• Tracecost Editorial Team

Importance of leadership in construction

Leadership is important in all fields of human endeavour. Features of the construction process and construction projects render leadership even more essential. Construction projects are expensive and technically demanding and the project teams are large and diverse. The process is long and involves a large number of discrete and interrelated tasks. Because constructed products influence long-term socioeconomic development in developing countries, poor performance on projects can have severe implications for the nation and its citizens. Thus, the need for effective leadership in construction is even more important. It may be argued that ‘effective leadership’ is one of the primary answers to the problems of the construction industry. To this end, greater attention should be given to leadership skills.

In construction, leadership is even more essential. Many studies indicated that the success or failure of project management is highly dependent on the project leader. It is found that effective leadership of many stakeholders in a construction project can aid in harmonizing their goals and preventing conflict. Despite this recognition that leadership is important at all levels of the construction industry, emphasis is placed on the technical aspects, as well as management and leadership receives inadequate attention.

The Features of Construction and Leadership Implications

In developing countries, the importance of effective management for stakeholders in construction projects is most evident in international projects, which are commonly large and complex projects. On such projects, the teams are invariably multi-cultural, which underscores the need for leadership skills. Because the constructed product is critical to long-term national socio-economic development in developing countries, poor performance on construction projects has even more adverse implications. The clients, end purchasers, and other stakeholders of construction in developing countries are unaware of aspects of construction. This finding implies a need for professionalism among the construction project participants and a dedication to meet the objectives and aspirations of the stakeholders in the most innovative, imaginative and value adding manner for the benefit of the client and all concerned. Thus, leadership should be a key feature in construction, as exemplified by its projects.

There are many levels where the construction industry clearly needs leadership. First, at the industry level, there is a need for strategic leadership and championing continuous industry development and improvement. Second, the professional institutions and trade associations require effective leadership to ensure the development of member expertise and professionalism. Third, the construction companies must be led with competence and innovation considering the formidable challenges within the construction industries and their operating environments. Leadership is the key at the project level.


Construction industry development is a deliberate and managed process to improve the capacity and effectiveness of the construction industry to meet the national economic demand for building and civil engineering products and to support sustained national economic and social development objectives. Construction industry development promotes:

1. Increased value for money to industry clients as well as environmental responsibility in the delivery process.

2. The viability and competitiveness of domestic construction enterprises and

3. Optimization of the role of all participants and stakeholders through process, technological, institutional enhancement and through appropriate human resource development

To realize the goals and objectives for construction industry, it is important to develop authentic leaders and followers to set the vision for improving construction industry’s performance by enhancing its capacity and capability in each country concerned. Many paradigms for leadership have been developed. Certain frameworks for formulating interventions that can be used to develop leaders have been proposed. Leadership is critical to construction projects, management of such enterprises and industry development as a whole.

The authentic leadership construct appears to encompass too many positive elements and seems to be too good to be realistic. However, it is the most suitable construct for construction industries in developing countries where vision is critical, hope, dedication and tenacity are needed, human relationships matter, doing things with the heart is important and the different interests of many stakeholders must be considered in all endeavours. Authentic leaders and authentic followers are critical to construction industries.

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