Diversity Key to Addressing Talent Shortage

Feb 18, 2022 | Article

Lisa Laronde, President of Powell Contracting, didn’t start working in the construction industry yet rose to be President. Lisa teases out how to launch into higher positions while making the world a better place. 


What is the right industry? 

When job hunting, think of what it would feel like to work there. Consider the environment and then be clear with yourself about your preferences.

  • Do you thrive in more or less structure? 
  • Will you engage with the ownership? 
  • What is essential for you to lead from your integrity in a workplace environment?

When choosing jobs, Lisa picks entrepreneurial companies regardless of the industry because structure combines well with Lisa’s accounting background. At Powell Contracting, the ownership supported Lisa and was excited about making changes.


Lead from Authenticity 

It’s tempting to accommodate others’ fears, but authenticity is the only strategy that works. 

“I’m going to talk the way that I normally talk. And I, and I’m not going to care what other people say or think about me. And that was a big confidence booster for me.”


Look for Support 

Ambition Theory exists to fuel communities of professionals who are inspired to advance together. Lisa joined the Canadian Association for Women in Construction (CAWIC) and other organizations and talked to colleagues in senior leadership positions to learn how to network.

Social capital is having contacts and relationships between businesses that lend mutual support. Social capital is the success differentiator and learning how to leverage relationships for everyone’s benefit is a key aspect of personal and professional growth.

But, how do people gain social capital?


Sponsorship Shifts Influence

Support for employees requires implementing change. 

People need to build teams where leadership style and trust are mutually positive. Then, empower people to make decisions, and give them the resources and tools to create massive growth. 

Ego stifles growth, but a flourishing team recommends and supports one another, but listening can be a superpower because curiosity and authenticity create credibility.


Curiosity Breaks Barriers

Transformation requires courage despite the possibility of rejection or failing because for every person out there who says no, three to five people may say yes.

We never know who will be our best contact.

Ask, “Who do I want to connect with?” Try to find things in common, and it can be surprising how circumstances intersect. 

Sometimes a little bit of networking converts into revenue for the company.

Networking doesn’t have to take time, but it can convert into high value. Direct lines to influential folks in other companies leverage capabilities quickly.

In the grand scheme of things, the effort is small, and usually, it’s only a couple of minutes. 

Reaching out can be a hard mental block. However, getting over that fear of rejection is pivotal in personal growth. What bubbles out of these connections becomes so much more significant. People think networking takes a big-time commitment, but often it doesn’t. 

Networking takes authenticity, not time. Opening the door and starting that conversation about mutual support is the key. 

To avoid overwhelm, think about one person and one thing you can do for them. It’s a way to connect with life, and one connection on LinkedIn quickly converts to many other relationships.


Transformational Leadership

Transactional leaders have a top-down approach to leadership. 

Transformational leadership inspires people, holds them accountable, motivates them internally, and gives them authority to make decisions.


Transformational leadership brings success to companies

Since Lisa stepped in and implemented transformational leadership practices, their company has grown exponentially in a short amount of time. 

Good leadership is leading folks to do better.

A transformational leader allows you to do the things that you do best. 

“Transformational leaders will enable you to make decisions that are in the best interest of the corporation and your core values.”

When core values align with the organization, decisions are easy to make. Everything lines up.

Aligning an organization’s core values with its employees’ core values creates radical change.

“Sometimes second-generation companies don’t succeed because they manage transactionally, and as the company gets bigger, it becomes more difficult to allow people to make decisions and mistakes happen.”


People Perish without Vision

People can not run businesses without accountability. Use vision to set goals and objectives in alignment with values.

Look at different ways to empower people. 

When people look at their division or area of responsibility as truly their own, they realize the impact of their decisions. They come up with truly unique ideas.

Empowerment leads to crucial conversations about markets, issues, investments and creates task forces more potent than anyone could have foreseen.

Allow safe zones where people can have ideas. Lisa commented, “Just some of these little suggestions made huge improvements” in workflow decisions. Solutions come when people value new ideas. “It was truly transformational.” 


Entering Construction Mid-Career 

Mid-level career transfers can deliver a lot of value, and technical expertise is not crucial to work in this industry. Financial and business degrees are beneficial because these backgrounds give an end-to-end perspective that technical fields lack. 

Transformational leadership asks what diversity inclusion means to them specifically and how the answers make us better people. These leaders teach one another and look at how messages can reach all kinds of people. 

Everyone can learn from each other, and diversity brings value.

The Canadian Association of Women in Construction (CAWIC) is an enthusiastic group of women wanting to grow their voice in construction: skilled trades, leadership, administration, and other functions. They are working as a group with industry, government, and education to look at the problem of the skilled labor shortage.

“We need to support one another. If somebody else gets an opportunity, we all win. That’s the message at the end of the day. This mindset of abundance at CAWC is just the beginning.” 


Simple Action Steps 

Small things like talking to one another, using gender pronouns, and referring to lifelong partners as partners show leadership in leading diversity and inclusion. 

Get connected because networking is vital for leadership, and joining CAWIC is a fantastic place to start.

Diversity is the way forward to addressing the talent shortage. 


To find out more about Lisa Laronde, use this link to LinkedIn or Powell Contracting

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