How would you lead a team of people to accomplish a goal?
This is the million dollar question individuals, businesses, sport teams and any other entity try to find the answer to. Organizations aim to provide their best product or service in the most efficient manner. Without good leadership it is only a matter of time before an organization fails. Nobody has the true answer to this question because there is none. However if we look into successful companies or projects, we can gain a better sense of how to lead.
Today, I woke up at 6:00am to go to work. The reason I’m living in the Bronx this summer is because I have an internship in Manhattan and my commute is only 40 minutes compared to the 2 hour commute from my hometown. I am fortunate enough to say that I work for a company called Turner Construction. Turner is an American construction company. It is one of the largest construction management companies in the United States. I say this with all honesty, you've probably been in a building built by Turner. Some notable buildings Turner has created just in New York City are; Madison Square Garden, Hearst Tower, Yankee Stadium, New Whitney Museum and the World Trade Center (Freedom Tower). The jobsite I am currently working on is called NYU Kimmel Pavillion. It is located on the most east part of 34th street. NYU Kimmel is going to be a in-patient care hospital. At 20 stories high, the project is now worth almost a billion dollars. This is my third year interning with Turner and I was actually on this site last year as well. Approximating, I would say there’s about 75 people from Turner working full time on the site. Last summer I made great relationships with a lot of employees. We worked from a trailer on the side of the site and the experience was precious to me. As I walked up to the site for the first time this summer, I realized our trailer was gone! Within the year, Turner finished the hospital enough to occupy one of the floors as a work space. As the elevator opened up to the 15th floor, I was amazed at what I saw. It was a hospital. A place where people will someday soon be treated and cared for. The design is incredibly sleek and everything seems to be made up of technology I have never seen before. The sun reflected off the east river and filled the floor with beautiful natural light. As I walked around I reconnected with my old coworkers, it took my by surprise how happy I was to see them. I don’t think I could stop smiling. Over the course of the last week I've been thinking about the work environment I’m in. All of the employees seemed to have great personalities, being extremely friendly, hardworking and smart people to be around. When I ask the team questions they give thorough, intelligent responses. They go above and beyond in explaining the situation and in fact try to teach me new stuff. I have a good colleague and friend named Vinny who’s sat next me both this year and last. He is intelligent and always seems to have a grasp on the situation, not to mention he can crack a hysterical joke in a hot second. He’s always asking what the kids say these days so when he reads this, take note, "hot second". Vinny and I are different in age, we come from two completely different generations. He has been with Turner for a number of years and is an experienced person. These type of people exist in all companies, but how many of those people are able to connect and help with younger interns like me. This unique dynamic is one of many I share at Turner. Another aspect that I want to mention is the diversity amongst the team. People from all different backgrounds have all come under the same roof to work for the same goal. My desk buddy Mamadou is from Senegal, West Africa. He’s helped me so many times look over drawings and fix annoying excel errors, thanks Mamadou. Indian, African, Asian, Middle eastern, Hispanic, Latino, Dominican, Gay or Straight, Male or Female, Old or Young. All of these ethnicities and characteristics I've seen on my jobsite. Everyone treats one another with respect and dignity.
All of these thoughts have been present throughout the past week and I think it all came together for me today. At 11:30am the Turner team all gathered around our front desk for a meeting. People piling in, sweaty, dirty and I’m sure tired. From Project executive, to superintendent's, to interns, everybody was there. Pat DiFilippo, Turners Executive Vice President was there as well. The meeting began by going over some to-do items. I noticed that once one person was talking everyone else remained silent. The only interruptive sounds were from people's phones who forgot to silence them but then quickly fixed their mistake. I could visibly see how focused the team was. Pat DiFilippo, one of the highest level managers, began to speak at the front of the desk. “I want to give you a huge thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” He was grateful of everyone’s hard work and dedication. He describes the obstacles they’ve had to face and how they’ve overcome them. He’s been familiar with how hard this job has been since the start and admitted that he became too worried over it. However he stated, that in the past weeks he has lost those feelings of worry. He has seen and felt the effort of the Turner team, something that is so special and so hard to come by in an industry like this. He took out his notepad and told us what Turner emphasizes: “We emphasize Teamwork, Commitment, and Integrity”
Saying those words over and over again, the message resonated with everyone.
Liam, Joe and I took a design thinking course at the end of this academic year and one takeaway I had from it was shown through Pat’s speech. To be a leader you must inspire your team. You must make them want the end goal as much as you want it. Nobody is going to work hard for a task they don’t care about. Create empathy amongst your team, understand what they feel and make them understand how you feel. Be the light that ignites your team's passion. Like a fire it will feed off of itself and grow into an unimaginable force.
Commentary- Hey, thanks for reading! I think the stories towards the beginning of this series might be longer than most because I’m trying to fill you guys in with what takes up most of my life right now. Everyone I mention in my stories have approved on me writing about them, I aim to do this with all of my stories. I enjoyed this and I’m excited to see how my writing style changes and gets better over the days to come. There is a comment section below so feel free to comment whatever you’d like. Again, thanks for reading. I hope I can inspire you to write a story one day.