Leadership in Technology Project Management

Leadership in Technology Project Management

Ralf Müller (Umeå School of Business, Sweden and BI Norwegian School of Management, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-400-2.ch004
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This chapter addresses project managers’ leadership styles, mainly from the perspective of technology projects. It starts by defining and outlining the need for leadership, and then describes the historical schools and the recent schools of leadership theory. Subsequently the focus turns to current leadership research in project management, and its related theories. Subsequently, the personality profiles of successful project managers in different types of projects are presented. The chapter ends with some managerial and theoretical implications, as well as scholarly challenges for further research and future developments in this area.
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Leadership and management are terms often used interchangeably in day-to-day business. There are, however, significant differences between the two.

Management refers to the professional administration of business concerns or public undertakings (Oxford Concise Dictionary, 1995). It is often related to guidance and coordination of people towards a defined goal, through a person granted management authority by higher levels in an organization’s hierarchy.

Contrarily, leadership is defined as a relationship through which one person influences the behavior of other people (Mullins, 1996). Discussions on leadership often refer to the sum of traits, behaviors and characteristics of people being followed by others, independent of their formal authority in an organization. Bennis and Nanus (1985) define management and leadership and the difference thereof as:

To manage means to bring about, to accomplish, to have responsibility for, to conduct. Leading is influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, and opinion. This distinction is crucial. Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right things.

Parry (2004) showed that with increasingly higher levels in a corporate hierarchy the need for management decreases, whereas the need for leadership increases.

The project management literature, for example the International Project Management Association’s (IPMA) Competence Baseline (IPMA, 2007, p. 86), refers to leadership as:

Leadership involves providing direction and motivating others in their role or task to fulfill the project’s objectives. It is a vital competence for project managers.

This definition identifies leadership as a key competence for project managers.

The mission of the chapter is to provide insight into the current state of leadership research and contemporary leadership theories and their relevance for project management. The chapter shows the fit of different leadership styles with different types of projects, and its relation to project success.

The Role of Leadership in the Project Management Literature

While the management tasks of project managers are well described, leadership is rarely addressed in the project management literature. Sometimes team roles are applied to leadership styles, such as the well known Myers-Briggs, FIRO-B, Belbin, or 16PF (Bryggs-Myers, 1995; Schultz, 1955; Belbin, 1986; Cattell et al, 1970 respectively). However, there is little correlation between competencies of leaders and commonly identified team roles and behaviors (Dulewicz & Higgs, 2005), even though many of these are used as part of the recruitment process of managers and executives. Team roles are different from leadership styles, and only very few team roles and personality factors are correlated with leadership performance, according to Dulewicz and Higgs (2005):

  • 1.

    Belbin: Only the roles of resource investigator and team worker are correlated to performance as a leader. The coordinator and implementer roles are weakly correlated to performance as a leader.

  • 2.

    16PF: Extroverts and more emotionally stable individuals are likely to be better leaders. There is also some correlation with some of the other factors.

To understand the leadership role of project managers, we now turn to the literature on leadership, and then describe contemporary research results in leadership research in project management, and finish with theoretical and practical implications thereof.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Competency School: A school of leadership theories which encompasses all earlier schools. It is multidimensional and includes the personal characteristics, knowledge and skills of the leader. The competency school assumes that different competence profiles are appropriate in different circumstances.

Behavioral or Style School: A school of leadership theories which assumes that effective leaders adopt certain styles of behaviors, which can be learned. So that effective leaders can be developed.

Contingency School: A school of leadership theories which assumed that effective leadership occurs through a particular leadership style which fits the idiosyncrasies of a situation.

Managerial Leadership Competencies (MQ): A group of cognitive leadership competencies encompassing the knowledge and skills of management functions.

Intellectual Leadership Competencies (IQ): A group of cognitive competencies encompassing intelligence in form of critical analysis, strategic perspective, vision and imagination.

Visionary or Charismatic School: A school of leadership theories which emphasizes the balance between concern for relationships and concern for process and its different combinations in different situations

Leadership: A relationship through which one person influences the behavior of other people (Mullins, 1996).

