Let’s start with a different question… “What’s the difference?”.
Among the many words that can be used to describe a leader, a few that stand out are:
- a strategic thinker
- a visionary
- a connector – of processes, people, and plans
While a manager is more often described as:
- in ‘the present’ mode
- an implementor
We add the word ‘project’ in front of those and we can highlight the difference between a project manager and a project leader.
Traditionally, a project manager is there to get it done, on time, on budget and on scope.
A project leader’s role is very different. He/she is asked to:
- connect the project and project pieces to the bigger picture, to the strategic plan, to the WHY?
- help to improve the internal processes to the benefit of the projects coming afterwards
- and to work with people to plan for professional growth
This is much more of a strategic role – and so important to the organization. Yes, we want to get the work done – the project completed – but we also want the project organization to mature over time. The project leader should:
- Look at the bigger picture to help everyone on the team understand the why.
- Look for ways to improve the processes to help future project resources.
- Work with individuals to grow as professionals, inside or even beyond the current organizations.
So… are you a project manager or a project leader?