Written by Sadie Battle, Spring 2022 Leadership Discovery Participant
Last Wednesday, April 13, Matt Brewer, President & CEO of Choate Construction spoke to our Leadership Discovery class. Brewer brought an undeniable energy to our morning session that kept us engaged and spoke very candidly about his upbringing and how both his individual experiences and those of his parents helped to shape the leader he has become today.Fundamental takeaways from his father included the notion where high risk equals high reward, how to maintain humility in the midst of said reward, and the importance of being a man of his word.
He led thoughtful discussion highlighting the significance of leaders focusing on their people and reminds us that we are only as good as those whom we surround ourselves with. A key point being the importance of the hiring process and ensuring the right fit for your team from the beginning. Arguably the most important decision you make as a leader, Brewer stressed that a candidate with the right attitude, drive, and enthusiasm is many times a much better fit for organization than the candidate who just looks good on paper.
A proud veteran of the United States Marine Corp, Brewer places high value on the overall grit and integrity of his team. In a play on military jargon, Brewer asked, “Who do you want in the foxhole with you?” A thought-provoking question that reminds us that we are only as good as our people.Brewer shed light on how the military prepared him and many others at his level, for leadership through training on discipline and adaptability.
Brewer shared with us one of his favorite quotes, credited to former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, disaster is imminent”. This can be interpreted to fit a number of situations, but for me it serves as a reminder that we must be present in our leading and adapt to theenvironment around us.
As leaders, we have the responsibility of ensuring that those under our guidance are able to do their best work with the tools that we make available to them. Many times, that means identifying work that suits individual strengths and building cross-functional teams that compliment each other.This is also where an essential characteristic of good leadership, transparency, may comein. Being transparentwill sometimes require having candid conversations about performance and attitude, but will result in a team who trusts you and your vision for the organization.
Brewer’s #1 rule as a leader? Maximize the potential of your people. As we build and support our teams, Brewer emphasized how mentorship programs are a pillar for employee engagement and retention in organizations. Studies show that mentor/mentee relationships foster belonging and help to broaden employee perspective. Additionally, these programs can improve productivity, enhance professional development, and help to grow future leaders. As leaders are made and not born, we must nurture the people-side of our businesses to maintain a well-rounded workforce and set our organizations up for success.