Project Manager or Project Leader: What It Takes to Create a High Performing

Santor S. Nishizaki1 & William R. Seed2

1Show Design and Production Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering, Glendale, CA, [email protected]
2Executive Project Integration, Walt Disney Imagineeirng, Lake Buena Vista, FL [email protected]


This case study compares two projects that achieved success with integrated lean project delivery (ILPD). The frameworks are William Seed’s new project manager theory, Bass’s transformational leadership model, and Kotter’s manager vs. leader. This study answered these RQs: 1.What are the personality traits, strengths, and leadership styles of the ILPD Project Managers? 2. Did the IPMs change their leadership style and behavior during the project lifecycle? 3. How does the behavior of the IPMs change over the life of a project? The desire for early team involvement in the design and development efforts and strong multidisciplinary collaboration demands a high performing team environment, which requires a new kind of leader. These teams delivered multi-million dollar hospital building projects under budget and ahead of schedule. Through interviewing the project managers and analyzing their StrengthFinder2.0 and DiSC Personality Assessments, this case study shows that the key to success in these particular teams was (a) team members’ understanding of communication skills, (b) a mix of leadership strengths and personality traits, and (c) technical knowledge of experienced project managers [PMs]. Limitations of the study and its findings are discussed at length.


High performing team, integrated project delivery, project manager, leadership, DiSC



Nishizaki, S. S. & Seed, W. R. 2015. Project Manager or Project Leader: What It Takes to Create a High Performing , 23rd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 287-296.

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