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MSc Project Management Essay

Project management is a unique set of coordinated activities to meet specific performance objectives within defined schedule, cost and performance parameters (BS6079, 2002?). Leadership and project leadership is important for the success of any project depending on the degree of uncertainty (Gray and Larson?). The aim of the report is to identify to what extent leadership and project leadership theory is used in practice.

An overview of the terms leadership and project leadership based on academic literature will be provided first. This will be followed by the information provided about the above terms by the project management bodies of the Association of Project Management (APM), the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Prince 2. The theoretical discussion will be followed by four case studies which will be focused on highlighting the importance of project leadership in real life situations. With the review of literature and case studies, a conclusion will be delivered about the relationship between project leadership theory and practice and whether best practice recommended by industry bodies is used by practitioners.

Tannenbaum et al (1961), stated leadership as “interpersonal influence exercised in a situation & directed through communication process to the attainment of specific goal or goals”. V. Packard (J.P. Lewis,

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2002), defines leadership as the act of getting others to want to do something that you are convinced should be done. Finally, Kloppenburg et al (2003) describe” leadership as influencing relationship among leaders and their collaborators, who intend real change reflecting their shared purpose”.

It can be evaluated that a leader is someone possessing the skills required in leading others, as everyone has unique way of leading. Also while others are good at leading, others are dedicated followers. With leadership come sound communication skills, an influencer and pattern that suit the leader’s personality and works for them. The types of power relationships seen below, if properly utilised bring out the best in its subordinates and create subordinates that believe in the proposed leadership style and believes in such leaders, while improving and changing the way things are done. (Appendix1)For a leader to be effective within any project, there need to be flexible, adaptive, good communicator, a motivator and understand its group member etc.

Leadership is usually needed in a project when the degree of uncertainty is high. Another management style leader’s need apart from building and sustaining cooperative relationship is to lead by example (Appendix 2). “Project leadership is defined as a presence and a process carried out within an organizational role that assumes responsibility for the needs and rights of those people who choose to follow the leader in accomplishing project results” (Cleland, 1995, pp.86).

The ability of motivating a team, creating a vision, relationship building and maintaining are also listed as important project leadership attributes (Ong et al, 2009). Bech (2001) states that project management tends to focus on the hard managerial aspects, while project leadership is focusing on soft managerial aspects. Project leadership is essential in order to control time and cost and implement changes effectively (Kodjababian and Petty, 2007). Therefore, a project is considered successful, when project goals are achieved within the set time frame, budget and desired quality (Ong et al, 2009).

Gray and Larson (2008) supports the argument by stating that project leadership is not about managing existing projects but forecasting the need for changes and managing that change through motivating and managing a variety of stakeholders, as well as building good relationships with those who have an influence on the project, negotiating with top managers and setting an example. As a leader, the project manager will be the example the team follows (ibid). Kodjababian and Petty (2007) added that project leaders must be able to see the project as a whole, be able to deal with human resource issues and be able to communicate clearly. Geoghegan and Dulewicz (2008) found that the presence of emotional intelligence is believed to enable managers to be better leaders. However, it is not always an influential factor to project success (M�ller and Turner, 2007).

Although leadership skill is not a must for project management, it becomes a very important asset at high uncertainty projects Gray and Larson (2008). Crawford (2007 cited by Geoghegan and Dulewicz, 2008) argues that leadership is considered to be the most important skill, even though project success does not depend highly on it. On the other hand, Kodjababian and Petty (2007) found that project leadership strongly contributes towards project success, while Mler and Turner (2007) state that project success is influenced by the project manager’s leadership style. Anderson (2010) argues that project leadership is essential in order to achieve project success, for which soft managerial skills are needed. Currently there is no empirical evidence on the influence of project leadership skills on successful project outcomes (Geoghegan and Dulewicz, 2008).

The APM focuses on the development of project management processes and project managers in all sectors and industries through training, research, and professional support. At the same time, the APM Body of Knowledge is the core concept of APM. (AMP, 2010) As an integral component of project management in practice, project leadership is emphasised by the APM. Project managers should be effective and successful owing to their strong leadership. The positioning of human factors should be enhanced significantly, especially with more emphasis on qualification, learning skills, leadership styles, team-working, work experience and operating behaviour (Morris et al, 2006).

They need not only show capability in efficient administration, techniques, experiences and technical know-how, but also need to practice an appropriate leadership style. In the meantime, through examining whether the context of leadership did the right thing, it can discover several key issues which the project manager must pay more attention (Cleland, 1995).The leadership style used can profoundly affect employee morale and productivity, so that the success of a project may be directly dependent on good leadership. The BOK of APM says, ‘…leadership is about setting goals and objectives and generating enthusiasm and motivation amongst the project team, and stakeholders, to work towards those objectives.’ (Burke, 2006, pp 6.)

The Project management Institute is the official project management body of the United States. This not-for-profit organisation, founded in 1969, provides guidance on best practice, access to trade journals, researches and training for its members (Project Management Institute, 2010). According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(r)), the outcome of projects and their success depend greatly on the effective management of stakeholders, which is the result of leadership (PMBOK Project Management Institute, 1987 cited in Cleland, 1995).

“The PMBOK Guide defines project management as the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. It further defines the project manager as the person responsible for accomplishing the project objectives” (Anderson, 2010, pp.2). According to the PMI, project managers must have strong interpersonal and managerial skills as well as a strong knowledge of the environment where the project takes place, in order to achieve project success (Anderson, 2010).

(Projects IN Controlled Environments) is a structured, process-based project management methodology that can be applied to any type or size of project and it is used widely by public and private sector (Bentley, 1997). Each project considering the project size, riskiness and other factors is subdivided into stages to enable senior managers to achieve better level of controlling and monitoring (Bentley, 1998). It is owned by the UK Office of Government Commence (OGC); it is freely available and does not require licence to use (APM Group Ltd. 2001).

One of the weaknesses of the PRINCE2, according to Elkington and Smallman (2002) is to handle project risks, in their study they provide even recommendations how to overcome such issues. Furthermore, what is important to mention at this point is that there is no direct correlation between PRINCE2 and leadership. Definitely RPINCE2 consists one of the project management best practices but leadership seems not to be a fundamental factor of its implementation.

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