Poor Project Leadership And Lack Of Motivation Management Essay

Leadership is a significant factor in the whole project process. A good leadership will lead to project success. A poor project leadership will cause failure in the project. Project leader who is responsible to the project is someone that sets direction and influences people to follow that direction. Many project leaders were selected because of their education background rather than their experiences. The result is, the project leader will lead the project that exceeds their capabilities. Poor project leadership also the result of project leader that does not see the opportunity and does not listening to the people.

One secret to successful project implementation is the project leader’s ability to get the diverse background, education and experiences of project team members performing at maximal effectiveness. Consequently, the project leader must be both a leader and a motivator.

Poor project leadership was a leading factor of the company failure. A lead’s behaviours such as excessive ego often lead to a poor project leadership. The lack of leadership skill will result in people get demotivated and eventually reduce their work performance. And because, a project leader does not have a clear vision of the market trend such as soaring of oil prices and credit crunch, the project will cost more and will be delayed.

Lack of Motivation

According to William R.King (1998) page 756, stated that motivation is important to the project manager from two perspectives. First, the individual must be motivated to be a project manager. If one does not have sufficient intrinsic motivation to take the types of managerial steps required, then one is not likely to success at the project management task. Second, the project manager must be able to motivate others. For this it is crucial that the project manager have an adequate understanding of motivation and techniques for motivating others.

Lack of motivation is one of the project failure factors. It will be crucial, if a project leader is demotivated because it can directly influence the project team and give impact to organisational performance.

Lack of motivation can be the result of many factors such as company policies, work condition and salary. Lack of motivation equates to less work being accomplished by the employee. The productivity of the employee will transfer to something that does not relate to project’s work. Things like internet surfing, personal chat and taking longer lunches cost the organisation time and money.

Low employee motivation could be the result of decreased success of the organisation, abrupt changes in organization and economic downturn. No matter what the cause, while working in unpleasant work environment due to lack employee motivation will give an impact to the existing and potential clients and partners. A reputation can be tainted and dictate its future in the industry.

Employees are like lifeline to the company. When they are highly motivated, they will do whatever is necessary to achieve the targets and maintain the company stability. An organisation whose employees have low motivation is completely prone to challenges because its employee are not going extra mile to maintain the company’s stability.

The space shuttle Columbia disaster

One of the top project failures cause by poor leadership is ‘Columbia disaster’. Columbia was one of the space shuttle owned by NASA. Amy Donahue (2004) stated that on January 16, the Columbia with her crew of seven was lunched to begin a scientific research mission. Sixteen days later, Columbia and her crew were lost during re-entered the earth’s atmosphere with unknown damage to her left wing. Columbia broke up over the western United states at 200 000 feet and 12 000 miles per hour.

Columbia’s disintegration was both a tragedy and a disaster. A tragedy because the lives of seven heroic astronauts and their life’s work of countless engineers were lost that morning. And a disaster because more than 87 000 pounds of debris from the shuttle was strewn over 2000 square miles of east Texas and western Louisiana. Some material was as small as postage stamps but other pieces weighed some 800 pounds and came in at upward of 1 600 miles per hour, angering several feet into the ground.

Just after the 2003 tragedy occurred many experts concluded that technology was to blame. But a more thorough and comprehensive investigation, undertaken by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, CAIB, concluded differently. It maintained that management was as much to blame for the failure as was the foam strike. The Board described an organizational culture in which, at every juncture, program managers were resistant to new information. It was a culture in which people were unwilling to speak up or if they did speak up were never heard. In their report they wrote that the organizational failure was a product of NASA’s history, its culture, and its politics. (Columbia Accident Investigation Board, 2003).

Engineers requested inspection by crew or remote photo imagery to check for the damage but no actions were taken to ensure space shuttle integrity. Management, however, was apparently confident that there was no safety issue and a decision was made against imagery. Had the imagery been authorized, and the damage discovered, the conjecture is that a rescue attempt would have had a reasonable chance of success. The project leader didn’t take the advice from his engineer and still proceed with his decision. Senior management also ignored the flight data from the previous mission where foam had broken on every lunch. This is a typical example of poor project leadership. On top of these problems, the initial leadership structure was diffuse, with federal state and local field offices, operations canters and command posts all directing of the operation.

Figure 1 : Foam strike detected in launch

Taken from


Denver International Airport Baggage handling System

On top of that, one of good example of project failure that caused by poor project planning and poor risk management was ‘Denver International baggage handling system’. According to Dr.R.de. Neufuille (1994) Denver’s baggage handling system was the world’s largest automated airport baggage handling system. Faced with the need for greater airport capacity, the city of Denver elected to construct a new state of the art airport that would cement Denver’s position as an air transportation hub. Covering a land area of 140 Km2, the airport was to be the largest in the United States and have the capacity to handle more than 50m passengers annually

The airport’s baggage handling system was a critical component in the plan. By automating baggage handling, aircraft turnaround time was to be reduced to as little as 30 minutes. Faster turnaround meant more efficient operations and was a cornerstone of the airports competitive advantage.

Despite the good intention, the project complexity was underestimated and was delayed by 16 months and cost the city of Denver USD 1.1 Million per day. After ten years of opening, the system never worked well and in august 2005, United Airlines has abandoned the system completely.

