Completion on time and quality

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In recent years, competition has become increasingly intense between organizations, which results in higher organizational requirements, such as increased efficiency, lower cost, completion on time and quality. As a result of this, all the project managers require changing mix skills in leadership and competencies depending on the project and especially those working in technical projects, need to demonstrate leadership and management skills. As per my point of view leadership skills of managers and leaders are extremely important for a successful project. 'The concept of hybrid managers, combining technical, managerial and business skills is increasingly gaining prominence' (Thite 2000). Leadership is about having audacity to make people work according to you and Shriberg, Shriberg and kumari believes '...yet leadership, to a great degree, is about having the courage to do the right thing and being open minded...' (Marchewka 2009, p.343) at the same time Thite (1999) makes an argument about IT and leadership that '..."it may seem that leadership and IT are unlikely bedfellows since research on IT has paid little attention to the influence of leadership processes in the design and implementation of ITs."'. The report identifies about the leadership skills that are needed for a project manager.

Some modern approaches to leadership

Based on investigation it has been seen that the five approaches can give a clear idea on becoming more proficient and successful project leader, the five approaches to become a good leader are documented below (Marchewka 2009).

Model the way

A leader's behaviour is much more important rather than his or her position or title, so he or she should be an inspiration or an example to other team members.

Inspire a shared vision

An ideal leader should motivate the team members through communication and interest the team with what the future could be.

Challenge the Process

A well-organized leader never relies on fate or luck so he should always be ready to face challenges and should welcome good innovative ideas from the team members.

Enable others to act

Building trust and respect to a leader's behaviour and work can be the best way to motivate team to success and providing better environment to work is always the key point.

Encourage the heart

It is very important to encourage the team with linking rewards by means of performance or organizing celebrations as the project goal is not easy to achieve.

As per the research done by people of ESI International, the top ten qualities of an efficient leader are (Barry 2008)

  • One who inspires a shared vision
  • A good communicator
  • Integrity (Honest and committed to work)
  • Enthusiastic
  • Empathy (Understanding)
  • Competence
  • Ability to delegate tasks
  • Cool under pressure
  • Team-building skills
  • Problem solving skills

Importance of leadership in IT Project Management

Nowadays, project management is becoming increasingly important in organizations and as a part of it, leadership plays a vital role. It is generally seen that technical employees lack leadership skills to effectively manage people which increases the project cost and time and at times leads to project failure. So, it is very essential for a leader or manager to inspire the team to reach the final goals. 'Leadership excellence in the definition of a project's scope and the management of costs, time, quality and communications are based on a project manager's ability to lead the human resources affiliated with the project...' (Cleland 1995) while Strang (2007) directs us that-

Leadership is typically classified as a characteristic or trail (ability to lead), an object/role set (behaviour category required to get work done), adjective (type of managerial or executive quality), the application of power, or as a process (motivating, influencing inspiring, coaching, mentoring, facilitating etc.).

In IT project management, leadership is one of the keys to project success, such that project managers who have outstanding leadership skills are more likely to lead the project team to success. Leadership and management are important aspect not only in IT project managers but also in all other positions. Leadership and management are terms often used similarly but they are dissimilar. Keeping this in mind, Schwalbe (2010) makes a very interesting declaration, which cannot be ignored-

Generally, a leader focuses on long-term goals and big-picture objectives, while inspiring people to reach those goals. A manager often deals with the day-to-day details of meeting specific goals. Some people say that, "Managers do things right, and leaders do the right things." "Leaders determine the vision, and managers achieve the vision." "You lead people and manage things."

Some of the important aspects of leadership are as stated below

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles play an imperative role in powering performance and results of a project. 'Based on a sample of 3,871 executives worldwide, Daniel Goleman (2000) identified six distinct leadership styles.' (Marchewka 2009, p.344) The leadership styles are The Coercive style, the authoritative style, the affiliative style, the democratic style, the pacesetting style, the coaching style. The project manager's leadership style influences project success and different leadership styles are appropriate for different types of project (Müller & Turner 2007). A superior leader always use several or combination of style (depending on the situation) rather than relying on only one leadership style.

Leadership role

A manager's or leader's role is complicated and demanding and also consists of several parallel roles. 'The project leader's role in the constitution and maintenance of a team climate that is conducive to goal congruence and 'team-ness' is key. Traditionally, he is the one who manages the project on a day-to-day basis' (Lee-Kelley & Leong 2003). At a time, the leader or manager may consider one role as more significant than others. In studies of managerial work, Mintzberg's role typology is often used and Grover acknowledged the significance of six roles from Mintzberg's role typology (Gottschalk & Karlsen 2005, p.1138).

