The Project Management Institute has commissioned the authors to conduct research into whether the project manager’s leadership style is a success factor on projects, and whether its impact is different on different types of projects. In this paper, we review the literature on the topic. Surprisingly, the literature on project success factors does not typically mention the project manager and his or her leadership style or competence as a success factor on projects. This is in direct contrast to the general management literature, which views effective leadership as a critical success factor in the management of organizations, and has shown that an appropriate leadership style can lead to better performance. Since, unlike most literature on project success factors, project management literature does consider the role of the project manager, we also review what it says about his or her leadership style and competence. Keywords: leadership; emotional intelligence; literature; project success factors ©2005 by the Project Management Institute Vol. 36, No. 1, 49-61, ISSN 8756-9728/03
Introduction The authors have been commissioned by the Project Management Institute to determine: 1. Whether the competence, including personality and leadership style, of the project manager is a success factor for projects; and 2. If different competence profiles are appropriate for different project types. In reviewing the literature on project success factors, we found it largely ignores the project manager, and his or her leadership style and competence. This is in direct contrast to the general management literature, which considers effective leadership a success factor in organizations, and has shown that an appropriate leadership style can lead to better performance. In this paper, we review the literature on leadership in a project context. We start by reviewing the general management literature on leadership, and show how the project management literature has reflected this. We indicate specific instances where it has been shown that an appropriate leadership style, and the competence and emotional intelligence of the leader, delivers better results. We then review the literature on project success factors, and consider how and why it largely ignores the project manager, and his or her leadership style and competence. We look at literature on the role of the project manager and his or her leadership style and competence. We close by indicating how this suggests further research as sponsored by the Project Management Institute. General Management Literature on Leadership Styles and Competence Throughout history, people have tried to say what makes a good leader. Some of the most often quoted historical authors include Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke from the West (Collinson, 1998), and Confucius and Xunxi from the East (Collinson, Plan, & Wilkinson, 2000). As early as 500 B.C., Confucius listed the virtues (de) of effective leaders. Four were key to his beliefs: • Jen (love) • Li (proper conduct) • Xiao (piety) • Zhang rong (the doctrine of the mean)
J U N E 2005 Project Management Journal
Notice that three of the virtues are emotional and only one managerial. Confucius’s theory has formed the basis of Chinese government for 2,500 years. In this review of what the general management literature says about successful leadership styles and competence, we consider: • The development of leadership theory through the 20th century, and how that is reflected in the project management literature • The literature on behavior of team members • The literature on cultural behaviors of managers • The current literature on the competence of leaders. Theories of Leadership in the 20th Century...