Responsible Leadership in Projects


Book Title:    Responsible Leadership in Projects: Insights Into Ethical Decision Making
Author:  Clarke, D’Amato, Higgs & Vahidi
Publisher:  Project Management Institute
List Price:  $24.95
Format:  Soft cover, 150 pages
Publication Date:   2018    
ISBN: 978-1-62825-476-1
Reviewer: Shawn Waghorn
Review Date:   March 2018



A snapshot look into how those who serve as project leaders can use their experience to respond to ethic problems within the project world. Team members and stakeholders often do not realize how their behavior affects the project and those affected by the project. The authors conducted a 12-month study to learn about inter-relationships among conflict, ethical issues and decision making as they observed an organization transform a massive transformational change in the United Kingdom.

The authors conducted interviews with several members of the project team to include the project manager, the project sponsor and several subject matter experts as they worked through the change process within this organization. This study is fascinating as it takes us through a yearlong observation and learning experience with the project team as they struggle to make decisions on how to reduce the employee population as the company transitions into a new business model

Overview of Book’s Structure

This 150 page book is broken down into 13 chapters. It starts by taking a quick look at previous research done on similar subjects to establish a basis for comparison. It also starts by describing the organizational culture, which in this case was “paternalistic” and “caring”. The book is laid out nicely as it takes the reader through the study in a way that is easy to follow and logical as it flows from introduction to conclusion

The authors clearly establish enablers and constraints as they observe the selected organization for a year. The interviews with subject matter experts provide practical and relatable experiences for almost any project manager. The authors clearly describe the dilemma they observed as the project team in the United Kingdom struggled to make ethical and responsible decisions throughout the course of a year.


The business transformation required potentially major changes, such as laying off employees or offering the employees a new job in a different area. The company wanted to change the business model and work towards making a profit, which required a study to decide where efficiencies could be made. One area in particular was cutting out insurance sales people who could offer discounts on life insurance policies, a clear reason why the company was not making a profit. Insurance sales people were allowed to offer incentives to customers who had been using this firm for multiples years.

The major highlight of this book is the exclusive interviews with project team members as they face daily struggles to make decisions. The interviews take a harsh look at how project team members, who were made up of employees from within the company looking to downsize, felt about making life-changing decisions to lay off employees.


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About the Reviewer

Shawn Waghorn

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Shawn Waghorn
is a recently retired Air Force member with 10+ years of project management experience. Currently Shawn works as a Program Manager within the Department of Defense, working on web-based applications to improve customer (military members) ability to quickly locate personal information, such as new assignment information, retirement eligibility, personal data for promotion boards and information regarding personal finances.


Editor’s note:  Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the Alamo PMI Chapter in San Antonio, Texas. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Alamo Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  PMI Alamo Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published.  PMI members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books.   

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