Posted by: nedpelger | June 15, 2009

Construction Commandant vs Construction Conductor

A commandant commands a military organization, by definition. Do you run your jobsite with the type of command and control management associated with the military? In command and control management, the decisions for action get made up the chain of command then communicated downward. The lower ranks must carry out the orders. Questioning the orders isn’t encouraged, or even allowed. In the past, most Construction Supervisors ran their job sites as commandants, with strict adherence to chain of command.

Why has this model been changing in recent years? The rise of the Knowledge Worker in all areas of the economy brings the concept that few jobs achieve maximum efficiency with a “Just do what I tell you and don’t think about options” mentality. The new management model more closely resembles an orchestra than a platoon.

The conductor works with skilled individuals and coordinates their actions, but expects them to be competent. In fact, the conductor listens to suggestions and takes time to work through various ways to get to the best solution. So the initial planning takes more time but the final outcome improves.

How can this work on the job site?

  1. Encourage subordinates to make decisions that are best made by them.
  2. Coach everyone involved how to make good decisions and how to deal with bad ones.
  3. Understand which decisions you need to make and make them.

The Construction Conductor acts more as coach than commandant. Take some time to think about how you operate and how you might improve.



  1. your antonym is backwards.
    an orchestra is pre-planned and rehearsed to perfection with no deviations.
    platoons are taught & trained to accomplish goals within defined & adapting constraints and situations.
    what you are referencing is leadership styles & personality traits

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