Abstract Project leadership behavior, championing, and effectiveness are examined in this study of 40 research and development (R&D) project groups. Interview and questionnaire data from three R&D units of larger organizations are analyzed. Interview results indicate support for active transformational leadership and championing behavior themes as elements of project success. The survey results only partially confirm the interviews in that there is little association between project-level leadership or championing and project effectiveness. However, leadership exhibited at higher organizational levels is significantly correlated with effectiveness.