Mark Worrall, CEO of Construction sector business improvement specialists BBI Services, outlines the fundamental role of a leader within the built environment. 

Being a leader in the construction industry comes with a great deal of responsibility. Whether that’s at Project, Programme, Business Unit or organisational level, leaders are working with multi-million-pound budgets, hundreds / thousands of employees and often rigid timeframes. Ultimately, they are accountable for the  success and positive outcomes.

Combine this with the ongoing challenges impacting the sector, like climate crisis, building safety, a disruptive supply chain, skills demand plus the transformations being demanded of the sector, it’s clear a certain set of skills are required to be a successful built environment leader. These leaders can inspire and influence real change, both within an organisation, a JV or Alliance but also on a new project.

Research from the CIOB found that construction companies are struggling to develop and upskill the industry’s leaders, with many businesses failing to have a comprehensive leadership succession plan and strategy in place.

The question is, despite these challenges, what can leaders do to ensure they achieve success and inspire their teams across their organisation?

At BBI, we have collated vast experience from various sectors, as well as construction. With trusty client feedback, we have developed approaches that support leadership teams in building their capabilities and drive real sustainable change.

Develop and inspire a shared vision

As one of the most important roles in a construction project, JV or organisation, leaders have a huge influence on the behaviours of the whole team. Leaders are responsible for creating the conditions for success and setting the standard for the entire organisation which includes establishing a clear vision, mission and set of values..

However, what’s really key is turning a shared vision into a strategic plan that creates a sense of meaning and purpose for everyone at all levels. This helps in winning the hearts and minds of those around the leaders and their teams to feel set up for success and be part of shaping the way forward with a common goal.

By developing a strong culture, where everyone feels empowered to improve, leaders will foster a more cohesive and collaborative approach across the whole organisation. While designing a concrete set of strategies and principles, that an entire workforce has contributed to at their level and can buy into, will drive a business towards sustainable success.

Model the way       

To be a truly effective leader, we need to engage the entire workforce and align them with the big picture. This requires modelling what this really means to them, at their level, and how they can contribute, plus what support they need to deliver. Within this process, employees should be encouraged, supported and empowered to share their views.

By following this approach, leaders will be better able to engage with their teams at times when they need to challenge the existing ways of working or if they must discuss important changes like the future vision for the organisation.

This is also incredibly effective when it comes to escalating issues. Traditionally, when problems are highlighted, very little action is taken to resolve them swiftly, getting to the root cause, even though the team may know what’s preventing them from working as effectively as they could be.

Invest to upskill and grow capability

Above all else, leaders must also remember to invest in everyone’s personal development, especially their own. We have developed different programmes for the various levels from leaders through to supervisors / blackhats, who can be considered leaders in their area of responsibility.

Our Leadership programmes are a great practical way to equip senior leaders and executives with the skills to deliver a transformational shift across an organisation, plus inspire to deliver the daily and weekly goals.

At BBI Services, we have developed our own innovative leadership series designed to embed sustainable behaviour change within a construction business, JV, alliance or supply chain.

By using a unique cohesive approach, we will work with leaders and senior executives to capitalise on their strengths and enhance their development areas, as well as inspire and share a strategic vision to create the conditions for sustained success.

Challenge the status quo & recognise accomplishments

A great leader will challenge the status quo and encourage their teams to do the same within a safe collaborative environment. They will harness the talent and experiences of the team to identify the best way to break a problem down, use data, identify the root causes and develop robust counter measures to prevent them from reoccurring.

So, challenge is important, however, so is celebrating successes, large and small. Our Construction to Production masterclass with Toyota highlighted that delivering incremental and transformational change across an organisation is no easy feat but, if done correctly, it is a great motivation of employees as well as maximise excellence and efficiency across the business.