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Project leaders with high status fail more, according to report

Projects led by high-status managers are less likely to succeed than those with a middle ranking status, according to new research.

The study, run by the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), found that projects with higher ranking leaders were subject to less scrutiny by others as colleagues were more likely to turn a blind eye.

Middle management is less likely to get unconditional support, with teams more likely to challenge key issues, leading to more successful performances overall than a higher-level equivalent.

Research suggested that if a new idea has to be pitched to top management then support needs to be gathered throughout the organisation, and having a good working relationship with other employees is vital to its success.

“We were interested in whether having a high status as a project leader makes a project better and whether these leaders can gather support for high and low quality projects,” explained┬áBalazs Szatmari, PhD student at RSM.

Szatmari admits that higher status in a project can also be beneficial, as it can speed up the implementation process and help quickly gain support, but the advantages are only worthwhile if managers are aware of the pitfalls.

“This is something organisations should be aware of when they assign the managers of projects or even when they evaluate projects in the past.”


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