Background and influence them to achieve betterBackground and influence them to achieve better

Background and Literature Review:

               Over the past decade, international and local communities realised the sustainable construction industry, and particularly the building sector of construction industry, as vital in encouraging societal change towards sustainable construction in a global context. In this regard, project managers and construction leaders of sustainable projects are convinced to transform the subordinates, and influence them to achieve better sustainable performance.

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In sustainable development a leader can achieve better sustainability and productivity by the style of his/her leadership and the way to manage the project as well as the subordinates. Although there are manty definitions for leaderships, it remains one of the most observed but least understood phenomenon of the word. Defining leadership clearly is hard because the nature of leadership itself is complicated. The key components associated with the leadership is defined as a process whereby a leader with his/her will power and intelligence has a positive effect on the subordinates to be able to attain organizational objectives within the time, funding and quality.

This study has been carried out by “Amin Akhavan Tabassi*, Kamand M. Roufechaei, Mahyuddin Ramli, Abu Hassan Abu Bakar, Radzi Ismail, A. Hamid Kadir Pakir” from the school of housing, building and planning, University Sains Malaysia (USM), 11800 Penang Malaysia.


This study is adding to the research about the leadership behaviour and transformational qualities as hierarchal, reflective construct, integrating ten associated components used for the assessment of leadership behaviour in a sustainable project. The model is used to observe a direct impact of project managers/leaders on the success criteria for sustainable buildings. Generally, the present study encompasses some of the significant components from leadership assessment in the context of construction project managers in sustainable building projects and has generated a new model to facilitate the process of sustainability in the industry.


Sustainable building construction plays a major role in terms of human impact on natural environment and in the quality of life (Anink et al., 1996; Lu and Zhang,2016). Many researchers have considered the building industry as s sector with ability to achieve high level of human needs as well as sustainable development requirements. For example (Anink et al., 1996) realised that the world building industry accounts for a considerable number of worlds environmental damage, as the buildings accounts for 17 % of worlds fresh water withdrawals, 25% of worlds wood cutting, 40 % of worlds material and energy flow and a major path of employment and land usage. In addition to that (Lu and Zhang,2016) emphasised that ignorance of eco-friendly construction works could result in significant issues to a nation. Furthermore, during the construction, maintenance and operation and the time span of construction projects, there are many types of pollution and unwanted effects on the environment. Particularly the industry drains more than 50 % of extracted materials, which results in 180 million tons of waste produced every year, and cause site related nuisances such as traffic, noise etc (World energy Outlook, 2011).   Therefore, the management in this industry needs to take account of all conditions and sustainability attitudes within project design, construction, and maintenance.

This study was carried out to contribute to the strength in sustainability, particularly in the construction industry of developing countries like Malaysia. It can be said undoubtedly that sustainability is not at an adequate level, and developing countries like Malaysia has only just commenced to deal with the challenge of sustainable development in the construction industry. A research on sustainable project development and leadership behaviour in the construction industry will have a positive influence on the development of the project and drive forward a future for better performance in the building sector in countries like Malaysia. Most of the research done in the construction industry is done on the design concepts for sustainability and therefore not enough research has been done in leadership competences and quality practices of the leaders in sustainable development of building projects. This research has been designed to build a model to study the most effective leadership competence in sustainable building construction to answer the following question:

Does the leadership style of the leaders affect the achievement in success criteria of the green building projects?




               In the 21st century a leadership is valued more than ever before. Reviewing the leadership literature and theories in the past two decades shows that while leadership has been broadly studied in organizational management literature, it still is a dynamic concept for development of communication toward others, and used to influence subordinates to accomplish the desired goals. However, the wide concept of leadership can be summarised into three interlinked domains: personal characteristics of a leader, leadership style, and situational theories (Fryer et al., 2004). In other words, leadership is a dynamic behaviour and the role of a leader changes with the change in circumstances and traits. Consequently, no ultimate leadership behaviour can exist, and the many ways that leadership has been conceptualized will influence the relationship among leaders and followers who intend real change and results which reflects shared goals. Therefore, effective leadership is required for rapid, complex and discontinuous change.  While the role of leadership has long been recognized as success factor in organizations, regarding the context of a specific project, there have still not been enough studies to support the relation between leadership style and project success, particularly in the context of sustainable building construction. However, overall project success consists of some dimensions that depends on the managers leadership style and performance. Corresponding to the competence school of leadership, (Dulewicz and Higgs (2005) performed a detailed review of current theories and determined fifteen leadership dimensions that can be divided under two competences, intellectual (IQ) and managerial (MQ) and a personal characteristics measurement named emotional and social dimensions EQ.






