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

(Revision 2, 11-03-00)
The original version of this paper was presented by Vijay K. Verma and R. Max Wideman at the Project Management Institute's 25th Annual Seminar & Symposium, Vancouver, BC, Canada, October 17, 1994

Published here, December 2000.

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


Issue: Is it Leadership or Management that is most needed for conducting projects in the 1990s and beyond?

In recent years there has been a spate of publications on "Leadership" and "Team Building" by numerous authors such as Bennis, Drucker, Covey, Depree, Byham, McLean and Weitzel, Dilenschneider, Fisher, Batten and others. Much of this has been directed to the "Captains of North American Industry". However, in our opinion, leadership, management and team building, while all closely allied, are sufficiently different in the project environment that they require special study.

The old image of a powerful project personality with a burning vision of the future state rounding up the troops and charging off to Nirvana, is hardly consistent with modern management thinking. Consequently, some of the current concepts of leadership and attributes required of the leader of an enterprise need to be carefully rethought when applied in the project context. That is, if a project is to succeed and be viewed as successful. So the question is: What sort of leadership or management is the most relevant to project management in the decade of the 1990s and beyond?

Considering the extent of management literature published in recent years, it might be thought that this is no longer an issue. However, few writers actually define leadership and the context is generally not in the project environment. To understand the difference, it is necessary to examine both the requirements of a project team and the changes that occur through the project life cycle.


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