Project Leadership – Why is it important?

What is your definition of a project manager? What about a project leader? Do you feel they are the same role or different? Which one are you? You may say neither, but I disagree… 

Personally, I believe we are all in some way a project manager in our daily lives. Whether we are a successful one is another whole story! We figure out what needs to be accomplished, how to get it done on time, and how to do so with the resources we have. Whether this takes place at work, home, or school, this is all project management. 

But project leadership and project management, often considered the same skill, are in fact very different.  However, a combination of the two is an integral part of a project’s success no matter the type of project.

Anne Hoffa
Elevate Digital
Director, Consulting

By description, a project manager is someone who has responsibility for a project. This includes reporting status as well as managing resources, tasks, risks, issues, deliverables, budgets, and deadlines. These are all critical parts of a project’s success. But what is not on that list is leadership. True team-focused leadership is a differentiator. 

To be successful, you need a project leader, not just a project manager. While possessing project management skills is important for a manager, you also need to be people centric. Develop/support a vision. Take ownership of it. Be a strong communicator, be empathetic to your client and team, and actively think.  Don’t just check the boxes. The key to a successful project is a strong project leader who can be a part of the team while still inspiring and motivating them. The team may be internal to your company or combined with your client’s resources, but either way, each person needs to feel valued, know they are supported, and their ideas and concerns are heard.  

At the end of the day, it is about the people involved. A happy team drives success!

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