The Game Plan: Leadership Lessons From The Field To The Office With Les O’Hara | Ep. 275

Construction Genius | Les O’Hara | Game Plan

 

Managing a business team is pretty much like handling a sports team. That’s why former football coach Les O’Hara now applies his game plan on the field to creating high-performing professional teams. Joining Eric Anderton, he shares how he applies football concepts and lessons to the construction business, which results in better teamwork and highly desirable outputs. Les also talks about the concept of a 90-minute block (and how to spend it wisely) and his four-quadrant approach to helping others determine their unique strengths. Furthermore, find out why having a business coach is never a bad idea and the very important reason why you must get your own chief of staff.

 

Get the One Book Every Construction Leader Must Read: Construction Genius: Effective, Hands-On, Practical, Simple, No-BS Leadership, Strategy, Sales, and Marketing Advice for Construction Companies: https://www.amazon.com/Construction-Genius-Effective-Hands-Leadership/dp/B0BHTRDY1T/

 

Need executive coaching? Book a short call with Eric to discuss how he can help: https://10minuteswitheric.youcanbook.me

 

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/lesohara

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@Build12Network

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The Game Plan: Leadership Lessons From The Field To The Office With Les O’Hara

My guest is Les O’Hara. Les is a former Division 1 Football athlete. A couple of his sons went to Sac State right down the road from me and had tremendous success helping Sac State go from a dormant program to kicking some ass in FSB for a number of years. Les and I had a great conversation about how to run a successful construction company. The good news is Les knows what he’s talking about.

He has built many different businesses, including construction companies. He’s also a coach, an entrepreneur, and a visionary. We get practical about understanding yourself, understanding the people who work for you, using time blocks to be more effective, focusing on what you do well, understanding what you don’t do well, accepting that, and finding people who can fill in the gaps where you fall short. You can build a powerhouse business. We have a practical, straightforward conversation. I know you’re going to enjoy it. Thank you for reading.

Les, welcome to the show.

I’m honored to be here, Eric.

Athletic Background

Thank you for joining me. I’m excited to have you on because I know you have a history that goes back to your athletic background. I want to dive into that because you’ve built a business in construction, and you have that athletic background. Tell us about that background and how it influenced you as you got into business and began to grow your company.

After college, I threw myself into the world of sales, specifically financial products and insurance sales, which is the hardest you can do, and cold calling. I cut my teeth on that business of salesmanship. We had our first child and ran out of money. I had to call my dad, who was a former police lieutenant in Chicago. He always had a roofing business.

My wife and I both played athletics in Minnesota. We love the area. We had many connections, but we said, “Let’s go to Chicago for a year.” I asked my dad for a job and took over sales and all the skillsets that I learned he didn’t have. He wasn’t a business person. He was great at people, as you can imagine, a policeman is.

What I realized was we grew fast. We went from $600,000 to $6 million in under five years. We weren’t business people. I didn’t have a business degree, but we had street smarts. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I needed great mentorship, accountability, and leadership that wasn’t going to happen naturally for me. What I was able to do was take some of the great concepts that I had been infused with me with a major college football program and start applying those same principles to the construction business. That was one of the big factors of our success.

Where did you go to college?

University of Minnesota.

You’re playing D-1 football there. Let’s talk about that because I know many people who are reading are sports fans. I’m a sports fan. I coach sports. We know that there are some strong parallels between sports and business team building. Give me an idea of a couple of the things that you were able to immediately apply in business that you learned as an athlete.

There are many, and I’ll start maybe riffing on some. One of the first things that you would be amazed at in the Division One football program is the practices run like clockwork. What I mean by that is there are timers out on the practice field, and they go in five-minute increments. For every five minutes, the coaching staff have already met and have planned out the exact practice and what’s going to go on during those same five minutes.

Where that applies in the business world is a couple of things. One is your calendar, and your time management as the leader of the business has to be structured, detailed and accounted for. As I coach high-performance entrepreneurs, you’re never going to get into the five-minute block of time. The best that I can do is do it in fifteen-minute blocks of time. If you looked at my calendar on a good day, I’m dialing in a lot of those smaller tasks. If you’re the owner of a construction company and you don’t know how you’re planning those hour blocks of time and getting the exact stuff that you need to do to move this business, this organization, or this sports team forward, you’re behind your competitors that are doing that.

