The Impact of Emotional Intelligence, Project Managers' Competencies, and Transformational Leadership on Project Success
An Empirical Perspective
Rashid Maqbool, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China
Ye Sudong, School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China
Nasir Manzoor, Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan
Yahya Rashid, Mechanical Engineering Department, Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, Al-Kharj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Project stakeholders always strive for a successful project, hence there is growing concern about the factors that influence project success. Although the success of a project is influenced by various factors, project managers play a very important role. This study aims to examine the relationship and impact of construction project managers’ emotional intelligence (EI), managerial competencies, and transformational leadership style on project success. A total of 107 Pakistani construction firms were studied with a view to measuring the effects of these variables on the overall performance of construction projects. The results show that project managers with high emotional intelligence who bear the desired competencies and exhibit transformational leadership behavior are effective leaders and ensure higher success in projects than their counterparts. The findings will assist project sponsors in selecting the appropriate project managers for their projects.
KEYWORDS: emotional intelligence; transformational leadership; project managers’ competencies; project success; construction industry
Project Management Journal, Vol. 48, No. 3, 58-75
© 2017 by the Project Management Institute
Published online at www.pmi.org/PMJ
An unsuccessful project results in losses to project stakeholders. Unfortunately, many projects fail to be completed within their scope, schedule, budget constraints, thereby ensuring the desired quality and satisfaction of all stakeholders in the construction industry. A study conducted by Standish Group International (2009) reported that the project success rate dropped from 34% in 2004 to 32% in 2009. Papke-Shields, Beise, and Quan (2010) surveyed 600 organizations across 22 countries and found that project outcomes of 86% respondents fell short of planned expectations; thus, there is growing concern about the factors that influence project success.
The results of recent research highlight the elusive trends of project success. According to Davis (2014), a variety of factors play leading roles in successful construction projects, including the technical expertise of project managers and project teams, communication skills, and so forth. Much of the earlier literature focused on the technical skills associated with project managers (Hyvari, 2006; Brown, 2000; Gale, 1999; Pinto & Kharbanda, 1995; Thamhain, 1991), and technical expertise continues to be well addressed as more and more project managers are becoming certified and entering the field. According to Strohmeier (1992), project managers spend approximately 88% of their working hours interacting with different stakeholders. Such huge interaction calls for those project managers who can lead effectively in addition to managing conflicts so as to build better relationships, thus ensuring success in their projects (Lewis, 1998). As Lechler (1998, p. 205) stated: “When it comes to project management, it's the people that count.” As a result, there has been a shift from a technical bias (project managers’ technical skills) to project manager behaviors (soft skills) (Leybourne, 2007). Pant and Baroudi (2008) observed, however, that the training of project managers still focuses on hard skills, although the desire for human skills for successful project managers has already been recognized.
With regard to the human side of project management, much has been highlighted on identifying the skills, technical expertise, attributes, and qualities required for a successful project manager. For example, the International Project Management Association (IPMA) Competence Baseline (2006) classifies 46 competency elements into three groups: contextual, behavioral, and technical competencies. The Project Management Competency Development Framework – Second Edition, published by Project Management Institute (PMI) (2007) describes project manager competency in terms of knowledge, performance, and personal competence. The Association for Project Management (APM) Competence Framework (2008) is similar to the IPMA Competence Baseline, but has some different competence elements. These are comprehensive studies; as project managers maintain the progress, the mutual interactions and tasks of the various parties, there will continue to be a need for an in-depth study on the human side of project management.
A study on the relationship styles of Hong Kong's construction managers highlighted that human skills were of the utmost significance in project management (Rowlinson, Ho, & Yeun, 1993). Sunindijo, Hadikusumo, and Ogunlana (2007) also emphasized that human factors assume critical importance in ensuring project success. Unfortunately, these soft skills (the human side of the projects) have not received sufficient consideration in the project management literature (Skulmoski & Hartman, 2010; Hyvari, 2006). Gehring (2007, p. 50) posited that ” . . . to increase the probability of project management success, the project manager must understand the leadership competencies that are required and what personality traits he or she has that compliments or competes with these competencies.” Dvir, Sadeh, and Malach-Pines (2006) highlighted the significance of aligning a project manager's management style and personality with project type. Thal and Bedingfield (2010) found connections between personality traits and project manager success. Although we value these specific analyses, we believe that an extended scope of behavior dimensions (project managers’ soft skills)—through a larger, theoretical model—is needed for an entire view of the significant role different behavioral aspects play in project management. There arises the following research question:
What are the relevant aspects of project managers’ soft skills in project success and their connections?
In the next section, we identify the relevant aspects of project managers’ soft skills in project success and provide a theoretical background on the linkage of project success with emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership. The model presented in the subsequent section hypothesizes the influence of project managers’ soft skills on project success. Our empirical investigation is based on the construction industry sample of 107 medium-sized and large firms. We collected data from each firm using a standardized questionnaire. After descriptions of the research setting and employed methods, we present our empirical results. The study concludes with a discussion of the findings and further avenues for research.
Studies have revealed that the project manager's role is vital to project success; however, the literature has largely ignored the effects of emotional intelligence (EI), project manager's competencies, and his or her leadership approach to project success (Turner & Müller, 2005; Avolio & Yammarino, 2013). In order to carry out an in-depth study on the impact of these factors on project success, the following section will construct the relevant hypotheses.
Emotional Intelligence and Its Linkage to Project Success
“Emotional intelligence” (EI) is the “ability to monitor one's own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p. 189). With the research findings on the contributing factors for individual success from the field of psychology, the business world has also followed suit in identifying components of intelligence, other than the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) score (Gardner & Stough, 2002). Consequently, with the awareness of their own emotional intelligence and the eagerness to guide one's own feelings and actions, individuals were asked to monitor themselves and others for optimum self, team, and organizational performance (Goleman, 2001).
