Skanska’s Clare De Briere on Leading in the Current Environment
Following our successful Leading in Tough Times series this past summer, Connect CRE asked industry leaders for insights on steering a course in the current environment. Here are insights from Clare De Briere, EVP with Skanska USA Commercial Development in Los Angeles, on defining leadership and identifying the next generation of leaders.
Q: How do you define leadership in the current environment?
A: In today’s environment, I would define effective leadership as encouraging, supportive, and flexible while being definitive and setting clear, achievable goals. A great leader ensures that her team knows that she trusts them; makes herself available; is an effective listener and communicator; and is not an authoritarian. I love being the sounding board and seeing the “light bulb” go off when my team gets to that one fantastic idea. By stepping back and providing room for a team member to step into a growth opportunity, I allow them to develop the necessary skills to become a leader themselves.
Q: How do you think you’ll have to lead differently in 2024?
A: At my core, I do not believe that I will lead differently in 2024. Last year, the CRE industry faced challenges that we had not experienced before and as a result, our teams will have the challenge (or opportunity) to try on different “hats” and tackle new roles and responsibilities. From a leadership standpoint, I expect to put more emphasis on building the team’s flexibility and encouraging them to enthusiastically embrace learning opportunities, but the core aspects of my leadership – listening, encouraging, teaching, guiding – will not change.
Q: How do you identify the next generation of leaders in your organization?
A: It is not always the loudest person in the room, but the ones who asks the questions that get the rest of us thinking differently, challenging our previous way of working, and the ones who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work wherever they are most needed. It is the people who think in a strategic and collaborative way, rather than those who are simply reactive. It is the people who go out of their way to explain something to a coworker who may be struggling. This is what we look for, and at Skanska, we have a systematic and holistic program of training and workshops to grow those next generation of leaders so that they are ready when the opportunity arises for them to take the lead.
Q: What advice do you give to your organization’s rising stars?
A: Drive and determination are key in this industry. My advice would be to ask questions, raise your hand and accept the challenge of doing something that you have never done before. Guard your reputation. Get a mentor or three! Listen and learn from the people who have been in the business longer than you have while seeking ways to improve upon the past. There will always be setbacks, but what says the most about an exceptional employee is how they respond in the face of those challenges.
Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 16-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 7-10 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces.
Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications.
Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).