Time Blocks I

Can we talk more about time blocking? I want you to address the owners of the construction businesses specifically. In your experience, what is the perfect length of time when it comes to putting aside a time block?

If I could get an owner to have undistracted, undisturbed phones off a 90-minute block per day of working on that high-leverage activity, that would move the business forward. A lot of times, that 90-minute block undistracted is working on proposals or estimates of a large nature that can turn into sales.

You’ve heard of that concept. We have Eric, where it’s that jar, and the person puts in the big rocks. He puts in the small rocks, the sand, and the water. The concept for the owner is if he doesn’t put in the big rock, it’s never going to get scheduled. It’s that 90-minute block. After that, if you can do things on a 60-minute basis, have one-hour blocks of time, and carve those out for the specific needs that you, as the leader of the company, are going to need to do, that’s going to make all the difference.

Construction Genius | Les O’Hara | Game Plan
Game Plan: If you can do things on one-hour blocks and carve those out for your specific needs as the company leader, it will make all the difference.

 

Let me ask you this. Within a 90-minute block of time, I heard you say work on proposals. What are some of the other activities that need to be focused on? What you’re saying is carve out one 90-minute block of time per day, which is, I like that. What else should we be working on in that 90-minute block?

One of those 90-minute blocks could also be your leadership team. We call it EOS. I also teach the methodology of level 10. You need to have 90 minutes with your executive team moving the big rocks forward.

That’s once a week.

I like coaching the CEO or the owner of the construction company. I believe he has three main responsibilities. One is if he wants to have a company that he’s going to grow and scale and not have to work in the business. One is he’s in charge of the economic engine, the marketing, and the leads. How are the leads going to come in? How are they coming in steadily? What is that ROI if he puts X dollars in Y sales, which are going to be out on the end result? He can’t delegate that out. He can have outside vendors, but that’s a 90-minute block of time working on lead gen. It could be lead magnets, website, and pay-per-click vendor meetings. He needs to dial in those leads. That’s one 90-minute block.

Let’s say he gets to the next day. What’s another block that he should be spending time on? If you’re growing, and you want to build this high-performance organization and have a business that you own, not work into, you need to recruit and hire A players. It’s going to be that person who replaces you as the estimator. It’s going to be a project manager or office manager. I like teaching the chief of staff role. You’re going to have to find great subs.

Chief Of Staff

What do you mean by chief of staff?

Many of us owners, Eric, are the visionaries. We’re the idea guys. What happens is we’re not the executors. What I always needed in my life, in almost every one of my companies, was this chief of staff who could be the one person that I spoke with, telling my ideas and sharing concerns and problems. They’re working through this staff of 3 to 4 mid-level management. Your production manager, sales manager, branding, marketing, CMO, and CFO finance are running that. I love that model. That resonates with me because I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. One of them is keeping tabs on all of the many ideas that I have rolling out there at any given time.

I was chatting with one of my coaching clients, and it’s a husband and wife team. The husband is a brilliant visionary, but he’s uncomfortable with the execution part, whereas his wife is dialed in on the execution part. It’s interesting because if you are a visionary, you can sometimes feel guilty that you’re not good at the execution part and spend years struggling instead of doing what you were you were saying that this is not your gig. You do what you do. You need to bring someone else in to do that execution piece.

It’s eye-opening and freeing as a visionary. I could excel in my business if I focus on what God has given me the talents for. He’s given me the talents for ideas, visions, and problem-solving but not for hand-to-hand management in the execution.

Time Blocks II

It’s important because sometimes business owners feel guilty that they don’t even want to do that stuff and they feel guilty about that instead of saying, “Accept it, find someone else who can do it, pay them the money that they’re worth, and focus on what you do well.” Let’s talk more about these time blocks. We’ve got a time block for meeting with your leadership team, doing marketing and sales, and recruiting. What other time blocks might I have?