The importance of emotional intelligence has been studied in the project management literature (Adams & Anan-tatmula, 2010; Clarke, 2010; Othman, Abdulah, & Ahmad, 2009; Geoghegan & Dulewicz, 2008). According to Salovey and Mayer (1990), researchers are deliberating on the important aspects of the human personality; in other words, emotional intelligence, along with leadership style, and their roles in achieving organization excellence. Carmeli (2003) also found that emotionally intelligent senior managers perform their jobs better compared with their peers with lower emotional intelligence. In the field of project management, Mount (2006) assessed the skills related to the success of project managers in 74 international petroleum corporations, and found that, of all the skills that contributed to project managers’ success, 69% were the emotional competencies (self-confidence, influence, achievement orientation, teamwork, and coordination); 31% were business expertise; whereas there was none (0%) in the area of cognitive skills, such as conceptual or analytical thinking. Another study by Geoghegan and Dulewicz (2008) was carried out to identify whether a significant relationship existed among emotional quotient (EQ) dimensions (self-awareness, sensitivity, influencing, and motivation) and project success. Having analyzed the data gathered from 52 project managers in the United Kingdom, the researchers found a significant relationship between EQ dimensions and project success. Turner and Lloyd-Walker (2008) reported that emotional intelligence capabilities greatly contribute to project success.
In their study, Müller and Turner (2007), found a significant correlation between successful project managers’ three EQ sub-dimensions (consciousness, sensitivity, and ability to communicate) and project success. Later, they studied the leadership competency profiles of 400 successful project managers from all around the world (Müller & Turner, 2010). They used the leadership development questionnaire, based on the model by Dulewicz and Higgs (2005) and a compound measure of project success (ten success criteria), and found correlations among leadership competencies and project success. The result indicated that the EQ subdimensions (influence, motivation, and consciousness) of successful project managers significantly contributed to their success in all types of projects (Müller & Turner, 2010).
In their study, Yang, Huang, and Wu (2011) found that teamwork exhibited significant influence on project performance, whereas teamwork is an emotional intelligence competency included in the emotional intelligence competency model from Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee (2013). Zhang, Zou, and Zillante (2013) found that Chinese construction project managers considered eight emotional intelligence competencies to be important for the successful management of their projects. These included empathy, inspirational leadership, teamwork and collaboration, conflict management, influence, change catalyst, service orientation, and organizational awareness. Rezvani et al. (2016) conducted their study on the Australian defense industry and reported the significant relationship between project managers’ emotional intelligence and project success with the mediation role of job satisfaction and trust. The studies of Pryke, Lunic, and Badi (2015) and Sunindijo et al. (2007) identified that the role of emotional intelligence is useful in leader–follower communication and leads to enhanced project performance. Sunindijo (2015) reported that emotional intelligence has a significant influence on project cost performance and project quality performance.
Therefore, we hypothesize the following:
H1: Emotional intelligence has a significant positive effect on project success.
Project Managers’ Competencies and Their Linkage to Project Success
Goleman et al. (2013) defined competencies as the potential of emotional intelligence translated into practical capabilities; in other words, these are the learned capabilities built upon emotional intelligence that result in exceptional performance. Mount (2006) studied the relationships among emotional intelligence and project managers’ competencies. His study was aimed at identifying the job competencies associated with the higher performance of project managers. He collected data on job roles performed by 74 construction project managers through range of data collection techniques. Druskat and Druskat (2006) put forward arguments suggesting that the characteristics of projects placed particular emphasis on project manager behaviors associated with communication, teamwork, building interpersonal relationships (attentiveness), and managing conflict. To support this argument empirically, this work was taken on by Clarke (2010), who combined these competencies with the behavioral items within project management. Clark (2010) selected items from the Project Manager Competency Development Framework – Second Edition (Project Management Institute, 2007) and grouped 24 project management behaviors into four project management competence domains; namely, communication, team work, attentiveness, and managing conflict. Clarke concluded that his study's results suggested that emotional intelligence ability and empathy explain the individual differences among project managers that influence their better performance. For this study, project managers’ competency elements as studied by Clarke (2010) will be considered.
Ekrot, Kock, and Gemünden (2016) found that project management competence retention (PMCR) is positively associated with average project success of the organization. They further explained that project management competence retention is obtained by formal development perspectives in project management, such as a career path or qualification opportunities, as well as establishing a formal lessons learned system. Brière, Prouix, Flores, and Laporte (2015) found that project managers’ competencies are very important during crucial project changes and these are important for project management capacities. Whereas the study of Loufrani-Fedida and Missonier (2015) that the project managers’ competency factor works as a complement to organizational competencies, but it is not so useful if used as an alternative to organizational competencies)
Thus, the role of project managers’ competencies along with organizational competencies is vital in improving project performance. Some knowledge, skills, and abilities have emerged as especially relevant to the success of all projects, regardless of project size or complexity; these include participation, documentation, implementation, development, maintenance of quality assurance processes, critical thinking, project reviews, communication, leadership, and flexibility (Gallagher, Mazur, & Ashkanasy, 2015). In sum, we formulate the following hypothesis:
H2: Project managers’ competencies have significant positive effects on project success.
