Preparing Future Leaders: A Q&A

Preparing Future Leaders: A Q&A

Words: MASONRY Magazine
Photo: Rattankun Thongbun

“I think one of the most important things is really that servant leadership concept of showing people that you will do what you want them to do and that you’re here to help others be successful.” – Boyd Worsham, President and CEO of NCCER

Leadership, defining an attractive quality in a potential employee or candidate, is often hard to come by — which means it is also a highly valuable trait to an employer. Are leaders born with these traits, or do their experiences shape them into the leader they eventually become? As the masonry industry continues to face workforce shortages and struggles to attract new masons, this question becomes even more important to answer. 

Recently, MASONRY Magazine spoke with Boyd Worsham, President, and CEO of NCCER, to try and gain some insight into how to successfully develop leadership skills within the incoming generation of career masons. During our discussion, we focused extensively on getting answers to some of the industry’s most burning questions about how to engage young masons and inspire them to embrace leadership roles and training. 

Q: How are leaders trained?

“You can train people in leadership concepts, but leadership comes from experience – personal and professional.” -Boyd Worsham, President, and CEO of NCCER

Some people are born knowing how to talk to and motivate people, but those who have to work harder to be a good leader do so through observation and workplace encounters. 

As young professionals grow, mature, and develop empathy, Worsham says, all of the traits it takes to be a good leader will come together in conjunction with their natural capabilities. 

Craft professionals taking it upon themselves to mentor those in the industry who are just starting out plays a huge role in the leadership development of the next generation of craft professionals. Craft professionals looking for guidance in a mentoring role can check out NCCER’s Mentoring for Craft Professionals curriculum for best practices and tips.  

Q: What is the best way to start training/classes? 

Getting started can be the hardest part, explains Worsham. The first best step is going straight to the source: industry leaders. Find construction professionals and make it a point to sit down with them and ask how they got where they are today, and how they got started. Ask them how they utilize good leadership practices every day on the job. 

Finding a leadership mentor is a fantastic way to ensure you develop leadership skills and meet your professional development goals. Establish a relationship with someone who is where you see yourself years down the road. Meet with them regularly to discuss progress on your leadership and career goals. This is a great opportunity to gain guidance, advice and see how someone who has already succeeded demonstrates leadership. 

Q: What are some tips for young people to become leaders in the future?

“You have to care about people you’re leading. If you don’t, people won’t care about you as a leader.” – Boyd Worsham, President and CEO of NCCER 

The best way for young people to take steps to becoming leaders is to observe the leaders around them. By doing this, they gain firsthand knowledge of what to do and what not to do. If something works well across the board for most leaders, it’s wise to incorporate that into their leadership style. On the other hand, a leader’s poor choice can serve as a cautionary tale for up-and-coming leaders. 

Being observant of various leadership styles and how others react to these leadership styles is a starting point for determining what kinds of people mesh well together and what styles of leadership are effective universally. 

It’s also vital for a young person who is still getting a feel for their style of leadership to stay true to their own personality. Looking to others for inspiration is a beneficial way to grow but trying to mimic someone else’s style of leading is not. 

Q: What kind of training programs or classes are available for anyone looking to learn about the industry and becoming a leader? 

“You’re a leader if you’re just leading on another person; you don’t have to run an organization. You’re just helping other people to be more successful at what they do, and that’s leadership.” – Boyd Worsham, President and CEO of NCCER

For those looking to get a head start or dip their toes into the industry and world of leadership, there are many resources available out there. To find places nearby that are providing training, this Find A Center map lists contact information of various training centers covering a wide variety of crafts, including over 2,600 masonry locations.

All 50 states have a need for masons. While the demand in each state varies, there is no doubt that masons will always be valued and sought after in the construction industry. This gives an individual looking to train for masonry flexibility to live where they’d like and job security.

It can be overwhelming for someone to pinpoint where to get started or to decide what they are interested in pursuing. Career interest tests can identify the best fit for an individual based on their interests, abilities, and personality. For those who like being active and outdoors, as well as being creative, masonry just may be the perfect career. As such an integral part of most construction projects, the work is rewarding at the end of a workday. 

Q: Best ways/tips to be an effective leader?

“The bottom line: Anyone can become a leader if they care about people, they’re results-oriented and they know how to communicate.” – Boyd Worsham, President and CEO of NCCER

Being empathetic towards others plays a prominent role in being an effective leader. Colleagues don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This caring attitude leads to healthy relationships in the workplace and builds employee trust in their leader. 

Communicating thoroughly and intentionally with others will ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevents any mishaps. It’s up to a good leader to enact these foundational communication skills and to motivate others to use them efficiently. 

An effective leader is knowledgeable about the business they are in and the projects they are working on with their team. If something is unclear, a good leader will do their research to ensure nothing is amiss. 

The key to leading individuals and getting things done when needed is to continue forward without inhibiting or overworking the members of your team. Make sure you are realistic about your resources and not delegating anything to anyone that is more than they can handle. 

“You would take the hill for me, and I would take the hill for you,” is the attitude and essence of the servant leadership practice that Worsham touched on. 

Getting Started  

For those interested in researching and reviewing leadership materials for themselves, NCCER — collaborating with the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), and Florida Concrete Masonry Education (FCMEC) — recently released its online Masonry curriculum. A few of the updated features include digital animations to help simplify difficult concepts, classroom management tools for instructors, brand-new videos, and more. 

Digital curriculum makes learning about different crafts and becoming a leader in the industry much more accessible for schools and training programs. NCCER also offers leadership and professional development guides such as the Fundamentals of Crew Leadership. This module is designed for crew leaders but contains relevant leadership skills such as communication, planning, delegating, and providing direction. 

The simple action of taking it upon yourself to learn more about leadership is the first step to becoming a great leader on the jobsite. Whether you’re learning to lead your own crew for the first time or preparing to assume a leadership role as company superintendent, the motivation to succeed as a leader is the same. For others already working as leaders within their company or community, there is always more to learn when it comes to effective and competent leadership.

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