that we can work through this process together right initially we need to gather some data we need to figure out how to make sure everyone is safe. And then once we understand that we'll come up with a game plan on how to get those this bridge fixed and work with your contractor to assess whatever is necessary if they can do it all outstanding if they can't do it all then we're going to be responsible to go help you find somebody. And then after they do the work or as they're doing the work we're going to be there to inspect the work and make sure that it's done for code and and then let them in a proceed on their with their project and get your bridge back open and you get a chance to talk to everyone involved to make sure that you know your messaging to your boss and your talking to the public about how to be safe around the job site so on and so forth right so we're talking about the process they understand there is a process and i didn't just say trust me it's going to be okay. So the same is true in your own career as you are. Going through your day today start to think about what are the what are the ways that you can improve. What it is you do every single day what on the technical side what can you get better at that maybe it'll help you grow into the next role or provide new service or different service to your existing to your current clients or your new clients and maybe even what is it that you could do better now in the current role that you have with the current projects in the current the current clients to have so that they start to engender more trust right how can you become the local expert. For the technical bit that you're trying to produce the execution side of things right how do you improve your quality control how do you make sure that you are putting the best people on the project or if you are in training mode that you have someone looking over their shoulder so that they will have an ability to to learn but. The the work-product is going to follow the code of conduct that you guys have already established. And then. What is it in your own behavior that may need to be fixed are you a short-tempered human being do you tend to exaggerate in your conversations do you follow through and do the things you're supposed to do or do you. Do you earn your keep and keep your word in in the the work that you do right in and when things get tough how do you get through the tough times do you call in help that mia maybe will help calm you down and and provide some guidance do you take a break before you dive into the deep end or are you the kind of person that's kicking up dust all the time and imagine your you know i don't know about a third base coach and screaming and hollering and umpire something right it's this this type of behavior is not it's not helpful in the end of our environment we have to interface with our peers with the interface with contractors we have to interface with our clients we have to interface with all kinds of different people who come at life with a lot going on. So we need to be able to step back and be mature about it and stay calm but everything else is gone apoplectic. That's part of our job. And then finally think about what it is you do on a day-to-day basis what is it that you can create a process for even if the processing is an absolutely perfect yet but what is the process that that provides this sort of predictable behavior to everyone and then how do you communicate that process so you don't have people wondering what's the next step who's going to do this when is it going to be done in. And then start what happens is they start to fill in the holes with this negative stuff. So. If if i were you that's kind of what i would be doing i would look at the the three different big buckets what can you do different today so that you can be better off in the future and provide this really amazing thing to be someone's trusted advisor as soon as you're their trusted advisor you have a lot of latitude when it comes to what work you perform for them because they know that you're going to treat them fairly you have a lot of latitude of the types of projects you work on because they are comfortable with you taking on something new that maybe you're not quite proven in for them but they know who you are and they haven't had that positive experience. And i got to tell you if you're the trusted advisor your rate schedule. Welfare doesn't get to be the negotiation point right it's hey look i need help you're here to help me and then you kind of raise your hands say yeah i'm here to help this is about what i think it's going to take are we okay and on a handshake deal you just move through the process and you work out the details as you get going. That is an amazing relationship to be able to have in this industry you get a chance to be the the you know the local expert and everyone else looks at you and says oh my gosh if they're going to propose on this work i don't want to be in the room because i'm just going to get my fanny handed to me and these guys have this amazing relationship that you know they're calling him in the middle of night to say hey look i've got an emergency and you're my guy or you're my gal how do we do this together i want that for you so if you could do me a favor and and go to your email and send me a message to bradley at waldrop communications.com that's bradley bradley. At waldrop waldrop. Communications.com and let me know of those three things what are the hardest for you to work on what are you trying what have you tried before and what are the ways that we we might be able to help you. And until then take amazing care of you and take amazing care of your project because you're really only one team away from absolute axilla. Talk to you soon."