AbstractInnovation has become a focus of research and practice of construction projects. However, the existing literature has not addressed when and how ambidextrous leadership influences innovation from the individual psychological perspective in the context of construction projects. In the present study, a moderated mediation model was constructed based on social information processing theory. Psychological cognitive mechanisms of empowering and directive leadership on project members’ innovative behavior were analyzed. Drawing on the sample of 15 project managers and 161 project members, the model was studied using structural equation modeling and bootstrapping methods. The results indicate that empowering leadership exerts a positive effect on creative self-efficacy. Directive leadership positively relates to perceived overqualification. Creative self-efficacy and perceived overqualification play mediating roles between ambidextrous leadership and innovative behavior. Leader-member exchange (LMX) serves as a buffering moderator between directive leadership and innovative behavior via perceived overqualification. Ambidexterity-oriented managers can be trained to promote innovation and project success. The dual-edged sword impacts of the ambidexterity-oriented strategy must be recognized and considered with caution.