The next one is holding those people that you have hired and brought into the team accountable for the results that you want. As a visionary, that’s some of the hard parts, but that’s why you brought them on. What I’ve failed miserably in the past is giving that feedback and hard discussions with this team that you are bringing on.

I would hire people and expect them to get me into the company. Our pastor at Willow Creek Church here for many years was Bill Hybels. In his great leadership summit that he would put, one of the mantras that he drilled in my head was vision leaks. What that told me and taught me was no matter what my vision is, and this is where we’re going, “Team, let’s win the Super Bowl.” That leaks over time as you’re in the trenches fighting weekly or daily.

To be able to get with that person and connect with them is like, “Is everything going well? Are you fulfilled with this job? How are you doing? How can I support you?” If I had to go back to several years ago, that’s one tool that I wish I had a coach like you, Eric, that would say, “Coach me on that. Hold me accountable for building into the people because I was this coach. Listen to me. This is where we’re going.” That doesn’t work nowadays.

Accountability

Let’s talk more about accountability. What are the most effective ways for someone to hold other people accountable? You have a particular framework that you use with people, and you encourage people to use it. What would you say are some good ways for that to happen?

It starts on the front end when you bring them on, having a stellar job description with the deliverables that you are expecting them to make. The more that you could turn those deliverables into performance metrics, some KPIs 35% gross profit on the production, 50 leads per week for the business, or twenty social media posts and followers. You know how you can get into specific KPIs.

What is the barrier for them not to achieve those KPIs? You, as the owner, have to eliminate those. You have to let them shine. You recruit a great wide receiver who is unbelievable, and he can catch. You’re bringing him on to catch ten balls a game. You’re not throwing him the ball. That’s on you, coach. It’s not on him. Setting your employees to succeed based on that initial agreement, “Here’s the job description. Here’s what we’re expecting.” You’re checking in on that frequently to make sure everyone is aligned and still feeling good about the agreement.

A lot of people are uncomfortable holding other folks accountable, but even before you have the conversation or the specific discussion about an issue, if you’ve done that job description, they’re clear on the deliverables and how they’re being measured, and you’ve done your job as a leader to remove those barriers to them performing, you have earned the right to hold them accountable and have that difficult conversation.

One of the other challenges is continuing to earn their trust that you have their back. You are going to give them the support. You’re not going to leave them off on an island. You’re going to give them the tools necessary. You’re going to remove those obstacles and distractions from them having to do the job. What I also caution the owners about is a job description, not leakage, but creep. You gave them this, but now they’re starting to do good. You, as the visionary, are like, “I’m going to keep dumping this on there.” This person does it, and everything gets watered down. You have to be careful that you don’t overload them with too many expectations.

One of the challenges of leadership is continuing to earn the trust of your team. Let them know you have their backs and you are ready to give them support. Share on X

Having laid out what they’re supposed to do and removed the barriers, if they fail to execute or achieve their KPIs, walk me through what that accountable conversation looks like when you’re going to hold someone accountable.

I wish I could say that I have dialed in Eric on this one. I’m almost faulty in this. It’s shameful because it’s hard. It’s a difficult conversation. One of the great books that my wife and I read often is Crucial Conversations. The other great mantra that I have is confronting the brutal facts that go from good to great. Having those conversations is tough for me. It’s always happened late in the game.

Construction Genius | Les O’Hara | Game Plan
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

What your audience should learn from my mistakes is that I didn’t stay on top of those conversations before it was too late or before the resentment set in with me that this person wasn’t achieving and I wasn’t coaching. I call myself a contractor coach, but I am guilty of not coaching my own players well enough on their performance.

Think about a time when you did hold someone accountable. You’re not alone. Most of us don’t enjoy accountable conversations. What did you do to put yourself in the right space to have that accountable conversation? It’s like when you go onto a field to play the game. When you’re playing football, there’s conflict. You have to get yourself in the right mindset to be able to be on the field and engage in that conflict. It’s so, too, with accountable conversations. There’s that potential for conflict. How can someone prepare themselves mentally to get into that conversation and do it successfully?