Emotional Leadership Competencies (EQ): A group of behavioral and motivational competencies of leaders for handling themselves and their relationships.

Leadership Profile: The specific combination of the expression of the 15 leadership competencies in the personality of an individual.

Project Types: A categorization of projects, typically by project purpose or project attributes. Often done in order to prioritize projects, or to assign resources and develop or assign appropriate capabilities to manage the projects of a particular category.

Management: Professional administration of business concerns or public undertakings (Oxford Concise Dictionary, 1995)

Trait School: A school of leadership theories which assumes that effective leaders posses common traits, and that leaders are born not made or developed.

Emotional Intelligence School: A school of leadership theories that emphasizes the social interaction between people. It assumes that the leader’s emotional response to a situation has more impact on the success than the intellectual capabilities of the leader.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Robert K. Hiltbrand
Terry T. Kidd
Terry T. Kidd
Chapter 1
James W. Price Jr., Pamila Dembla
As exploratory research, the chapter’s aim is to assess if Sun-Tzu’s application of Taoist principles are applicable to the problem domain of... Sample PDF
The Tao To Understanding Enterprise It Project Complexity: Sun-Tzu's Five Factors Revisited
Chapter 2
A. J. Gilbert Silvius
This chapter describes a study into the expected development of the competences of the project manager in the year 2027. The study was performed... Sample PDF
Project Management 2027: The Future of Project Management
Chapter 3
Gregory J. Skulmoski, Francis T. Hartman
The purpose of this research was to investigate the soft competencies by project phase that IT project managers, hybrid and technical team members... Sample PDF
The Progression Towards Project Management Competence
Chapter 4
Ralf Müller
This chapter addresses project managers’ leadership styles, mainly from the perspective of technology projects. It starts by defining and outlining... Sample PDF
Leadership in Technology Project Management
Chapter 5
Melanie S. Karas, Mahesh S. Raisinghani, Kerry S. Webb
A project manager’s role on any project goes far beyond task-related deliverables. Although the project manager must be able to effectively manage... Sample PDF
The Importance of Leadership in Project Management
Chapter 6
Jaby Mohammed
This chapter introduces the concept of technology management by objectives. Technology is one of the fastest moving elements in the 21st Century... Sample PDF
Technology Management by Objectives (TMO)
Chapter 7
Gary Pan
The goal of any product is to be used. In a very real sense, people judge the success or failure of any product by the extent to which it is used by... Sample PDF
Examining Stakeholders' Roles in Influencing IT Project Cancellation Decisions
Chapter 8
Daniel W. Surry
This chapter will discuss more than 20 system development life cycles (SDLC) found in the Information Technology project management arena, whereby... Sample PDF
Bringing the User into the Project Development Process
Chapter 9
Evon M. O. Abu-Taieh, Asim A. El Sheikh, Jeihan M. Abu-Tayeh, Maha T. El-Mahied
This chapter uses the Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory and examines a business case, highlighting certain gaps in the theory. First, confusion... Sample PDF
Information Technology Projects System Development Life Cycles: Comparative Study
Chapter 10
Francisco Chia Cua, Tony C. Garrett
This chapter introduces the Firm-Level Value Creation Model as a means of planning Information Systems projects based on their potential for... Sample PDF
Analyzing Diffusion and Value Creation Dimensions of a Business Case of Replacing Enterprise Systems
Chapter 11
Otavio Prospero Sanchez, Alberto Luiz Albertin
In this chapter the authors investigate the management of service innovation projects; can ICT based service innovation be facilitated by... Sample PDF
IT Project Planning based on Business Value Generation
Chapter 12
Bendik Bygstad, Gjermund Lanestedt
This chapter provides a framework for technology project implementation in systems where the human is an integral element of the completed project.... Sample PDF
Managing ICT Based Service Innovation
Chapter 13
Katy E. Ellis
Project management is a carefully planned, organized effort to manage the resources in order to successfully accomplish specific project goals and... Sample PDF
Employee Preparation, Participation, and Performance
Chapter 14
Jaby Mohammed, Ali Alavizadeh
This chapter provides a fundamental yet comprehensive coverage of quality management. Bringing managers and engineers the most up-to-date quality... Sample PDF
