A Socio-Political Perspective to Construction Project Leadership:


History, Evolution, and Future



By Dr. Sherif Hashem, PhD

Doha, Qatar


Leadership in project management is not one size fits all. It’s not even a subject of preaching or best practices in isolation of the project environment. Leadership is a political feat requiring skills and abilities that can hardly be described in words or written in books. The best way to understand how leadership works, in reality, would be by reviewing human history. Leadership has evolved, developed, and largely matured over the ages. The evolution of project leadership can best be understood in the context of the socio-political conditions under which projects were built along with human history.

From the dawn of history and the stone ages down to recent eras of renaissance, enlightenment, and modernism.

“The evolution of ‘Leadership in Projects and Programs’ can best be understood in the context of the evolution of the ‘Socio-political Systems’ along the human history.”

Dr. Sherif Hashem, PMSA 2021

This article takes a look at the matter from that perspective. It presents three case study projects from three points in history and compares sociopolitical and leadership styles at each point. Namely, the stone age Step Pyramid in Egypt; the renaissance era Florence Dome in Italy; and, the industrial era Eiffel Tower in France. The idea came to my mind while writing my recent book titled “Greatness in Construction History” (in print). The article concludes with a look into the status quo and the future of project leadership.

The Step Pyramid Project – 2670 BCE

Pharaoh Djoser’s Step Pyramid

Pharaoh Djoser the project owner (top); Architect Imhotep the project leader (bottom)

It’s 2670 BCE in the deserts of Memphis, Egypt. The young and powerful pharaoh Djoser accesses the throne, full of energy and determination to make history. Imperial resources were huge, and so were the ambitions of the new pharaoh. As is common at the time, Kind Djoser’s philosophy and first objective were to build himself a royal tomb, a pathway to heaven. He picked his genius vizier and polymath Imhotep for such an impossible feat, and the story began. The status quo in tomb construction was using mudbricks. Imhotep decided to challenge the status quo and use cut stones instead of mudbricks. The task seemed impossible due to the severe difficulty of cutting and handling stones. However, Imhotep, being himself a stone maker, knew that the task was doable so decided to proceed with stone. After all, laborer resources were unlimited, simply the entire nation, and stone quarries were just next to the construction site. The use of stones enabled Imhotep to go higher, much higher, with the tomb. The outcome was an unprecedented Step Pyramid reaching the heavens and penetrating the skies.


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Editor’s note: This article is based on a presentation by the author during the Project Management South Africa (PMSA) 2021 National Project Management Conference held virtually in November 2021m for which the PMWJ was a media partner.  To learn more about PMSA and their events, visit https://www.projectmanagement.org.za/. For more on the subject of this article, see the author profile at the end of this article and to contact the author.

How to cite this article: Hashem, S. (2022). A Socio-Political Perspective to Construction Project Leadership: History, Evolution, and Future, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue III, March.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/pmwj115-Mar2022-Hashem-socio-political-perspective-construction-project-leadership.pdf

About the Author

Dr. Sherif Hashem

Doha, Qatar


Dr. Sherif Hashem, Ph.D. PMP EUR-ING, Civil Engineer is Chief Operating Officer at CEG International consultants, and President and Founder of Hashem Consult for project management services in Doha, Qatar. Dr Hashem is an author, writer, thinker, speaker, and seasoned construction project management guru. He possesses a unique combination of theoretical and practical knowledge and experience backed by over 30 years of hands-on experience in the design and construction of a wide range of world-class civil engineering projects. Geographical experience covers Germany, the Middle East, and Thailand.

He is author of the USA books ‘The Power of Design-Build’ and ‘Greatness in Construction History’ (in print), in addition to numerous papers and articles in the USA, the Middle East, and Brazil. He has been a speaker in several international conferences and a member of numerous organizations including ICE, PMI, DBIA, the Association of German Engineers, and the Association of European Engineers FEANI.  He is a graduate of Alexandria University, Egypt and holder of BSc, MSc, and PhD in Civil Engineering. He is a certified PMP® with PMI USA and certified EUR-ING® at FEANI Berlin and Brussel.

For more information, go to www.hashemconsult.com.  He can be contacted at hashemdesignbuild@gmail.com; hashem@hashemconsult.com; sherif.hashem@ceg-qatar.com; or https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-sherif-hashem-author-46b6b1201/