5 Things That an EXPERT Construction Leader Knows and Does
Updated: May 26
Leadership is the most demanded skill in the market right now. Not only in construction, but in any field. This article will give you the tools to become a great construction leader.
▶️ The first thing to know is:
This article is not only for the ones who have a managing position, or you'vewho've been promoted to a supervisory role. A "great leader" is someone who is able to influence the team regardless of its rank or position in the company.
No matter the industry you are working in, trying to be a good leader is an attempt that you can permanently be developing and improving.
These days, there are lots of training and resources to follow to contour your interpersonal skills. Earning a leadership position proves you are morally preparing for taking the responsibility for more than just yourself, but also your coworkers. And if you've been following our content you already know how responsibility and trust are important for your success.
✳️ For this article, we will consider that you're already a team leader (manager or supervisor.
Since you are reading this, my guess is that you probably want to help the team grow and maintain a strong collaboration as well as a positive working relationship. This being said, the first thing you need to make sure is that the work environment is safe and pleasant for all of your team.
👉🏻Without any further ado, let’s take a detailed look at the leadership skills that are usually required in construction management. After that, I will teach you exactly how to build your own leadership skill set.
1. SMOOTH COMMUNICATION
Communication skills are the first and probably the most important skill a leader should have. Every endeavor or construction leader needs to be able to communicate effectively throughout the duration of the project.
Without any clear communication, skilled workers won’t achieve their best efforts, while the not great leaders will be misunderstood and will be ill-equipped with the most important metrics.
Poor communication can even completely derail a great construction project and build confusion between the workers and their managers. ✳️ Remember the Babel Tower?
Keep in mind that clear, smooth communication can be the greatest getaway for happy workers and successful construction projects.
But what is actually good communication and how can you be sure you have one?
👉🏻We don't literally mean you need to understand multiple languages, but you need to adapt so everyone understands what you are saying. Therefore, be sure that you use a language that is adequate to each rank, and trade end expertise.
For example, if you have a working team formed of foreign people avoid using strong Australian regionalisms and slang. They will not understand what you are saying, and they will simply end up doing the wrong thing.
⚡If you’re dealing with inexperienced workers, be sure to explain the instructions as best as possible so they can understand what you are saying. But, if you’re negotiating with project managers or engineers, feel free to go deeper into the theory to explain your point.
Never use sarcastic approaches, even if you’re joking around. You, as a leader, need to stand as an open person whom people feel comfortable talking, even about the most difficult subjects. As a rule of thumb, be professional, respectful, and clear about your expectations as much as you can to everyone.
2. BE POSITIVE, EVEN WHEN IT HURTS
Yes, there will be moments you will need to deal with the upset construction workers, or maybe you will receive some noise complaints from the neighbours.
⚠️You might even get bored offering the construction safety introduction again and again or feel extremely pressured by a deadline.
There is one thing I know. There is nothing more annoying than someone telling you to be happy and you're very, very pissed off.
But the truth of the fact is that you, as a leader, should be part of the solution, and not of the problem. Try, as much as you can, to be self aware and self assess your "negativity" in every hard situation.
best leaders of a construction site need to have emotional intelligence, which usually focuses on human technical skills, as well as time management and communication skills.
But what is emotional intelligence and how can you know if you possess it or not?
⚠️First of all, it is not something that you can measure as you can do normal intelligence. To put it in more simple words, there is no measurement for it such as the IQ value. Emotional intelligence relates to the "capacity to recognise and manage personal emotions, as well as the ones of others."
▶️ In order to be able to recognise your own emotional intelligence, you should be capable to do at least 4 important leadership skills:
● Emotional awareness - be aware when people around you feel hurt, happy, or sad for example. Be aware of these situations even though it is not in your job post as a manager or foreman because it is among your duty as a leader and even more important as a human being
● Be able to identify and name your own emotions. This means that you need to understand what you are feeling and why you are feeling it. Anytime you feel frustrated, be ready to stop and think about your feelings and most importantly about the reason you are experiencing them. Only after doing so, navigate and find possible solutions to your problems. Remember that even though it may not seem so in the heat of every moment, there is no kind of problem that can be solved easier when nervous.
● Being capable of managing emotions includes both your and your employees' emotions. Be quick to interfere anytime emotions are not being helpful, especially in cases of anger and general frustration because these can escalate and lead to an unsafe working performance.
● Whatever happens, remember that “it's just a job and nobody will die”.
However, work safe and do your best regardless of the circumstances.
This being said, remember that stress and lower morale can appear at any moment during the day.
🖋️Remember that if you, as the leader, let the stress go overboard, you will most probably transmit it to your workers, since, well, stress is contagious.
Therefore, if you are having a terrible day, the best thing that you can do is keep it to yourself and if you cannot turn it around, at least, be respectful to the other workers.
3. DO YOUR JOB, NOT SOMEONE ELSE'S
But always be there to help.
