What do you consider to be the differences between leading and managing a project? Same?

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begeland
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If you were to really think about leading vs. managing...what would you consider to be the differences? Are they different?

Brad
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kwalford
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Hi Brad,

This sounds like the precursor to your next article :)

I would say it is the difference between soft skills (leading) Vs hard skills (managing), and that they are different.

A leader needs to be someone who can coach, motivate, negotiate conflict and inspire a vision. This all uses soft skills. This is the peoples person.

A manager of a project would be the person who formulates the project plan, applies change control, does the WBS and uses estimating techniques (i.e PERT), to name a few project techniques. This is the organized and structured person.

One skill both of these types of people must have is the ability to communicate effectively.

The management aspect is something that can be trained but the leadership aspect is innate; some people have it, but others don't. Take Napoleon; great leader as he inspired a vision to conquer Europe but was he a good, efficient manager of work?

Ideally, you want the person delivering the project to be the manager and the leader (pertaining both soft and hard skills).

I am really keen to see what others think. Please feel free to constructively critique what I have said too.

Thanks,
Kit
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dhaughey
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Hi Brad,

For me, a leader is somebody that inspires; a person you want to follow. A manager is somebody that organises work (activities and tasks) but does not necessarily inspire a following.

When I've met good leaders, I've always been energised by them. They drive my enthusiasm by painting a compelling vision of the future. I respect good managers, and they are important in any organisation, but I won't necessarily want to follow them.

I think a good project manager needs to be a good leader. Being a good manager alone won't deliver outstanding results. You need to inspire the people around you to go that bit further, put in extra effort and go beyond the minimum needed.

Or, put another way, managers work with processes and leaders work with people.

To be a good leader, concentrate on the people side of project management, the soft skills.

Duncan
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I think leading a project is tougher than managing a project, as the whole project will depend on the leader who is leading the project on the site. To maintain a continuous development of project the leader must be active so that work should not slow down.
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begeland
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You're right Kit...it does. And I agree with all of you here. Management of the project requires you to go through best practices and the standard stuff to track, resolve, report, and get things done. Basically, make sure everyone is aware, on the same page and that the project is moving toward a successful deployment.

Leadership, on the other hand (in my opinion), is the concept or bring some of the softer skills to the PM position. The ability to make the tough on the spot decisions and not back down. The ability to resolve and respond to conflict without cracking under pressure. The ability to keep the customer managed and engaged even when they seem somewhat disengaged and disinterested. The ability to keep a frustrated team motivated, and a fractured team from falling apart. Lots of intangibles, I guess.

And, of course, the project manager should ultimately be both manager and leader for the best possible outcome. No small task, indeed.

Brad
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kwalford
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This link about PM leadership may be of interest:

PM Leadership
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