Project management : is management or leadership ability a prerequisite for a successful project supervisor/facilitator?

Essop, Hoosain (2001)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2001


Is Management or Leadership ability a prerequisite for a successful project Supervisor/facilitator? Management and Leadership: In traditional thinking managers requires certain competencies to be able to plan, organize, direct and control the allocation of human, material, financial and information resources in the pursuit of organisational goals. Management is therefore a technical discipline of applying and administering authority over others, which is given through a formalised structural arrangement of the organisation. Leadership is about vision and influence, ie. the ability to obtain followers. Leaders are also seen as people who communicate effectively, which leads to recognition, which in turn leads to influence. Leadership is therefore a quality of obtaining results from others through personal influence. The distinction between leadership and management is perhaps in the fact that the former focuses more on setting the vision and relying on softer skills such as interpersonal skills to communicate the vision and generate commitment and enthusiasm to make it happen, while the other concentrate on the harder more functional issues of planning and controlling. Project management: Project management is a structured but flexible process for producing a new end result. Its success depends on the application of a two-step sequence: First plan - then produce. Success from a project management perspective requires being on time, within budget and meeting requirements. However, from a project perspective, a successful project is clearly one in which the 'customer' ends up satisfied. Optimum project management success is therefore obtained when both success dimensions are achieved simultaneously. Project Success is dependent on the nature of the organization (sector, activities, structure), the nature of the project, nature of the project work (complexity, scale, stature), but most importantly the personality of the project manager. Hence, must the project manager be a manager or leader? The various authors generally agree that leadership is important to the success of a project because leadership is essentially about motivating people. Also, what may be characterized, as "managership" is equally important because this is about getting things done. To get a project started off right, the project manager must become a leader. However, the style of leadership does need to change as the project progresses through its life cycle. Indeed, there comes a point in time when "managership" may be more important than "leadership. Failure to match an appropriate style to project circumstances can lead to unsatisfactory project results. Project management style classification: Having stated that the style of leadership needs to change as the project progresses we base our classification on the work done mostly by R. M. Wideman, whose research focused on four project leader profiles, namely: The Explorer: entrepreneur type project leaders have a vision of the future being bold, courageous and imaginative, constantly searching for opportunities and improvements. The Driver: distinctly action-oriented, hard working, hard driving, pragmatic, realistic, resourceful and resolute. The Coordinator: have a more independent and detached view of their surroundings and responsive to the views of project team members. The Administrator: recognizes the need for stability and optimize productivity through maximizing repetition, information assembly and analyzing, scheduling, trade-ofts to resolve conflicts and problems, in advance. Although experienced and skilled project managers often find themselves 'shifting gears' to suit current circumstances during the course of a project, the literature suggest that it is unusual to find all four traits in a single person. The study also discusses research done into the availability of people suited to various roles in project work. The research concluded that the Explorer (entrepreneur) type makes up only about 1-2% of the population, some 5-10%, are of the Driver (marshal) type, some 5-10%, are of the Coordinator (catalyst) type and 25- 30% are of the Administrator (stabilizer) "professional" types. Another 20-25% of the population is probably more suited as "followers". That still leaves about a third of the population who are most likely uncomfortable and unsuited to working on projects at all. If these statistics holds true, then the rate of unsatisfactory projects should come as no surprise considering the scarcity of people naturally suited for project management.

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