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Tipping points that inspire leadership: An exploratory study of emergent project leaders

Shamas‐ur‐Rehman Toor (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)
George Ofori (Department of Building, National University of Singapore, Singapore)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




Recent research on leadership has focused on the exploration of the taxonomies of leadership antecedents (or “trigger events”) that significantly influence the development of the attributes of leadership in individuals. These leadership antecedents – which may involve individuals, social institutions, and life experiences – constitute a worthwhile topic for research. This paper aims to report a study which explores the leadership antecedents that inspired leadership development among graduate project management students.


To ascertain the significance of leadership antecedents, a study was conducted at National University of Singapore. A questionnaire survey was used to collect data on taxonomies of various leadership antecedents which contributed to the development of leadership skills among the subjects. Of a total of 90 questionnaires, which were distributed, 58 completed questionnaires were received.


The results suggest that teachers, parents, and mentors are significant in the development of leadership among the emergent leaders. It was also noted that educational and occupational experiences play a central role in leadership development. Future studies can use qualitative approaches, especially grounded theory methodology, to develop comprehensive frameworks explaining leadership development process.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this exploratory study can form the basis for further work in the field of leadership development.


The taxonomy of leadership antecedents employed in this study can be used to design controlled interventions for leadership development in emergent project leaders and project management trainees.



Toor, S. and Ofori, G. (2008), "Tipping points that inspire leadership: An exploratory study of emergent project leaders", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 212-229.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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