Project Management or Project Leadership #pmot

Project management or Project leadership - ring master or movie directorIn the last couple of years we have been asked to run a number of “Introduction to project management” courses for people in businesses. But what transpired was they the either needed management skills training or more importantly project leadership development.

Successful Project Management

Successful project management in today’s
business environment is increasingly
complex. Effective management of the
intricate “people” side is the glue that
holds together a project of any caliber.
By Barbara Anderson

Project Management or Project Leadership – what is the difference?

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide (THE book on project management), hardly talks about project leadership at all. many would say it focusses on the processes of a project.

Man·age·ment – Noun

The process of dealing with or controlling things or people

The responsibility for and control of a company or similar organization


L:ead·er·ship – Noun

The action of leading a group of people or an organization

The state or position of being a leader

Source Google definitions

Now we could spend days or thousands of words attempting to define these, but what seems to me to happen in practice is that we use management to control, and leadership to influence. OK simplistic, but stick with it for a while.

The Project Management Process

The likes of Prince2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) and other project management methodologies have provided managers and leaders with the structure to plan and manage projects. For many, the biggest challenge is using a methodology that is fit for purpose. For example Prince2 was originally designed for multi billion dollar, complex, multi partner projects. It is robust to the nth degree. This is just not appropriate for a ten thousand dollar internal project. We need to identify what tools and approaches are appropriate – but that is another blog altogether!

READ  Training and educational resources

Project Leadership

It is all very well having plans and schedules in place if the people involved do not “buy in” to the project and its goals. Equally, with many internal project teams (unlike large projects) people are often seconded to the project for a part of their time. they often have other objectives and priorities. As a leaders we need to harness the engagement and skills of these people to deliver OUR project. Effective project leadership is often the difference between a successful or a failed project

 A successful project is one that is:
on time
on budget
and to specification

What is Project Leadership?

There are as many definitions as there are leaders. What most people can agree on is

The ability to get things done through others

It is about harnessing the abilities of the team, as well as the individuals in that project team

The Project Management Times lists the top leadership qualities of a project manager as:

  1. Inspires a Shared Vision
  2. A Good Communicator
  3. Integrity
  4. Enthusiasm
  5. Empathy
  6. Competence
  7. Ability to Delegate Tasks
  8. Cool Under Pressure
  9. Team-Building Skills
  10. Problem Solving Skills

Now, I don’t know about you, but with the exception of maybe the first one, the rest I would expect in a competent manager. The difference that makes the difference to me is the ability to lead and deliver the above where there is no line management responsibility. We as leaders need to lead through people. Engage them in the vision, and enable them to prioritise OUR project over some of the other goals they may have to deliver on.

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So is it Project Management or Project Leadership?

It’s not about either, its about both. We need good project management processes to set structure, provide systems and consistency for all involved. It also provides a level of contingency, should something happen to the project or its manager. What we need more than ever for managers in organizations is leadership skills. Skills to enable these project managers to manage across hierarchies  to lead people that they are not responsible for managing on a day to day basis


More articles coming soon on:

project management leadership group
project management leadership styles
project management leadership skills
project leadership management and communications


Project Management or Project Leadership –  its not about one or the other, but about both in appropriate measures.

About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is founder of RapidBI
Mike is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.
Check out his linkedin profile

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