Transformational Leadership and Its Linkage with Project Success
The project manager's role as leader is not reactive, but rather a proactive one. Müller, Geraldi, and Turner (2012) stated that the important soft-success factor in any project is the role of the project manager as a leader, rather than a manager. Project managers do require having the requisite skills to lead their subordinates, which facilitates workers in achieving the project goals (Samáková, Sujanová, & Koltnerová, 2013). The project manager should be forward thinking, try to anticipate where things may veer off track, in order to take the necessary steps to prevent problems or, if unavoidable, try to recover from those problems as soon as possible (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013). As leader, a project manager must know and satisfy people's needs; understands what drives people; and promotes their interests while pursuing the project's objectives. Additionally, he or she must be aware of his or her own weaknesses and strengths so as to make the appropriate decisions while managing conflicts. It is correctly said that human behavior is the most interesting part of management but it is also the most challenging (Leban & Zulauf, 2004); and therefore, in the case of project managers, managing human behavior may be regarded as the most difficult management task (Leban & Zulauf, 2004). This requires project managers to display effective leadership qualities in order to lead their team members toward the achievement of desired performance. Burns (1978) developed the Transformational-Transactional Leadership Model, in which he defined transformational leaders as those who inspire their subordinates and provide intellectual challenges. He stated that transactional leaders focused on daily routine activities as an exchange between themselves and subordinates. Later, this model was further expanded upon by Bass and Avolio (2000), who included another type of model, called “laissez-faire.”
Goleman (2003, p. 94) highlighted that “effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have high degrees of emotional intelligence.” He argued that effective leaders possess the ability to employ the right type of leadership for the prevailing situation in the organization. Transformational leadership style has been studied by most researchers with many positive findings. Transformational leadership is defined as one that stimulates awareness and interests in groups; fosters confidence of groups and individuals; and endeavors to drive the subordinate's concerns about growth and achievements rather than mere existence (Gardner & Stough, 2002). Transformational leadership is measured with four sub-scales; namely: idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and individualized consideration (Bass & Bass, 2009).
Research has found that transformational leadership style is more effective than the laissez-faire and transactional leadership styles (Gardner & Stough, 2002). Transformational leaders are consistently being rated as more effective by their subordinates and are always linked with superior organizational performance as well as success (Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996). In their study, Barling, Slater, and Kelloway (2000) examined the emotional intelligence and leadership styles of 49 managers. He found that emotional intelligence highly correlated with transformational leadership, with the highest correlation being among inspirational motivation (component of transformational leadership) and emotional intelligence (Barling et al., 2000). In 2002, a study by Gardner and Stough investigated whether emotional intelligence predicted the leadership styles of 110 senior level managers. They found a strong correlation between transformational leadership and overall emotional intelligence, with the components, understanding of emotions (external), and emotional management as the top predictors of transformational leadership style (Gardner & Stough, 2002).
Leban and Zulauf (2004) studied 24 project managers and their related projects in six different organizations from varying industries in order to examine the relationship between leadership in projects and emotional intelligence. They found that emotional intelligence scores and the ability to understand emotions were found in significant relation to inspirational motivation (a dimension of transformational leadership). They concluded that a project manager's transformational leadership behavior has a positive impact on project performance, in other words, emotional intelligence abilities contribute to a project manager's transformational leadership behavior and subsequent actual project performance (Leban & Zulauf, 2004). In addition, “transformational project management” can be accomplished by having results-focused project managers (via inspirational motivation, in other words, emotional intelligence) rather than those who are activity focused as in the case of trans-actional project managers (Leban & Zulauf, 2004). In another study, Butler and Chinowsky (2006) studied 130 construction executives to examine the relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership behaviors. They concluded that a relationship existed between total emotional intelligence score (EQ) and transformational leadership behavior and that the total EQ explained 34% of the variance of transformational leadership.
Aga, Noorderhaven, and Vallejo (2016) reported that teambuilding as a critical project success factor plays a mediating role in the relationship between transformational leadership and project success. Thus, project-oriented organizations need to promote a transformational leadership style among project managers, for example, through selection and leadership development programs, which in sum, leads to the following hypothesis:
H3: Project managers’ transformational leadership has a significant positive effect on project success.
After reviewing the relevant literature and to fulfill the objectives of the current study, the following research model (Figure 1) and hypotheses have been developed and tested in this study.
Figure 1: Research model.
The nature of the research approach is quantitative in nature because it ensures the authenticity and reliability of the sample information selected for this research. A survey measure was employed to measure emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, transformational leadership, and project success in the construction industry in Pakistan.
In this study, four variables, which includes three independent variables, are being studied; specifically, (1) emotional intelligence, (2) project managers’ competencies, and (3) transformational leadership; along with one dependent variable, in other words, project success. There were 62 questions in the questionnaire; however, 11 questions were removed after pilot testing, leaving 51 questions for the final survey. All questions were asked on a seven-point Likert Scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The net score of these items reflected the score for the respective dimensions/construct.
Variables and Their Measures
Four variables were included in the study. The three independent variables included emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership, with project success as the dependent variable.
Measure of Emotional Intelligence
For emotional intelligence, scales were adopted from the Goleman Emotional Competency Model (Goleman, 1998). Emotional intelligence has four dimensions; namely, (1) self-awareness, (2) self-management, (3) social awareness, and (4) relationship management. These were measured through 18 items on a seven-point Likert Scale, which ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The net score of the items reflected the scores for the dimensions.
Measures of Project Managers’ Competencies
Project managers’ competencies was measured using Clarke's (2010) scale, comprised of four dimensions: (1) communication, (2) teamwork, (3) attentiveness, and (4) managing conflicts. These were measured through 24 items on a seven-point Likert Scale, which ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The net score of these items reflected the scores for the dimensions.
Measures of Transformational Leadership
To measure transformational leadership, scales developed by Clarke (2010) were adopted and they are: (1) idealized influence, (2) inspirational motivation, (3) individual consideration, and (4) intellectual stimulation. These were measured (through four items) on a seven-point Likert Scale, which ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The net score of the items reflected the score for the construct.
Measures of Project Success
For project success, the dimensions include being on time, being on budget, quality, and stakeholder satisfaction (Müller & Turner, 2010). It was measured through nine items on a seven-point Likert Scale, which ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The net score of the items reflected the score for the construct.
