Want to boost your construction business? Put a woman in charge

Updated Mar 26, 2014
Alisa Bennett runs Bennett Contracting in Bradenton, Florida with her husband Jason. She brings 20 years of market experience to the successful business.Alisa Bennett runs Bennett Contracting in Bradenton, Florida with her husband Jason. She brings 20 years of market experience to the successful business.

I saw something this week that caught my eye: A Tweet linking to a Harvard Business Review post said a study in Italy found naming a woman as CEO improves profitability in family-owned firms.

Specifically, replacing a male CEO with a female CEO increases profitability. Also, the more women on the board of directors of a female-led company, the more profitable the company is likely to be.

We’ve seen how successful women can be at the helm of construction businesses. Our 2002 Contractor of the Year was Phyllis Adams, of Phylway Construction in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Two of our recent Contractor of the Year finalists were companies either co-run or solely run by women: Jane Page of North Carolina-based Page & Associates and Alisa Bennett of Florida-based Bennett Contracting.

One of the more interesting things about Bennett is that she brings 20-years worth of expertise in marketing to the contracting she and her husband own. You can read her 8 tips for marketing your construction business here.

Now, one study by a university in Italy isn’t going to make me recommend tossing all the guys in your company to the curb, but it certainly made me think about what different traits women and men offer in leadership roles.

With succession planning a major concern for many small- to mid-size contractors, throwing out traditional gender-defined roles is more important than ever.

Here are some of the benefits to having a woman in charge:

1. Effective decision-making

While men often hoard power, female leaders use a more democratic decision-making process and are more accustomed to establishing a dialogue between management and lower-level personnel. This approach allows for open communication and a more effective team.

2. Lower risk

Companies with women in charge deal with risk more effectively than male-led companies; women generally address stakeholders’ concerns efficiently. Women also focus on long-term priorities, improving overall company performance.

3. Better relationships

It’s usually thought women have a leg up on men when it comes to emotional intelligence or “soft skills” such as empathy. This translates to the work environment, where a female leader can pick up on social and emotional cues that will enable her to build trust and a strong company culture.

So, when transitioning your firm, look further than your right-hand man. The answer to future success may be found by looking to a woman.