Project-Oriented Leadership


Project-Oriented leadership by Ralf Müller and J. Rodney Turner

The stereotype of the charismatic, motivational leader and the meticulously planning project manager — the one known by their firm handshake and stylish suit, the other by their withdrawn manner, subdued clothing and scrupulously tidy desk is too commonly experienced to be just dismissed. J. Rodney Turner (no relation) and Ralf Müller begin what is an important book by acknowledging that many people believe that project management and leadership are entirely different disciplines.

But, this book argues carefully and succinctly, although small projects prosper with the tidy planner, large projects need someone who combines both leadership and management.

In a remarkably succinct 89 pages, Müller and Turner review an astonishing depth of evidence, supported by their own (published) research which challenges many of the commonly held assumptions not only about project management, but about what makes for successful leaders.

This book is clearly written more for the project-manager type personality than for the natural leader. Concision, evidence and analysis are the main characteristics of the writing style. By contrast with so many books on leadership which tell extensive stories and are built up journalistically through interviews with entrepreneurs, Project-Oriented Leadership adopts a restrained style, offering only the narrowest of glimpses of the personal experiences of the authors. However, even if you are not of the Myers-Briggs ESTJ personality type, this book repays careful reading, because it aptly summarises vast screeds of management-think, and then uses the authors’ research to answer the questions which surely trouble the more critical of readers of general leadership books.

For example, what is the relationship with IQ (standard intelligence), MQ (management ability) and EQ (emotional intelligence)? If you read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, you will probably assume that EQ matters more than IQ. But does it really? Turner and Müller have actually done the research to find out. Interestingly, for line managers, performance correlates strongly to IQ + MQ + EQ, but for project managers strong MQ with a balance of IQ and EQ is more important. Especially interesting is that Vision and Intuition correlate negatively with success in many kinds of projects. The research goes further than that, even down to success in different types of project, with IT projects — perhaps surprisingly — requiring the highest levels of EQ.

With no jokes, no pictures, and almost no stories, this book is going to be harder going than some. But it is massively authoritative, and so carefully written that a couple of hours spent in its 89 pages may pay huge dividends compared to the more expansive, easy reading style of other management books.

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