A blueprint for excellence

Talk about best practices

If you want to align your employees to a common way of
doing things, you need a strong culture built on a clear set of beliefs about how the company needs to operate.

“The president of the company can’t do that on his own,”
Neal says. “You need to ingrain that in a group of your top leaders, and they need to pass that belief system down to the next
layer of employees in the field. It’s almost like creating a religion.”

Toward that end, at least quarterly, Neal takes a few of his
project executives out to dinner at a local restaurant.

“Everybody has to come prepared to participate in a discussion,” Neal says. “What are you doing that lights your guys up?
What are your leadership challenges? What’s pissing you off?
What have you seen lately that really just inspires you to want
to be better at something? You just go around the table and you
talk, and, at first, it goes kind of slow. But after 30 minutes,
people just can’t wait to chip in and throw something into the
conversation that’s really good.”

Just as you expect your employees to learn from what you
say and do, leaders should be able to learn from each other.

“If I can’t help you solve your problem, maybe one of your
peers can,” Neal says. “It just gets networking done at a peer
level so these leaders know I’m not the only guy who is suffering. I’m not the only guy who is having issues with employees.
It’s just a way to share the burden, support each other and be
better as a collective team.

“Getting out with your guys and having a monthly dinner with
your leaders, you’re having fun. But you’re dedicating a part of
that talk to leadership and to talk about how you inspire people to do great things. Get people talking about it.”

As the CEO, you need to always be asking questions and talking about your business.

“If you’re not going out and asking questions about what can
I do better, you’re never going to have the data to tell you what
you’re doing good and what you’re doing bad,” Neal says. “It’s
very important for businesses and principals of those businesses to be very introspective. Look at your own house and
find out where things are not working properly. That’s a never-ending process. You just have to be relentless at getting better
and improving. … If you can’t figure that out for yourself, it
would suggest to me that you are either not spending enough
time at work or perhaps you are not in touch with your business well enough.”

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