The root of this failure was Denver international airport failed to estimate the complexity involved. The system which was the first in the world and 10 times larger than any other automated baggage handling system. The project team estimated the project can be done in two years but it took almost four years to complete. Because of the complexity involved, the airport management does not provide enough trolley in case the system failed .They were overconfidence that the project wills success.

The system that worked on 100 individual PC that were connected together have no back up if one PC failed to operate. The system also was unable to detect any jams in the system and instead the system keeps piling more and more baggage making the jam much worse.

Another project failure factor was poor in risk management. The project encountered a massive technical problem but not action has been taken. The most significant issue was, the system suffered from electrical shock, To resolve this problem, a filter is used in the electrical circuit to prevent current surge. But the delivery and installation of the filter took several months. Such issues were predictable if the project team more focused on risk management.

Figure 2 : Denver baggage handling system

Taken from



From the PMBOK 4th Edition (2008) page 418 motivating in a project environment involves creating an environment to meet project objectives while offering maximum self-satisfaction related to what people value most. These values may include job satisfaction, challenging work, a sense of accomplishment, achievement and growth, sufficient financial compensation, and other rewards and recognition the individual considers necessary and important.

Motivation is the task of the project manager. He has to provide motivation for his project team. He has to motivate them individually and collectively, that they each may produce their best-and then excel even more. The essential tools in the project manager’s kitbag for the motivation of his team are:

Approval, praise and recognition-These will encourage people to do work and keep the focus

Trust, respect and high expectation-Trust is the fundamental of project success. The leader should put trust on his people and in return, people will feel encourage to work

Job enrichment

Good communication-Communication is simply a two communication between top and bottom. A leader should listen for any suggestion from his employees. Most of the project failure was caused by the breakdown in communication structure. With a good communication system between project leader and workers, any problem can be resolved

Cash incentives-Money is a good motivator. Good salary and incentive based on performance will encourage people to go extra mile.

The project manager has a much better chance of success if he uses persuasion rather than coercion. The former build morale and initiative, whilst the latter quite effectively kills such qualities. Three basic components in persuasion are:

1. Suggestion

2.Playing the person’s sentiments

3.Appealing to their logic.

Using these tactics, the project manager will achieve his goal quietly, gently with the minimum of real effort. It is, in effect, an effortless achievement.

The project leader has a great role to play in respect of the productivity of his team and through them, the productivity of the whole site. It is on this the actual productivity of the people on the site-that the success of his project finally rest. Productivity is an abstract concept and very controversial indeed.

According to William R.King (1988) page 764 one very useful model for explaining the changes that have occurred in human motivation over the years is that developed by Abraham Moslow. Maslow’s hierarchy argues that man’s needs come in an ordered sequence that is arranged in the following five need categories:

1.Physical needs : the foods, water ,air

2.Safety needs : the needs for security, stability and freedom from threat to physical safety.

3.Love needs : the need for friend with whom one may affiliate.

4. Esteem needs : the need for self-respect and esteem of others. This includes recognition, attention and appreciation from others.

5.Self-actualization needs: The need for self-fulfilment to be able tp grow and learn

The project leader must be able to assess where each of his subordinate and co-workers are on the hierarchy and attempt to appeal to the appropriate needs. some people crave status and recognition. Others wand strongly to be a member of a cohesive team and ‘to belong’

Herzberg has suggested that they are two types of motivational factors: hygiene factors and motivators .He suggest that the hygiene factors are necessary condition for a satisfied workers, but do not guarantee satisfaction. The hygiene factors include

Company policy and administration



With supervisor

Working condition


Personal llife

Relationship with peers



In other words, the hygiene factors satisfy the lower level maslow needs. On the other hand, there are motivators which are factors that account for satisfaction in the worker. the motivators include



Work itsef




As a conclusion, motivation is a must that drive people to work. Motivation also has to do with human factors. People are willing to do work if they feel comfortable to do it and fell appreciated with their work.


From the PMBOK 4th Edition (2008) page 417 leadership involves focusing the efforts of a group of people toward a common goal and enabling them to work as a team. In general terms, leadership is the ability to get things done through others. Respect and trust, rather than fear and submission, are the key elements of effective leadership. Although important throughout all project phases, effective leadership is critical during the beginning phases of a project when the emphasis is on communicating the vision and motivating and inspiring project participants to achieve high performance. A good leader always lead by example and make the people work under him feel pleasant.

According to William R.King (1988) page 741, leadership behaviour can be divided into task behaviour (one way communication) and relationship behaviour (two way communications).These principles of leadership present s variety of sometimes conflicting premises which make it difficult to select appropriate behaviours in practise.

Throughout the project, the project team leaders are responsible for establishing and maintaining the vision, strategy, and communications; fostering trust and team building; influencing, mentoring, and monitoring; and evaluating the performance of the team and the project. If the project leader plays a main role, the project will run smoothly. The good concept off leadership will determine whether the project wills success or not. By implementing the basic techniques of leadership, the people that work for the project will put their heart on work. People at lower level also have right to speak up if the feel something wrong with the project. By taking into account various opinions a final decision can be made by the project leader

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