Ineffective leadership: Investigating the negative attributes of leaders and organizational neutralizers

S. U R Toor, Stephen Ogunlana

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose - A large portion of the extant literature on leadership focuses only on the positive traits of leaders. However, the so-called "dark side of leadership", or negative personal traits of leaders, has received relatively less attention. Also, in practice, leadership is mostly evaluated in terms of the positive traits and strengths of leaders, even though certain organizational factors and followers' characteristics significantly contribute to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of leaders. This paper aims to examine the negative personal attributes and organizational factors - termed "organizational neutralizers" - that impede the leadership effectiveness of project managers on construction projects. Design/methodology/ approach - To achieve the research objectives, questionnaire surveys and interviews are conducted on a large construction project in Thailand. In total, 78 questionnaires and 35 interviews are conducted with project managers, deputy project managers, and other senior managers working for various stakeholders involved in the construction of the Second Bangkok International Airport (SBIA). Findings - Findings reveal that wrongful use of power, poor communication, and low experience are the leading negative personal factors which make project leaders appear incompetent and ineffective in the workplace. Also, organizational factors that hinder the leadership performance of project managers include: lack of resources, lack of planning and control, lack of synergy between performance and goals, and lack of higher management support. Practical implications - Practical implications are discussed for the selection and development of project managers and project staff, personnel performance management, and improvements in organizational culture, strategy, and approach towards project management. Original/value - The research findings presented here show that certain negative attributes of leaders and organizational factors can impede leadership effectiveness and performance. A number of possible directions are proposed in which future research can be directed to explore what hinders project managers from performing their leadership roles more effectively in construction projects. Copyright © 2009 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)254-272
    Number of pages19
    JournalEngineering Construction and Architectural Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009


    • Construction industry
    • Leadership
    • Organizational culture
    • Personality
    • Thailand


    Dive into the research topics of 'Ineffective leadership: Investigating the negative attributes of leaders and organizational neutralizers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this