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Monday, 25 August 2008 06:00

Are You a Project Manager or a Leader?

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What is the difference between a project manager and a leader? Should there be a difference?  Consider this: Not all leaders are project managers, but all project managers should be leaders.
You can tell from the above statement that I believe a good project manager is also a leader. You can be a project manager without being a leader, but your options for advancement may be limited.

Take a minute and think about what you do as a project manager. Your list probably includes at least the following:
  •   Coordinating
  •   Staffing
  •   Managing the budget
  •   Managing the schedule
  •   Reporting status
  •   Managing issues
  •   Managing risks
  •   Managing scope
  •   Leading the team
  •   Facilitating the work

I bet you have many more items to add to the above list. Let’s leave the list as-is for now and think about what a leader does:
  •   Directing
  •   Setting vision
  •   Setting an example
  •   Motivating
  •   Managing
  •   Defining strategy
  •   Leading the team

What are the similarities between the project manager and the leader defined above? The word managing does show up in both lists, so does leading the team. (Note that both sets of the above lists come from discussions with previous students.)

The differences are all about adding to your use of tools and processes by incorporating the art of project management. I mean your use of interpersonal skills, your ability to motivate others so that they want to follow you and your ability to get the team to see the big picture.

The next question for you to ponder is when are you a project manager and when are you a leader?

Let’s look at an example of when you are a project manager and a leader. Let’s say that you are preparing for, facilitating and leading a project kick off meeting. As you prepare and create the agenda and reserve a conference room and coordinator attendance, you are in more of a managerial role. As you facilitate the meeting you may be somewhere between manager and leader (depending on the nature of the facilitation). But as you explain the mission and vision of the project to the team, as you motivate them to be excited about the project goals, you are being a leader!

I once heard an expression that I would like to pass on to you; “Managers speak the language of tasks, work to be completed. Leaders speak the language of stories.”

You can be a project manager who manages schedule and budget, but to move up you need to be a leader too. You need to be able to fulfill the managerial requirement AND set the vision, inspire and motivate.

Not all leaders are project managers, but all project managers should be leaders.

Read 5516 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 September 2008 06:26

My vision is to be instrumental in the development of individuals who are at peace with their authentic selves; people who show others that it is OK to be human at work; who brings — and values — humanity to the office and thrives because of it. I want to create a world where peace and business co-exist.

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