Leading, Managing, and Developing People in a Project Management

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An investigation into the theory and practice of Leading, Managing,and Developing People in a Project Management contextApollo 13: LeadershipWord Count: 2,493
P a g e|2Table of ContentsPartPage1.Introduction32.A Broad Understanding on Leadership33.A Critical Evaluation of the Leadership Concept inApollo 133.1. Fiedler’s Contingency Theory3.2. Path-Goal Theory5584.Conclusion105References111. Introduction
P a g e|3Over the years, the concept of project management as being simply an activity ofplanning, organising, and controlling the project has broadened to a situation whereinproject management is now viewed as the management of people to deliveroutcomes rather than the management of work (Turner & Müller, 2006). Thissuggests that project management requires an equal balance of both – managing theproject carefully through completion on budget and time, while leading the projectteam confidently for achieving the project’s goals. Therefore, great leadership is adifferentiating factor for a project manager to move to superior performance toaverage business performance (Margules, 2011). Additionally, general managementliterature (e.g. Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002) suggests that different leadershipstyles result in superior outcomes in different organisational contexts. Based onthese views, the primary objective of this essay is to assess the theories andpractices of leading, managing, and developing people in a project managementcontext. In line with this objective, this essay has selectedApollo 13movie to assessthe theories of leadership in relation to project management. This essay, at first, hasreviewed the broad understanding of the leadership theme, and then it has criticallyexamined the leadership theme in relation toApollo 13and project management.Finally, this essay has drawn conclusion based on the discussion.2. A Broad Understanding on LeadershipThe 6thedition of theA Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge(PMBOK, 2017, p.10) defined project management as ‘the application of knowledge,skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements’. Onthe other hand, leadership has been defined as ‘a process whereby an individualinfluences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal’ (Northouse, 2016, p.6).A broader definition of leadership has been provided by Meredith & Mantel (2009,p.128) as ‘interpersonal influence, exercised in situations and directed through thecommunication process, toward the attainment of a specified goal or goals’. All thesedefinitions suggest that leadership is process, which involves influence, occurs ingroups, and aims to achieve common goals. Although leadership is distinctive fromproject management, there is one common thing between these two concepts: the
P a g e|4effectiveness of the leaders and the performance of the project managers isassessed in relation to their followers’ performance, i.e., the performance of theteam. Therefore, there is an expectation that project managers should be alsoleaders.An evolving sequence of ‘school of thoughts’ is observed when a literature review(e.g. Bolden, 2004; Northouse, 2016; Yukl, 2013) is performed, which ranges from‘great man’ and ‘trait’ theories to ‘transformational’ leadership. The earliest theory onleadership is known as the ‘great man theories’, which assume that leaders born withdistinctive qualities, who are destined to lead, and therefore they are exceptionalindividuals (Bolden, 2004). The ‘great man theories’ have been followed by the traittheories, which include all the positive or virtuous human qualities to describeleadership (Yukl, 2013). The trait theories have been followed by the behaviouristtheories, which focus on what leaders essentially perform rather than on theirqualities (Yukl, 2013). The behaviourist theories resulted in the situational leadershiptheory, which assumes that leadership is specific to the circumstance in which it isbeing exercised, ranging from autocratic style to participative approach (Bolden,2004). A refinement of the situational theory was evolved, which is known as thecontingency theory that tries to identify the situational variables to predict the mosteffective and appropriate leadership style based on the specific circumstance(Bolden, 2004). The contingency theory is followed by two recent popular theories,such as the transactional theory and the transformational theory. The transactionalleadership theory focuses on the significance of the relationship between the leadersand their followers, emphasising on the mutual benefits that are derived from apractice of ‘contract’ through which leaders provide rewards in exchange of thefollowers’ loyalty (Northouse, 2016). On the other hand, the fundamental concept ofthe transformational leadership theory is change, wherein leaders envision andimplement the transformation for organisational performance (Northouse, 2016).3. A Critical Evaluation of the Leadership Concept inApollo 13
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