Sustainable construction

            Constructions and buildings can contribute significantly to the realisation of sustainable developments. Recent research related to the construction industry is focusing on the increasing concerns related to the usage of natural resources (i.e. water, wood, energy, material) as well as to the production of significant amount of CO2 emission.  Additionally, several types of environmental pollutions have been reported during he life cycle of a construction project. Lack of attention to the sector of green construction operation is likely to results in serious environmental problems, therefore the construction industry should be alert to these risks as well as cautious of sustainable alternatives to improve its ecological and social footmark.


Sustainable construction and Leadership

            Although leadership has been outlined as success factor for the effective performance of an organization, there is still limited research on the relationship between leadership behaviour of project managers and especially managers in the construction industry. These leaders should have the skills set to endorse a positive culture towards sustainable development. In a recent study (Hwang and Ng 2013) explored the challengers in green construction projects and they identified in the study the knowledge areas and the skills that a project manager should have to meet the challenges of sustainable development. However, leadership style and competencies of sustainable project managers needs to be further explored for their statistical relationship with project success criteria.


Leader competencies and success criteria for sustainable Building projects

               The Malaysian Institute of Architects formed a Sustainability Committee which was established mainly to develop the Green Building Index (GBI) and the related section for accreditation and certification of green-rated buildings in August 2008. The GBI Building rating tools assess the sustainability of buildings based on six key criteria as demonstrated in Table 1 below. Consequently, these specific set of guidelines were employed to measure the success criteria that project mangers attained in their green building projects.

 The above-mentioned criteria can motivate developers and building users to consider the environmental quality of buildings and related inhabitants via improved site selection, conditions to attain access to public transportation, improved local community services and connectivity as well as improved infrastructure facilities.


Hypothesis Tested

               Leaders in the organization tends to be the key driving force to endorse sustainability in the industry. Therefore, in view of the analysis, the current study targets to explore the impact of intellectual and managerial capabilities of the leader on the success of a sustainable building project. Therefore:

Hypothesis 1: Leader intellectual competence is positively related to the success criteria of the projects.

Hypothesis 2: Leader managerial competence is positively related to the success criteria of the projects.

Transformational leaders have been found to promote project efficiency. Transformational leaders are those who exhibit individualised consideration behaviour and can influence subordinate’s reactions, which can lead to effective employee performance. Transformational leaders aim to influence employees so that can go beyond their status quo, to improve, innovate and adopt in the team environment. One of the variable of sustainability is social concerns, therefore transformational leadership is a humanistic way to manage employees and has been regarded to be assessed among the project managers in sustainable building industry/projects.

Application of the transformational leadership in sustainable societies as an area which is essential for professional and researchers to come up with necessary local regional and global changes on the way to sustainable growth therefore:

Hypothesis 3: The transformational leadership behaviour of the project manager is positively related to the success criteria of the projects.

 This study evaluated the leadership behaviour and the effectiveness of transformational leadership of the project managers in sustainable building projects based on works of Dulewicz and Higgs (2005) and Daft and Pirola-Merlo (2009).


Research methodology and Data Analysis

               This study propose that the leadership behaviour and transformational leadership qualities of project manager can play an important in project management, and that understanding of leadership behaviour effects the success criteria of a sustainable development of a project. The research applies partial least square (PLS) method to assess the hierarchal hypothesised model in sustainable building projects.

