What makes an Effective Leader?

by | Apr 3, 2024 | 0 comments

An effective leader possesses a combination of skills, qualities, and behaviours that enable them to guide and inspire their team towards a common purpose. 

Before looking at the attributes of effective leaders, it is my experience and opinion that the construction industry doesn’t invest nearly enough in developing these skills.  If you are lucky, you may have had in your career some experienced leader “take you under their wing”.  If not, then you might have been fortunate enough to be able to observe at close hand an effective leader.  Out with these avenues there is very little investment in leadership training, either formal or informal.  Despite this lack of investment, we still expect employees who show promise to step up and lead a project or lead a team, what’s more we expect them to do it well.  How realistic is that?

The Attributes of an Effective Leader


Firstly, an essential aspect of effective leadership is integrity and ethical behaviour.  A good leader consistently acts with honesty, fairness, and transparency in all their interactions. They uphold high ethical standards, demonstrate integrity in their decision-making, and inspire trust and respect from their team members.  Through integrity, a leader can create a culture of accountability, build credibility, and set a positive example for others.  Without integrity it is impossible to build trust with your team.


Effective communication is a vital skill for a leader to succeed in their role. A leader must be able to clearly convey their vision, expectations, and goals to their team in a way that is easily understandable. They should be able to listen actively to their team members, provide constructive feedback, and foster open dialogue. Communication is a two-way street, and a leader who can listen and communicate effectively will more readily build trust and rapport with their team.


A strong leader must possess excellent decision-making skills. They should be able to analyse situations, weigh up the pros and cons, and make informed decisions in a timely manner. A good leader must be prepared to take calculated risks when required and is able to adjust to ever changing circumstances. It is important for a leader to be decisive and confident in their choices, as this will inspire confidence in their team as well.

Inspire and Motivate

Another crucial aspect of effective leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate others. A great leader can influence their team members to work towards a shared vision and goals. They lead by example, exhibiting a positive attitude that energises and motivates those around them. By providing encouragement, recognition, and support, a leader can boost morale and foster a positive work environment that encourages productivity and collaboration.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence plays a key role in effective leadership. A leader who possesses emotional intelligence can understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. They are empathetic, able to build strong relationships, and skilled at resolving conflicts. Emotional intelligence enables a leader to connect with their team on a deeper level, build trust and loyalty, and create a cohesive and harmonious work environment.


In addition to these interpersonal skills, a good leader must also possess strong organisational and strategic competence. Effective leaders set clear goals, create action plans, and delegate tasks efficiently to their team. They are also not afraid to hold others to account.  They can manage resources effectively, make strategic decisions that align with the organisation’s objectives, and monitor the team’s performance towards the desired outcomes. A leader who is well organised and strategic in their attitude is more likely achieve success.


In today’s hyper-paced and ever-changing world, leaders must be able to expertly navigate uncertainty, overcome challenges, and adapt to new situations quickly. A resilient leader will bounce back from setbacks, they learn from failure, theirs and others, and lead their team through challenges with composure. By remaining calm, flexible, and agile, a leader can guide their team through change and uncertainty with confidence and determination.


To conclude, effective leadership is multi-faceted and encompasses a broad range of skills, qualities, and behaviours. A great leader will effectively communicate the organisation’s purpose, make sound decisions, inspire, and motivate others, demonstrate emotional intelligence, possess strong organisational and strategic competence, exhibit adaptability and resilience, and most importantly act with integrity and ethics. By demonstrating these characteristics, a leader can guide their team towards success, foster a positive work environment, and achieve exceptional results. 

Leadership is a journey of continuous learning and growth, few people naturally process all these abilities, so they need to be observed, learned, and worked on, so that they become second nature.  The construction industry is a complex and challenging environment, that requires effective leadership for businesses to thrive.  To me, the industry needs to invest more in developing these competences.  It is far too important to leave to chance.

Paul McDevitt

Managing Director

McDevitt & Co Ltd

About McDevitt & Co

Paul McDevitt, Managing Director has operated in the construction industry since 1995. In 2003, before McDevitt & Co, he set up Business Fix Limited, a specialist construction consultancy, which worked with over 300 SME’s and large corporates from across all sections of the UK construction industry, including contractors, architects, engineers, surveyors, specialist suppliers, professional bodies, trade associations and even Government.


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