Iím Not Here to Dictate to my Team
Vice President, Buildings, WGI Inc.
What makes a leader?
As a leader, I’m not here to dictate to my team. I’m here to support them in succeeding at their jobs and try to make sure they know I’m there to support them. Face-to-face interaction is vital, and I work hard to get to know the members of my team and their families. When you really know people and what’s important to them—know their strengths and weaknesses—you can put them in a position to succeed.
What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
A manager is more focused on results and performances; a leader drives you to get to those results. A leader comes up with a vision and a strategy to achieve that. Leaders are also more focused on relationships. Leaders see a team; managers see employees.
How do you motivate yourself to see things anew every day?
I try to make myself available to adapt. You can’t lead two different teams in the exact same way. You need to lead in a way that gives the team what it needs to succeed—building the team, motivating it, making sure people are in the right seat. When the team is successful, it keeps me going. In the old tv show “The A Team,” Hannibal Smith used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.” At our firm, we’ve had a lot of success lately. We’ve merged five teams, structural teams in Texas and Florida, a parking team, restoration team, and an MEP team, all of which used to work independently. Now they collaborate, and the sum has turned out to be greater than the individual parts. As a result, the division has taken off, which
has really benefited our firm and our clients.
What are the biggest challenges you face today in 2022 as a leader?
This is a tough labor market. We want to get the right people in the right jobs to achieve our goals and that requires a lot of effort. Also, the constant shifts in the economy pose challenges. We need to position the firm for success as the environment evolves, as it inevitably will.
Do the C titles make a difference and if so, how?
I don’t care about C titles. We foster open collaboration at all levels, and that’s important. We have an open-door culture where everyone is encouraged to collaborate with everyone else.
From historical figures to people in public eye, who would you want to be your leader/CEO?
I know Elon Musk has become controversial recently, but he was always a guy who could make things happen. He has always been a visionary leader who can come up with creative solutions to really difficult problems and accomplish them with style.
What are the essential ingredients for a successful team?
Communication and collaboration are number one. When possible, I like to communicate—and I like my team to communicate—face-to-face or verbally, not just by email. I see a lot of value in getting together in a room and working together to build a team culture that everyone buys into. I also try to find people who are passionate about what they do and make sure we have the right people in the right seat. You have much happier and more productive team members when they are doing what they like.
What is your dream job?
When I was younger, I wanted to do anything that would get me onto a mountain or beach. But I like what I’m doing now because it’s something I’m good at and I’m enjoying it.
How do you re-invent yourself daily to avoid being complacent?
I don’t reinvent myself daily. But when there’s something outside my comfort zone that I don’t like doing, I lean into that. When I was younger, I would go for jobs that I may not have entirely been qualified for at the time and made myself become qualified. With this approach, I had to be more focused on those skillsets that I was still figuring out. Now I’m comfortable with who I am and the work I do.//
Shad Shafie, Vice President, Buildings, WGI Inc.