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A Fresh Perspective in Leadership can be Powerful, if it Meets a Few Important Criteria

A Fresh Perspective in Leadership can be Powerful, if it Meets a Few Important Criteria

Jason Hendricks
Performance Contracting Group, Inc.
April 11, 2023

It is not uncommon for a company founder to be an operator. Nor is it unusual for leadership through the early years, while a company is setting its foundation and solidifying its identity and strength, to draw from the operators who have worked there since the beginning. But at a certain point, as a company grows, scales, and moves into its next phase, a leader who sees things through a different lens can bring new insight and help a company expand in ways it may not have seen before. A few critical pieces need to line up to make this a success: the new perspectives this person brings must solve problems that have been identified, his or her mindset must be in line with the values of the company, and the new leader must take the time to learn the business inside and out.

I like to think that I met these criteria and brought a fresh perspective to Performance Contracting Group, Inc. (PCG). My education and degree in finance as well as my experience and time as a professional baseball player brought two very unique perspectives to a company that was growing fast. My perspectives and how they would enhance the leadership of the company didn’t happen overnight; I first had to learn what I didn’t know to be an asset to PCG.

I joined PCG 20 years ago as they undertook the task of helping build out the finance department. I had no experience in construction. Up until that point, and for the better part of my career there, PCG had been run by operators who had come up through the trades or had a background in construction management. That made sense as the company set its foundation in pursuit of operational excellence. When I came on board, they were growing into their next phase, both in terms of complexity and geography. They were at the point where it made sense to complement the deep operational experience with financial expertise.

I did not step directly into executive leadership; that is an important part of this story. I spent almost ten years working in our branch offices as I worked to gain exposure to the various business units within the company. My mentors guided me in my own career path all while teaching me the business inside and out. And my background in finance allowed me to help the company and fellow employee owners understand the value and benefits of being 100% employee owned, something we are very passionate about today.

Over time, and through many conversations, questions, and connections, I came to understand how to see our operations through the eyes of all employees, no matter what their responsibilities were – what we did, how we did it, what the drivers of the company were, etc. I learned an enormous amount about construction, and I learned even more about the most important aspect of it all – PCG’s identity and purpose.

At PCG, we are in the construction business, but we are about people. With our ESOP and our People First orientation, we value relationships and connections above all else. This is what sets us apart from our competitors. Ultimately, we are more people-centric than product-centric, and you can’t understand us as an organization if you don’t understand that. This is where I think my background as an athlete helped make me a good fit.

Playing baseball in college and then in the minor leagues, I learned lessons that define how I view any sort of cooperative effort. On a great team, whether it’s on a field of play or inside a business, it’s critical to understand the shared values and goals, as well as the connection points that help you achieve them. It is recognizing that there are a lot of different skills you need to play a lot of different positions. You need quality, high performing people who are talented in their own respects. You need to bring all those people together to compete to win.

An example at PCG where a different perspective can facilitate big change is an initiative that is currently underway. PCG is in the process of realigning and reorganizing a 35-year organizational structure. Our branch operations were split between two divisions, a structure that served the organization well and led to its success for many years. But to continue to grow and best serve our clients we needed a change. With my unique perspective, I felt it was important to leverage the entire organization. I wanted to find a way to create more of a One Company approach. One team. The internal walls we had built up over time no longer provided value to our identity and purpose and they were not helping our clients reach their goals. We are working to break those walls down, we are collaborating more, we are connecting more, and we are asking ourselves what value and solutions we can bring to our clients across the country. We are working as one unified team.

In the time I have been with PCG, we have grown from a $500M company to an almost $2.5B company. Today, we have over 9,000 employees. With that kind of growth come a great many challenges across the board. I like to think I bring a different perspective to the table as a leader, because I can straddle the fence between the finance and operations side of the business, all while being a team player. In any company it’s important, but often extremely difficult, to identify areas of weakness and be willing to work to improve them. With my different perspectives, I hope I am able to identify some blind spots or some areas we need to look at closely.

Above all else, I took the time to learn the culture of Performance Contracting. I joined PCG in 2003, became President in 2019, and then CEO in 2020. By this point, I had deep experience in, connection with, and understanding of the company and its values, which happen to align with my own mindset. It’s about recognizing that every single individual plays a critical role in the value we bring to our employees and our clients. It’s recognizing, acknowledging, and lending appreciation and gratitude that makes us who we are. It takes everybody–our corporate departments and our branch operations–rowing in the same direction, unified around our culture and a drive to improve and strengthen PCG for future success. I hope that as a leader, I have made space for that to happen.

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