Going Mega


Construction Today | June 22, 2016

Construction Today published a bylined article written by Russell Reynolds Associates' Hans Roth and Natalie Macaulay titled, "Going Mega." The piece looks at the six differentiating attributes of successful megaproject leaders.​ The article is excerpted below.​

“Megaprojects,” defined by many as projects of more than $1 billion U.S. or greater in scale, are fast becoming a central feature of modern life and global development. The state of commodity prices continues to put pressure on mining, energy and related industries, though government and infrastructure projects are seeing more attention in the down cycle. Regardless of the sector involved, running a megaproject encompasses very high stakes. McKinsey & Company estimates that nine out of 10 megaprojects exceed their budget in part because of technical and human capital complexities.

The success of these megaprojects depends on the quality of their leaders. The pool of extremely experienced leaders is scarce, and companies need to look beyond technical proficiency, which will soon be eclipsed by newer and better technologies, and instead hire based on a hybrid of experience and potential.

What to Look For

Companies cannot afford to be so narrow in focus. An overwhelming emphasis on experience and technical strength can cause companies to overlook individuals with significant potential who would be an excellent fit to the megaproject leader position, which at its core is a people leadership role. In order to find individuals who will truly thrive and excel at the helm of these massive, complex operations, companies should seek out leaders with the following six differentiating attributes:

  1. A strategic mindset: The ability to envision and shape the future, keeping the big picture and the project’s fundamental aims in view at all times.

  2. Business acumen: Leaders should understand the key business drivers of the project and leverage those drivers for the benefit of the organization.

  3. Political intelligence: The ability to engage with, and seek involvement from, all key stakeholders in a project’s ecosystem.

  4. Balanced decision making: Leaders should be able to strike a balance between consensus and room for discussion and collaboration, relentlessness in pursuing accountability and the desire to ensure that lessons are learned from poor decisions.

  5. Communication in all its forms: The ability to listen and empathize and to articulate ideas and vision in a meaningful and compelling way to stakeholders from all walks of life; and

  6. Change leadership: The ability and willingness to consistently challenge the status quo, in the interests of ensuring the project’s success.

To read the full article, click here.  

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Going Mega