Leadership & Team Building in Project Management
Date of Submission
Project management is a core aspect in effective project development, which determines the allocation of resources, scheduling, and coordination of various projects attributes to attain key deliverables. Efficiency and effectiveness in project management is characterized by proper budget allocation, and management of resources. This paper aims to illustrate the role of leadership and team building in project management. In an attempt to conceptualize different factors affecting project management, the project utilizes different theoretical models that define leadership. Different theoretical models regarding leadership explains different leadership approaches based on traits, behavior, and surrounding factors that determine the ability of a project manager to control, manipulate, and coordinate various aspects in a bid to complete the project and submit project deliverables within the allocated time. The project also illustrates the effect of proper employee motivation in attaining the required project requirements. Motivation of project employees promotes performance and enhances individual support for project managers. Concisely, a project manager is required to be able to understand the underlying factors and be able to manipulate them according to the requirement of the entire project.
Project management involves effective management of goals that relate to time, cost, project scope, and most importantly, emergent issues during the project. The role of a project manager, therefore, goes beyond achieving generic project related deliverables and intensifies efforts in ensuring that the mental and psychological orientation rhymes with the objectives of the overall project (Aggarwal, Raj, & Simskins, 2001). The project manager bears the responsibility of utilizing all the project resources and inspiring the rest of the team to attain the organizational goals. A project manager requires good leadership qualities, which are intertwined with the psychological understanding of all the team members. Understanding team members enables the project manager to allocate tasks to team members based upon their skills and passion to ensure optimum utilization of the projects resources. Besides concentrating on the issues that pertain to individual commitment and determination, the project manager has a huge responsibility of modifying the external factors to enhance a motivating environment where team members can dedicate their skills, time, and wits to counter challenges that are likely to emerge during the project (Belfer, 2002). Project management, therefore, entails effective and efficiency in leadership, which aims at influencing team members to commit their efforts, professionalism, and time into achieving organizational goals.
A project manager starts by developing a team, which is used to achieve the core objectives of the organization. Before selecting project team members, the project manager must understand the requirements of the project such that he/she understands the amount of resources of required. According to Thomas (2000), hasty selection of project team members or inadequate experience are influential in a project failure. The project manager should, therefore, be highly experienced and should take enough time to select and vet all project team members.
Human resources are most important in the successful accomplishment of the project because they are key in implementing all the project plans as well as in implementing all project tasks in a bid to attain the project deliverables. Understanding project requirements ensures that the project manager understands the rightful professionals to occupy the respective project spaces. The choice of team members is based on their experiences in their respective professionals and the training costs involved. In incidences where the organization has been handling several projects for a considerable period, the team manager is only tasked with need to regroup team members based on their previous performance. The project manager must prepare the team members within good team for effective orientation with the project requirements (Garris, 2007). Additionally, the project manager must be versed with the requirements in every stage of the project and the exact resources required. In this case, the project manager must ensure to make good approximations of time and resources in order to optimize project performance.
A project manager ought to enhance proper leadership skills to ensure that the project related tasks are handled with significant effectiveness and efficiency. Leadership requires clear vision, proper scheduling, viable reasoning, and the manager’s ability to attract highly efficient and talented members (Ronald, 2014). Additionally, the members of the team must obtain the conviction that they will certainly achieve the objectives of the project within a timely and convenient manner. Conviction with the leadership of the manager or the management team facilitates the productivity of the team members by effectively utilizing their efforts and creativity at every level of the project. Concisely, the success in management is only achieved if it is accompanied by good leadership because whereas management sustains the adherence to rules and regulations regarding the running of the organization, leadership balances abstract psychological aspects that characterize core human attributes. Consequently, a leader aligns the project objectives with the vision by providing a consistent performance streak across every aspect of the organization. Additionally, the leader not only restrains the roles of team members, but also cultivates the talents and abilities that enable them to optimize their potential. Good leadership does not concentrate on telling team members on the organizational guidelines, but rather concentrates on the core aspects and concepts behind these guidelines. In this approach, the team members will be operating from a reasonable point of view, which provides the organization with a sustainable performance framework (Carmeli & Waldman, 2010).
Proper leadership is conceptually illustrated by certain theories that underlie long periods of research and development in project management. These theories illustrate models that provide guidelines on sustainable leadership approaches in project management.
- To illustrate extensive research in leadership, motivation, and team building
- To analyze key theoretical leadership and management models that are relevant on proper management skills
This research aims to answer the following key questions:
- Is there a significant difference between management and leadership?
