In the construction setting, you do not have to be the Project Manager to have a leadership role. With so many teams involved in one project, many members are leaders in their own right. The client serves as the first leader of the whole team; a project engineer can be a leader directing the workforce; the cement supplier’s sales manager is the leader of a selling team, even a skilled worker can be a leader of a group of laborers.
John Maxwell, one of the best leadership experts and speakers of our time, has defined that “management focuses on maintaining systems and processes while leadership is about influencing people to follow”. A manager tells and orders his subordinates what they need to do, but a leader inspires his team to do the needed tasks and create a venue to further improve and contribute.
What does it take to be a leader in a construction project? Here are some pointers that could help you when leading a team.
Communicate timely and accurately.
It is not just about being open to communications and passing on information. As a leader, you should make sure that all information come in a timely manner and would help in achieving the goals of the project. Reach out to your superiors on things that you feel you can improve. Motivate your team members on the goals of the project, what value does it bring to the client and community around it.
Be generous on your praises but point out faults behind closed doors.
Take time to announce the achievements of your team during meetings and discussions. This bolsters their efforts in helping the team and encourages other members to do the same or more. On the other side, be accurate and timely in giving feedback to a member who does something wrong, make sure none of these events passes without notice. When discussing these mistakes, it is better done on a one-on-one closed door set-up. This helps the team member to maintain his pride and bounce back from the situation. There are lots of managers shaming their team members, but this never leads to a good result. Ownership of the team is very critical – it means that the work and result of his team lie on his own shoulder. Leaders should give credit to the team when they deliver, but when they fail, he should always be ready to accept the responsibility of the failure as if he was the one who made the mistake.
You can never control something that you do not know.
Make sure that you are always updated on the status of your team’s work. Use all of the available tools to anticipate, monitor and control the works to be done. A thorough knowledge of the status and projections of the work will help you avoid major hiccups, and will even help you add more value by suggesting improvements based on current conditions.
Replicate yourself to your team members.
Share your inspirations and encourage your team in finding theirs with regards to their work and the project that you are handling. Teach them the skills that you have and the tricks of the trade. You would later on see your team members working with pride and even when you are not present at the project site, things are being done correctly because you have empowered them.
Risk management is an important skill but the least known to project leaders.
Very few professionals know how to handle risks and not all take the time to analyze them. Risk management is a key in avoiding negative situations which could endanger a project, and on the other side, taking advantage of the positive risks can generate savings which can help the team and the client. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, though perfection is too big of a goal, practicing risk management would help you in all aspects of the project – even in your own career. If you are not a practitioner of risk management, I suggest that you start to do so and refine your skills as you go along. You would see the improvement in your team’s work and your own performance.
You can finish your schooling but the learning never stops.
As a leader, you never stop aspiring to improve. You should encourage your team to do the same. Always find venues to train your team and you would see immediately the improvements in their performance and their output. You need to be open-minded also, and learn from your team. You’d be surprised to learn a lot as they would also learn from you.
Leading teams in construction is not merely work, but a platform to bring value to others and the community. Inspire and improve lives through projects!