The article titled Transformational leadership and project success: The mediating role of team-building was published in International Journal of Project Management. Deribe Aga, Bertha Vallejo and Niels Noorderhaven are the authors. The article details research on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ethiopia to explain the mechanisms that underlie the relationship between transformation leadership and the success of projects (Aga, Noorderhaven, & Vallejo, 2016). The study thesis proposes that team building does play a key role in mediating the relationship connecting transformational leadership and project success.
The article provides insights into the concepts of project success, leadership, and team building. Theoretically, the report establishes the criteria for project success by measuring if it is relevant, useful, efficient, impactful and sustainable (Aga, 2016). Additionally, a transformational leader is one who ideally influences followers, intellectually stimulates behaviours, motivates and inspires subordinates and offers individualised considerations like support and encouragement for teams (Aga, 2016). More so, the authors consider team building as approaches that assist in setting goals, developing interpersonal relationships, clarify roles and utilize problem-solving skills (Aga, 2016). Thus, the scholars connect the concepts by assuming that transformational leader's behaviours enhance team-building interventions that further lead to project success.
The study tested some hypotheses. Firstly, that transformational leadership has a positive influence on project success (Aga, 2016). Literature indicated that transformation leaders could inspire followers to outperform expectations by fostering healthy work relations. Secondly, the author hypothesises that transformational leadership has a positive influence on building project teams (Aga, 2016). The argument is that leaders create a work environment that allows team members to cooperate in goal-oriented efforts. Thirdly, is the hypothesis that team-building strategies positively influence the success of projects (Aga, 2016). Thus, team-building interventions focusing on goal-setting, role clarification and solving problem facilitate communication between managers and their teams. The study established that there is a positive association between transformational leadership and project success and that team building mediates that relationship (Aga, 2016). Therefore, project-focused organisations should adopt transformational leadership styles for its managers that can create team-building practices.
In reviewing the article, several factors arise. Firstly, the authors are credible. Deribe Aga who holds a PhD in public management brings in a local perspective working at Ethiopian Civil Service University (Research Gate, 2016). Bertha Vallejo is a PhD holder with 13 business related research papers and works at Tilburg University (Research Gate, 2016). Niels Noorderhaven has a PhD in Management, works at Tilburg University and has published 172 research items (Research Gate, 2016). The scholars gathered data from project managers working in geographically dispersed areas in Ethiopia. A two-stage sampling technique was used, and random sampling utilised targeting 300 project managers from 100 NGOs (Aga, 2016). Out of the 300 questionnaire surveys, 200 were completed responses representing a 66.7% response rate (Aga, 2016). Therefore, demographics of the study and response rate compares well to self-administered surveys. The author's interpretation of evidence leads to a logical conclusion. The evidence shows that transformational leadership had a significant and positive relationship with project success. Further, results revealed the substantial and highly significant correlation between transformational leadership and team building. The connection points to a mediation relationship between the variables.
I mostly agree with the article authors. Firstly, their conclusion is drawn from relevant research that tests clearly stated hypothesis. Secondly, their literature review is extensive, and they can identify the gap in previous studies as the tendency to measure team building as an outcome rather than performance. Thirdly, the study extends the knowledge of the impact of transformational leadership on workplaces to the project context. The article lessons are insightful necessitating a recommendation. To begin with, I realise the flaw in conceptualising team-building interventions from a purely human resource management dimension forgetting the four well-established components of team building. It emerges that, effective leadership delineates team's task boundaries, allows members to explore, discuss and make personal decisions, helps to share information and knowledge in groups and enhance commitment to a positive attitude. To a small extent, the study is limited by the fact that it is based in one country Ethiopia. Additionally, the data was subjective from manager's perception of project success. Lastly, the research design was cross-sectional, not longitudinal and data was collected using a single instrument of self-reports. These limitations affect the quality of the results and limit the generalisation of the findings.
Key to this study, project teams, will continuously face challenges in improving their social relations, clarifying roles, problem-solving and interpersonal relationships. Therefore, there is an increased probability that projects will be successful when team building correctly occurs (Aga, 2016). Since transformational leadership ought to have a positive influence on team performance, leaders should focus on how to apply team-building techniques alongside their conventional training. The Structure Building exercise is one specific team building activity for project teams (Rivas & Jones, 2012). Groups are broken into subgroups, each handed at least eighty plastic cups, and asked to build the tallest structures within fifteen to twenty minutes (Rivas & Jones, 2012). Additionally, no verbal communication should occur, the group must use all cups to build one structure, and all members must participate (Rivas & Jones, 2012). Key observations include how leadership emerges, the team engagement, resource allocation and consensus building. Thus, the activity provides insights on the group dynamics and offers the opportunity to relate it to task formation and social relations in problem-solving.
In summation, the study reveals that team building plays a mediating role in the relationship between transformational leadership and project success. The scholar's experience, hypothesis testing research design, comprehensive data from authoritative sources and extensive literature review validates the study results. Continuously, projects success will depend on manager's ability to combine transformational leadership styles with team-building activities such as the structure building exercise to clarify roles, solve problems and improve interpersonal relations.
Aga, D. A., Noorderhaven, N., & Vallejo, B. (2016). Transformational leadership and project success: The mediating role of team-building. International Journal of Project Management, 34(5), 806-818.
Research Gate. (2016, July). Transformational leadership and project success: The mediating role of team-building. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299738265_Transformational_leadership_and_project_success_The_mediating_role_of_team-building
Rivas, O., & Jones, I. S. (2012). Leadership: building a team using structured activities. Research in Higher Education Journal, 17, 1-6
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