Since I have you here with me, I’m going to tap into your expertise and give you the two scenarios of my leadership style over the years, and we can have it come up from the discussion. Since all my boys were young, I coached them all in youth sports and had a lot of success. I’m coaching football at the high school level, where we had great success. I was under the leadership of a great head coach for a number of years. I was the head coach in the youth, and I learned how to be an assistant coach.

The holding accountability, when they are your players in an athletic environment if you have built a relationship with them and they know and trust that you are for them and you want their best interest, I would coach my players, and my sons will all say the same thing. It’s hard because they knew I wanted the best for them, and I wanted them to have all the success that they wanted in that chosen sport.

If you weren’t a hard charger, you were out for fun, and you didn’t care, I didn’t care. I wouldn’t coach you as hard. You’re off on your own. We take me into the business world. It’s not this relationship. I never considered myself a big boss, and you guys work for me. I always felt like I was bringing people in here and saying, “Here’s where I’m going. Let’s all do this together.” It’s more like, “Peer, let’s do this. This is the vision.”

Coaching them hard is hard in the business world without hurting feelings, having these crucial conversations where it could be sensitive, and holding people accountable. The best people who have worked for me would come to me as the owner and say, “How can I be better? What am I doing wrong? What should I be doing here? I have this problem. This is a solution that I’m thinking of.” Those were the people that I could hold accountable and push, but the other people, I wouldn’t be pushing them. I would realize they’re not who I thought they were.

It would get to the point where it was obvious at the end. I would have so much resentment that I would have this meeting. It’s not working out, and they are never given a chance to be coached to greatness. As I’m building all these new companies and new teams on there, what would your advice be? How can I stop that mentality in the business world?

It’s interesting because you’re talking about a group of people who are coming to you wanting to be coached, and that sounds to me like something that’s innate in them. They already have it in them. That leads me to think that what you have to work hard at doing is trying to identify that particular trait when you’re hiring. That’s not necessarily easy to do because hiring isn’t more an art than it is a science.

I would want to look at and talk to them when I’m hiring them about the accountable conversations or the accountable structures they’ve been in previously. That’s a lot of the reason why people like to recruit folks who’ve been to some sporting environment into their businesses. If they’ve succeeded in any way in athletics, it’s because they’ve been willing to be held accountable to one degree or another.

It has something to do with your hiring, and it has to do with you creating that environment where there’s an expectation of accountability so that people filter themselves out quickly. Identify the people who don’t want to be held accountable, and you have a decision to make. You can’t fire everyone right off the bat. You’ve got projects that you have to build, but you have to note who doesn’t want to be held accountable. Either give them the tools that they need to succeed and see if they can step into a more accountable perspective or move them down the road at some point.

Seeing examples of where they’ve been coached hard, where they have elicited coaching from their direct reports, or who they’re reporting to would be eye-opening to get on the front end. I like the former athletes. They get it inherently.

That’s why one of the things that you want to do as a construction company owner, whatever town you’re in, is to establish relationships with the high schools and the colleges there and get to know the football coach at the high school or the college and the people who are there. As a result, you may be able to identify some talents that were not obvious and bring them in. They have the right mindset. We all know that in construction, you can learn the business over a period of time if you have the right mindset and are willing to be held accountable and work hard. That’s another perspective that you might want to think of in terms of a long-term recruiting strategy.

Working for a tradesman and learning the business is so much more valuable in the long term of building your own business than spending four years in college. Share on X

I reached out to the high school coach because I know our industry is lacking with great people. There’s such a dearth of people to do the work in the trades that I thought, “Let me get in there and teach the boys.” You don’t have to go to college nowadays. You can work for someone. That 3 or 4 years of working for a tradesman and learning the business would be more valuable to you in the long term of building your own business than spending four years in college learning philosophy.

I hope you’re enjoying my conversation with Les. I have a quick plug here from my book, Construction Genius: Effective Hands-on Practical Simple No BS, Leadership Strategy, Sales and Marketing Advice for Construction Companies. One of the things I love about this book is that you can take one chapter, read it, and apply it right away.

