Construction managers need to know about current construction practices and methods. They need to understand the job and how to do it both efficiently and to standards. But construction management entails far more. As is true for any business professional, the modern construction manager needs a strong working knowledge of their field combined with all other aspects of running a business effectively — from budgeting to designing an effective organizational structure.
Yet, perhaps most important, managers need to be good leaders. The effectiveness of a manager depends on their ability to lead their team of workers (or project managers). In fact, the study of leadership has become a core component of degree programs in the field such as Louisiana State University’s Master of Science in Construction Management (MSCM) Online.
What Is Leadership in Construction Management?
Construction managers oversee businesses, projects and people. The people they manage are not merely individuals, but groups of people: teams. The key to a project’s success is the ability of a team to work together at their highest combined capacity. As the old adage goes: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The leader brings together these parts (individuals) to create the effective whole (team).
What Does Good Leadership Look Like in a Construction Manager?
Construction project managers are tasked with leading their teams directly, by modeling behavior and supporting education. This involves fostering good communication, healthy collaboration, and the process of self-evaluation and self-monitoring. A good leader helps his or her team internalize these facets of leadership, creating an environment where workers continue to improve their performance and teamwork without the need for constant external management. In this way, a skilled leader can manage more people more effectively, helping the overall productivity of the projects and company as a whole.
Productivity is key. Management needs to balance everything against the bottom line, even the experience of their employees. Higher productivity correlates with a positive work experience for employees. In a paper titled “Leadership Importance in Construction Productivity Improvement,” Emad Abd-El-Hamied El-Maghraby Mohamed states: “To build productivity, leaders must create an environment where people want to do their best and hand over more responsibility.” Strong leadership results in worker satisfaction and a positive attitude, which, in turn, lead to motivation — a desire to work better and be more productive. It is a simple concept and essential to understanding how leadership in construction management affects overall business success.
What Do Construction Industry Professionals Say About Leadership?
A graduate of LSU’s MSCM Online, Michael DeGruy is the Vice President of Construction Management at Ryan Gootee General Contractors. The New Orleans-based firm focuses on the education and expertise of its employees, striving to be a leader of innovation in local construction practice.
DeGruy says that as his career grew he had to “leave more of the details alone and focus more on the leadership side of things.” To help himself do so, he sought out LSU’s construction management master’s degree program, with its integral focus on leadership. DeGruy says that he gained an understanding of how to develop leadership, instilling that quality and drive in people. In his own words, “If I can improve myself then I feel like I’m improving the team, and I’m giving everybody that works here the opportunity to grow.”
To DeGruy, that emphasis on leadership and continued learning in management actually promotes individual growth. And again, individual growth and positive worker attitude can help develop motivation and performance, leading to increased overall productivity and company success. A construction company can only be as effective as its workers. And the performance of those workers is largely dependent on strong leaders who help those individuals work together as a high-functioning, self-improving team.
Learn more about the LSU online MSCM program.
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