Conversations with ATX Leaders: Joe Bland

During this time, most construction companies are considered essential business, but remaining open during a time when approvals and financing are delayed or inaccessible, creates a challenge for leadership.  Joe Bland, CEO of Joe Bland Construction and Central Texas Stone joins ABBA Executive Director, Rich Carney, for a great conversation about Biblical leadership during this pandemic.


Leading over 300 employees, Joe shares the reality of his team’s concerns. “You can see in their eyes they are worried about livelihood.” Having navigated the dot-com crash, and the 2008 recession, Joe is familiar with leadership through difficult seasons. “You make choices as they approach, not running ahead to future months.”


Being in leadership through tough times reveals our level of preparation. “The idea that you are going to rise to occasion, or meet the obstacle from some unknown source of strength, that’s just wrong.  What happens is you are pressed down to your level of training.” Joe challenges us, “We need to continually work to have ourselves anchored to something that is greater than our identities in the work place.”


Joe reminds us, “In the bible we are told to take our thoughts captive, and what a better time to practice that than right now.” Joe shares, “Our thoughts drive our actions, but our actions reinforce our love.” With a reminder for leaders to be intentional not only with their thoughts but also with their words of gratitude and encouragement to their team members. “Our people are our greatest asset.”


At a time when clear information can be difficult to acquire, Joe encourages us to cling tight to God’s promises, the wisdom from Proverbs, the return to faithfulness in Psalms – these create a guide to help navigate any downturn.  Part of that journey starts with an acknowledgment of our lack of certainty during this time, “We don’t know where the horizon is.” Joe shares, “We’re trying to have a firm foundation.  We are trying to jump up and grab the bar, but our feet are on sand.”


With a challenge for leaders to evaluate how they are respecting local authorities Joe shares, “I may be opposed to some directives, but that’s not my place,” believing people are doing their very best, “my role is to enhance and enforce and collaborate with those people and try to do our very best in this extraordinary situation.”


Seeing organizations reach across lines of competition, seeing churches cross over denominational lines, Austin leaders are coming together to raise support and provide resources for one another. A reminder that, as Joe says, “We will get through this, together.”