Positive attitude Featured

8:00pm EDT May 26, 2008

By his own admission, Donald A. Buck Jr. can sometimes be too intense. So, throughout the years, to counter that, he has made it a point to work on being more personable at WDG Construction Inc., where he is president and CEO.

By talking to his management team about how he could better present himself to his approximately 300 employees, Buck has learned to keep a smile on his face, take more time before reacting to a situation and pay closer attention to what he says. And if he says something in a meeting that he feels someone took the wrong way, he makes sure to talk to someone else who was there to find out how he could have stated it better.

Buck says his more positive attitude has benefited the morale of his employees and puts everyone in a more relaxed environment at the company, a full-service site development firm that posted 2007 revenue of $70 million.

Smart Business spoke with Buck about how identifying your strengths and weaknesses can help you develop a better attitude and make you a better leader.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses. To work hard on your strengths and weaknesses, you have to really look hard at yourself and just step back and evaluate yourself as a person.

Just look at the way you have handled things in the past. Look at what you have done that has succeeded. Look at what you have done where there was room for improvement to maybe do it a little bit different or a little bit more efficient.

It’s very, very difficult to do it, especially to understand your weaknesses and to understand what areas you need to improve on as a person. I’m the type of person if I am strong at something, I will give it 100 percent effort, but I don’t like to take credit for it. I would rather my people get the credit for it. That makes them feel good, too.

If there is an area in business that I am weak at, I try to look at my staff and find someone that’s strong in that area, let them work at that and always try to be involved, so that I learned more about my weaknesses or my areas I am weak in. The biggest thing with me, with the weaknesses, is it’s more personal, making myself a better person to where people view you on a more positive attitude all of the time, rather than, ‘I wonder what kind of mood he’s in today?’

Trust, acknowledge and monitor employee decisions. You must keep an open mind. You have to understand there are multiple ways to accomplish a task.

I really believe strongly in allowing employees to take their direction to accomplish that task. It’s more of a hands-off type of management approach.

I allow the managers of each department to run their department. I don’t really get involved, but I will meet with the managers to discuss what is going on in the department. If I have any input, then I will discuss it directly with the manager and try to improve on something, or, if I feel it is something that is very, very important or needs to really have a point made.

A lot of times, it’s a positive — something you are trying to get across that is a positive situation — and so we will get the whole department together, and I’ll give them my opinion or my feedback on something. It helps boost morale when something good happens to be able to get everyone together and say, ‘Hey guys, this was great. We did a great job with this. I really appreciate how we handled it.’

I really feel like that if someone believes strongly in what they are trying to accomplish — and there are 10 right ways to get to the same outcome — it may not be the path that I would take, but I look at it and say, ‘Well, they are on a path where they are 100 percent confident that they are going to get to that outcome. Let them go.’

Let them get to that outcome in a reasonable amount of time. But, if you see it deterring away from the outcome we need, maybe give a little input to push them back in the right direction or just kind of assist them with what they are trying to accomplish. But there are times where you do have to step in and say, ‘Well, I know what you’re doing. I agree with it, but we need to get there a little bit faster. Could you maybe try to take this approach?’ In a friendly way, try to lead them on a different approach.

Learn from your mistakes. Failure is not an option. Continue to find a way to prevent it from happening. Strive to change your approach with an open mind before failure happens.

If you are working on something and it’s heading down the path of failure, stop and re-evaluate the entire situation and try to come up with a different approach that would get you the outcome you need.

With all that said, being a realist, failure does happen. When failure does happen, you need to understand why it happened. You need to learn from it, and you need to implement new procedures to prevent it from happening again.

Once you’ve fully analyzed how it happened and have implemented something to prevent it from happening again, you just have to move on from it.

HOW TO REACH: WDG Construction Inc., (813) 907-3440 or www.wdgdevelopers.com