Population, Sample, and Sampling Technique
For the present study, Pakistani construction firms were used as the target population. There were 325 construction companies registered with the Constructors Association of Pakistan (CAP) in 2016. The scopes of these companies range from the construction of residential and commercial buildings to large infrastructure projects. Through systematic random sampling, 107 companies (33%) were selected for data collection; in other words, every third company was selected for the data feedback by their respective managers at varying tiers through questionnaires. Four questionnaires were submitted to each company for manager feedback. Of the 428 questionnaires distributed, 359 responses (83.8% response rate) were received; of these, 14 responses (3.8% rejection rate) were rejected for incompleteness, whereas 345 responses (81.17% feedback rate) were completed in all respects, and were finally selected for this study. Table 1 highlights the demographic information of the respondents.
Results and Discussions
Data Analysis Techniques
The process of data analysis involved compilation of the data; its screening; descriptive statistics; and analysis of respondents’ demographics, assessing reliability measures, and running the correlation. Statistical Package for Social Sciences-20 (SPSS) software was employed. Hypotheses were tested using regression and correlation analysis.
|Educational background||PhD/Master's degree||97||28.12%|
|Project sponsor–board member||30||8.69%|
|Table 1: Respondents’ demographics.|
Data Screening, Normality, and Reliability of the Data
Prior to subjecting it to analysis, the data file was vigilantly screened for any missing values, outliers, multi-collinearity, and normality. The three basic options available for dealing with the missing data include: imputation, listwise deletion, and pairwise deletion (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). For this study, the first option (i.e., imputation) was resorted to in order to avoid loss of meaningful data or insufficient sample size. Missing values were very low (1 or 2) in most of the items. Moreover, none of the cases fell outside the limits (Q1 –1.5 IQR, Q3 + 1.5 IQR), so there were no outliers within the data. Kurtosis and skewness were also performed to explain non-normality. Tabachnick and Fidell (2001) suggested their values to be within the range of –2 to 2, whereas the data are normally distributed.
Using principle components, exploratory factor analysis was conducted to test the construct validity of the variables. Factor analysis with Varimax rotation established the grouping of the emotional intelligence and project managers’ competency constructs. Items with correlations, between 4 and 8 within a group, and communalities, greater than 0.5, were retained, whereas Cronbach's alpha (α) was used to measure the reliability of the constructs. Reliability of the measurement scales was checked and Cronbach's alpha was found at a minimum of 0.7 for each separate construct. To assess the scale reliability, the most popular method is the internal consistency. For assessing the quality of scale, Churchill (1979) advocates the application of Cronbach's alpha (α). Cronbach's alpha (α) shows how well different items on the scale (that measure the similar constructs) yield the same results. Cronbach's alpha (α) with a low score highlights the non-similarity of some of the items, which therefore must be deleted prior to proceeding further. No absolute guideline exists regarding an acceptable level of Cronbach's alpha; however, for basic research, Nunnally and Bernstein (1994) suggested the reliability range of 0.5–0.6, whereas, Anderson and Gerbing (1988) suggested the value should be at 0.7 or above. The reliability analysis performed for this research remained at 0.7 and above. For this research, all the data were within acceptable ranges.
The descriptive statistics are provided in Table 2. Among emotional intelligence variables, 'social awareness’ showed the highest consistency among the items (α = 0.931), demonstrating that it can be used as a single index. The mean score (M = 3.9, SD = 2.4) points out that, on average, project managers concurred that they are well aware of empathy and service orientation, in other words, they are generally more social in their approach (Goleman, 2003). Other emotional intelligence traits also demonstrated to acceptable, for example, self-management (α = 0.890, M = 4.13, SD = 1.30), self-awareness (α = 0.841, M = 4.11, SD = 2.11), and relationship management (α = 0.892, M = 4.15, SD = 1.02), showed good reliability.
Among project managers’ competency variables, ‘managing conflict’ showed the highest consistency among all items (α = 0.915). The mean score (M = 4.29, SD = 1.18) indicates that, on average, project managers agree on managing conflicts through considering other points of views and attempting to build consensus toward conflict resolution. Past literature has also supported this point (Macintosh & Stevens, 2008). Other managing conflict variables, namely, communication (α = 0.791, M = 4.47, SD = 1.04), teamwork (α = 0.894, M = 4.09, SD = 1.07), and attentiveness (α = 0.848, M = 4.2, SD = 1.12) have also shown acceptable reliability.
Furthermore, the transformational leadership variable (α = 0.890, M = 4.17, SD = 1.098) demonstrated acceptable reliability. The project success variable (α = 0.945, M = 4.15, SD = 0.671) has shown the highest consistency; hence, the resultant scales for all variables showed acceptable reliability, and items of respective scales can be averaged to calculate their composites. Moreover, kurtosis and skewness were also within range; therefore, the data are fairly normal.
To test the construct validity of the variables in this study, exploratory factor analysis was carried out using principal components. Factor analysis with Varimax rotation determined the grouping of the emotional intelligence construct. Only variables with a factor loading greater than 0.5 were extracted (Hair, Anderson, & Black, 1995). Two factors were extracted with Eigenvalues greater than one; therefore, 18 items of the emotional intelligence construct were classified into four factors: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. All factor loadings from 0.757 to 0.912 show a high level of internal consistency among emotional intelligence items. Similarly, factor analysis was employed to group 20 items of project managers’ competency constructs. The four factors categorized are communication, teamwork, attentiveness, and managing conflict. The factor loadings range from 0.735 to 0.910 (four items were not included because of low factor loadings and only 20 were included). Factor analysis was used to group 10 items of the transformational leadership construct. The four factors categorized are: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration. The factor loadings could not load on dimensions, but four items loaded on the construct itself directly. Additionally, three factors that determine project success—the iron triangle, stakeholder satisfaction, and project scope—could not be loaded and nine items loaded directly on the construct itself.
|Project managers’ competencies|
|Table 2: Descriptive statistics.|
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was employed to confirm the measurement model (Anderson & Gerbing, 1998). Data were analyzed using the SPSS statistical package. The model refinement was used to improve fit to recommended levels, as shown in the Appendix at the end of the article. By performing several trials, which excluded some items, all scales met the recommended levels. Furthermore, the composite reliability of all constructs was above the 0.7 level, as suggested by Hair et al. (2006), showing sufficient reliability for each construct.
