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You have two members of your project team that do not seem to be working effectively; first there is Tom who is a new graduate with very limited work experience who comes to work late, goes early and spends much of his day talking and surfing the Internet; Tom has not responded to your suggestions he gets down to work.

Secondly, there is Harriet who is an experienced project manager with has previously shown considerable levels of skill and ability to work hard, but she has shown no interest in this project and continuously called in sick or claimed she has ‘family issues’. You have attempted to ask her to focus on the project in hand but without any improvement being shown.

Critically discuss the role of motivation in project management utilising appropriate theoretical models to identify how project staff can be motivated. Include in your answer a discussion of the way motivation develops and the role of leadership and communication in this process. The focus of your answer must be on your own organisation (or one that you have worked within) and ways that you might deal with Tom and Harriet.

Leadership in Project Management

Team motivation definitely plays an important role in project success. It is the knowledge of motivation of the project manager that largely influences the project team. Motivation is one of the key success factors of the project (Gardner 2012). Therefore, project manager has an important role to play in ensuring success of any project. However, people are motivated by a desire to do the best in the project. Motivation is an integral part of project management as it has the capability to inspire, encourage and stimulate different individuals and project team members in achieving great accomplishments. Motivation creates an environment that encourages teamwork and collective initiatives that further helps the project in achieving success. The report evaluates two problem scenarios and suggests proper methods to deal with the problem. A new team member with limited work experience shows no active interest in their work, while Harriet, an experienced team members lost her interest in work. The only solution to deal with the problem is to motivate Tom and Harriet to work sincerely, which will further help in their carrier growth. The report discusses the concept and importance of leadership in managing a project.  Project Management refers to the use of knowledge, project management skills, tools and techniques to project processes to drive it to success. The significance of leadership and motivation in project management is elaborated in the following paragraphs.

Leadership is a skill of getting someone else does something that is to be done. An effective leader is a source of inspiration that the team members look upon. A leader motivates and inspires his followers to deliver a particular work (Miner 2015). He coaches and builds the team and helps in achieving the project requirements. There are different leadership theories that define the aspects of a leader. The core leadership theories are discussed below (Dobre 2013)-

Trait theory of leadership states that effective leaders share some common personality traits.  This theory is important to consider as a tool for effective leadership since it helps in identifying the different qualities or traits, which includes assertiveness, integrity, decision-making, empathy and liability, a leader must possess (Northouse 2015). However, presence of these traits in a person does not guarantee that the person will be a successful leader. Trait theory suggests that people who are born with certain qualities will definitely excel in their leadership roles, which might not hold true in many cases.

Behavioral theory deals with the behavior of a leader. It is an important aspect of leadership as it is necessary to evaluate whether a leader simply dictate the tasks to the team members or take their suggestion and involve them in decision-making; the latter helps in encouraging the team members in doing the needful for the team (Dinh et al. 2014). The autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting the team, and this type of decision-making is appropriate during an emergency situation that needs quick attention. Democratic leaders on the other hand consult the entire team in effective decision-making. Laiseez leaders allow the people within the team to take decisions about the team.

Relationship between Leader and Team

The contingency theory put forwards that there is no particular way of leading a team. It is a skill that helps in taking proper decision based on the current situations. Contingency theory specifies that certain traits in a leader help them to take quick and effective decisions in emergency situations (Battilana and Casciaro 2012).

This is a completely new approach of leadership. This model deals with the different types of positional power, legitimate, reward and coercive. It deals with designing of tasks and  proper reward structures that helps in developing a highly motivated work environment.

Therefore, it can be said that Power and Influence leadership alternative will be appropriate to be applied on Tom, as he is new to the organization and thus can be offered good reward structures that will motivate him to actively take part in the team work. The different leadership theories and leadership styles can be applied in the different phases of project management.

