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How I Used My Team Leadership Skills to Help Build Our House Fence

Updated on August 25, 2017
Austin Kadiri profile image

Austin Kadiri, was born and raised in Nigeria, authored 2 books(The Way We Were and 88 Shades of Blues) both are on Amazon. He lives in TX

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Team Leadership

The School of Media and Communication at Department of Strategic Communication at Temple University stated that organizational leadership is the study of leadership in different types of organizational settings, including for-profit and non-profit organizations.

According to the department, the principles and theories learned in this concentration can be applied to various situations, such as working with teams, working in a multinational Corporation, or when running your own company. Being a leader comes in different compositions. Working in a team environment means there has to be an element of different points of view, meaning people of different backgrounds, cultures, and experts with different knowledge coming together to work in team. This requires that each and every one would play a role of leadership at some point, during the planning process, when the project begins, in the middle of the project, and when the project ends.

TEAM MEMBERS:

A project team according to business dictionary is a group of individuals assembled to perform activities that contribute toward achieving a common task related goal.

Our team, called ‘Team Family’ was made up of my wife, our teenaged son and me.

Project Execution

After the purchase of a property some time ago, the repair of the house fence fell on my household. Before embarking on this project, the question that arose was why build and repair the fence, and when it is built, what would be the function. In asking ourselves those questions, we also took into consideration the styles that best accomplish the function of the fence.

Having a fence around the house has some purposes for us as a family. First, it adds value to one’s property. Second, it beautifies the community, and third, it is the right thing to do.

Also taken into consideration was the style and material that would blend with the house, architecture, and landscape. According to Lowes' before building a fence, it is very important the plans be discussed with the neighbors whose property lies along one's property to make sure the fence is on one's property.

Also before excavation is done, one must check for underground utilities. Local zoning laws are to be checked that regulate the size and placement of a fence.

Different Fence Styles

As the team leader, I gave my wife the task of choosing from among the three different fence styles outline at Lowes’ website. She chose the solid fence style, which, according to Lowes' is the fence style used as containment fencing and that allows for privacy. While there is no swimming pool inside the property, that type of fence, according to Lowes' is commonly used to surround swimming pools and between properties lines. This fence could also be used to conceal unsightly areas or to hide a major roadway from view. These fences are generally four feet to six feet tall and use very closely spaced packets. It should be noted that most of the property fence was intact but needed some work done in some areas. The style that was in place at the time of purchase was the solid fence style, my wife's preferred choice.

To build a durable fence that would last for years to come, according to sites like Lowes and Home depot one need to pay special attention to the materials being used. I took the task of selecting the required materials, like treated lumber approved for ground contact, waterproofing sealer used on the fence after it is done, and galvanized nails with exterior screws that are weather resistant. It so happened that the seller of the property left behind most of the fence materials needed to build and repair the fence.

The responsibility to outline the fence terminology, such as posts, main posts, line posts, rail, bay and gate was given to my teenage son.

Because most of the house fence was in good shape, the fence site had already be measured, so we were not working to make any provisions for the widths and any other provisions required of the fence panels. In following the guidelines at home depot and Lowes’ so as not to deviate from the existing fence line, we staked out the fence line from beginning to the end, following the measurement of the existing fence.

Digging Postholes

The responsibility of digging postholes fell on my son and me. This we accomplished by using a digger and a power auger as recommended by Lowes’ site. The postholes were dug ten inches to twelve inches wide and six inches deeper than required. Each posthole was filled with six inches of gravel so water could be drained from the post bottom.

Setting the Posts

In setting the post, the Lowes’ site fence process was followed. Since most of the house fence was undamaged, we only had to tie a string on the good fence to help serve as a reference that would assure the line posts are in line. The holes were filled using concrete mix, and to make sure the fence is well aligned, and before the concrete is set, we moved to make any necessary adjustment.

Before the fence panels were installed, we allowed for a waiting period of not less than twenty-four hours to allow the concrete to set. Everyone in the team joined in placing the preassembled panels between the posts, which allowed the ends of the panel to rest in the center posts.

Finishing and Maintaining the Fence

After finishing the fence, we thought it could be wise to have it treated with a protective finish coat.

Vision

Whether it is a project being carried out by a business organization or by a family, there is always a vision that outlines what the future of the organization should look like. In embarking on our project of fence building, the vision we had as a family was to build a fence that would add value to our property, add value to our community, and beautify our environment.

To carry out our vision, we would have had to hire a professional to build the fence, pay some money, and wait for an outcome we might not like. As a family, we came together to decide our options in achieving our vision. Our first option was to hire a professional to build the fence. But having made a substantial amount of down payment on our property, we realized we were not financially capable of hiring a professional at that point in time. The second option was to leave the fence as it was until we had enough money to build the fence. My wife did not like that.

The third option was to build the fence by ourselves. We chose the third option. Before agreeing on the third option, I had to convince my wife that working together as a family, we would be able to build a fence that would add value to our property. Since the vision is to build a fence that will add value to our property, I told my wife and son we could use the opportunity to save some money by building the fence by ourselves.

Communication

Convincing my wife to build the fence ourselves was not easy. She did not want me to embark on a project I could not finish. Also, she thought we did not have the know-how to build a fence. She worried we might end up making the whole thing worse.

To convince my wife to buy into my idea, I adopted a communication style that speaks well for her personality. The communication style could be characterized on how some people appear or attempt to appear in communication. So to convince my wife, I decided to use a pen and paper to illustrate in practical terms, with her support and that of our son, we would be able to build a solid fence. I demonstrated by showing her how fences are built. I outlined the resources (means, equipment, tools, materials) we have available left behind by the previous owner of the house and those we could afford with the amount of money we had.

