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Project Manager Performance is Tied to Emotional Intelligence 1

A few days ago I posted about an article from the January issue of the International Journal of Project Management called “Matching the project manager’s leadership style to project type”.  The article detailed the results of research conducted by Ralf Muller and J. Rodney Turner to test linkages between project leadership and project success. Muller and Turner sought to determine the following:

  1. Whether the project manager’s leadership style influences project success
  2. Whether different leadership styles are appropriate for different types of projects

Muller and Turner used interviews and questionnaires on 400 projects and the results are fascinating.

This post is going to deal with the first research question relating to the leadership styles that contribute most to project success.

Leadership Styles
Three project management leadership styles based on groups of competencies were evaluated as part of the research:  Intelligence, Managerial, and Emotional.  Within each “style”, each underlying competency was tested for contribution to project success.  These three leadership styles are shown below with their underlying competencies.

(IQ) Intelligence Competencies

  • Strategic Perspective
  • Vision
  • Critical Thinking

(MQ) Managerial Competencies

  • Managing Resources
  • Communications
  • Developing
  • Empowering
  • Achieving

(EQ) Emotional Competencies

  • Motivation
  • Conscientiousness
  • Sensitivity
  • Influence
  • Self-awareness
  • Emotional resilience
  • Intuitiveness

Project Success
The result being tested in the study was project success.  What makes a project successful?  Is it meeting the triple constraint, the classic measure of success used by the Standish Group for their Chaos Study?  In this particular case, Muller and Turner used the triple constraint but also included input from sponsors and end users about their view of the project success.  While somewhat subjective, I don’t think anyone would argue that these are not relevant or effective measures of success:

  • Meeting objectives for functionality, budget, schedule
  • Meeting user requirements
  • Meeting purpose of the project
  • Client Satisfaction and reoccurring business with the client
  • Other factors

The Results

Muller and Turner provide a number of different views of the data and the results.  The chart below summarizes the impact of the 15 different variables on the success of the project.


I think it is interesting that the results show different types of projects require different competencies from the project manager.  For example, motivation had a positive correlation to success of Organizational projects but not to Engineering or Information projects.  Conscientiousness and Sensitivity were shown to be related to success of all projects.

There is more to unpack from this great article and I will continue to explore this over the next few posts.