A proactive leader directs the team to the success by applying proper leadership models in managing the team. Effective leadership strategies prove to be vital and profitable aspect of an organization. It is the duty of a leader to motivate the team in performing to their optimum capacity. Tom and Harriet too need proper and intelligent motivation that can help in driving their concentration towards the team (Erkutlu 2012). It is the work of an organization to develop proper training programs to guide their employees and staffs. A proactive team drives the organization in achieving success and gaining competitive advantage as well.  It is always essential to motivate and properly guide the employees or the team members in managing different tasks at the same time and completing their task within a deadline. A competent leader is therefore a driving force for an effective team building that enables an organization in gaining a competitive position in the market. Therefore, it can be said that an effective relationship between a team and a leader is essential for properly executing the project and driving it towards the success.

Team motivation plays a significant role in a project. It is an effective technique that influences the team members to lead a project on a successful path. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the project manager to create a positive and motivating environment for the team members. It is the responsibility of an organization to motivate its employees and staffs to make them participate in every team activity willingly. One good project manager should be a good motivator, who should know how to harness the excitement of the team members towards a particular task or project (Kerzner 2013). Researches prove that team motivation is one of the  leading factors that is  affecting the productivity of the project team. The project manager plays a key role here in ensuring the foundation of a sound motivation across the organization in order to prevent the employees from getting de-motivated for their work, which is a case for Tom and Harriet mentioned in the case study. Project motivation can therefore be termed as a key aspect for a successful project.

Role of motivation in Project Management

Motivation however is linked with leadership and power. There is no doubt in the fact that motivated employees are able to show a more stable performance than that of unmotivated employees. Motivation and leadership are interlinked, as proper leadership skill is necessary for managing and motivating a project team. There are different motivational theories, having a proper knowledge of which helps in properly motivating the team members. It is an important aspect of project management, as the motivation is a physiological process that helps in guiding the team to success. The two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are widely used in the organization for motivating the employees in performing to their optimal capacity (Cherry 2016).

Extrinsic motivation is a situation when the people are motivated to earn a reward. It is the external reward that motivates the employees in working in a proper way. Intrinsic motivation of the other hand is a concept that is developed when the employees find their work interesting. In the given case study, Tom and Harriet cannot be clearly motivated by the intrinsic motivation (Cerasoli et al 2014). Harriet being the senior team member may be well aware of the rewards and reorganization in the team and therefore other effective measures are to be taken to motivate her in taking active part in the teamwork (Reiss 2012).

One of the effective tools in employee motivation is a clear and concise communication among the team members. A proper communication of the project manager with his team members might help in understanding their concerns and can further help in motivating them towards a particular task. The project manager should be an inspiration to the team and should empower them towards their responsibilities. Furthermore, it is important for the project manager to create a positive work environment that will further help the employees in concentrating in their tasks. Another effective technique of employee motivation is providing the employees good incentives for their work. The organization should recognize the achievement of the employees so that those employees become an inspiration for other that will drive and motivate them in performing in a better way (Fernet, Austin and Vallerand 2012). Reward based feedback system is an important tool for motivation. Especially on a project team, positive feedback offered to the employees within a team environment makes a huge difference in the employee’s sense of being valued. Praising the employee for their good work and achievement is important for maintaining a smooth working environment. The case study organization might lack proper reward and reorganization program and therefore, even the new employees as Tom is getting de-motivated to work.  Monetary incentive can be huge motivational factor for Tom, and might help him in undertaking his responsibilities towards the team proactively.

There are different theoretical models of motivation that can be utilized in an effective manner to solve the given problem. The different motivational theories are discussed in the following sections-

Frederick Herzberg proposed the two-factor theory or dual theory of motivation. This theory indicates the presence of certain factors in an organization or work environment that increases the job satisfaction of the employees, while some other factors lead to job dissatisfaction. Herzberg was keen on understanding the connection between an employee’s attitude and organizational motivation. This theory deals with about two factors that influences motivation. These two factors are the hygiene factor and the other one is the motivational factor. This hygiene factors explain the term that cause organizational dissatisfaction. These factors are generally linked to job security, organizational politics, working environment, leadership quality and relationship between the team and the leader. Herzberg discusses that the hygiene factors do not motivate the employees, however, the absence of this hygiene factors might result in dissatisfaction, which in turn might de-motivate the employees (Alshmemri et al. 2017).