- Does the theoretical models namely: Trait theory and behavioral theory effectively illustrate the core aspects of leadership and project management?
- Is there a significant relationship between motivation and leadership skills in project management?
The literature review presents different accounts of research that have been previously carried out on leadership and team building in relation to their impact in project management.
Theoretical models in leadership are normally action plans and theoretical assertions that illustrate the core situations or behavior in leadership. Theoretical models illustrate, analyze, and exemplify different attributes that define leadership with respect to project management. Theoretical models in leadership are categorized into trait theories (which illustrate the effective traits and qualities of leaders), behavioral theories (which illustrates people’s behavior in relation to the behavior of their subjects), contingency theories (which illustrate the behavior of a leader with respect to circumstance), power influence theories (the ability to exercise power to influence leadership goals and objectives). Theoretical models in leadership conceptualize leadership styles with respect to human traits, environmental factors, and social dynamics that characterize human behavior (Marks, Marks, Hackett, Mirvis & Grady,1986). These aspects are essential in leadership because the interaction between a leader and the subjects determine the effectiveness and the efficiency of the respective leadership.
Relevance theory relates to aspects of the importance of communication with respect to the underlying meaning. The relevance theory is directly intertwined with the presumptions that understanding the speaker’s utterances implies inferring to their communicative and informative intentions. The essence of relevance theory is essential in communication, which is a core attribute in proper leadership. Good leadership ensures that there is proper communication between the speaker and the audience to ensure that there is proper understanding and minimal contradiction in the course of process development (Sperber & Wilson, 1995).
The great man theory, also referred as the trait approach to leadership was used to define innate leadership traits that defined a good leader. According to the great man theory, a leader was naturally born and were isolated by certain unique characteristics that gave them an undisputable leadership prowess. In traditional aspects of leadership, leaders were identified in early stages and groomed based on their certain outstanding behaviors. Additionally, leaders were identified based on their backgrounds because it was believed that certain leadership traits were aligned to a specific lineage. Strogdil (1974) asserted that major developments in leadership were aimed at discovering certain traits that were believed to be hidden within certain prospect leaders. Self-confidence, dominance personalities, and adaptability to situations were believed to define strong and influential leaders. Although the great man theory is still used to illustrate certain incidences of leadership in the modern world, new theoretical models have been established to illustrate vast dynamics of leadership.
The trait theory was, however, unable to establish a viable and definite model that could be used to illustrate the essence of leadership, which initiated theorists to develop certain behavioral theories that defined leaders based on their behavior and gradual advancement in skills. Trait theory was also unable to quantify traits such as loyalty, integrity, diligence, and honesty, which are very essential in leadership; hence, more dynamic theoretical models were developed. Two theories were coined to illustrate a correlation between human behavior and the organizational output.
McGregor’s Theory X, asserts that, an average human being prefers to be directed to achieve certain objectives. Additionally, the theory asserts that people must be coerced and controlled to effectively meet their professional or personal obligations. McGregor’s theory Y, on the other hand, asserts that the ability to exercise a significant degree of responsibility, ingenuity, and creativity is only eminent in a small portion of the population. People with extraordinary traits and behavior tend to be most effective in leadership. In modern life, a little intellect is evident in certain leaders, who on most cases are appointed based on their social influence, educational levels, or the general respect within their immediate contexts (McGregor, 1960).
According to the Fiedler’s Contingency Model, there is not definite leadership approach, but rather an interplay between various circumstances in management and the manner in which the given leaders respond. Proper interaction between various dynamics in the process of project management is characterized by the leader’s ability to remain focused on the common goal or the vision. Good managers are known for turning challenging situations to their favor, which facilitates the success of the project because they understand the dynamics that surround every project (Conger & Kanungo, 1987). Nonetheless, proper management and leadership skills are characterized by experience with diverse factors that affect project management because most of these factors are recurrent under various circumstances. Most managers experience challenges in human resource management because of their dynamic nature. Good management skills entail keeping all the team members focused on the product and balancing all probable factors that are likely to distract them from the common goal.
During the postulation of Fiedler’s contingency theory, Fiedler considered three situations namely: Leader-member relations, task structure, and position power. Leader-member relations basically relate to the manner in which the manager relates with subordinates or team members. Good leaders understand the human nature; hence, they establish an operation rapport to ensure that both parties feel as an integral part of the team. Task structure on the other hand refers to the structure of the general project into tasks that can be easily and systematical handled by various team members. Besides proper leader-employee relations and task structure, proper management must be capped by position power such that team members can all connect to the source of the respective power and work in accordance to the vision of the leader. Powerful leadership is characterized by influence, which implies that there is proper coordination from the top hierarchy downwards.