All factor loadings were statistically significant at the 5% level and exceeded the 0.5 standard (Fornell & Larcker, 1981), as shown in the Appendix. These constructs demonstrate adequate convergent validity. Discriminant validity determines the constructs are measuring different concepts (Hair et al., 2006). The discriminant validity of each construct was assessed. Each set of construct measures was paired with another set of measures. Each model was run twice—once by constraining the correlations between the two constructs to unity and once by freeing this parameter (Li & Cavusgil, 2000). The results suggest that constructs show discriminant validity. CFA model fitness indicators are provided in Table 3.
|Table 3: Fitness indicators of the CFA model.|
Construct validity is used to measure the validity of dimensions (Cavana, Delahaye, & Sekaran, 2001), and factor analysis was utilized to measure the validity of the constructs. The results of factor analysis are provided in the Appendix. When the value of the KMO (based on the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test) is between 0.5 and 1.0, the factor analysis stands appropriate (Malhotra, 2008). The factor analysis isn't appropriate when the value of the KMO is below 0.5 (Malhotra, 2008). As per the results indicated in the Appendix, the value of the KMO was well within range (in other words, between 0.5 and 1.0; hence, factor analysis is appropriate. Furthermore, “statistical test for Bartlett test of sphericity was significant (p = 0.000; d.f. = 92) for all the correlations within a correlation matrix (at least for some of the constructs)” (Kwek, Lau & Tan, 2010, p. 159). Results from the principle components analysis and the Varimax procedure showed that the Eigenvalues for all the constructs are greater than 1. According to the Appendix, factor loadings for all constructs were above 0.50. All the related items that measure the particular construct are loaded together with the value of factor loading above 0.5. Thus, it can be concluded that the measurement scales have a higher degree of convergent validity. The result of discriminant validity indicates that items were not cross loading, and supported respective constructs as whole items were allocated according to the different constructs.
Table 4 shows the bivariate correlations among the observed variables. The project success, emotional intelligence, transformational leadership, and project managers’ competencies demonstrated positive weak to positive moderate relationships among them. Emotional intelligence measures showed a positively weak relationship with project success (0.031<γ<0.244**). All calculations were in the required levels and statistically significant (p <0.05) except for the calculations between self-management and transformational leadership (γ = 0.071, p >0.05); self-management and project success (γ = 0.031, p >0.05); social awareness and project success (γ = 0.061, p >0.05); self-management and communication (γ = 0.062, p >0.05); communication and social awareness (γ = 0.014, p >0.05); attentiveness and transformational leadership (g = 0.019, p>0.05); and atten-tiveness and social awareness (γ = 0.084, p >0.05).
|1. Transformational leadership||1|
|2. Project success||0.411**||1|
|5. Social awareness||0.138*||0.061||0.554**||0.304**||1|
|6. Relationship management||0.192**||0.244**||0.501**||0.634**||0.403**||1|
|8. Team work||0.245**||0.261**||0.212**||0.354**||0.150**||0.349**||0.594**||1|
|10. Managers’ conflict||0.164**||0.214**||0.323**||0.195**||0.170**||0.199**||0.537**||0.518**||0.502**||1|
|**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level. |
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level.
N = 345
|Table 4: Bivariate correlations.|
Moreover, all emotional intelligence measures (i.e., self-awareness and relationship management) are significantly correlated with project success (0.192<γ<0.244). Moreover, all project managers’ competency measures (i.e., communication, team work, attentiveness, and managing conflict) are significantly correlated with project success (0.199<γ<0.314). Finally, transformational leadership is significantly correlated with project success (γ = 0.411).
The adjusted R square (0.519) shows the fitness of the model (Table 5). The value shows that 51.9% of variations occur in the dependent variable (project success) due to the independent variables (emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership). Because of the multiple regression, the R square value cannot be useful. The remaining variation (49.1%) occurs due to the other factors. The F value shows (56.081) that hypotheses are accepted, because the T value is greater than 2 (H1 = 5.141) (H2 = 3.528) (H3 = 5.755).
Emotional intelligence was found to be significantly positively correlated with project success. Its beta value at 0.285 shows that one unit change in emotional intelligence has a 28.5% impact on project success, which is in line with the previous studies of Mount (2006) and Geoghegan and Dulewicz (2008). As per Goleman (1998), emotional intelligence contributes positively to success. In the Pakistani construction industry it should be highlighted here that the concept of emotional intelligence has yet to be realized as such, but is still being employed effectively.
Project managers’ competencies were found to be significantly positively correlated with project success. The beta value of 0.192 shows that one unit change in project managers’ competencies has a 19.2% impact on project success. As compared with emotional intelligence, it has less impact on project success; however, it is in line with the study by Clarke (2010). This study found that project managers who possess a positive attitude and optimism about success, remain attentive toward all stakeholders, and respond to the expectations and concerns raised by them, are more successful than their counterparts.
Transformational leadership was found to be positively correlated with project success. Its beta value is at 0.270, which is in line with all previous studies by Gardner and Stough (2002) and Avolio and Yammarino (2013). Transformational project managers provide vision and are a source of inspiration for coworkers, and articulate shared goals and mutual understanding of what is right and important for success of the project. They build trust among their colleagues and coworkers and thus promote an enthusiastic team ready to meet the project's challenges.
|Model||R||R Square||Adjusted R Square||Standard Error of the Estimate|
|a. Predictors: (Constant), transformational leadership, project management competency, and emotional intelligence|
|Model||Sum of Squares||Df||Mean Square||F||Significance Level|
|a. Dependent variable: Project success |
b. Predictors: (Constant), transformational leadership, project management competency, and emotional intelligence
|Project management competencies||0.192||3.528||0.000|
|a. Dependent variable: Project success|
|Table 5: Model summary.|
Discussion of the Results
The primary objective of this research was to examine the roles of emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership in improving project performance. The results showed significant positive relationships of three independent variables (emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership) with a dependent variable (project success). These findings are shown in Table 5. The main results show that emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership have positive impacts on project success. The reason behind this positive stream is the training and development opportunities in the field of project management in recent years in Pakistan, specifically the number of Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification holders, which has been increasing every year. Along with technical expertise, construction firms are taking project managers’ soft skills more into consideration.
