6 Steps to Become A Great Facility Management Leader

by James McDonald on February 28, 2014

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games spotlights the most accomplished athletes of our era.  The leaders in their arenas fighting for the “top spot” on that medal podium.  While a majority of us will likely never find ourselves vying for a spot in this prestigious competition, there is much about these athletes that we can learn from.  Pioneers in the professional world employ many of the same leadership philosophies that these Olympians possess.  To achieve greatness on the field or off, one must possess these attributes daily, accepting nothing less than greatness.  After all, it is not WHAT you do, but HOW you do it.

6 Steps for Great Facility Management Leadership

1. “Train” every day–It seems obvious that an Olympic athlete would train daily right?  Why then, would we not incorporate this practice into our work environment as well?  To be the best at anything, one must maintain daily focus, striving to be a little bit better today than you were yesterday.  That old adage “it’s all in the details” Being a great leader will earn your spot on the podiumcomes to mind.  Taking note of and appreciating the details are critical to any Olympian’s success, as well as any prize-winning facilities manager.  We are constantly being provided new and improved tools to aid us in managing our professional endeavors.  Whether it’s tools to improve our sustainability efforts, educational tools or software tools like iOffice’s space utilization software, a true leader embraces ALL of the tools at their disposal to excel at their job.

2. Going the extra mile–Those that have risen to the top will tell you they did not do so by being mediocre.  Stay late at practice, offer to help lighten a fellow employee’s workload, continually research the latest in technology trends.  All without being asked.  Lead by example and the rest will follow.  That is what sets the leader apart from the rest.

3. Surround yourself with a winning team–Any successful Olympic athlete will tell you they couldn’t have done it without the people they had on their side.  From family, to coaches to the athletes they train with, they are provided the support and feedback they need to better themselves daily.  In a world where there is often someone waiting in the shadows to take your spot, it is critical to align yourself with a team that you are able to communicate openly with–one that is willing to make the sacrifices to get you to your common goal.

4. Think success–Many successful athletes practice visualization.  Your mind only knows what you tell it.  Feed it defeat and you will be defeated.  Feed it success and you will be successful.  Focus on what you envision for you and your organization and feed those desires daily.  Never let anyone (including yourself) let you believe you can be anything but successful.

5. Turn your “failures” into triumphs–With all success comes disappointment.  The key is how you handle these setbacks.  Regardless of how large or small the setback is, it is only a failure if you allow it to be. The mark of a successful leader is in their ability to turn these setbacks around into successes. Your willingness to learn from your mistakes, as well as others, is what will set you apart from the pack.  Be open to constructive criticism, accept ownership for mistakes and learn from them–it is all “part of the process”.  Every great leader has risen from the ashes of a grand mistake, dusted themselves off and turned it around into the greatest of lessons.

6. Manage your time rather than allowing it to manage you–Whether you are an athlete, a stay at home mom or a leader in your field, time is precious.  The ability to effectively use your time is essential for every great leader.  If you are given two weeks to get a project done, the average worker would get it done in two weeks.  A leader takes as much time as it takes to get the project done, and uses their leftover time to help others and/or work on the next task.  As a successful facilities management leader, the recognition that there ARE only so many hours in the day is critical.  If you are planning the move of your organization to a new building and provide a deadline that you know is impossible, you set yourself and your team up for unnecessary struggles.  Your actions not only affect you, they stand to affect every employee, the contractors, and, ultimately, the business’ bottom line. Utilize your time wisely and be reasonable in the deadlines you commit to.

The competitive, cutthroat professional environment today does not allow for mediocrity.  Only the best of the best survive.  As the facilities manager, you wear many hats.  Your CEO is entrusting you with the company’s financial success and the IT and HR departments are looking to you to provide the tools that make their jobs easier.  The organization’s entire staff is trusting that you have found the tools to be there when they need them most.  Simply put, they look to you to lead them.  It is not only what you do, but HOW you to it that will help you establish your role as their leader.


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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