The Path to Excellence is Paved with Intention

Lifting People Up to Their Highest Potential

In his 1968 book, The Peter Principle, Dr. Laurence J. Peter argues that people routinely end up in job roles they’re not suited to because workers get promoted based on their performance, not their potential. The result is that workers are moved into management positions despite lacking the skills needed to succeed in that role. A Harvard Business Review study in 2018 supports this idea, showing these problems in management are just as big today as they were back in the ‘60s.1

You don’t have to pick up a book to see this in action, though. We’ve all had the experience of working on a job site with a foreman who doesn’t know how to lead a team, a superintendent who can’t manage a project, or upper management who seems completely removed from reality. And with the current construction job market, it’s easier than ever to walk away from a poorly run company. This leads to even higher turnover, further shrinking the talent pool of potential leaders.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Leadership skills can be trained, and companies that invest in the growth and development of their employees will be rewarded with strong leaders and, ultimately, stronger teams.

Leadership Needs Practice, Just Like Any Other Skill

At Jaynes, we raise our team members up with intention and support so they can grow into their roles. That’s true of every employee, from apprentices developing into skilled journeymen to our top executives.

We make a point of promoting from within. But it’s not enough to simply raise our best employees to higher positions. If we’re not taking the time to help them succeed, we’re doing them and the rest of the team a disservice. So we’ve approached leadership with intentionality by incorporating GiANT Leadership principles into our training methods.

GiANT is a people-focused leadership development program that teaches company leaders how to be better listeners and communicators. It teaches ways to get the most from a team by identifying, embracing, and using the strengths of every member. Maybe more importantly, it provides a shared language framework for easier communication, making it simpler for each generation of leaders to train up the people who will replace them.

Preparing Each Generation to Rise Beyond the Last

We began applying GiANT principles in 2015, before our CEO and President, Shad James, had assumed his current role. Knowing our previous leader would be stepping down, we started to assess our team through the framework of GiANT and our long-term company goals.

What strengths did the rest of the leadership team possess? Where would there be holes to fill in terms of knowledge, personality, and expertise? What new advantages would Shad bring to the role, and how could those be best leveraged and put to use?

Approaching these questions purposefully was the first step. Developing a plan for transferring knowledge was the second key. Planning for succession early on allowed for more time to be invested in mentorship and slowly transitioning responsibilities and decisions. That allowed us to avoid the common problem of new leadership bringing in a whole change of process that would disrupt workflow.

Culture Is a Foundation Legacies Are Built Upon

We don’t limit this kind of thinking to the president. In 2022, we established a Senior Management Group to ensure every key employee knows who will be assuming their role and building up the next generation of management. We also have a policy of pairing off experienced workers with less-experienced ones at every level, giving everyone a clear path up to the highest level of excellence they want to strive for.

Investing in our people is a cornerstone of Jaynes. We think it goes a long way toward addressing some of the turnover problem that’s ailing the construction business.

Good, intentional leadership development is central to establishing and maintaining a healthy company culture that nurtures talent and delivers consistent, quality results to the people you serve. That’s how you attract, keep, and hone the best talent. And it’s how you build a legacy that outlives any single leader or team.


1Benson, A., Li, D., & Shue, K. (2018, April 10). Research: Do people really get promoted to their level of incompetence? Harvard Business Review.