The Bailey Group is a partner with Minnesota Public Radio for Conversations on the Creative Economy—a series of discussions with Chris Farrell and local business founders and chief executive officers that explore how they encourage creativity and innovation in their organizations. The first event of the 2016-2017 season featured an interview with Ravi Norman, CEO of THOR Construction, who provided some great insight on leadership, entrepreneurship and disruptive changes on the horizon for the construction industry.
From a kid selling candy and dreaming of NBA stardom to becoming CEO of the largest black-owned firm in the country and launching a startup, Smart Homes, Norman has climbed the ranks, demonstrated transformational leadership and helped others succeed. Some of his core values stem from those learned in childhood when his grandma taught him the basics: sit, eat, grow.
In his current role, Norman takes those basics to the next level. He says “SIT” is critical to success and includes SHOWING up, INVESTING in yourself and being a good TEAMMATE. “EAT” is being EFFICIENT, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT. And “GROW” is finding ways to GENERATE REAL OPPORTUNITIES for WEALTH; Norman reinforces the importance of generating opportunities for wealth with minorities because people of color are historically less often business owners.
Norman also believes that being an “intrapreneur”—an internal entrepreneur—is a mind-set everyone should have. That means coming up with new, out-of-the-box ideas and finding non-traditional opportunities for generating revenue. It is a fresh perspective in a slow-to-change industry. Norman jokes, “we are still using bricks and have been for over 5,000 years,” but he believes construction is ripe for disruption. Builders today have access to resources for collecting, assessing and exchanging data more transparently and quickly. And just as other sectors have transformed as a result of advances in information technology, analytics and algorithms, innovations in equipment and materials are making a significant impact on how the construction industry operates as well.
As I have seen with other industries, these types of major shifts often have ripple effects on teams’ trust, confidence and other important factors that impact a leader’s success. Preparing CEOs for such changes is an essential part of the work we do at The Bailey Group, shaping extraordinary people into transformational leaders.