Project management and project leadership are two sides of the same coin. They are inter-linked, and need to be if a project is to be delivered on time, to budget and of the desired quality. Many project managers pay too much attention to managing and spend too little time leading. As with everything in life, finding the right balance is key.

The right balance between managing and leading comes with experience, and often a painful experience due to lack of awareness or desire to find the right balance. For sure, both are necessary, but alone each is not sufficient. To be clear I am not speaking about management and leadership; these are roles with specific activities. Such roles are occupied by people who seek to be seen as project managers or project leaders respectively. This attribution by others gives emphasis to followers, and the importance of how others perceive their behaviors and identities. Warren Bennis (On Becoming a Leader (1989:2) Perseus Books, Cambridge, MA) usefully captured this attribution process thus: ‘leadership, like beauty, is hard to define but you know it when you see it’. To be seen as a ‘beautiful’ project leader or project manager requires that the individual pay attention to leading and managing. How the leading, or managing, is done shapes the attribution of how beautiful someone is seen to be. But here’s the thing . . . both managing and leading are processes, and such processes are learnt. Everyone has the potential to become better at ...

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