Skip to Main Content
How best to lead an information systems project team continues to be an open issue. For three decades, the research literature has contrasted between the leadership of the "chief programmer" led team to that of the "egoless" software team with little clarity as to what is appropriate leadership and under what circumstances. Software project teams, like other knowledge teams, are characterized by distributed expertise, the reliance on methodologies, high levels of collaboration, as well as the need to meet the expectations of a diverse set of stakeholders. We propose a theoretical model of information systems project team leadership that focuses on empowering and directive leadership practices and investigate whether this leadership is more effective than the use of traditional coordination mechanisms; we also test whether these relationships are moderated by factors such as task uncertainty or professional experience. We test this model using data from 69 software development teams. Our results indicate that empowering leadership has an important impact on team performance but only under conditions of high task uncertainty or team expertise.