At a time when leadership is a more prized attribute in a construction industry under new global pressures, William W. Badger has pioneered research and innovative teaching approaches to enable employers and academics to identify and develop those who can make the grade.

Badger tests “magic” deck on grad students.
Photo: William W. Badger
Badger tests “magic” deck on grad students.

The veteran construction management professor, who spent 26 years with the Corps of Engineers and two decades running Arizona State University’s renowned Del E. Webb School of Construction, now is embarking on a third career as the leading industry guru promoting the science of leadership.

“Bill Badger has taken a research approach to defining leadership requirements in construction,” says Paul Chinowsky, civil engineering professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “He defined more than 100 attributes at different career stages. People don’t understand what leadership is. It’s not project management and we must teach it faster.”

To push his leadership development crusade, Badger has targeted college classrooms, project manager ranks and even construction executive suites. Now a sought-after industry consultant, he introduced the much-touted “Who’s on Your Molecule” tool to help practitioners better manage their various levels of workplace interactions.

This noted construction academic and researcher is using his experience and industry connections to turn more managers into true leaders—just in the nick of time.

This month, participants in the Austin, Texas-based Construction Industry Institute’s Executive Leadership Program will serve as guinea pigs to field test his newest approach: the so-called “magic” deck of cards that offer a simple and compelling tool to define leadership strengths and identify weaknesses. “Badger is leading the charge on this,” says CII Executive Director Wayne Crew. “No one else is doing it.”

Leadership development is not new to business, but Badger’s construction-specific and research-backed approaches are expediting, if not revolutionizing, how future industry leaders are honed.