By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
The assorted possessions in Eddie McFadden’s office recall his past and describe the philosophy of his job. An aged metal and glass doorknob, several old sockets and light switches, and various other electrical devices line his shelves. Two bright yellow hard hats inscribed with ‘ACU Physical Resources’ lay on his table. The inspirational posters on his walls encourage leadership, brilliance, attitude and teamwork.
As manager of building maintenance for the university’s Physical Resources Department since 2000, McFadden said he tries to use the qualities illustrated by the posters to help him be the best leader he can be for his staff.
McFadden came to ACU after working on construction sites for several years and at Hendrick Medical Center for five years as an electrician and part of the maintenance staff.
One thing McFadden does in the workplace to encourage brilliance is support a teaching and learning environment within his department. He emphasizes to the employees that each one of them is a teacher to the students who work for them.
“We feel like we can give students some real-life, hands-on experience that typically is not learned in the classroom,” he said. “We want them (the staff) to know that they’re as valuable as the faculty in that we can teach the kids who work for us the same as someone who has a Ph.D. over in the buildings … and we try to provide a good, Christian environment to do that in.”
McFadden encourages teaching in his department, but he’s also a student at the university. He had his associate’s degree before coming to ACU, but one of the reasons he chose to take the job was to finish his education. He should receive his bachelor of applied science degree with emphasis in communication and management next August and then begin working on a master’s degree in communication.
He said his classes in communication and experience in his current job have changed him and made him a better person.
“I’ve not always been the most patient person, but I’ve learned that communication helps dispel a lot of hard feelings, rumors, and it keeps people informed,” he said. “It has made me become a better communicator. Compared to a lot of people, I’m still not that good, but I’ve improved a lot in my delivery of communication and being able to make sure people clearly understand what my goals or objectives are whenever I talk to them.”
McFadden reports directly to Bob Nevill, director of Physical Resources, and Nevill said in an e-mail that in the few months he’s been director, he has seen how much McFadden’s role influences campus.
“Every residence hall occupant that experiences a problem in their room, or office that must be repaired or remodeled, or structural changes or repairs that are desired or required are directly impacted by Eddie McFadden as he performs his job,” Nevill said.
“What Eddie does can either add to or detract from the quality of life perceived by students at ACU: Lights work, residence halls and classrooms are functional and comfortable, the plumbing works, and special events are equipped as needed, when needed.”
McFadden said through his job and education, he’s learned a great deal about how to be an example while working with people.
“People really watch how you respond to whatever situation comes up,” he said, “and if you react negatively, that’s how they’re going to wind up reacting. I try to keep a calm composure.
“I feel like my title says manager, but I strive to be a leader and not a manager,” he said. “I feel like to do that I need to be an example, so I try to provide the example of a good work ethic to the people that I’m with as well.
He said to do this, he tries to get out of his office and do some of the work that his staff does. He’s done most of the jobs that they regularly perform, and he wants to show them that just because he’s the manager, he’s not too good to do the work, too.
“When they’re in the trenches, I think it makes them feel good to know that you don’t feel like you’re above them and above doing some of the things that they do,” McFadden said.
Nevill said this type of leadership helps McFadden excel as manager.
“Eddie is a good man with a heart for the work he does here at ACU,” Nevill said. “He is a highly skilled craftsman who has committed himself to improving the ACU campus and leading a fine group of professionals as they pursue a similar goal.”
Although the university might not run as smoothly without him, McFadden said because of teamwork and communication, he’s confident his staff could carry on without him.
“I don’t hold anything proprietary; if anything happened to me, I want all these people that I work with to never miss a beat,” he said. “I don’t feel like I hold anything that would hinder the furtherance of the university or this department. I want them to be self-directed, self-motivated and self-reliant. … When I leave here, the only impact or legacy I want to leave is that I was a fair person, kind and caring.”
He also said because of this, he doesn’t like to receive exclusive recognition because he’s only one part of the team.
“I want to accomplish great things, but I’m not out to toot my own horn,” he said. “If there’s recognition to be given, I’d rather for all these guys … to get it because I don’t do the work, and they’re the ones that are making things happen, not me.
“I’m more like the conductor of an orchestra; I’m more conducting them. … They’re the ones making the music out there.”