The following are the role descriptions:

Personnel Leader

As a leader, a manager is in charge of all the internal activities which include supervising, hiring, training, organizing, coordinating and controlling tasks.

Resource allocator

The leader is responsible for the allocation of human, financial and information resources for various projects. This role emphasizes planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling operations, and is mainly internal.


The role of a spokesman is to extend the relationship or contacts with the outer departments of the organization, for instance, for an IT project the spokesman promotes it within the rest of the departments of the organization.


The role of entrepreneur is to guarantee the developing technical opportunities are understood, planned, implemented and strategically exploited in the organization. The change in project solutions is also based on the user needs identified by the leader.


Here the communication is carried out to the external environment and the information with IT suppliers, customers, buyers, market analysts, and media is exchanged.


This role monitors the surroundings to keep up with related technical changes and competition. The leader initiates new ideas from external source, i.e. sources including vendor contacts, professional relationships, and a network of personal contacts.

In the above mentioned figure (Fig.1), all the six roles are shown. The role of personnel leader and resource allocator are internal to the project and at the same time the spokesman and entrepreneur are roles directed towards the base organization and the liaison and monitor roles are external to the base organization for the project manager.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to understand and manage our relationship and get ourselves better is stated as emotional intelligence. A leader should have all the qualities that can lead his or her way, qualities such as tackle conflicts, good communication with the team and the outer atmosphere (to keep him self or her self updated), confidence, should be honest and dedicated to work. I agree to Goleman, 'Emotional intelligence includes four capabilities: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills that comprise specific sets of competencies' (Marchewka 2009, p.347).


It is the capability to understand yourself and your attitude to those around you which includes your key strengths and weakness along with self confidence.


Self control is one of the important aspects followed by honesty and integrity. Managing responsibilities effectively helps to adjust to new situations and overcoming challenges. It is the capability to achieve directed goals and grab new opportunities.

Social awareness

Social awareness is to deal with the factors other than you, such as recognizing and meeting customer needs, building networks, navigating through organizational politics and also to understand other people's emotion, problems and interest.

Social skills

It is the capability to guide others by inspiring with a visionary goal, communicating and initiating new ideas and leading people in right direction. It also includes the skill to facilitate cooperation and building teams, being able to manage the conflict with maintaining a web of relationships inside and outside the organization.

Failure and solutions of IT projects based on Leadership/Management

Project success and failure is based on the actions and inactions of senior leadership.

Project Failure

Certain factors such as insufficient support are responsible for a project failure.

Lack of project management in leadership leads to failure

Insufficient support and communication from a leader can be a major factor in project failure. It is very important to build trust among the members, if not then they will not be convinced that the project is worth doing. 'Project failure often arise when leadership does not devote sufficient time to the project or when it sends subordinates to meetings, such actions broadcast to the organization that the leadership has "more important" things to do' (Glaser 2004) where as even if the team members are stressed or working overload will lead to failure (as they will not be able to concentrate on the project). In case of any conflict raised but not resolved and absence of incentives polices (such as member are not rewarded by means of performance) will contribute to failure. It is always important to welcome innovative ideas and get things done, failing which will encourage conflict which can lead to failure. It is very likely that members make small mistakes but as a leader if you do not develop such relations or environment that members come out with that mistakes then they might attempt to fix problems themselves, such covert attempts to hide bad news are a recipe for disaster and the result will be same if a leader ignores a single mistake, it will lead to thousands of small problems. If the needs of the organization are not evaluated significantly, it could lead to project failure. Encouraging members is necessary but sometimes extra encouragement or boldness (such as pushing them to work with five instead of ten people) may doom a project but apart from this, 'The failure rate of IT projects is quite high. Significantly budget and timeline overruns, under delivered of value and the outright termination of a project before completion are all forms of failure' (Glaser 2005).

Possible Solutions

Management come from leadership and as far as management is concerned Glaser (2005) thinks 'Effective management of IT project risk is a critical contribution to IT success.' As a part of organization leaders play an important role in the success of project. Although we know that there are multiple ways that projects can get into trouble but you can avoid or minimize the probabilities for project failure by positioning themselves at an area where leadership is most likely to be helpless and even as per Mary (1999), justifying how big the project is?, identify and implement strategies, analysing the organization requirements and communicating (implication to and from the team when required) are the ways for a leader to lead his or her team and project to success.


We have seen in the report that there are numerous areas of leadership that are needed for an IT project manager to lead a project to success. Although there are many other aspects that are necessary for managing an IT project but leadership is one of the most important factors out of all.

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