The relationship between the leadership style and emotional intelligence of information system project managers

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Managing an information systems (IS) project is a challenging undertaking because of the very nature of these projects. The IS project manager is challenged with increasing and changing requirements, the management of technical resources and business users, and the delivery of the project to meet the business need in time and on budget. The high failure rate of projects in general is a concern for organizations as this can have serious repercussions for the business in terms of loss in turnover or business opportunities. The abilities that are required of an IS project manager in order to manage IS projects efficiently and successfully are of interest to both organizations and the IS project managers themselves. The mastery of project management competencies was previously regarded as being sufficient for successful project management. However, with the high rate of project failure, it became evident that successful project managers have other "soft" skills or abilities over and above these competencies that enable them to be successful. The leadership style that the project manager employs during the project can affect the outcome of the project. A transformational leader motivates and inspires the team to improve themselves and become more effective. Emotional Intelligence is a soft skill that enhances the project manager's ability to practice transformational leadership. This study examined the relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership of South African project managers practicing specifically in the IS field. The study further explored the effect of demographic factors such as age, gender and occupational background on emotional intelligence and transformational leadership, and the relationship between the two constructs. Data was collected from a sample of 49 IS project managers based in South Africa. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire was used to determine leadership and the Genas El Inventory was used to determine the emotional intelligence of the participants. The results of the data analysis show a strong positive and significant relationship between the transformational leadership and emotional intelligence of South African IS project managers. None of the demographic factors had an effect on the relationship between emotional intelligence and transformational leadership. IS project managers with a more technical background showed lower average scores for both emotional intelligence and transformational leadership than their peers. Female IS project managers showed slightly higher average scores for both transformational leadership and emotional intelligence than their male counterparts. The results suggest that an increase in emotional intelligence can assist an IS project manager to effectively improve their transformational leadership skills. Further research into the appropriate interventions that should be introduced in order to increase emotional intelligence In South African project managers is advisable. The perceived effect on the project team and the success of the IS project manager after introducing these interventions should be measured. This will be useful in motivating South African organizations to facilitate and encourage their IS project managers to develop their emotional intelligence and transformational leadership skills in order to be more effective and achieve better results with IS project implementation.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 92-107).