Leadership in a Project Environment

Leadership can be defined as a style of behavior designed to integrate both the organizational requirements and one's personal interests into the pursuit of some objective. All managers have some sort of leadership responsibility. If time permits, successful leadership techniques and practices can be developed.

Leadership is composed of several complex elements, the three most common being:

• The person leading

• The people being led

• The situation (i.e., the project environment)

Project managers are often selected or not selected because of their leadership styles. The most common reason for not selecting an individual is his inability to balance the technical and managerial project functions. Wilemon and Cicero have defined four characteristics of this type of situation:9

• The greater the project manager's technical expertise, the higher his propensity to overinvolve himself in the technical details of the project.

• The greater the project manager's difficulty in delegating technical task responsibilities, the more likely it is that he will overinvolve himself in the technical details of the project (depending on his ability to do so).

• The greater the project manager's interest in the technical details of the project, the more likely it is that he will defend the project manager's role as one of a technical specialist.

• The lower the project manager's technical expertise, the more likely it is that he will overstress the nontechnical project functions (administrative functions).

There have been several surveys to determine what leadership techniques are best. The following are the results of a survey by Richard Hodgetts:10

• Human relations-oriented leadership techniques

• "The project manager must make all the team members feel that their efforts are important and have a direct effect on the outcome of the program."

• "The project manager must educate the team concerning what is to be done and how important its role is."

• "Provide credit to project participants."

• "Project members must be given recognition and prestige of appointment."

9 D. L. Wilemon and John P. Cicero, "The Project Manager: Anomalies and Ambiguities," Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 13, pp. 269-282, 1970.

10 Richard M. Hodgetts, "Leadership Techniques in Project Organizations," Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 11, pp. 211-219, 1968.

• "Make the team members feel and believe that they play a vital part in the success (or failure) of the team."

• "By working extremely close with my team I believe that one can win a project loyalty while to a large extent minimizing the frequency of authority -gap problems."

• "I believe that a great motivation can be created just by knowing the people in a personal sense. I know many of the line people better than their own supervisor does. In addition, I try to make them understand that they are an indispensable part of the team."

• "I would consider the most important technique in overcoming the authority-gap to be understanding as much as possible the needs of the individuals with whom you are dealing and over whom you have no direct authority."

• Formal authority-oriented leadership techniques

• "Point out how great the loss will be if cooperation is not forthcoming."

• "Put all authority in functional statements."

• "Apply pressure beginning with a tactful approach and minimum application warranted by the situation and then increasing it."

• "Threaten to precipitate high-level intervention and do it if necessary."

• "Convince the members that what is good for the company is good for them."

• "Place authority on full-time assigned people in the operating division to get the necessity work done."

• "Maintain control over expenditures."

• "Utilize implicit threat of going to general management for resolution."

• "It is most important that the team members recognize that the project manager has the charter to direct the project."

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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