Emotional intelligence was found to be significantly positively correlated with project success. Its beta value at 0.285 shows that one unit change in emotional intelligence has a 28.5% impact on project success, which means Hypothesis 1 (H1) is accepted. This is in line with the previous studies of Mount (2006) and Geoghegan and Dulewicz (2008). According to Gole-man (1998), emotional intelligence contributes positively to individual and organizational success. The results show that although in the Pakistani construction industry, the concept of emotional intelligence appears to not yet be fully realized, the fact remains that it has been employed effectively. During interviews with construction executives during the pilot study, it was apparent this concept was new to them yet they admitted to using those competencies. This calls for a need to impart necessary training in the emotional intelligence domain.
The results showed that the emotional intelligence measures of self-awareness and relationship management, are highly significantly correlated with project success (0.192<γ<0.244); in other words, project managers who possess self-awareness (emotional intelligence dimension) are also excellent at relationship management (emotional intelligence dimension); as a result, they build an effective team based on teamwork, collaboration, inspirational leadership, and leading from the front. This ultimately transcends into contributing dividends to project success. Winter, Smith, Morris, and Cicmil (2006) suggested that emotional intelligence is associated with the intuition and skills required for project managers to develop into reflective practitioners. As a result, project managers with high emotional intelligence would be better prepared to resolve the new challenges and problems that each new project brings (Davis, 2011).
Project managers’ competencies were found to be significantly positively correlated with project success. The beta value of 0.192 shows that one unit change in project managers’ competencies has a 19.2% impact on project success. So Hypothesis 2 (H2) is also accepted. This is in line with the study by Clarke (2010) who found that project managers’ competency measures (i.e., communication, team work, attentiveness, and managing conflict) have positive impacts on project success. This study states that project managers with a positive attitude and optimism for success, who remain attentive to all stakeholders, and respond to the expectations and concerns raised by them, are more successful than their counterparts (Khan, Long, & Iqbal, 2014; Butler & Chinowsky, 2006). According to Zhang et al. (2013), project managers with a range of core competencies are critical to the success of projects.
Finally, transformational leadership was also found to be significantly correlated with project success (γ = 0.411), which is in line with the previous studies of Clarke (2010), Leban and Zulauf (2004), and Avolio and Yammarino (2013). The results from this study demonstrate that high levels of project manager transformational leadership positively affect project performance, which explains 27% of the variance in project performance. Transformational project managers are a source of inspiration for coworkers; they provide vision and articulate shared goals and mutual understanding of what is right and important for the success of project (Yang et al., 2011). They also build trust among their colleagues and coworkers and thus promote an enthusiastic team ready to meet the project challenges (Müller & Turner, 2010). According to Pieterse, Knippenberg, Schippers, and Stam (2010, p. 610), “transformational leadership is an approach to leading that changes followers, causing them to look beyond self-interest in favour of the group's objectives by modifying their morale, ideals and values.” In addition, it is associated with stimulating and inspiring followers to deliver extraordinary results while developing their own leadership abilities (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Moreover, the high performance expectation behavior of the transformational leader is reflected in the leader's expressed belief in the ability of the followers to deliver excellence and high quality performance (Kissi, Dainty, & Tuuli, 2013).
Hypothesis H1: ‘Emotional intelligence has a significant effect on project success’ is accepted. Managers who are emotionally self-aware can manage their emotions better than others and, therefore, are more socially aware and are good at managing the emotions of others (Goleman, 2003). Such managers are good leaders and are emphatic toward others and organizational concerns (Müller & Turner, 2010). Such leading managers drive their team members toward individual and project/ organizational success (Goleman et al., 2013).
Hypothesis H2: ‘Project managers’ competencies have a significant positive effect on project success’ is accepted. Managers who remain in direct communication with their employees remain attentive to their concerns and therefore are always good at managing conflicts before they occur (Clarke, 2010). Such leaders promote teamwork among their employees with themselves acting as the mentor—together these competencies make them the primary influencers, thus achieving collective successes.
Hypothesis H3: ‘Project managers’ transformational leadership has a significant positive effect on project success’ is also accepted. Transformational leadership is more open to communication and is consistently being rated as more effective by subordinates and is always linked to superior organizational performance as well as success (Lowe et al., 1996). Pinto, Thoms, Trailer, Palmer, and Govekar (1998) suggested that transformational leadership is relevant in the project-based environment as it enables managers to transform their project teams and ultimately impacts project performance. A leader knows and satisfies his or her people's needs, understands what drives people, and promotes their interests while pursuing the project's objectives (Barling et al., 2000). He or she continuously encourages promotion of intellectual thinking among his or her followers (Feger & Thomas, 2012); as a result, he or she leaves an idealized influence on his or her followers who in turn follow him or her (Müller & Turner, 2010).
Findings, Implications, Limitations, and Conclusion of the Study
The findings lead to reporting a strong understanding about the association of emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership style with the success of the project. Construction project managers with a high emotional quotient, bestowed with transformational leadership behavior, and blessed with competencies such as communication skills, team work, attentiveness toward others, and conflict management skills, are expected to contribute more to the success of projects than their counterparts. However, this does not undermine the importance of hardcore managerial skills and cognitive intelligence (IQ) among construction project managers, which remain of equal significance. The study suggests that project managers with a high emotional quotient, transformational leadership, and added competencies will have the added advantages of better performance and success over those lacking them. In other words, the three independent variables in this study—namely, emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership—can be termed as indicators of enhanced performance by construction project managers in addition to hardcore managerial skills and cognitive abilities. Success, not only in projects but the organization itself can be multiplied manifold through emotionally intelligent project managers who possess the required competencies and exhibit transformational leadership behavior.