We’ve talked a lot about time blocking here with Les. There’s a whole chapter in this book that includes time blocking and how to think through what is most important to you so that you can avoid interruptions and distractions that keep you from executing at the highest level. If you took that one chapter from Construction Genius, thought about it, and applied it, it would have a tremendous positive impact on you and your business. The good news is there are twelve chapters in the book. You can take one chapter a month. Take a couple of lessons from each chapter, apply it to your business, and move on to the next chapter. That’s how you’re going to get the most value.

Another way to get value is to purchase a copy of the book for you and everyone in your leadership team. If you purchase ten or more copies, here’s a special offer that you have to take advantage of. Contact me at [email protected]. Let me know if you purchased those copies. I will schedule a one-hour question-and-answer session via Zoom with you that includes bonus leadership training for your team. We’ll get some training done for your organization in that hour slot over Zoom.

I normally charge $3,000 for an hour of my time. You’ll get it for under $200 if you purchase ten of these paperbacks at $19.99 each on Amazon. That’s called a killer deal. Go out there and get yourself those books. I know you’ll get great value from Construction Genius. Let’s get back to our conversation with Les.

Strengths And Weaknesses

We all know what killer opportunities there are in construction. You don’t have to have any college debt. You can learn a trade. You don’t have to stay in the field the whole time. If you want to, that’s great, but you can always work your way into the office. We all know project managers who have field experience are more effective than some guy or gal who comes out of college with a degree. One of the things I’m curious about is as we grow and as human beings, we hopefully begin to get a better understanding of ourselves and how we behave. In your work, what tools have you found useful to understand yourself and other people in terms of the teams that you’re building in your businesses?

From that same global leadership summit in past years, we had Marcus Buckingham speak. It was eye-opening in his talks on knowing and understanding your specific strengths as a business person. I went on a quest to learn not only my strengths. It’s now Gallup. Gallup has this great assessment. It’s called StrengthsFinders. Everyone in my family has taken it, but anyone that I’m thinking of hiring and also who is working for me needs to take it because it does such an excellent job of helping you understand what your strengths are and where they should be applied. They do the top five. There are 34 strengths. I’ll show you how it’s been a game changer for me and how I build organizations and help other owners build theirs.

My number one strength is activator. Activator teaches you that you like to get things going. If someone has an idea or you have an idea, I’ll put it into action. We will get it off of the ground quickly. For many of my peers, friends, and people that I coach, one of the biggest things that I could bring to them is they’re a visionary. They have an idea. We’re going to get it executed and figure out how to do it.

This happens to me every day. I get former clients and friends who are like, “Les, I have this idea.” I started a sports training facility in our area because we didn’t have one. I said, “Why can’t we do it?” It took me a few years, but I figured out partnerships, facilities, what you need, and business models, and I do that.

One thing I know is that’s my number one skill. That’s your superpower. Every strength that you have could be a weakness. They call it a shadow weakness. The weakness there is I’ll get things started, but then I get bored easily. I need someone on my team, that is, that chief of staff or integrator, who’s going to take the idea and say, “Les, I got it. I’m going to take it the next twenty yards down the field.” I’m great at starting the plays and getting us going, and I need to hand it off.

My second skill that has shown up in my life is maximizer. Maximizer likes taking things that are good right now and turning them great. When I work with a company, and I know they’re good, have a decent system, and have a nice brand, I like putting the cherry on top. Let’s make this a great entity. Let’s build things out.

When I coach all these football teams, I like building something great, a dynasty. Let’s have recurring championship seasons and all that’s involved there. That has helped me decide when I’m in the business world. What should I be doing? Should I be doing things on the execution side or more on the influencing and the relational side? My third skill is a relator. I won’t go into all of them, but I’m good at understanding your business. Let’s understand each other on a heart-to-heart and build off of that.

Now that I know what my strengths are, I could hire people where my weaknesses are. If you look at my spreadsheet, my whole team, every company that I own, and the people that are running it, we do the StrengthsFinders. There are four quadrants. One is on executing, relationship building, influence, and strategy. You can’t have everyone on your team in 1 or 2 of those buckets. You’re trying to even out the organization.

