21st Century Skills: Leadership Training in Construction

Construction leaders need more than technical skills and depth of knowledge to get ahead. 21st century skills, also known as future skills or soft skills, are important qualities in today’s workplace and are often emphasized in leadership training in construction.
What are 21st century skills?
21st century skills are also referred to as the 4 C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These skills are most often developed organically rather than in a classroom. However, leadership training in construction, including mentorships, webinars, online training, and professional development workshops, can help grow these skills for women in construction.
Other soft skills that are part of 21st century learning include:

  •  Emotional intelligence
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Adaptability
  • Productivity
  • Teamwork
  • Self-management
  • Executive function
  • Time-management
  • Social skills 

Highlighting experience with these skills on their resumes and in interviews can help women in construction stand out from other applicants. Resume Builder offers these tips and examples. LinkedIn also includes a section to include soft skills in profiles.
Leadership training in construction: NAWIC and 21st century skills
Here are a few ways NAWIC and its chapters provides opportunities for members to build their 21st century skills:

  • Communication: In the construction industry, excellent communication is vital for safety and teamwork. These types of skills include written (correspondence, reports, proposals), verbal (persuading, negotiating, explaining, presenting), and nonverbal (body language, active listening, expression). NAWIC chapters often host professional development webinars or workshops aimed at helping women construction workers develop these skills. NAWIC regional conferences, like the recent Southcentral region’s fall conference, and the Annual Conference also have sessions focused on communication in the construction industry.
  • Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to manage emotions to improve communication, help resolve conflict, and better deal with stress. Emotional intelligence begins with awareness of one’s own emotions as well as others’ emotions. Many NAWIC chapters offer webinars and presentations to help members build their EQ and NAWIC’s Midwest region features an emotional intelligence self-assessment questionnaire in the leadership tools section of its website.
  • Social skills: Women in construction benefit from the social connection and networking opportunities that are at the core of NAWIC. Recently, Procore launched Lean-In Circles for NAWIC. According to Sasha Reed, Director of Industry Advancement for Procore, “Circles are made up of 8 or more women who meet virtually each month, guided by a designated Circle Leader. Some of these curriculum topics include: connecting over shared experience, communicating with confidence, overcoming the “prove it again” bias, navigating the” assertiveness tightrope” bias, navigating the “only” experience, why it’s important to negotiate as a woman, and coping with burnout.” 

Transforming women into leaders is the mission of NAWIC as the leading organization for women construction workers. With more than 115 chapters in the United States and affiliate organizations worldwide, NAWIC provides community, mentorship, networking, leadership opportunities, and education for its members.