The Myth About Project Managers

leadership1Let’s get out of the dark ages and admit what we know.  Project manager is a misnomer.  We don’t manage projects, we drive change.

Set aside the process and tactics associated with projects and you will easily separate those who manage projects versus those who lead.  Leadership is not about your credentials or accomplishments; it’s about your presence.  It’s what’s inside you that makes you stand out to others.  Simply stated, leadership is often defined by how others view you.

In today’s frenetic business environment, it gets complicated.  You know you have experience and knowledge, yet others see it as arrogance.  When you believe you are contributing in a real and meaningful way, others see it as butting in.  When you think you are delegating effectively, others see it as shirking responsibility.  Strong leaders just can’t win.

Only in the last five years have project managers been recognized as needing keen technical skills and top management skills to be effective.  In fact, some believe grooming project managers with a 360-degree focus on all key leadership attributes is a successful recipe for creating future business leaders and CEOs.  Do you have what it takes to reach this level?

We can teach project managers process and technique; true leadership is harder to grasp and often the differentiating factor between success and failure.  Set aside your methodology, your tools, and your checklists for just a moment and consider these questions as you assess your leadership attributes:

  • Do you inspire a shared vision?
  • Do you encourage both the head and the heart?
  • Do you inspire trust?
  • Do you have a long-term perspective?
  • Do you act as an innovator?
  • Do you focus on people?
  • Do you give purpose and meaning?
  • Are you committed to the cause?

Now that you have contemplated these questions of yourself, consider the most important question:  How would others answer these questions of you?  Strong leaders must obtain honest, helpful feedback.  How many times have you asked for feedback today?  In the last week?  In the last month?

Take the first step to improve your leadership qualities today.  Be brave and ask for feedback.  Then be courageous and act upon it.

Lisa DiTullio

Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, LLC


2 thoughts on “The Myth About Project Managers”

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    I agree. This is a fantastic post. I always state that beomg a project manager is more of a character issue than a role. You added a new twist to my character story by suggesting that a core value should be an evangelist for change.

  2. Lisa, this is a fantastic post! I’m in the business of helping organizations and teams adopt Agile Software Development practices (i.e. organizational change), which leads me to dealing with PM’s on a constant basis. I tell them that the PM role doesn’t really change under Agile, provided that what they were doing before is what you have listed above!

    If a PM can’t or doesn’t want to collaborate, then they shouldn’t be a PM, IMO.

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