Project Leadership Questionnaire (PLQ)
Leadership can be defined in terms of the ability to build, motivate and maintain high performing teams, groups, departments and organisations. There has been a great deal of speculation about what makes a good leader, with the personality of leaders being at the forefront of this debate. This is even more so with specific domains of leadership, not least project leadership.
The project leadership questionnaire (PLQ) is one of the few psychometric measures which has the credentials of being an academically rigorous inventory and an accessible tool for business leaders that can be used specifically to select and develop project professionals.
Psychometric properties of the PLQ
The PLQ is the results of 12 years of development. The measure has gone through several revisions and the latest version shows the measure has excellent psychometric properties. These are shown below
Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure. It indicates the extent to which observations (scores) are dependable. Reliability indices of the PLQ show that a majority of the facets score substantially above the standard (which is a score of 0.7). The average reliability of the 7 scales as measure by Cronbach’s alpha is 0.74.
In psychometrics, social desirability checks are made in order to assess whether the items (questions) of the questionnaire may be framed in a way as to engender socially desirable responding (sometimes called “faking good”). All dimensions of the PLQ variables are normally distributed suggesting that the items of the PLQ do not engender socially desirable responses. There is also an in-built test that helps indicate of a person’s responses appear high, relative to the norm, on this dimension.
Validity essentially refers to the usefulness of the test. Most notably, validity assesses whether one can predict performance outcomes based on scores on the psychometric tests. Analyses show that all facet scores of the PLQ are linked to important performance outcomes. These include the budget and the duration of the project a leader will be in charge of, as well as the experience they will have.
Incremental validity tests are made in order to examine whether the personality traits as measured by the PLQ are important for performance after age and experience of leaders is taken into account.
Our analyses show that several PLQ facets apparently predict the performance of project leaders, even after the gender, age, and experience of the leader are taken into account. In simple terms, the higher a leader scores on the PLQ-R, the bigger the project they lead – regardless of their gender, experience, or age.
The data also shows that some PLQ facets are important for all performance criteria, while others are only related to specific criteria (e.g. the duration of the project). This stresses the importance of considering specific personality traits of leaders depending on the objectives of the project.
Overall, the PLQ is a reliable and valid measure that is not subject to socially desirable responding, making it an excellent tool for businesses to select and develop top-level project leaders. Given the relative lack of reliable and validated tools developed for these purposes, the PLQ is likely to add substantial value to businesses and individuals alike.
Gorkan Ahmetoglu is an Occupational Psychologist and Visiting Lecturer at the University of London’s Goldsmiths and Heytrop colleges. He is an expert in psychometrics, personnel selection, and organisational training and development. He is also a business adviser and speaker in the areas of consumer psychology and decision-making.
Gorkan has published numerous research articles in leading scientific journals, and his first book, Personality 101, will be published later this year. Gorkan has made several media appearances and frequently acts as a government adviser.