Project managers are responsible for many different aspects of a project. The project plan, schedule, budget, communicating with project team members and stakeholders, and project delivery—just to name a few.
However, an area of project management that often gets overlooked is leadership.
The world of project management is changing, focusing more on project leadership than solely project management.
By investing in project management training, or earning your PMP certification, you will learn about the importance of project leadership, empowering you to become an even better leader.
In this article, you will learn about the core differences of project management and project leadership, and also how project management training and earning your PMP certification can help you evolve into a better leader.
Project Management vs. Project Leadership: What is the Difference?
Yes, there was once a time when project management was just that: project management. Many of yesterday’s authoritarian managers often used power and fear to motivate project team members to get work done. However, it goes without saying that this management style no longer works.
Through the years, companies have learned that unsatisfied employees lack motivation and therefore are unproductive. This leads to reduced productivity and higher turnover rates, which can be costly for an organization.
With the development of various project management methodologies, specifically agile, companies began to see the importance of recruiting self-organizing teams, team collaboration, and servant-like leadership. These types of teams that operate and thrive in agile environments have proven to deliver more value.
So, what exactly is project leadership? And how is it that different from project management? Here are some key differences:
Traditional Project Management:
1. Focusing on planning and budgeting
2. Organizing and staffing
3. Controlling and problem-solving
4. Producing predictability and order
5. Managing tasks
1. Coping with change
2. Building a collaborative culture
3. Coaching teams positively (by motivating, mentoring, and inspiring)
4. Aiding in decision making and problem solving
5. Aiding in prioritization
6. Empowering growth
7. Reminding team members about project goals and vision
8. Leading by example
9. Recognizing strengths, weaknesses, and different learning styles
10. Explaining the “big picture”
In short, management deals with complexity; leadership deals with change. Project leaders also look out and take care of their teams.
Creating a Collaborative Culture
As we have mentioned before in some of our other articles, projects themselves are social. Therefore, there must be constant and continuous interaction and communication between the core team members, cross-functional groups and departments, project stakeholders, and most importantly, the customer.
One effective way to promote collaboration is by building a business cadence. Your business cadence could include a calendar, risk board, or a Kanban board, anything that gives project team members the opportunity to engage, interact, and collaborate.
You can also schedule daily or weekly “stand up” meetings, allowing each project team member to share what he or she is working on, discuss any roadblocks, and ask questions.
All in all, establish your business cadence or how you and your team will collaborate and work together, and train new team members on it. Over time, you will begin to see your team become more collaborative and therefore productive, contributing to even greater project success.
People and Processes
Of course, there is a lot more involved in project management than leading project teams and running meetings. Depending on the project management methodology (PMM) that your organization and team follow, you may spend the majority of your time on project planning, managing and controlling schedules, managing and controlling quality, and resource management.
However, when you break it down, there are two key things that make a project successful: people and processes.
These can be managed differently. For example, project leaders will ensure that their teams have the right people—those who are adaptive and embrace change, foster self-discipline, accept accountability for results, engage in team collaboration and debates, and also respect colleagues.
Additionally, project leaders must ensure the right level of process. By the “right” amount of process, we mean the right level of systemization to ensure a solid, streamlined structure to complete projects and tasks.
Process and procedures are important, but there is such thing as too much process. Overly complex processes and procedures can not only lead to errors, but they can also hinder creativity and innovation, and also kill the entrepreneurial spirit.
Project Leaders Ask for Feedback
One common project management myth is that project team members dislike working with project managers. Managers, maybe, but project leaders are often more enjoyable to work with because they see themselves as members of the team.
However, project leadership takes practice, preparation, knowledge, and adopting a different approach and way of thinking. If you want to get an assessment of your level of project leadership, or your leadership style, ask your project team for feedback.
Here are some questions you can ask them:
1) Was the project leader helpful and encouraging?
2) Were project instructions clear and concise? Did team members understand the project?
3) Was it easy for team members to communicate with the project leader?
4) Did the project leader micromanage?
5) Was the project leader too lax?
In addition to asking your team for feedback, and conducting your own individual leadership assessment, you can also invest in project management training to help you evolve into a better leader.
How Earning Your PMP Certification Can Help
Although a PMP exam prep course will cover management of the “traditional” project management practices and techniques, one of the key knowledge areas is human resource management.
The human resource management knowledge area covers:
1) Planning - How to put together a human resource plan.
2) Executing - How to acquire and develop a project team
These two areas involve many administrative processes that fall on the shoulders of a project manager and leader, such as putting together staffing management plans, training schedules, resource calendars, and performance appraisals, just to name a few.
However, project leaders are also responsible for conflict management techniques; the different motivation theories related to people, how they work, and what motivates them; and even the five stages of team development.
In summary, you can expand, evolve, and improve your leadership style by investing in a project management training course or preparing for the PMP certification exam.
Where to Find PMP Certification Courses
One of the best project management training courses and PMP exam prep courses available to both experienced and aspiring project managers is with Project Vanguards.
Project Vanguards offers a wide range of professional training and resources to help individuals learn new project management as well as project leadership skills, and also thoroughly prepare for the PMP exam.
Here is a summary of what you will learn by taking the PMP exam prep course offered by Project Vanguards:
Day 1: Intro to Course, Curriculum, Foundational Concepts and Definitions
Day 2: Integration Mgmt
Day 3: Scope Mgmt
Day 4: Time Mgmt
Day 5: Cost Mgmt
Day 6: Quality Mgmt
Day 7: Human Resource Mgmt
Day 8: Communications Mgmt
Day 9: Risk Mgmt
Day 10: Procurements Mgmt
Day 11: Stakeholder Mgmt, How to Fill Out PMP Exam Application
Day 12: How to Pass the PMP Exam, 100 Question Practice Exam
In addition to learning key terminology, techniques, and knowledge areas, you will also receive a wealth of resources to help you in your preparation for the PMP exam. These resources include audio CDs, flash cards with key terminology, workbooks and study guides, and more.
How Earning Your PMP Certification Helps You Become a Better Leader
As we mentioned above, regardless of organization, project team, vision, or methodology, project management knowledge, skills, and experience are all incredibly important in business today. However, perhaps above all is leadership skills and experience. After all, good leadership is crucial to project success.
We won’t lie—boosting your project management training, knowledge, and skills, and earning your PMP certification requires a commitment and an investment in terms of time and money, and it is far from easy. However, any education or work that solidifies the longevity and credibility of your career is certainly worth it. And Project Vanguards is here to help.