W.M. Jordan Company’s founder, Robert “Bob” Taylor Lawson passed on April 11 at age 91. He left behind a larger-than-life legacy through his love for family, the company he built and all who had the good fortune of knowing him.
Bob Lawson, my late Granddad, Robert Taylor, and my Stepdad, Henry Morris, are three mentors and father figures who have had a profound impact on my personal and professional journey. Each with their unique approach, these patriarchs were exceptional communicators who believed in holding people accountable, leading by example and generously offering their time and support. Not only did these gentlemen aim high but they also infused integrity into everything they did.
Lessons learned from my respected mentors helped lay the groundwork for my parenting style. Their influence continues to encourage me to reach my full potential at work.
The leadership of these great men, along with my own experience as a father, inspires me to examine the link between parenting and executive leadership. These concepts have more in common than one may think.
I’ve observed a few lessons in my daily life as both a business leader and a parent.
Learn To Navigate Different Personalities
My two kids are unique individuals. Similarly, my employees have very diverse strengths and assets. Each team member brings varying behaviors, styles and skills. Just like kids, some employees are more challenging or more sensitive than others.
Learning to navigate these traits has been a crucial part of becoming a more effective parent and a better leader. Having a defined set of corporate values sets the organizational tone and helps me manage a variety of personalities more effectively.
Identify what your employees need, just as you would with your children. Seek to understand the interests and talents of each employee and aim to encourage and nurture these curiosities. Embrace their passions and use them to make your organization better.
Leading your kids and your employees down the path of self-discovery not only helps them develop their talents but is also likely to lead to rewarding outcomes and successes.
Curiosity Unlocks Greatness
Kids tend to look at things with an open mind and a fresh perspective. They are extremely observant, visual and naturally creative problem-solvers. Fostering their imagination and curiosity is one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent.
I believe creativity shapes our ability to be successful in the workplace. This is often a differentiating factor in the new era of business.
As a father, I seize learning opportunities with my children often, encouraging them to learn and try new things. Guided by W.M. Jordan’s company culture – which centers on lifetime learning, as well as continual growth and improvement – I tend to seek employees with unique ideas and a zest for personal and professional development.
Show The Love
Team members, just like children, need to know you value and appreciate them. I believe “an attitude of gratitude” can boost your career. Gratitude can help increase your professional network, improve decision making, and even help reduce stress.
Practicing gratitude forces us to be less self-centered, which makes us more likeable and approachable. Not to mention, gratitude makes the workplace and home much more enjoyable.
“Thank you” is one of the earliest phrases we teach our children. It is equally important in our professional lives. Top performers are often given more work and responsibility with very little gratitude for a job well done. Remember to celebrate hard work, contributions and successes.
Establish Values And Expectations
One of my biggest goals in life is to guide my children to be good people and be good to others. An integral part of this is leading by example.
Employees, like children, will mimic what they see. In the professional world, the executive leader is the poster child for appropriate behavior. Holding my kids and my employees accountable to the values of honesty and integrity are critical to the health of the home and the organization.
I am fortunate that W.M. Jordan Company aspires to achieve goals in a family-first environment. Building rapport with your employees and extending goodwill to their families serves as a foundation for establishing trust that helps you connect with your team.
Be An Effective Communicator
Conducting a two-way conversation with a toddler can be challenging. As a parent, I am driven to actively listen and ask questions that encourage interaction.
This initiative is equally important at work. Many communication skills I use to engage with my two young kids also enhance my organization and establish rapport in the office.
Like raising children, executive leadership involves patience, engagement and teamwork. As a leader, I strive to improve my team by encouraging problem solving, compromise, and providing the opportunity to try again. Clear communication moves people along toward a mutually desired direction.
As I grow with W.M. Jordan Company, I realize my opportunity to create change in our organization has a positive impact on many other families aside from my own. This has become my focus and my motivation. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team of dedicated, talented people to create a successful company.
Celebrating Bob Lawson’s remarkable life and the lasting impression he left on so many reminds me how valuable it is to be a positive influence on someone else’s life. Much like parenting, being an effective business leader involves laying the foundation for the success of those you lead.
Bob Lawson built W.M. Jordan Company 60 years ago on a foundation of kindness, integrity and excellence. I hope to uphold the same level of excellence as I lead my household and my W.M. Jordan family.
To learn more about Bob Lawson’s life well-lived, check out this article.
Rob Beale is Vice President at W. M. Jordan Company, leading the company’s efforts in the Carolinas region. W.M. Jordan Company provides construction management, design build, development, virtual construction, sustainability and contracting services to a diverse clientele.Rob opened the company’s Wilmington, NC office in 2012 with only five employees. Six years and two office expansions later, he has grown his staff to 34, with a regional revenue of $85 million in 2017. Rob started with W. M. Jordan Company in 1996 as the company’s first college intern. After earning a BS in Construction Management from Virginia Tech, his career at W.M. Jordan Company quickly accelerated, including nearly every aspect of construction service delivery. As a true believer in life-long learning, Rob continues to develop professionally and personally. He is currently completing an Executive Education Program for Leadership Development at Harvard University. Other past pursuits include the Disney Institute’s Leadership Excellence Program, FMI Construction Executive Institute’s Project Executive Course, and AGC of America’s Advanced Management Course. Rob is also on the Board of Directors for the Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC), Carolinas chapter and serves as a member of both the Board of Directors and the Fun Committee for Wilmington Downtown Inc. (WDI).