Practical Implications of the Study
In this study, we have examined the impact of emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership on project success. The results imply that Pakistani construction firms must look to hire the emotionally intelligent managers, along with looking for cognitive intelligence and expertise in hardcore managerial skills. Moreover, the existing workforce must also be trained to enhance their emotional intelligence through undergoing professional courses. As a result, the emotionally intelligent workplace will prevail and will contribute better toward mutual and organizational success. The study also suggests that construction companies must seek managers who are more transformational leaders and able to lead their teams well. Furthermore, firms must enlist four top competencies for hiring the project managers, which includes effective communication, conflict management, teamwork, and attentiveness. The findings also suggest that organizations should strive to train their existing workforce in emotional intelligence and desired competencies in order to ensure organizational success.
Limitations and Avenues for Future Research
Although this study was conducted in one country due to the limitations of resources and time, its findings can be generalized to those areas where socio-economic conditions are similar to those in Pakistan. The same model can also be used in other countries and in international settings to measure the accurate relationships between project managers’ soft skills and project success. In future studies, it may be beneficial to integrate cultural practices in the model, (for example, as moderators in relationships between project managers’ soft skills and project success). We cannot expect the results in different industrial projects to be the same as those in construction projects. One might argue that project managers maybe more effective in more competitive and supportive work environments. Nevertheless, we recommend future research to develop across industrial studies in order to investigate better comparative and authentic outcomes. Future studies can also continue to examine the deeper mechanisms and enrich their implications through longitudinal research.
In this study we examined the relationships and impacts of emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership style vis-à-vis project success. This study empirically supported the hypotheses that emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and their transformational leadership styles have direct positive impacts on project success.
Consistent with the theoretical argument, this study provides support to the hypothesis that emotionally intelligent project managers perform better than their counterparts, as they not only understand their own emotions but those of others, and manage their own and others’ emotions in the appropriate way. This creates an aura of friendliness and trust that ultimately benefits the organization through successful completion of assigned tasks. The construction industry is characterized by a diversified workforce and enormous time, budget, and resource challenges, which require project managers to be more interactive with all employees and stakeholders. Emotionally intelligent construction managers can better manage the emotions of themselves as well as others involved in the project, which paves the way to a friendly environment among all project stakeholders and further contributes to the added efficiency of the project.
Consistent with the theoretical arguments, this study also provides support for the hypothesis that construction project managers with competencies such as open communication, teamwork, attentiveness toward others, and conflict management, perform exceptionally well. In the construction industry, projects are more likely to experience delays due to issues pertaining to resource management, availability of the required workforce, availability of supplies, and so forth. Efficient and better performing project managers forestall these project delays through efficient communication with all project stakeholders, attentiveness to project needs, exemplary teamwork through effective team building, and an effective conflict management approach that addresses issues in a timely and amicable way. This results in a positive impact on project success.
This study also offers support for the hypothesis that project managers exercising transformational leadership styles are better performers and thus contribute to project success. Transformational leaders are inspirational: they lead their teams; inspire their employees; stimulate awareness and interests; foster confidence; and endeavor to drive their teams’ concerns, growth, and achievements. This builds a friendly project environment, in which the entire workforce works as a team under the trustworthy leadership of a project manager toward the attainment of common objectives. The arguments presented here suggest the following conclusions: (1) emotional intelligence has a direct positive impact on the success of projects, (2) project managers’ competencies have direct impacts on project success, and (3) project managers’ transformational leadership behavior has a direct positive impact on project success. Thus, the success of a project isn't just all about state-of-the-art equipment or the latest inventions, but it is also about people and their behaviors as well as competencies, which are the main driving forces behind success.
This study will not only fill the literary gap as already discussed earlier, it will also help Pakistani project managers weigh project performance from a different perspective, which is something that hasn't been touched upon hitherto. The study will contribute to widening the existing knowledge base for project performance by adding to the findings regarding the impact of emotional intelligence, project managers’ competencies, and transformational leadership behavior on project success. It will also serve as a basic guideline document for senior management in the Pakistani construction industry, which will assist them in hiring project managers with a greater emotional quotient (EQ) and also train their existing managers (project and line managers) in developing and exercising emotional intelligence, competencies, and transformational leadership behavior with an overall aim to achieving organizational excellence. This study will also pave the way for new directions for future researchers in carrying out the study on a global level with a view to finding concrete recommendations for ensuring project performance at the upper, middle, and lower levels of management.
This study was supported by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.: 71171017). The writers would like to thank the support of the Foundation.
