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Cascading Leadership Series – Create Confidence with Clarity

Posted by Kevin Nolan on February 8, 2024

An unmistakable leadership chain of command provides organizational muscle a company needs to thrive. Everyone feels most secure when they know who is responsible and who is in leadership in every situation.

I’ve said that job titles and descriptions are helpful tools, not the HR gobbledygook I had initially thought them to be! As employees progress through a Learning Path, mastering skills and responsibilities, they move up to the next job title with more responsibilities, new tasks, and better pay.

Our leadership chain of command flows in the field:
Job Leader → Crew leader → Field Manager.

Job Leader: A painter who can run a job; we only ask them to run one job at a time with a small crew or squad. At Nolan Painting, we start talking to employees about becoming a job leader when they reach P1 in the Learning Path.

Crew Leader: This person runs several jobs, and a few job leaders report to them (no more than 6!).

Field Manager: The top person in the field. Several crew leaders report to the field manager.

Good Leadership Respects Expertise!

Some employees are highly skilled in their craft but don’t want to take on a leadership role; these individuals advance to Master Painter. We want to respect their expertise, so all along the way there are pay increases and interim pay increases between job titles. We also have task forces, such as a carpentry unit and a kitchen cabinet refinishing team. Everybody belongs somewhere! Having these hierarchies and scope of responsibilities well-defined and crystal clear is essential.

Bonus Tip: Six is the Magic Number

Six direct reports are all someone can manage in our world. Those six people may have people who report to them, but each leader is only managing six people or fewer. Training, managing, and leading people—especially new people following the Learning Paths— takes time and effort. A new employee with little to no skills needs the attention of the job leader, so keeping the number of direct reports small is key to doing it well.

Take time to evaluate and clarify your chain of command— it pays off! See ya’ next week. Build muscle.

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