4 Simple Steps to Becoming a Better Project Leader


By Eric A. Wright, Ph.D., CIA, PMP
Colorado, USA


Mohamad S. Hammoud, Ph.D., PMP
Beirut, Lebanon


In life, models are useful.  In the context of project management, they help us conceptualize and simplify some of the complexity of managing projects.  The waterfall model, network diagram, and the project triangle are three examples that come to mind.  This meaning and awareness in our minds can guide our actions towards project success.

A key factor in project success is project leadership (Geoghegan & Dulewicz, 2008; Gray & Larson, 2008; Jiang, Klein, & Chen, 2001; Sumner, Bock, & Giamartino, 2006; Turner & Müller, 2005).  There are many models of leadership, some of them are complex and contain moving parts, which does not reduce complexity.  However, over the course of many years practicing and teaching project management, we have found one leadership model that is simple; it looks just like the project manager’s dual role as technical manager and sociocultural team leader (Goodman, 1993, as reported in Neuhauser, 2007; Gray & Larson, 2008; Wright, 2012).  We refer to it as the behavioral leadership model project management, and project managers can use it to think about project leadership in a clear, repeatable manner.

First, the behavioral leadership model project management (BLMPM) is simple as it has only three constructs: technical, sociocultural, and balance.  Balance is the ability of the project manager to apply either a technical or a sociocultural behavior based on the situation.  Second, it is the basis for the project manager’s role and responsibilities, as depicted in Figure 1 in the section The Model.  Thinking about project leadership in this manner serves to create awareness of our preferred leadership behavior (Kim, 2009).

Third, this model’s dimensions have been well researched and shown to be a key critical success factor in project success (Ammeter & Dukerich, 2002; Geoghegan & Dulewicz, 2008; Jiang et al., 2001; Judge, Piccolo, & Ilies, 2004; Keller, 2006; Prabhakar, 2005; Sumner et al., 2006; Turner & Müller, 2005).  Fourth, project management scholars endorse it (Kerzner, 2006; Prabhakar, 2005).

The remainder of this article presents the theory grounding the behavioral leadership model, a discussion of its extension into the project environment, Figure 1, its evolution into its current form as the behavioral leadership model project management, Figure 2, and the process for applying the behavioral leadership model project management in the project environment.  A self-assessment instrument and scoring sheet are included in the Appendices.  Reading this article and completing the self-assessment instrument will save busy project managers time and help them become aware of their preferred leadership behavior.  This understanding can help them optimize project performance by developing their leadership style further (Gehring, 2007; Geoghegan & Dulewicz, 2008; Jacques, Garger, & Thomas, 2008; Sumner et al., 2006).


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About the Authors

eric-wrightflag-usaEric A. Wright, PhD

Eric Wright, PhD, CIA, PMP is a highly rated professor, social scientist, speaker, and business owner of thegamedoctorllc.com.  He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration, Concentration Financial Management from Northcentral University, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Science, Major Psychology, Minor Information Sciences from Excelsior College. His dissertation focused on the leadership behaviors of project managers’ associated through LinkedIn and examined some of the variables that can influence a project manager’s choice of leadership behavior.  Eric is also a certified internal auditor (CIA), project manager (PMP), and process improvement expert (L6 Green Belt) with twenty-three years of experience as a project manager, leader, accountant, resource manager, and teacher/trainer in the fields of healthcare, public financial and accounting services, project management, US military, and education.  Training videos supporting Dr. Wright’s work on leadership in the project management environment can be found at Udemy.com.  Additionally, he can be contacted at [email protected].

mohamad-s-hammoudLebanon-flagMohamad S. Hammoud, PhD

Dr. Mohamad S. Hammoud, PMP has a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a specialization in management. He started his professional career in the Information and Communication Technology where he spent more than 30 years in directive positions in global organizations such as AT&T, Digital Equipment, and Hutchinson Whampoa. Dr. Hammoud is a Project Management Professional since 1998. He spent the last 10 years teaching management, project management, marketing, and Business Research in corporations such as Sara Lee, P&G, and Bridgestone. The thing he loves most is research; he led as a chairperson and as a committee member more than 40 Ph.D. students throughout their doctoral dissertations. Dr. Hammoud holds the position of Dean of the School of Business at Arts, Sciences and Technology University in Lebanon and he is the Head of the Thesis Committee. He can be contacted at [email protected]