For complex business change projects often project management is not enough for success – the size and scope requires project leadership as well.
So why is project leadership important to the success of a business change project?
First, lets look at the difference between management and leadership.
Project Management Vs Project Leadership
There are a few subtle differences between a project manager and a project leader. A project manager looks to create predictability in the project. They want to identify issues, remain in budget, and highlight areas of concern so they can be addressed quickly. The management approach wants to ensure everything is going as smooth and on track as possible.
Project leadership is about supporting others to bring their best selves to the project. They take on an enabler role that motivates and challenges team members while ensuring they buy-in to the vision of the project. This is key for the project to make progress at pace as many elements of a project can be unexciting and unmotivating for teams.
The Perfect Balance
For a project to be successful you need a mix of these qualities. At times, the management approach is required to keep people on track and helps to deal with problems that arise. Other times you need the leader who can pull everyone together and motivate teams to work together.
Often the project manager will not have a perfect 50/50 split but an awareness of what side they fall on can go a long way to helping the success of the project.
Promoting Project Leadership
With the complex day-to-day of projects, it can be difficult to fully embrace the leadership role. So, what can a project manager do to show better leadership on a project?
While it is impossible to become the perfect leader overnight, a good first step is to talk to project teams more often. This can be at a group level where you share progress on the project or with individuals where you ask how they are coping. Not only will this give people the chance to share how they feel things are going but can also flag any issues where teams might be at capacity for what they can deliver.
For a business project to be a success you need a mix of both project leadership and project management. While a project can be completed with just one, the best chance of success comes from an equal balance of the two that shifts with the needs of the project.