The motivational factor on the other hand is directly linked with the employees’ satisfaction. the satisfaction factors refer to  work responsibility, job satisfaction, achievement and recognition, opportunities of growth and so on (Yusof et al. 2013).

In order to deal with Tom and Harriet, the project manager should ensure proper hygiene factors for the employees. It is essential to identify the factors that might cause dissatisfaction for Tom and Harriet. It is the responsibility of the project manager to foster a supportive culture and meaningful work environment for both Tom and Harriet. The motivational factors should be further identified. For tom, it can be incentives and exciting rewards, while for Harriet it can be growth and reorganization as a senior team member among the project team. The diagrammatic representation of two-factor theory is illustrated below-

Figure 1: Representing Herzberg’s Theory

(Source: Alshmemri et al. 2017)

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that people can get motivated only if their needs are satisfied.  Maslow defined these needs into five levels. These levels are physiological needs, safety needs, love or belonging, esteem needs and self-actualization (Cherry 2014.). This theory states that people can be motivated in achieving these needs. Once one need is fulfilled, people are motivated to fulfil the next level of needs. However, people must satisfy the lower level needs before its progress to the higher level of growth needs. Every employee is capable of moving up the hierarchy towards the level of self-actualization. The figure below is representing the different levels of this theory of motivation (Lester 2013) 

Figure 2: Representing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

(Source: Lester 2013)

In the given case study scenario, since Tom is a new graduate and has little work experience, he should be motivated towards an effective teamwork. It is significant for the project manager to have a proper communication with Tom in order to understand the problems (if any) he is facing in the organization. Harriet on the other hand is an experienced team member but is highly de motivated in performing to her capacity. Harriet can be motivated by giving her the opportunities of working in different projects. She can also be included in the crucial decision making processes that can motivate her in concentrating in her work.  

Vroom’s expectancy motivation theory defines the mental processes that drive proper decision-making. This theory states that different individual factors such as skills, knowledge, experience and personality have a positive or negative impact on an employee’s performance. The expectancy theory takes into account an employee’s perception towards work, which further helps in evaluating the factors that might be a cause of de-motivation for the employees. Proper knowledge about the expectations of the employees can help in analysing the factors that can motivate them (Renko, Kroeck and Bullough 2012).

Vroom’s expectancy theory of motivation can be used in analysing the problems Tom and Harriet might be facing in the organization. The expectancy of Tom from his job should be analysed and he should be given proper opportunities to highlight his talent and work for the team and the project. Harriet on the other hand is an experienced project manager and therefore, her expectancy from her work must be higher as well. She should be given proper reorganization that would further help in motivating her.

This theory of motivation states that someone’s behaviour can be changed by methods of reinforcement, punishment and extinctions. Rewards can be used as a tool for reinforcing a positive behaviour, while rewards can be used to prevent a negative behaviour. This theory highlights that the behaviour of an individual is a function of its consequences (Petri and Govern 2012).

Figure 3: Representing Reinforcement Theory

(Source: Petri and Govern 2012)

This theory however, overlooks the internal state or inner feelings of an individual. It focuses on the results of an individual’s actions (Barto 2013). Reinforcement theory holds good in cases of Tom and Harriet. Tom is a new employee however, he comes late to the office and leaves early. He therefore should be reinforced about the rules of the organization. If he starts coming to office on time, he should be praised for the change. Harriet can be rewarded for her previous work that might in turn motivate her in working for the team as she used to do before. Positive reinforcement helps in gaining a positive response from an individual. This theory can therefore certainly help the project manager in managing Tom and Harriet and motivating them in performing their duty towards the organization.

