Projects and People 641

Curtin University


Semester 2, 2014

Faculty of Humanities

Department of Construction Management

Assignment 2

Leadership Essay-Leadership in Project Teams

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Lecturer:Ms Maureen Boland
Word Count:1,532 (Incl. headings and citations)

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Assignment 2, Semester 2, 2014


Although it is generally understood the role of the project manager is critical to a projects success, the qualitative effect of the individual project managers’ characteristics and leadership styles on project success remains the subject of many written works. This paper discusses the effects of the project manager’s characteristics and leadership style on project teams and project success. Project types, teams and leadership is defined to assist explain concepts and ideas and how they relate. Qualitative, researched results from actual projects, projects teams and project individuals from the engineering and construction environment are presented, culminating in a discussion on which leadership style is deemed most suitable for the project manager to be a successful leader.


Projects are unique endeavors requiring temporary assignment of a team of people to for a specific goal wits scopes that are often poorly defined. Compiled of individuals from either within and / or outside the organsiation, usually with minimal or no existing relationships between team members, project manager or the organisation and as a result have no established working behaviours or lines of communication. Furthermore, the beginning stages of a project often have scopes that are poorly defined, making for an uncertain working environment. Briner, Geddes and Hastings (1990) provide a more detailed commentary on the issues a project manager faces to co-ordinate the many and varied facets of project activities in an uncertain work environment. This paper deals with particular facets with critical concepts defined as follows.

Projects can be defined into 3 categories;

  1. Well defined, often referred to as hard or concrete projects (eg. Engineering and construction projects)
  2. Unclear or ill-defined projects, often referred to as soft, open or FOG projects (eg, research and development, and information technology projects), and
  3. Failure or crisis projects to address things that have gone wrong (eg. Large scale humanitarian efforts, crash and accident investigations, or critical equipment failures).

(Briner, Michael and Hastings 1990; Hamilton 1997)

These discussions are focused on category (1); engineering and construction projects.

According to Briner, Geddes and Hastings (1990), the project team is defined as “…all those who have a significant contribution to make to the success of the project…” .    Turner (1990) divides the project team into three (3) levels working from the project manager as the center and out to reflect intimacy of the relationship;

  1. the Primary Group are the people directly working with each other on a daily basis supporting the project manager.
  2. the Secondary Group consists of people working with and contributing to the primary group (eg. Finance, marketing, product development), and
  3. the Tertiary Group who have influence over the primary and secondary groups (eg. Line mangers), or who are affected by the project but have no direct contribution (the customer or end user, project Sponsor and outside influences).

For the purposes of these discussions, it is the primary group that are of interest.

Leadership is defined by Yang, Huang and Wu (2001) as the accomplishment of goals through either communication or by influence, be it through individuals or groups. Various models to capture this ability have been developed. Muller and Turner (2010, 438) list the various schools of thought; trait school of leadership, behavior school of studies, contingency school, visionary and charismatic school, emotional intelligence school, and most recently, the competence school.

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