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Balancing person centric and team centric leadership in projects

Project Member(s): Sankaran, S., Nikolova, N.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Project Management Institute

Start year: 2016

Summary: Recent years have shown a growing diversity of perspectives towards leadership in projects. The traditional person centered or vertical leadership approaches (e.g. Turner & Müller, 2006) are increasingly supplemented by team centered, horizontal, or shared leadership approaches (e.g. Lindgren & Packendorff, 2009). Leadership in the former case ¿stems from an appointed or formal leader of a team¿, and in the latter case ¿is a group process in which leadership is distributed among, and stems from, team members¿ (Pearce & Sims, 2002, p.172). Within this duality of perspectives, related studies in the context of project management tend to polarize towards one side of the spectrum rather than integrate the two perspectives into a holistic understanding of leadership in projects. This polarization is neither of practical value, as both forms of leadership co-exist in projects, nor of academic value for understanding the comprehensive role of leadership in projects. Moreover, recent developments in general management emphasize the importance of understanding the relationship between people centered and team centered leadership and the balance of both approaches in corporate reality (Burke, Fiore, & Salas, 2003; Edmonson, 2012).


Graham, P, Nikolova, N & Sankaran, S 2019, 'Tension Between Leadership Archetypes: Systematic Review to Inform Construction Research and Practice', Journal of Management in Engineering.

Mueller, R, Drouin, N & Sankaran, S 2019, 'Modeling Organizational Project Management', PROJECT MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 499-513.
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Drouin, N, Müller, R & Sankaran, S 2018, 'Balancing vertical and horizontal leadership in projects: Empirical studies from Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden', International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 986-1006.
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Agarwal, UA, Dixit, V, Jain, K, Sankaran, S, Nikolova, N, Müller, R & Drouin, N 2017, 'Exploring vertical and horizontal leadership in projects: A comparison of Indian and Australian contexts', Accelerating Development: Harnessing the Power of Project Management, PMI India Research & Academic Conference, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, pp. 165-177.
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FOR Codes: Building Construction Management and Project Planning, Management