Construction Industry Associations Offer Leadership Development Opportunities

  • Art Salas / Jered Cottell
  • Senior Project Engineers
  • Rafn Company

Leadership is defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization” with synonyms including guidance, direction, management, superintendence, and supervision. But how do you gain leadership experience and skill before you have a group to lead? Can you develop proficiency in guiding, managing, and supervising others while still working your way up the career ladder? Two of Rafn’s Senior Project Engineers have done just that through leadership development programs provided by local construction industry associations.

ABC's Rising Stars Program

Art Salas began his career at Rafn as an apprentice carpenter in 1999. His path so far includes four years of apprenticeship and nine years as a journeyman carpenter before stepping into the role of Project Engineer in 2012. In 2016 Art took the next step in his construction management development by enrolling in the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) Rising Star Program.

The Rising Star Program was developed by ABC’s Leader Development Council to provide member employees a focused track to develop and hone their leadership skills, and empower graduates with the tools necessary to become a better leader within their companies. The skills taught are ones that graduates can use throughout their lives, both personally and professionally.

The six-month-long Rising Star Program kicked off with a team building event so that participants had the opportunity to get comfortable with one another before diving into the core of the program’s curriculum, The 11 Points of Leadership. These topics included:

  • Government Affairs 101
  • Leadership Defined and Skills Required
  • Communicating and Understanding Skills
  • Planning and Controlling the Group/Team
  • Effective Teaching and Representing the Group
  • Evaluating and Sharing Leadership
  • Counseling and Setting the Example

Art says that the final session on leading by example was the most valuable as it tied all the pieces together. A leader models what they would like to see and shows how it’s done, as opposed to merely telling others what to do. Art is incorporating these skills at his current project by knowing the job, keeping a positive attitude, only lining out tasks for others that he himself has taken the time to learn how to do, and by always trying to set others up for success. That is the definition of leadership.

HDC's Leadership Development Survey Program

Jered Cottell joined the Rafn team in 2012 and is currently working as a Senior Project Engineer on his 4th large mixed-use market-rate apartment building for us. While learning the ropes of the Project Engineer position on his way to a future Project Manager position, Jered has also learned a great deal about market-rate housing. However, as the Rafn Company continues to build affordable housing for non-profit developers also, Jered is committed to gaining expertise in that section of the housing market as well.

Enter the Housing Development Consortium’s (HDC) Leadership Development Survey Course. This seven-month-long program is designed for employees of HDC member organizations who demonstrate commitment to the affordable housing field, leadership potential, and who would benefit from gaining further insight into what it means to be a leader in this market sector.

Each session was designed by a team of 3 to 4 program participants working with the presenter. Course topics included:

  • Cultural Competency and Institutional Racism
  • Networking and Coalition Building
  • Policy and Advocacy
  • Affordable Housing Financing
  • Public Relations and Marketing
  • Board and Governance
  • Strategic Planning

Jered appreciated the opportunity to learn how the affordable housing industry works and gain insight into what it takes to bring an affordable housing project from idea to fruition. From developers to contractors, funders to special interest groups, he was able to develop a big picture understanding of how everything must come together for a successful project. Though he gained industry knowledge and leadership skills, the most valuable aspect of the program for Jered was building a network of peers and leaders in the industry that he can continue to learn from and reciprocate with throughout his career.

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