This leadership model is also regarded as the situational perspective of leadership. The model posits that subordinate support from team members is the most important approach in organizational leadership. According to this model, a leader is as strong as the support they get from various subordinate levels of management. The leader has a role to ensure that the subordinate understand that by supporting him, they are doing what is best to the general organization. The employees’ conviction that providing support and commitment to their seniors is beneficial to them is key in ensuring their allegiance to their leaders. The Hersey-Blanchard Model of leadership is based on task behavior (the alignment of employees’ efforts towards attaining a performance edge in project management), relationship behavior (the degree of socio-emotional support towards leadership), and the degree of maturity among members (which implies that employees uphold their professionalism even when they have personal differences with their leaders). The theory summarizes the core roles of a project manager, which entail directing (giving specific directions, which must be followed), coaching (encouraging communication among members in an attempt to create an operation rapport), supporting (ensuring that members are effectively supported as they attempt to follow management directions), delegating (delegating management roles to facilitate autonomy among members and ensuring that most of the tenets of management continue even if the leader is unavailable).
Path-goal theory of effectiveness in leadership as coined by Robert house where he illustrated that leadership behavior is contingent to the motivation, performance, and satisfaction of the subordinates (House, 1996). In essence, the theory conceptualizes a leader’s behavior that tends to complement the abilities and talents of their subordinates in a bid to improve employee performance. Every leader embraces the effort of their subordinates because this way they are able to manipulate different individual personalities that enable them to follow the guidelines of their leaders, who they consider to be their role models.
The development of a good performance culture is always determined by degree of motivation at the workplace. Project management involves understanding all the team members and the aspects that make them content with their roles in the project and most importantly, the expected rewards words the project is successfully completed.
Employee motivation can either be directly or indirectly induced depending on the nature of organizational structure. Some organizations give employees direct rewards whenever the team accomplishes a certain goal or target while others develop the organizational environment and developing employee schemes and various motivational attributes. Despite bonuses and relative motivation schemes, most employees require a psychological trigger that ensures they feel as team members of the organization. Giving employees the appeal that they are bonafide members of the organization gives them assurance and makes them integrate the interests of the organization within their skills and commitment (Wiersma, 1992).
Extrinsic motivation is evidenced in product-oriented services where the employee receives rewards from clients and external parties as a gesture of appreciation. Extrinsic motivation is evidenced in cases where the organization is undertaking external projects such as contracts where the client organization tips the project management team as a gesture of appreciation. Such appreciations serve as motivational factors, which enable to project management team to work hard with an anticipation that they will receive massive rewards from clients or correspondents (Pierce, Cameron, Banko,& So, 2003). In cases where the employees are rewarded based on tasks completed, extrinsic motivation is reflected in terms of more projects that keep them assured of more jobs even if their respective field is competitive.
Employee motivation keeps the interests and aims of the employees aligned with those of the organization especially in the event that both parties understand that good performance is beneficial to the organization an individual team member (Soo Jung Jang, 2010). It is important for the organizational leadership to approach a dynamic motivation approach, which ensures that employees or team members are not accustomed to a static reward formula because it loses its motivational appeal (Arlt & Toupence, 2007). Arlt & Toupence, (2007) cites Vroom’s expectancy theory, which asserts that employees tend to improve their performance if they know expect certain rewards from the organization.
Motivating project employees facilitates effective management approaches because it ensures that they not only offer their skills, but also commit their passion into ensuring that the organization attains excellent performance. Some organizations engage in different approaches; hence, they do not necessarily reward their project employees but offer good salaries and strict schedules and penalties for underperforming employees. According to Adams’ equity theory, pay conditions; however how good have a very small impact on employee motivation (Aidla, 2013). Motivation, is a non-quantifiable impact that is used to create a sense of contentment among employees. This theory explains why some organizations pay just enough salary, but concentrate on recreation schemes and bonuses that give employees a sense satisfaction and fulfilment. According to Moore, (2009) project management employees tend to lack a strong attachment with the organizational development; hence, motivation schemes need to be established to uphold performance during handling of particular projects.