What I found in us building the coaching practice is that we have some complimentary services like VA services for construction owners and CRM for them to keep track of all their pipelines and do SMS and email marketing. What I realized was that we have many people on the team who are strategic. They are all great. We have all these great ideas, and here’s what we have to get. We had no one on the team who was great at execution. Here we were having meetings, and we’re all like, “These are great ideas. Let’s do this.” We will keep meeting, and none of the ideas are getting done.

What do you do? I looked at the chart and said, “We have no one on the execution side of the equation. Who can we bring on the team that that’s their strength?” They love to execute, build systems, solve problems, and see it work. If any owner and his key leadership team would do that exercise, follow up with a coach. I have a great coach to recommend. She’s a StrengthsFinders coach. She can go into an organization and say, “You’re this. She’s that. He’s this.” She knows how to put everyone in the right places and how to communicate with each other.

Four Quadrants

Let me ask you about those four quadrants. I understand the execution, strategy, and the big picture. Tell me about the relationship and the influence. What do those quadrants mean?

In the influencing realm, it’s those who lead by influencing that help their team reach a much broader audience. These are the ones that are going to help grow your social media. They’re going to be brand-building. People with this strength are always selling the team’s ideas inside and outside the organization. These are the people who are great for lunch and learning, meeting realtors, and participating in the BNI networking groups. They’re going to be the great rah-rah people inside the team.

When you need someone to take charge, speak up, and make sure that the team and the business are heard, look for someone who has that strength. We had that covered. The one on relationship building says, “Those who lead through relationship building, they’re the essential glue that holds the team together.” These are the people that have empathy. That’s my wife. Her number one is empathy. That’s one of my weaknesses. That’s what makes us great as a partnership, her and I.

Without those strengths in a team, the group is simply a composite of individuals. Leaders with great relationship-building strength have the unique ability to create teams and organizations that are much greater than the sum of their parts. You need that if you’re that hard-charging entrepreneur. That is way in front of people. You need that person to say, “Les, slow down. We’re not with you right now. We need to circle the wagons, get more buy-in, and hear that US visionaries don’t have empathy.”

Leaders with great relationship-building strength have the unique ability to create teams and organizations that are much greater than the sum of their parts. Share on X

With the strategy, give us a quick summary of that. I know what you mean, but I’d like to hear it from your perspective.

Strategy leaders with great strategic thinking are the ones that keep us focused on what could be. They’re seeing all the potential that we have and all of the roadblocks and opportunities. They’re constantly absorbing and analyzing information. They’re helping the team make better decisions. They are these people. They’re constantly stretching us on what the future could be and what it holds for us if we can get to the promised land.

If you’re an owner and you don’t have anyone on your team in that realm, you need to find someone who could help you identify this, which is a great strategic plan for you and the organization. This is where you can go. You can see those four main realms where your top five strengths lie in those four quadrants. It is eye-opening to see how you lead this organization to the next level.

Let’s say I’m hiring a laborer or an office person. Do I send them through some assessment before I hire them? Is it after I hire them? What do you recommend people do there?

I do it on the front end. I want to know more of those facts ahead of time. If you need someone on your team to get in the nitty-gritty, and you’re hiring them to build systems and processes or execute on some organizational goals, and they don’t have any execution strengths in there, it’s not going to be fit. If you’re hiring a chief of staff, I want that chief of staff to be the person who communicates inside and outside of the organization.

If they don’t have any relationship-building strengths and you’re hiring them to be the glue that keeps communications and your vision alive downstream, you realize that’s not going to fit. If I’m hiring a laborer or a worker in the business, I’m not using the StrengthsFinders. I would say, “This is for your people. If you thought you’re bringing on this worker to be a lead carpenter or potentially a project manager, I would have that.” I want to cast their future. I want them to see their strengths and where their strengths can be expressed in the business that I’m showing them.

Personal Coach

What would you say over the years are some keys to an individual achieving high performance?

One was, without a doubt, and this will make you and me smile, but having a personal coach. How do some people feel like they don’t need one or can’t get value in an ROI from having a coach that is aligned with your ideas and vision is going to help you get there faster and avoid the roadblocks that we’ve already faced in our life?

