Every once in a while, I get the urge to connect with the Project Management Institute (PMI) Board of Directors to suggest a name change.

Project Leadership Institute (PLI)

In my humble opinion, not only does it sound better, but it makes a lot more sense. We are project leaders much more than we are project managers.

I often use the analogy of an orchestra leader to describe the role of a project manager. The conductor is there to make sure that everyone is playing from the same page, heading to the same goal and knows what to do every moment in time.  His or her job is to make sure that the product gets delivered on time (in time) and in scope.  

I was speaking at an event in Burlington Vermont last week and I heard someone suggest that project managers really are project leaders – their primary role is to lead people and not to manage projects.

Unfortunately, we get stuck with labels and this is a great example. ‘Project manager’ is the most popular title in our field, so it was a very logical choice.  But here we are, almost 75 years later, and I wish we could change the name.

One of the benefits to a name change would be a very logical focus on the word ‘leadership’, which in my mind is long overdue. We spend way too much time at the beginning of our careers as project leaders and managers on the technical side of projects rather than on the people side. It seems we only get to the people side or the leadership skills and knowledge and attributes after the PMP designation or after our 5 to 8 year indoctrination into this business.

So, yes, we are stuck with the label ‘project manager’, but I really wish we could move to ‘project leader’.

Project leadership Institute. It is a very nice ring to it, and I think it promises a lot more than the current name.

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