There are some situations in which micromanagement is necessary at the beginning of building projects, but simply as an educational tool.
➡️The fact is that a leader CAN do micromanagement to raise confidence among the team. However, this should be the main reason to do it and not because you want everything to be perfect on a high standard.
It's also important to understand that mistakes are part of the learning process. Because of that, be sure not to be too emotional about it, nor turn it into the worst possible experience. Just as scholars, workers will learn eventually and all the time spent on their education will pay off.
After the proper instruction, a successful project leader will trust any team, and make sure they have the interpersonal skills to complete their project just in time. Workers need to have confidence in their leader.
Although it can be daunting to have 100% control over each construction activity, skip the day-to-day minutia. Instead, try to focus more on the result of the project.
⚠️What I am trying to underline here is that a good leader will EDUCATE his workers and then let them do their job as instructed. Furthermore, a good leader will understand that problems may occur, but he or she needs to be aware that every mistake is a lesson learned.
This is why it is so important not to babysit your workers at each step. If you do so, they will never learn on their own, and you will need to provide further information all the time.
5. YES, BUT NO.
Yes, you heard it right. Sometimes, the construction owners will come and say they want massive project changes or will tell you how they have dreamed about some adjustments in the initial schedule.
Sometimes, their expectations for the construction aren’t feasible. If the scope creep appears, and you realise that the owner wants some things that your team cannot provide, it’s time to say “No!”.
✳️Never make a promise that you cannot deliver. This means that whatever you do, avoid being too optimistic about a timeframe. The worst thing you can do is to give a deadline and not respect it.
It will lose you the trust of your clients and your subordinates.
⚡It is your duty to do the best you can with what you've got, and that includes looking after the interest and well-being of your team as well as your superiors. To be a great leader you must be fair to all people.
Try to think long term and, overall, you must have integrity. Therefore, try and communicate in complete accordance with what you believe is the right and fair approach for all involved.
6. BE A PEOPLE PERSON
A job site in construction is a source of stress. Yet, a project leader needs to have the capacity to deal with all kinds of problems and keep the team moving forward, sill motivated.
The leader needs to foster an environment of appreciation, trust, and cooperation.
If you already know much about the construction industry overview, you may know that "Labour" is more than just a resource. Unfortunately, lots of construction workers are dealing with mental issues that are increased by drug and alcohol addictions and we should be aware of it.
Because of this, you as a leader have the task to address the mental balance of all your subordinates, regardless of how difficult their situation is.
Therefore, construction leaders should take their time to listen to their employees and empathise with them. Especially the ones that are struggling.
📢If you don’t know how to achieve a happy work space, make sure you spend additional time in the field of your teams, facilitate feedback and communication and make sure you pay attention to each of your employees.
It will not only increase the well-being of your team but overall productivity and employee retention in the long run. It is good for your karma AND your pocket.
An aspect of team building is also having people communicating with each other and going along well. However, your role as a leader should be to bridge the communication between your workers until they feel comfortable enough with each other and perform as a team.
There are many ways you can do that, but you should just choose the one most effective for your team. Think about what is more likely to make the people you work with more comfortable. Is it a toolbox meeting or a BBQ? Pick the social interaction space that is more likely to make your team open up and communicate with each other.
However, not all scenarios can be happy ones and there are situations in which some members of the same team simply can’t connect and get along. You need to establish some ground rules and confront them if necessary. All workers must be professionals and respectful with each other, regardless of their differences.
♠️ KEEP IN MIND:
If you want to become a better version of yourself and be a successful construction project leader, try mastering these 5 top leadership skills.
From great communication with your team to nice entrepreneurial skills, a construction project leader should have the best interests of his team and make sure they are permanently safe.
Excellence will not happen overnight. Experience is the key, as well as continuous education, mentoring, and a great portfolio of completed projects.
Of course, all the information you just read might sound tricky to comprehend as a possible solution because roughly speaking, there is no training for it. You just have to do it.
What I would suggest is to try and exercise all these situations in advance by calmly thinking through regarding the best scenarios. Don’t forget that for a successful approach you need to take into consideration all aspects of your company’s structure and also your rank.
The reason I am telling you this is because every company is different so there is no exact science that can be applied. This article is simply a guideline that needs to be interpreted and adjusted to fit your needs.
Don’t be discouraged by the fact that at the beginning you will not be the best leader version you wish to be. It is normal to be in that position. Nobody is born with experience in construction management. We all learn from our mistakes. This is why you need to be ready to play the long term game leadership is all about.
The last thing I want you to remember is that, at this moment, there aren’t many leaders in the Australian construction industry, and because of that leadership is one of the most valuable skills on the market in this ever growing industry.
Don’t use any excuse not to try and prove yourself worthy of a leading position. Not everybody can be a leader, but not everybody is you. So, practice as much as you can and start improving your career today!