For data collection, a survey of questionnaires was distributed among the project managers of a sustainable projects. 5-point scale questionnaire was used. Afterwards, nonparametric bootstrapping was applied with 200 replications to obtain the standard estimate errors.



               The participants include 70 project managers from those projects which were certified by the GBI assessment of Malaysia. Three research officers were sent to companies in different locations in large cities in Malaysia such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru to deliver the questionnaires to the relevant respondents and to collect them for data analysis. Out of all the managers 65.7 percent were male and 34.3 % were female. the percentage of different races were, Malay 28.6%, Chinese 64.3%, Indian 4.3% and other races 2.9%. Additionally, on experienced level of project managers 20% has 1-5 years of experience, 15.7% has 6-10 years of experience, and 64.3% had more than 11 years of experience in the field.  Regarding level of education, 88.6% had bachelors degree of higher and 11.4 percent had acquired a diploma from junior college. 




Managerial Competence Assessment

               In the study the prior research done has been extended by conceptualising the managerial competence as a hierarchical and reflective construct, and its relationship with the success criteria of project managers in their sustainable projects. It was to propose to find out that how the five factors in managerial competence identified by Dulewicz and Higgs (2005), affects the success criteria of a sustainable project. These factors include resource management, engaging communication, empowering, developing and achieving. Although each of the factor identified in managerial competence shows a different belief, the set forms a solid base for hierarchal competence modelling in a nomological network. The degree of explained variance in this hierarchal construct was reflected   in its components: resource management (76.9%), engaging communication (88.3%), empowering (19.7%), developing (82.2%) and achieving (83%). All the path coefficients from managerial competence to its components were significant at P <0.01. Here, for the construct of managerial competence the CR (composite reliability) and AVE (average variance Extracted) values were 0.941and 0.536, respectively, which are above the cut-off values. The table below shows second order managerial competence and its association with the first-order components. Intelligence competence assessment                Similarly, the study extends the intellectual competence as a hierarchal, reflective concept and evaluated its relationship with success criteria of as sustainable project. The intellectual competence was also assessed through three attributes identified by Dulewicz and Higgs (2005). These three factors include, critical analysis, strategic prospective and vision and imagination which positively affects the success criteria of a sustainable project. Each factor of the intellectual competence also reflects unique perception, whereas, the specified components provides a solid foundation for hierarchical intellectual competence modelling in a nomological network. In a hierarchal order the degree of change explained was reflected in its components: critical analysis (87.2%), strategic perspective (87.6%), and vision and imagination (65.3%). All the path coefficients from intellectual competence to its components were also significant at P <0.01. For intellectual competence the CR and AVE values were 0.926 and 0.514, respectively, which are above the cut-off values. The table below shows second order intellectual components and its relations with the first order components.   Transformational leadership qualities                As mentioned earlier in the report, Daft and Pirola-Merlo (2009) identified two factors of transformational leadership: develop followers into leaders and inspire followers to go beyond their personal interests. This research also adopted Daft and Pirola-Merlo (2009) questionnaire to measure transformational leadership qualities of project managers. The data on transformational leadership qualities was obtained at the team leader level and scored and taken based on the criteria defined in the book. When developing follower's transformational leaders Daft and Pirola-Merlo (2009) suggested that the score of 24 or above in this dimension should be considered higher, the score of 18 is considered average and the score 12 or below is considered on the lower side. The results of the study show that average for developing followers into leaders was 23.98. which is on the higher side of the scale. Followers were given more freedom to control their own behaviour. These kinds of transformational leaders kept their followers together and around the project and outlined clear boundaries in which the followers will be able to use their freedom to achieve organizational assignments. Regarding inspire followers to go beyond their personal interests, a score of 24 was considered as being high transformational leadership qualities. The results obtained from the surveys shows that average of questions associated with inspiring followers to go beyond their personal interests for the benefit of the group was 23.94 which shows a good consideration of inspired individuals to go beyond their own interests. This study extends the transformational leadership qualities as a hierarchal, and reflective concept and assessed its association with success criteria of the sustainable project. The degree of variance explained in this hierarchal concept was also echoed in its components: developing followers into leaders 97.5%a and inspiring followers to go beyond their interests is 96.7%. All the path coefficients from transformational leadership to its components were also significant at p < 0.01. The composite reliability (CR) and Average variance extracted(AVE) of this second order construct were 0.945 and 0.611, respectively, which are both above the cut-off values. Assessment of the structural model                The results give a standardised beta of 0.596 from intellectual competence to the success standards. 