By Adriann Rhoades, LEED AP, ’07
Director of Planning, Design and Construction
Wabash College 

I didn’t grow up with a dream of managing construction projects. In fact, I didn’t even know what construction management was until I was a junior at Ball State. Like most, I probably never gave much thought to how structures and environments came to be and I definitely did not understand just how many entities were necessary to bring a vision to life. Immersing myself in the industry for 15 years has given me the opportunity to develop a deep appreciation, and my greatest observation is that high-performance teams consist of individuals who possess distinctive levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) and are committed to improving their “human skills”.

While technical knowledge is critical, succeeding at a career in Construction Management (CM) is ultimately determined by leadership effectiveness, ability to build relationships and understand human behavior. Less technical skill sets have popularly been termed soft skills, however Simon Sinek, best-selling author and TED Talk speaker, proclaimed in a YouTube video posted February 2021 that there is no such thing as soft skills, explaining that they are actually human skills and that they are in no way in opposition to technical competencies or hard skill.

According to Sinek, human skills include listening, empathy, patience, having difficult conversations and effective confrontations; and are the skills that make people better leaders. This aligns with current research citing emotional intelligence as a predictor of leadership effectiveness. Construction Management tends to be unique in that the job requires management of both people and expectations across a very wide spectrum; ranging from laborers pushing brooms to keep jobsites clean and safe to Owners and CEOs who hold the vision for the project. The ultimate deliverable is obviously a finished project, but the reality is that human skills will continue to be the differentiator for successful CM teams!