The scientific theory of motivation states that the workers do not enjoy their work naturally and they need close supervision of the works. The employees should be given proper training about the working of principle of the organization and their responsibilities towards the organization. This theory further encourages the employees to work hard in order to maximize their productivity, which in turn can help them in earning rewards and reorganization within the organization (Waring 2016).

Since Tom is new to the field, he must be given proper training about the organizational discipline and his role in the organization. Harriet should be motivated to work harder by assigning her new and competitive projects that will unveil her talent and experiences before the team members.


Therefore, from the above discussion, it can be concluded that leadership and motivation are very closely related to project management. A motivated employee is sure to provide more work output than a de-motivated employee. Leadership is a skill that helps in managing and driving a project team towards success. An effective leader possesses proper motivational skills and techniques that help in leading a team. There is a direct relationship between team leader and project success. An effective team leader ensures that the team members are working to their optimum level. The report discusses the different motivational theories that can help in managing the scenario of Tom and Harriet. A proper communication among the leader and the team members is necessary for understanding the needs and expectation of the team members, which can further help in motivating the team. The different motivational theories that is discussed in the report. Tom is a new employee and therefore, he should be properly trained about the rules and regulations of the organization and should be motivated using proper incentive policies. Harriet can be motivated using proper reward policies.  


Alshmemri, M., Shahwan-Akl, L. and Maude, P., 2017. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory. Life Science Journal, 14(5).

Barto, A.G., 2013. Intrinsic motivation and reinforcement learning. In Intrinsically motivated learning in natural and artificial systems (pp. 17-47). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Battilana, J. and Casciaro, T., 2012. Change agents, networks, and institutions: A contingency theory of organizational change. Academy of Management Journal, 55(2), pp.381-398.

Cerasoli, C.P., Nicklin, J.M. and Ford, M.T., 2014. Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic incentives jointly predict performance: A 40-year meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin, 140(4), p.980.

Cherry, K., 2014. Hierarchy of needs. The Five Levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. About. com Guide.↑| Link.

Cherry, K., 2016. What is intrinsic motivation. Psychology Very Well.

Dinh, J.E., Lord, R.G., Gardner, W.L., Meuser, J.D., Liden, R.C. and Hu, J., 2014. Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), pp.36-62.

Dobre, O.I., 2013. Employee motivation and organizational performance. Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research, 5(1), pp.53-60.

Erkutlu, H., 2012. The impact of organizational culture on the relationship between shared leadership and team proactivity. Team Performance Management: An International Journal, 18(1/2), pp.102-119.

Fernet, C., Austin, S. and Vallerand, R.J., 2012. The effects of work motivation on employee exhaustion and commitment: An extension of the JD-R model. Work & Stress, 26(3), pp.213-229.

Gardner, H.K., 2012. Performance pressure as a double-edged sword: Enhancing team motivation but undermining the use of team knowledge. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57(1), pp.1-46.

Kerzner, H., 2013. Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons.

Lester, D., 2013. Measuring Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Psychological Reports, 113(1), pp.15-17.

Miner, J.B., 2015. Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. Routledge.

Northouse, P.G., 2015. Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage publications.

Petri, H.L. and Govern, J.M., 2012. Motivation: Theory, research, and application. Cengage Learning.

Reiss, S., 2012. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Teaching of Psychology, 39(2), pp.152-156.

Renko, M., Kroeck, K.G. and Bullough, A., 2012. Expectancy theory and nascent entrepreneurship. Small Business Economics, 39(3), pp.667-684.

Waring, S.P., 2016. Taylorism transformed: Scientific management theory since 1945. UNC Press Books.

Yusoff, W.F.W., Kian, T.S. and Idris, M.T.M., 2013. Herzberg’s Two Factors Theory On Work Motivation: Does Its Work For Todays Environment. Global journal of commerce and Management, 2(5), pp.18-22.

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