Quality Assurance in Project Management
Chapter 15
Sohail Anwar
Project management is a carefully planned, organized effort to manage the resources in order to successfully accomplish specific project goals and... Sample PDF
Quality Management and Control
Chapter 16
Dawn M. Owens, Deepak Khazanchi
Successful implementation of IT (information technology) projects is a critical strategic and competitive necessity for firms in all industrial... Sample PDF
Software Quality Assurance
Chapter 17
Fayez Ahmad Albadri
An overwhelming number of Information Technology (IT) projects experience persistent problems and failures. This chapter reflects on some of the... Sample PDF
IPRM: The Integrated Project Risk Model
Chapter 18
Technical Risk Management  (pages 283-294)
Pete Hylton
In today’s highly competitive industrial environment, many high-tech businesses are using Technical Risk Management (TRM) in their engineering... Sample PDF
Technical Risk Management
Chapter 19
Lauren Fancher
IT projects across all sectors are relying on more iterative methodologies that can employ early and frequent assessment and evaluation processes in... Sample PDF
Early, Often, and Repeat: Assessment and Evaluation Methodology for Ensuring Stakeholder Satisfaction with Information Technology Projects
Chapter 20
Chad J. Cray
Considering the high failure rate of information technology (IT) projects over the last 40 years, project managers should use all the tools at their... Sample PDF
A Needle in a Haystack: Choosing the Right Development Methodology for IT Projects
Chapter 21
Mysore Narayanan
In this chapter, the author describes how one can implement and incorporate creative techniques to design, develop, document and disseminate a... Sample PDF
Project Management Assessment Methods
Chapter 22
Mario Vanhoucke
It is well-known that well managed and controlled projects are more likely to be delivered on time and within budget. The construction of a... Sample PDF
Static and Dynamic Determinants of Earned Value Based Time Forecast Accuracy
Chapter 23
Michele De Lorenzi
This chapter presents a technology exploration process designed to support service innovation for information and communication technologies in a... Sample PDF
Technology Exploration Process: From Technology to New Services
Chapter 24
Henryk R. Marcinkiewicz
Three models structure the planning for technology integration into instruction. Institutional needs are assessed for three dimensions suggested in... Sample PDF
Planning for Integrating Technology
Chapter 25
Michael Crow
Kansas State University has ensured greatly increased academic involvement in the implementation of its new student information system through the... Sample PDF
University Task Force Deepens Academic Involvement in ERP System
Chapter 26
Joni A. Amorim, Carlos Machado, Rosana G.S. Miskulin, Mauro S. Miskulin
The production of quality educational multimedia content involves both its publication and its use, considering aspects ranging from metadata... Sample PDF
Production, Publication, and Use of Educational Multimedia Content in Brazil: Challenges and Opportunities in Real World Technology Projects
Chapter 27
Hasan Tinmaz
Technology planning is an indispensable activity for all higher education institutions nowadays. The major purpose of the technology planning is to... Sample PDF
Instructional Technology Plans for Higher Education Institutions
Chapter 28
Patricia McGee, Veronica Diaz
The rapid proliferation of e-learning tools that offer low or no cost investment and are not housed on institutional servers, has made it very... Sample PDF
Shifting from Classroom to Online Delivery
Chapter 29
Bimal P. Nepal, Leslie Monplaisir
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in automotive industry are faced with the conflicting goals of creating vehicles with higher reliability... Sample PDF
Lean and Global Product Development in Auto Industry
Chapter 30
Debra D. Orosbullard
The business world is running at a faster pace than ever before. Globalization has partnered the world and new ways of doing business to meet... Sample PDF
Future Trends: Global Projects & Virtual Teaming
Chapter 31
Geoffrey Corb, Stephen Hellen
Social networking technologies—such as Wikis, blogs and instant messaging—are increasingly being employed in business settings to support... Sample PDF
Wiki-enabled Technology Management
Chapter 32
Owen G. McGrath
Higher education IT project managers have always relied on user activity data as logged in one form or another. Summarized counts of users and... Sample PDF
Mining User Activity Data In Higher Education Open Systems: Trends, Challenges, and Possibilities
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