Project Manager to Project Leader? and the Rocky Road Between...


Introduction | Evolution | Definition | Leader vs. Manager
Project Life Cycle | Team Building | Decision Making | Conclusions


The "planning" phases of a project involve the crystallizing of project goals, the development of the concepts and technical requirements and planning for implementation. These activities typically require a number of iterations and re-runs to flush out the "customer's needs" and optimize project effectiveness. A definition of project leadership is proposed in the paper.



  • Best for nurturing a business enterprise
  • Is interactive, dynamic
  • Requires near-universal agreement
  • Is inherently slow
  • Also has more subtle impacts
  • Must accommodate fringe elements
  • Permits "voyage of discovery" and attitude cultivation
  • Satisfies mutual and self-interests
  • Best for projects, especially when people want answers
  • Uses established relationships
  • Targets individual specialist opinions
  • Can respond to a crisis quickly
  • Has clearly defined impacts
  • Allows overriding of unreasonable adversaries
  • Requires reliable information gathering and "homework"
  • Focuses on project objectives
Table 4: Consensus versus Consent

The real work of task execution gets done in the implementation or "producing" phases of the project. In these phases, the focus is on efficiency in satisfying the customer(s) needs under classic project constraints. This is achieved through effective communications, the essential basis for project control. Thus, the key to success here is through efficient "managership" of the project.

Project leadership and project "managership" are both essential to project management success, and which is appropriate when is clearly tied to the project life cycle. A suitable collective term for describing the conduct of a project throughout its life cycle appears to be "project stewardship".

The style of "stewardship" must be responsive to the corresponding development of the project team as it moves towards an SDWT. Correlation in four progressive phases are described as well as a concomitant shift in decision making style from consensus to consent.

Thus, modern project leadership and project "managership" are both essential for managing projects in the 1990s and beyond. To be successful, project managers will do well to understand the nature of each and fit their style and decision-making according to the phase in the project life cycle.

Vijay K Verma and R. Max Wideman
© September, 1994

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