I, as a newbie in business, didn’t have that person. What I was blessed with was I found a group of Christian business owners that would meet on a monthly basis. It was an offshoot of a Christian businessmen’s forum, which I learned about when I was in insurance sales early on. The minute that I got into this group of other business owners who were already seasoned and who were going to build into my life hold me accountable to running the business, honor God, and make sure that the employees were first and foremost, I didn’t have to change the world. I had to change myself, the business, and all the people that I could influence through that. That was the genesis of realizing, “Accountability and wisdom are going to help me learn this faster than I am reading Forbes Magazine, Inc. Magazine in every book I could grab. That was number one.

Number two is I found a one-on-one coach, Tom Barine from the EMyth, who was an incredible coach and taught me the fundamentals of running a business through systems and processes. One that he drilled into my head was you can’t run out of money before you do it. Part of my first part of coaching anyone is that I need to help them get a cashflow forecasting system up and running using the methodology that he’s taught me over these years. We need to know that we’re not going to run out of money. Once you take care of that, much goodness comes after that.

Eric, the quick answer is you want to be a high-performance CEO leader of your company. You need someone who is going to coach you hard, see your blind spots, get to learn you and your nuances and your weaknesses, be a sounding board for you, and be that person who’s going to push you to be the next evolution of who you need to be to run a truly remarkable organization.

What makes an effective coaching conversation, do you think? Let’s assume you have a coach. What makes for that effective conversation?

One thing that I feel great about is empathy and connection. Number one, they need to know that you’re for them. It’s similar to what we talked about earlier. The players that I coached hard already knew that I was for them, and I wanted them to become the best that they could be. You need to make sure that gets covered somewhere in your building blocks when beginning the relationship. It’s a relationship building.

The second thing that some of the most powerful ways that I’m able to coach is being direct in saying, “Meeting all great coaches. This is amazing.” We’ll tie it back into the division one football. Not only did after every game you break down the film. Every play was shown again, in slow motion, back and forth. Every position and every play that you made was micromanaged. How did you start with your foot going back to where you put your hand? That gets dialed in.

Here’s the amazing thing. It’s not only on game days but every practice was also filmed. Before you went to practice the next day, what did you do? You watched the film about the practice before, and you also watched your opponent’s previous games. How does that apply to the high-performance CEO of a construction company?

If you don’t have your mentor or coach saying, “Let’s look at your previous week and show me your calendar of where you spent the time.” That’s my game. I need to see the game film. Did you carve out that 90-minute block? What did you do at that time? This other time, there’s all this gap. It’s two hours. There’s nothing in there. What did you do at that time? Where’d that time go? It’s squandered. You’re saying you’re not getting the results you want. I’m showing you the game film right here. This is why. You’re not time-blocking all the things that you need to do. If you did that alone of helping an entrepreneur look at his time management and see how he’s spending it, that’s a game changer.

Time Blocks III

That’s one of the things that every leader has to do. The question that you have to ask yourself is, when you put aside those time blocks, where are the distractions and interruptions that are keeping you from executing those time blocks?

That’s one of my keys. You heard the clock go off. It’s saying it’s 11:00. Every 30 minutes, it’s reminding me that the time block is up, Les. It’s great timing that happened. I should remember that when I do podcasts, I have to turn them off.

I was wondering where that was coming from. I was like, “That sounds strange.” I get what you’re saying there is because you’re conscious of the time. What I find with a lot of the folks that I work with is that the reason why their time blocks don’t work is because they don’t communicate to other people that this is my time block. When they do tell people, they’re not diligent enough to say no to people when they come and try to interrupt them. You have to jealously guard those time blocks if they’re going to be effective. You’re going to be able to spend the time working on your business, not just in your business.

The urgency is not important. What we owners are facing every day is all of those distractions. I have Slack, emails, and the phone ringing. The bottom line is you have to put the phone on silent mode, put your computer in a do-not-disturb mode, and tell your staff, “I’m going down for 90 minutes. I’ll let you know.”

Construction Genius | Les O’Hara | Game Plan
Game Plan: Stay focused and avoid distractions by putting your phone on silent and turning on the Do Not Disturb Mode on your computer.