0.293 from the managerial competence and 0.0953 from the transformational leadership to the success criteria.  Thus, support could be found only for Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 2. However, for Hypothesis 3 the results show that p value was above 0.05, and therefore, transformational leadership qualities did not have a direct positive association with the success criteria in this model. However, the total second order R for this model was 0.685. Figures below shows the results of the study.   Discussion and Conclusion                The construction industry play an important role in the development of both developed and developing countries. A lot of research work has been done in the last few decades to find out the essential factors increasing the sustainability of the building industry. However, in developing country like Malaysia sustainability awareness in building industry is usually low. Leadership competences of project managers in construction industry plays an important role in the sustainability of the project. Unfortunately, not enough research has been done on the leadership competence and quality practices in sustainable development project, particularly in Malaysia. This study aimed to find out more about the proper leadership styles of leaders in terms of more sustainable building construction. Thus, some of the important parameters related to the leadership competence have been collected from the existed literature and have been extended in the context of project managers. Ten leadership attributes were assessed and kept by this research to measure the three constructs: managerial competence, intellectual competence and transformational leadership qualities see Table 6. this study contributes theoretical support for Daft and Pirola-Merlo (2009), Dulewicz and Higgs (2005) and Müller and Turner (2010), who identified the parameters for this study in leadership assessment as a set of practices that lead to better performance. The result of the study shows that amongst all the attributes of leadership competences, strategic perspective (? =0.945) is the most significant factor, followed by critical analysis (? =0.936), engaging communication (? =0.918), achieving (? =0.906), developing (? =0.896), resource management (? =0.848), vision and imagination (? =0.796) and empowering (? =0.658) in project managers. These are validated by Dulewicz and Higgs (2005) and Muller and turner 2010. The study indicates that the project managers in a sustainable project shows qualities of transformational leadership, these attributes really have a small effect on the success criteria of a sustainable project. Literature suggest that transformational leadership qualities can be significant in a non-project organization where the employees are permanent, in a last lasting environment with no time limitation. Thus, they can engage with managers for a long period of time. Intellectual and managerial competence in addition to the transformational leadership qualities of the project managers counted for 68.5% of variance in attaining the GBI sustainable success criteria of these projects. Besides that, IQ shows the highest ?=0.596 in the model which is followed by MQ ?=0.239 which shows that intellectual competence can play a more significant role in an achieving a sustainable project. From it, it can be concluded that intellectual competence of a leader is more significant than managerial and transformational qualities of project managers in terms of sustainable achievements. This study has provided a helpful framework by clarifying the unique roles of project managers leadership competence, transformational leadership and its relationship with sustainable building industry. overall during the study, ten different attributes were assessed, eight on leadership competencies and two transformational leadership qualities extracted from the literature and ranked their contribution to the success criteria from the managers prospective. In conclusion, it can be said that all the attributes are essential to achieving sustainability, and facilitating sustainable building construction. The study shows that project managers should acquire the necessary leadership competence, skills, and knowledge to improve on sustainability in building projects. Furthermore, the essential aspects of leadership that highlighted in the study will contribute strategically to the transition towards sustainable societies.   Limitations:                       The study has some limitation which can a good prospective for the future studies. The main limitation was that the study was performed among project managers in green building project s in Malaysia in a specific context. Adding to that the study is not a generalised study, as the findings are only based on small samples of data. Further studies can strengthen this model in green projects in different countries. By further research it is probable that leadership behaviour could be further improved by integrating other additional constructs, such as situational behaviour, emotional and social dimension in the leaders.