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Rashid Maqbool, PhD, holds a Doctor of Engineering and Project Management degree from Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China, and two master's degrees—one in project management and the second in business administration—from COMSATS Institutes of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan. Dr. Maqbool has been a Research Associate in the Department of Management Sciences in COMSATS Institute of Information Technology since 2013. He also has over five years of hands-on working experience in managing construction and industrial projects in Punjab, Pakistan. Dr. Maqbool has received several awards, including the Chinese Government Scholarship from China, and two Talent Scholarships from the Government of Punjab, Pakistan. His research interests and publications focus on construction project management, project governance, project leadership, and project change management. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Ye Sudong, PhD, is Professor of Construction Management in the School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China. He holds a PhD degree in Construction Technology and Management from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and a master's degree in Construction Management & Engineering Research from the University of Reading, United Kingdom. Professor Ye has written over 20 papers, which have been published in prestigious construction and project management journals, such as Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Construction Management and Economics, Engineering Construction and Architectural Management, Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction, and Journal of Public Management (Chinese). He has also written a textbook on project finance (Chinese). Professor Ye worked at China Institute of Water and Hydropower Research for 12 years and at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) for four years before joining the faculty of Beijing Jiaotong University in 2005. His research areas include project finance, project management, and risk management. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nasir Manzoor is an ex-military veteran (Major) and is a highly experienced project manager with 18 years of hands-on experience in managing complex projects in multicultural environments. Mr. Manzoor works in the real estate development sector as a project manager for a private housing development project in Faisalabad, Pakistan. He holds a master's degree in project management and an MSc degree in criminology. His research interests include leadership in project management, organizational development, green HR, and construction management. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Yahya Rashid, PhD, was born in Lahore, Pakistan and earned his PhD in Industrial Engineering from Kobe University, Kobe, Japan, in 1999. He has over 20 years of industrial and teaching experience in Pakistan, Canada, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. Dr. Rashid has been an Assistant Professor at Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia since 2014. His research interests are in the value of project management, development economics, organizational behavior, and distributed scheduling, and he has written numerous publications in these areas. Dr. Rashid received several awards, including the Monbusho Scholarship for higher education in Japan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Factor Analysis through Principle Component Analysis
|No.||Variable Items||Factor Loading||% of Variance Explained||EigenValue|
|Self-Awareness (refers to knowing your internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions)|
|1||I recognize my own emotions and their effects.||0.815 |
|2||I know my strengths and weaknesses.||0.828 |
|3||I have a strong sense of self-worth and capabilities.||0.838 |
|Self-Management (refers to managing your internal states, impulses, and resources)|
|1||I keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check.||0.820|
|2||I maintain integrity and act congruently with my values.||0.805|
|3||I am persistent in pursuing my goals despite obstacles and setbacks.||0.754|
|4||I exercise flexibility in handling change.||0.794||77.4||4.46|
|5||I strive for improvement or meeting a standard of excellence.||0.774|
|6||I am always ready to act on opportunities.||0.790|
|Social Awareness (refers to how you handle relationships and awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns)|
|1||I sense others’ feelings and perspectives and take an active interest in their concerns.||0.870|
|2||I read/understand my group's emotional currents and power relationships.||0.888||87.9||2.64|
|3||I anticipate, recognize, and meet my customers’ needs.||0.855|
|Relationship Management (concerns the skill or adeptness at inducing desirable responses in others)|
|1||I sense others’ developmental needs and bolster their abilities.||0.706|
|2||I inspire and guide individuals and groups.||0.780|
|3||I use effective tactics for persuasion.||0.851|
|4||I initiate or manage change.||0.785||65.04||3.90|
|5||I negotiate and resolve disagreements.||0.762|
|6||I work with others toward shared goals and create group synergy in pursuing collective goals.||0.734|
Project Managers’ Competencies. Competencies are the learned capabilities based on emotional intelligence that results in outstanding performance at work.
|1||I understand the communication from others involved in the project.||0.621|
|2||I maintain a formal communication channel.||0.727||70.95||2.13|
|3||I maintain an informal communication channel.||0.760|
|1||I encourage teamwork consistently.||0.693|
|2||I share my knowledge and expertise with others involved in the project.||0.851|
|3||I maintain good working relationships with others involved in the project.||0.586||70.66||3.53|
|4||I build trust and confidence with both stakeholders and others involved on the project.||0.820|
|5||I help to create an environment of openness and consideration on the project.||0.600|
|1||I respond to and act on expectations, concerns, and issues raised by others on the project.||0.776|
|2||I actively listen to other project team members or stakeholders involved in the project.||0.786|
|3||I express positive expectations of others involved in the project.||0.624||69.15||2.77|
|4||I help to build a positive attitude and optimism for success in the project.||0.618|
|5||I successfully engage all stakeholders involved in the project.||0.680|
|1||I help others to see different points of view or perspectives.||0.764|
|2||I recognize conflict within an early timeframe.||0.691|
|3||I resolve conflict amicably.||0.821|
|4||I work effectively with the organizational politics associated with the project.||0.695||74.68||5.97|
|5||I attempt to build consensus in the best interests of the project.||0.782|
|6||I manage ambiguous situations satisfactorily while supporting the project's goal.||0.758|
|7||I maintain self-control and respond calmly and appropriately in all situations.||0.832|
Transformational Leadership. Transformational leadership is defined as one that stimulates awareness and interests in groups, fosters confidence in groups and individuals, and endeavors to drive the concerns of subordinates toward growth and achievements rather than mere existence.
|1||As leader, I deal with my employees with integrity and appeal to them emotionally.||0.756|
|2||I am able to build trust and a shared sense of vision in my team members.||0.716|
|3||I help employees learn tackling and solving problems on their own.||0.781||75.32||3.01|
|4||As leader, I inspire and motivate my employees to work optimistically toward challenging goals.||0.758|
Project Success. A project is successful if it has fulfilled its scope while remaining within the budgeted cost, scheduled timeframe and desired quality while ensuring satisfaction of all stakeholders.
|1||I completed my projects on time as scheduled.||0.634|
|2||I completed my projects within the allocated budget.||0.770|
|3||In the project, I met the quality needs and requirements of the customers.||0.663|
|4||I was able to achieve satisfaction of my team members with overall project management and performance.||0.731|
|5||I was able to manage and satisfy all project stakeholders with the project deliverables/outcome.||0.728||70.07||6.31|
|6||I was able to achieve end users’ satisfaction with the project outcome/deliverables.||0.670|
|7||I was able to ensure satisfaction of suppliers involved in the project.||0.703|
|8||I was able to achieve the project's purpose.||0.629|
|9||I am confident that my projects have achieved their self-defined criteria of success.||0.768|
|Note: KMO Measure of Sampling Adequacy = 0.81|