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Building Blocks to Effective Project Leadership

By Michael Ginalski

In this multi-media world of the 21st century, we are bombarded with references associated with how to be a leader and what constitutes great leadership. One thing that is certain is the ‘quality’ of leadership is the differentiator between success and failure, regardless of the endeavor. When thinking about leading an actual facility construction project, those individuals involved must be prepared to perform at a very high level. The goal is to build confidence and trust with clients. Great leaders do this naturally. A true partnership with trust as the foundation is key.

Characteristics of exemplary project leadership include:

Communication. Communication. Communication.

There is no such thing as over-communication with owners and the project team. Good news, bad news, all news needs to be front and center to ensure a true partnership develops holistically.

Treat the client’s money like you would your own.

Managing all aspects of a project budget can make or break a healthy relationship with clients. Utilizing dollars wisely and conservatively, sharing concerns and problems, and working through the inevitable ebbs and flows of a project budget are critical. Poor budget management can destroy relationships. Budgeting is the companion to direction setting and serves as the reality check for all.

Safety on the job.

A true commitment to supervision of the actual worksite not only ensures solid production but protects all entities involved thus contributes to building confidence. Leadership here must have a zero tolerance approach to all potential protocol violations.

Manage time realistically.

Time is always in short supply and yes, time is money. Great project leaders know that trying to squeeze too much into a limited time period often backfires. This can lead to owner/client unhappiness. Be real about time constraints and do not over-promise.

Recognize and accept as a leader that you will not always have the answers.

You may think you should be “all knowing.” Truly great project leaders recognize that it is ultimately their job to help the team find the right answer. A true commitment and appreciation of the power of collaboration is important.

Work every day to build a healthy team culture with clients.

Demonstrating integrity with an understanding that trust is a contract which needs to be continually renewed will ensure happy clients. When a high level of trust exists, problem solving and strategizing are maximized. A true team approach with leaders who value and demonstrate the elements associated with being a good teammate creates a positive customer experience.

If the goal is to build customer confidence and great projects simultaneously, it is imperative that project leaders not only do great work as individuals but commit to these basic principles. A commitment to all builds trust and confidence and ensures client/customer relationships are long lasting.

Mike brings a comprehensive understanding and significant exposure collaborating with construction firms after working 33 years in the K12 Education market sector. In his 13 years as the Superintendent in Corning-Painted Post (CPP) Area School District, Mike led the district through four successful referendums which led to $260M in new construction from 2010-2020. A graduate of the Harvard Change Leadership Group, he knows a thing or two about building confidence and how to recognize quality project leadership. Mike is Welliver’s K12 Communication Liaison and can be reached at mginalski@buildwelliver.com