Performa Subseries: Surrender Control and Empower | Chris Howald

Chris Howald is the CEO at Tweet/Garot Mechanical, Inc. and is a fourth generation leader where he believes he is a steward to his employees and the business instead of just an owner.

In this subseries, Nikki has partnered with Performa, a purpose-driven, fully integrated architecture, engineering, and design firm that gives people (and purpose) the space to thrive. In this episode, Chris, Nikki, and co-host Brian Netzel of Performa discuss what it looks like to surrender control to empower your people to perform at their best.

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1. Surrender Control
Supporting Quote
Chris Howald: “I think a lot of leaders landed in leadership positions based on being really good at whatever the task or role or responsibility that they were in. And that typically meant they had good control, right? They were micromanagers. They were in control of everything. They knew every detail about every aspect of their job. When you get into a leadership position beyond that, your first tendency is to continue doing the things that got you there, when the first rule of leadership is actually the exact opposite. You need to forget about all those things that got you there and you need to start thinking about how you can get others to make some of the same decisions or to build the same habits that you made when you were in your role.”

2. Listening Is Not Reacting
Supporting Quote
Chris Howald: “The first rule of listening is just not reacting. It’s being very present and kind of mindful. For years I started listening, and then I started reacting before someone was even finished speaking because I was going to be defensive. I was going to be counterarguing, and that doesn’t work in leadership. It works in the courtroom, but it doesn’t work in leadership. So I now try really hard to just not react and assume positive intent because I don’t want to react emotionally either. I know that there are likely two sides to every story and I have to sort of be really neutral.”

3. Focus on Treating Your People Well
Supporting Quote
Chris Howald: “I ask at the end of every session, how can I be better? How can I help you do your job better? And that’s okay. Because I want to be involved in what they’re doing. It’s because I want their feedback. I almost obsess over feedback and, not in a negative way, but in an attempt for me to continue to gain awareness as to where I can be impactful, how I can add value and to offer things to them that they might not think a CEO would normally do.”

4. Does Your Workspace Help You Pour into Your People?
Supporting Quote
Chris Howald: “We have all these collaboration spaces and we have process maps up on the wall where we can literally just gather people within an instant. We can get 50 or 60 people gathered so that we can all report on the progress that we’re making around some of our operational objectives. One really good example is we do weekly sprints. We just want to get everybody together and communicate progress. With these small wins, we’re able to just have everybody up from their workstations, look at the board, and we’re off. It’s just a very different process — a lot more energizing and people feel more informed.”


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