What Does Leadership Mean to PMs?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Any project manager will tell you that leadership skills are an important part of their success. The people those PMs report to will tell you the same thing, as will the teams they lead. PMI obviously also believes it because leadership is one of the three areas of the Talent Triangle®. And don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest it’s not important…but I do have a question for you. What does leadership mean in the context of project management?

It’s one of those things that’s difficult to answer—you know it when you see it, but you can’t necessarily describe it very well. That’s true of leadership in general; but when it comes to project management, things get even more complex: Are the leadership skills needed by a PM the same as those needed by any other type of leader, or are they different? What makes someone a leader rather than a manager? And if the job title is project manager rather than project leader, does it matter? What leadership capabilities are valued by teams? What about by stakeholders?

I’m not sure I can provide definitive answers to all those questions (okay, I’m sure I can’t), but in this article, I want to explore leadership from the perspective of a PM and offer my thoughts on those factors that can set a project manager apart from the crowd.

Management vs. leadership
I …

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