Employee performance is the optimum aspect and a core ingredient into organizational performance. In project management, performance culture depends on whether the employees are permanent or hired for the project. Successful project management approaches ensures that project managers are accustomed to the organizational culture because it ensures consistency and assurance of successful project completion. During establishment of a performance culture, most organizations establish feedback systems that ensure that the managers and subordinate staff members are versed with the requirements of the organization. Appropriate evaluation of employee contribution enables the organization to determine the capital contribution of every employee, which can then be used to evaluate the cost benefit analysis of sustaining every member of the team (Barrett, 2015). Feedback systems are mainly applicable in incidences where the organizations have a system where clients can give their feedback based on the quality of the expected project deliverables. Feedback systems enable employees to check their performance and to uphold their professionalism because it directly contributes to the general performance on the project tasks within the organization. According to Marks et al. (1986), employees must be made to understand the essence of feedback systems through ensuring that these systems are fair and do not oppress the employees. In the event that the employees feel that the feedback systems are oppressive, they will tend to respond negatively or experience job insecurities, which is likely to interfere with their performance.
Leadership is a very dynamic attribute in effective organizational management because it enhances a coherence between organizational goals and the abilities of the respective employees. Appropriate techniques from management leadership ensures that there is a rapport between organizational leaders and their subordinates. In project management, leadership roles are sensitive because they determine the success of every step of the project handling process. Project tasks also need to be effectively structured in order to facilitate effective scheduling, allocation of tasks and monitoring. Simplification of tasks is also effective because it makes the entire project manageable and saves time. Effective leadership is evidenced in cases where leaders can simplify extremely complex projects in a manner that all project members can handle them effectively. Project managers need to weigh and balance different factors because employing innate traits may not necessarily optimize the operations of a given project.
Aggarwal, Raj; Aggarwal, R. & Simskins, B.J. 2001, “Open-boon management – Optimizing human capital”. Business Horizons 44 (5): 5–13.
Aidla, A. 2013, “Perceptions of Negative Inequity at Work and the Behavior of Individuals”, GSTF Business Review (GBR), vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 234-239.
Barrett, B. 2015, “Measuring Human Capital’s Contribution to Knowledge Management in Today’s Workplace”, Academic Conferences International Limited, Kidmore End, 11, pp. 34.
Belfer, S.E. 2002, Assessing organizational leadership skills: Developing a behavioral measure of clear leadership, Simon Fraser University (Canada).
Carmeli, A. & Waldman, D.A. 2010, “Leadership, behavioral context, and the performance of work groups in a knowledge-intensive setting”, Journal of Technology Transfer, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 384-400.
Conger, J.A. & Kanungo, R.N. 1987, “Toward a Behavioral Theory of Charismatic Leadership in Organizational Settings”, Academy of Management.The Academy of Management Review, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 637.
Garris, L.B. 2007, “Building the Perfect Project Team”, Buildings, vol. 101, no. 4, pp. 34-38.
House, R. J. 1996, “Path-goal theory of leadership: Lessons, legacy, and a reformulated theory”. Leadership Quarterly 7 (3): 323–352.
Marks, Mitchell L.; Marks, M.L., Hackett, E.J., Mirvis, P.H., & Grady, Jr., J.F. 1986, “Employee participation in a quality circle program: Impact on quality of work life, productivity, and absenteeism”. Journal of Applied Psychology 71 (1): 61–69.
McGregor, D. 1960, The Human Side of Enterprise. New York: McGraw Hill.
Moore, L.K. 2009, Investigating job satisfaction of independent contractors and employees in the event production industry, University of Phoenix.
Pierce, W.D., Cameron, J., Banko, K.M., So, S. 2003, “Positive effects of rewards and performance standards on intrinsic motivation”. The Psychology Record. pp. 561–579.
Ronald, B. 2014, “Comprehensive Leadership Review – Literature, Theories and Research”, Advances in Management, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 52-66.
Ronald, B. 2014, “Comprehensive Leadership Review – Literature, Theories, and Research”, Advances in Management, vol. 7, no. 5, pp. 52-66.
Skemp-Arlt, K.M, Toupence, R. 2007, “The administrator’s role in employee motivation”. Coach & Athletic Director. p. 30.
Soo Jung Jang, R.P. 2010, “The interaction effects of scheduling control and work-life balance programs on job satisfaction and mental health”. International Journal of Social Welfare. pp. 135–143.
Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. 1995, Relevance: Communication and Cognition, Second Edition, Oxford/Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 2–9.
Stogdill, R.M. 1974, Handbook of leadership: A survey of the literature, New York: Free Press
Thomas, M. 2000, “Building and managing a winning project team”, Manage, vol. 52, no. 1, pp. 4-5.
Wiersma, U.J. 1992, “The effects of extrinsic rewards in intrinsic motivation: A meta-analysis”. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. pp. 101–114.