Management Leaders

By Christine Corelli

The construction industry is growing, evolving, ever changing, and more dynamic than ever. This is great. But contractors are still faced with the challenges of tight budgets and timelines, labor shortages, implementation of new ultra- sophisticated technology, and fierce competition. To top off all of that, there’s a huge labor shortage. 

To grow and prosper in this environment, dynamic leadership throughout an organization is required—where every executive, project manager, superintendent, foreman, engineer, estimator, construction manager, office worker, accountant, etc. exudes strong leadership. It also requires the development of emerging leaders who will be ready to take on these challenges and carry the company into a successful future. 

The question remains: How can you find individuals who can become dynamic leaders in your company? 


Start by focusing on individuals with high leadership potential and not necessarily on performance or workmanship. The reason is simple—some people perform exceptionally well in their job role, are technically proficient, and perform great workmanship. But they don’t always have what it takes to be a great leader. This must be avoided; if you put the wrong person in a leadership role, it can cause a loss of productivity, dampen morale, and may even be a waste of money.

A perfect example is when the best worker is given the job of foreman but the individual lacks the ability to manage workers and influence them to perform exceptionally well. Eventually, someone has to be the “bad-guy,” remove them from the position, and give the foreman position to someone else. The result is an employee who is disgruntled, has a damaged ego, and a new foreman who is nervous. 

Then there is the individual who excels in their job role but has no desire to be a leader. They are content with being a follower. It’s important to select the right “people“—individuals with leadership potential.


  • How do you identify employees with leadership potential? Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating your current workforce. 
  • Who demonstrates initiative beyond their job position?
  • Who has sufficient experience in construction? 
  • Who has a strong work ethic and never leaves the job 5 minutes before end-time?
  • Who proactively comes forth with ideas and potential solutions to problems and thus shows an interest in a project’s success?
  • Who demonstrates accountability and takes responsibility for a positive result?
  • Who has interpersonal skills and works well with others?
  • Who seems to “make things happen” and does not wait to see what happens?
  • Who bends over backwards to help customers and their team members? 
  • Who can you always count on no matter what?
  • Who would make the same decisions you would when in charge?
  • Who seems to have the ability to motivate and influence others? 
  • Who might evolve into a strategic leader? 
  • Who wants to obtain training on leadership and management skills or improve upon management skills? 
  • Who wants to take on more responsibility?
  • Who can deliver clear, concise communication? 
  • Select individuals who are most likely to deliver RESULTS.


As you go about your selection, keep in mind that emerging leaders do not have to be young employees. Most definitely look for millennial employees with leadership potential, but don’t forget the older employee or seasoned manager who is capable of taking on a bigger role. They are well-versed with your processes, procedures, structure, and culture. They may even know your customers. 

Equal opportunity and diversity should be considered. We are now a multi-cultural multi-ethnic society and workforce. Take this into consideration, and be sure to give female employees the opportunity as well. Women are being seen more frequently fulfilling all different types of leadership roles in construction. (In fact, the number of female construction company owners is rising.) They can bring unique qualities to their leadership role. Women and individuals from different cultures can bring a new perspective to your company. It will also increase your ability to attract, hire, and retain top talent. 

Develop your own criteria for whom you might consider as an emerging leader. 


Once you’ve made your selection, what should happen next. There are 10 simple, next steps.

  1. Bring your emerging leaders together. Invite them to learn from one another, and explore new ways of doing business, methods to improve operations, develop stronger management/employee relationships, and provide the highest level of service to you, your customers, and their team. Direct them to find ways everyone in the company can better support your sales team.
  2. Don’t think the “one and done” leadership training program will cut it. Ongoing repetitious training is the mother of learning. Train and develop them on competencies the most successful leaders have mastered to deliver results, such as strategic thinking, effective decision-making, managing and motivating, implementing change, accountability, safety training, customer service excellence, and conflict management. Provide training applicable to their day-to-day activities. Make sure they possess basic business acumen as well so that they understand that: Revenue is Really Nice. PROFIT is What Matters.
  3. Send them to your industry trade association leadership events.
  4. Send female emerging leaders to a “Women’s Leadership Event” or training program or follow the lead of smart contractors who have implemented a Women’s Leadership Development Program in their company.
  5. Allow several emerging leaders to sit in on executive meetings, and switch off.
  6. Involve their manager and HR in monitoring their progress.
  7. Direct them to share their challenges and help each other in their own team meetings. 
  8. Assign them to come up with solutions to your most pressing problem.
  9. Have them shadow an executive for a day. This way, they can understand your business and how it operates.
  10. Have them sit in on your Monday morning meetings to talk about the week before—the hits, runs, and misses.

If someone in your family is your emerging leader, be sure to have a succession plan, and make sure you take the 10 steps with them as well. Ensure they are ready, willing, and able to take the lead or your business can suffer. Most important, direct them to strive to develop strong relationships with your employees and your customers.


To sum it all up: Some say leaders are born, not made. I disagree. Make your leaders the best in the construction industry.

About the Author

Christine Corelli is a conference speaker, workshop facilitator, and business columnist. She has worked with an abundance of construction contractor companies and been a featured speaker at industry associations. For more, visit To contact her for an upcoming meeting, conference, or special event, call 847.477.7376.

Modern Contractor Solutions, May 2019
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