I recently returned from a trip where I taught emotional intelligence to Penn State’s Architectural Engineering students, at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  While I was there, I attended the PACE Conference at Penn State (Partnership for Achieving Construction Excellence) which is a consortium of industry, faculty, and students.  At this conference, there was much talk of collaboration.  

The contruction industry must change and embrace these concepts of more collaborative approaches such as Design Build and Integrated Project Delivery or I’m afraid that the industry may be in deep trouble.  We must work together.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”  More and more industry folks are crying out for this type of collaborative approach.  The book, The Owner’s Dilemma, by Barbara White Bryson and Canan Yetmen, is a great example of this. I highly recommend reading it.  It talks about how construction owners must take more of a leadership role in creating a collaborative environment for successful projects.

It is imperative that we explore these approaches, but we cannot afford to simply try to jam them down people’s throats and think that things are going to magically come together.  We must address the soft side of this equation.  We must embrace the fact that as a group, emotional self awareness, empathy, and relationship skills are not our best thing.  In any group, these are always the three lowest emotional scores.  This profile is so pervasive, I call it “the trinity”.  We can’t simply make sure that everyone is on board with the nuts and bolts, the contractual language and the rules of engagement on a collaborative project.  We must ensure that everyone on the project feels that sense of connection to everyone else on the project.  In order to do this, we must explore ourselves and our own emotional intelligence and we must share our profiles with others and get to know each other on a deep level.  This isn’t an easy task to accomplish, but we have found that if project teams explore these intimate things individually and as a group, they tend to come together as a high performing team.  

Before you craft contracts and communication flow charts, you would do well do explore the emotional intelligence profiles of the project stakeholders.  Start that dialog and create those true connections.  And once those connections are made, these high performing teams will ensure a successful, collaborative project.

Brent Darnell is President of Brent Darnell International, bestselling author and in-demand speaker.  He attended Georgia Tech for Mechanical Engineering and has extensive experience in the construction industry. Recognizing problems in technical careers arise from low emotional intelligence and poor leadership, Brent has created fundamental behavioral shifts in thousands of employees worldwide!
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