Through analyses, which I did by taking my wife to the broken fence to examine in detail, and then explained how the resources we have and those we would purchase can be used to build a solid fence.

Through pen and paper, I illustrated and went outside with her and our son to demonstrate how the implementation would be carried out.

I discussed with my wife the rules, procedures, regulations, policies, and laws that govern how fences should be built in the city.

I also communicated the financial gain that would result if we built the fence by ourselves. I told her that building the fence would have allowed us to acquire some knowledge in fence building.

My wife was sold on the idea because I was able to show how it would be done. She also got a first look on how much we would gain by building the fence by ourselves.

Supervision

To play a supervisory role means I would have to be informed of every stage of the project status. Excellent status reporting according to Redmond, R., “How To Report Status On A Project” means that as the leader of a team and the supervisor of a project, I am well informed of the project health and the whole direction on where the project is heading.

To accomplish a supervisory role, I, as the leader of my team, followed the three components of status reporting of a project as recommended by Redmond, R., “How To Report Status On A Project”

  • Overall: As the team leader, I used my supervisory role to continuously ascertain whether the overall health of the project was going as planned. As the leader, I wanted to be able to detect if there were any trouble regarding the resources that the team needed. To be able to help make that determination sometimes, as it pertains to the overall health of the project, I have to continuously communicate with my teammates. Our constant communication was to help the team members know such things as, did the purchased fence styles in line with the outline we found at Home depot and Lowes’ sites? Did we have the right amount of waterproofing sealer that would be used on the fence after it is done, galvanized nails with exterior screw that is weather resistant?

At the end of each work time, team members might not know everything I know despite our best efforts to communicate. This would indicate that the fence building might not be as healthy as the team think it is. So, the ability to communicate the vision as the leader of the team to my teammates will in the end help to succeed in carrying out a healthy project

  • Milestones: every major accomplishment during the fence building was completed by specific time and dates. For example, I set a time and dates by which Digging of Postholes, Setting the Posts and Finishing and Maintaining the Fence were going to start and end.

As the leader of the team, I wanted to see which milestones were complete, which ones were in progress, and which ones were coming up next. This we did as a team to enable us to analyze the schedule and decide to either feel comfortable with it or have it challenged.

  • Issues: after the project completion, we thought there could be one or more obstacles we did not see which have been overlooked. There was none.

Feedback--

Providing feedback, according to the article on Harvard Business Review, titled “How to Give Your Team Feedback, by Rebecca Knight, is not solely the team leader’s responsibility. A team leader cannot be the only one holding everyone accountable, since it is not possible for one person to observe everything going on with the project.

As a team and as a family, I created an environment where we relied on each other for periodic feedback meetings to keep us on track, within our financial cushion, and to keep us united. We also adopted corrective strategies during our feedback meetings.

We had our first feedback session to determine if the resources at our disposal were going to be enough to keep us on track during the duration of the project. During the feedback session, I asked everyone if they were comfortable with their assigned task. My wife was very excited about choosing solid fence style, which she thinks would give us some privacy. When I asked my son if he outlined the fence terminology such as posts, main posts, line posts, rail, bay, and gate I assigned to him, he gave me a paper that showed what he did.

I walked my wife and son through the materials l picked out: treated lumber approved for ground contact, waterproofing sealer used on the fence after it is done, galvanized nails with exterior screw that is weather resistant, and others.

Digging Postholes

We dug ten inches to twelve inches wide of postholes, six inches deeper than required. The recommended postholes were ten inches to six inches, but during one of our feedback sessions, I suggested if I dug six inches deeper than required might be a good idea. My wife and son thought it would be a good idea because the fence would be much stronger, so we adopted it.

Setting the Posts

After setting the posts and before the panels were installed, we had another feedback session. During the session, using corrective strategy, I suggested we wait for twenty-four hours or more before installing the panels. This was to make sure the posts would be strong enough.

I also suggested that during the waiting period of not less than twenty-four hours, we each take three hours to check and sprinkle some water to allow the concrete to set.

Maintaining the Fence

During our last feedback session, my wife thought it could be wise to have the finished fence treated with a protective finish coat.

Motivation

I adopted transformational leadership strategy, Johnson, C. E. “Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow,” p.231 to motivate my teammates

Idealized influence: using idealized influence, I was able to motivate my son, who sees me as his role model and who admires, respects, and trust me. Because my son and wife realized the vision of the project would benefit us all, and I was out there trying to accomplish that vision, my son was there with me during the duration of the project, and we were able to stay on the project, encouraging each other to finish the fence.

Putting the team members’ needs above my own and my behavior was consistent with the values and principles of our team: during the fence building, the needs of my team members were placed above mine. Rather than forging ahead to finish my task, I repeatedly checked on my wife and son to make sure they were doing their task properly and helping them when they were behind.

Intellectual stimulation: my son and wife saw me as a leader who stimulates innovation and creativity. As we progressed with the project, my team members were surprised we were doing a far better job than we expected of us. We adopted different techniques through innovation and creativity as we moved along with our project. As we progress with the fence, I encouraged them to question my assumptions, to reframe every technique I have adopted, and to approach their task from a different angle, so it could be done faster and better.

Rather than criticize mistakes made during the project, I instead solicited solutions from my team members. My team members were motivated because their input was continuously used to better the project.

Inspirational motivation: I motivated my team members by providing meaning and challenge to their tasks. By continuously communicating the team vision of building a fence that would add value to our property and save us some money, while at the same time making sure they were working on their task, I was able to arouse team spirit and create enthusiastic and optimistic environment, which allowed us to finish when we reached the team’s desirable vision for the future.

© 2017 Augustine Kadiri

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