 

Closing Words

We could talk for hours here about all of the different ways that we can be more effective as a leader, but tell us more about yourself, the work you do, and how people can get in touch with you.

Eric, I like to mention that I own a masonry company. We’re in two states. It’s under $4 million a year on a given year. The way I run the business takes me about 10 to 15 hours a week. I put it in on a Monday. I meet with my executive team. We do the level ten type meeting. I do the cashflow forecast. We know what bills need to be paid. I’m monitoring the marketing leads and all that’s coming in.

I say that because I’ve been able to do that. What I get to do now is my passion for coaching other contractors on how to have a business similar to that. If they wanted to own a business that they didn’t have to work and put in 50 hours a week, they wanted to build something that could be a great investment for them and go on and build another one. That’s my model. That’s called the Contractor Huddle.

We have one-on-one coaching, CRM, and consulting for larger companies we come in. We provide fractional CFO and CMO services. We help them with lead gen. I want it to be a great place for a contractor to come and have a trusted fellow contractor that has all been vetted out and has done what they’re looking to do.

Who is your ideal client? Who is the contractor? What size are they? How many employees do they have that you thrive with when you’re working with folks?

I would call it two main avatars. The one is that person who finally busted where I was when I took over the family roofing business at $600,000. They’re doing $500,000 at the minimum, but more like $750,000. They’re getting to the $2 million to $3 million mark. There are many of those plateaus that they’re hitting. They’re not knowing the building blocks and the fundamentals to get them to the next level. That’s one avatar.

We help those owners to get the simple 80-20 of systems and cashflows and dial in the numbers so that they can get to the next level. It’s the owners that are doing $4 million to $15 million plus. It’s more of that trusted advisor. You need more high-level CFO work. Let’s look at the financials budgeting. You need a CMO. We need a comprehensive marketing plan. You need a performance coach or an executive who is driving you and your leadership team. That’s where my team and I come in. It’s more hands-on. Let’s help you find the blind spots.

How can people get in touch with you, Les?

Everyone is going on LinkedIn nowadays. Connect with me over there. There are a lot of resources on there. LesOHara.com is another easy way. The Contractor Huddle is the final way. Those are all great ways. Reach out to me on LinkedIn. Tell me that you saw us on Construction Genius. I love your show. It’s something I wish I started and could do, but if you’re already doing it at a high level, I’m going to defer to you. Well done. I admire your coaching practice, and I have nothing but great things to say about you and the company that you have built.

I appreciate that, Les. Let me encourage you. If you ever want to start a show, go right ahead because there’s plenty of room for people like yourself who have the experience that you have to have a tremendous impact. Feel free to think about it because there’s plenty of room for everyone here. We’ll put links in the show notes to all of Les’s websites. You can get in touch with him and connect with him on LinkedIn. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. Thanks for joining me on Construction Genius.

Eric, thank you. It’s my honor.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to connect with Les there on LinkedIn and at the other links in the show notes to his various websites. In addition, please give the show a rating or a review wherever you get your show. Share this with other people. Give me some feedback. What did you like best about this episode? What, if anything, would you change about it? What questions didn’t I ask that you wish I had? I love to get your feedback. Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. I take that feedback seriously. It helps me to improve my game through these episodes. Thanks again for reading. We’ll catch you on the next one.

 

Important Links

 

About Les O’Hara

Construction Genius | Les O’Hara | Game PlanLes O’Hara isn’t your run-of-the-mill entrepreneur – he’s a powerhouse of innovation and transformation, and the podcast stage is where his dynamic energy truly shines. With three decades of experience as a serial entrepreneur, he’s turned a $600,000 venture into a thriving $6 million enterprise. Buying and selling several other successful businesses along the way.

Now, he’s on a mission to huddle up with his audience, sharing the playbook of his knowledge and empowering podcast listeners with the tools to elevate their entrepreneurial journey. As a seasoned mentor and coach who doesn’t just play defense in business, Les isn’t just throwing around advice; he’s scoring tangible results. His winning drive is matched only by his commitment to making power moves. We know your audience is geared up to tackle challenges, amp up accountability, and sprint towards financial success! Les has the personalized game plan to lead them there.