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Finding the Emotional Intelligence to Be a Real Leader

Case Study 4.2: Finding the Emotional Intelligence to Be a

Real Leader

Recently, Kathy Smith, a project manager for a large industrial construction organization, was assigned to oversee a multimillion-dollar chemical plant construction project in Southeast Asia.Kathy had earned this assignment after completing a number of smaller construction assignments in North America over the past three years. This was her first overseas assignment and she was eager to make a good impression, particularly given the size and scope of the project. Successfully completing this project would increase her visibility within the organization dramatically and earmark her as a candidate for upper management. Kathy had good project management skills; in particular, she was organized and highly self-motivated. Team members at her last two project assignments used to joke that just trying to keep up with her was a full-time job.

Kathy wasted no time settling in to oversee the development of the chemical plant. Operating under her normal work approach, Kathy routinely required her staff and the senior members of the project team to work long hours, ignoring weekend breaks if important milestones were coming up, and generally adopting a round-the-clock work approach for the project. Unfortunately, in expecting her team, made up of local residents, to change their work habits to accommodate her expectations, Kathy completely misread the individuals on her team. They bitterly resented her overbearing style, unwillingness to consult them on key questions, and aloof nature. Rather than directly confront her, however, team members began a campaign of passive resistance to her leadership. They would purposely drag their feet on important assignments or cite insurmountable problems when none, in fact, existed. Kathy’s standard response was to push herself and her project team harder, barraging subordinates with increasingly urgent communications demanding faster performance. To her bewilderment, nothing seemed to work. The project quickly became bogged down due to poor team performance and ended up costing the project organization large penalties for late delivery. Although Kathy had many traits that worked in her favor, she was seriously lacking in the ability to recognize the feelings and expectations of others and take them into consideration.

Read Case Study 4.2: Finding the Emotional Intelligence.

What are the differences between leaders and managers?

Can anyone be a leader? Which would you prefer to work for: a leader or a manager? Why?

Select one of the characteristics of an effective project manager and tell why it is important.

Is leadership of a project different in an Agile environment than in a traditional project environment?

Take the Future Time Perspective scale on page 129. Share your results and comments with the class.


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