Manager and Leader at the same time?

As I do my readings to sustain my PMP cert, I came across several articles that seem to be saying that management is a science whereas leadership is an art.  And since the theme of my readings were mainly about Project Management, some articles are saying that a Project Manager has to be both a manager and a leader.

A manager uses systems and structures to get the team going in the desired direction.  He is respected because he was appointed the authority to lead the team.  He plans and manages resources, budgets, schedules, performances.

A leader, on the other hand, has followers regardless of his appointment.  A leader is visionary, motivates and inspires.  He has ideas that fulfil others’ needs.  He spots opportunities in the market and wants to be the first to grab them.  However, he usually doesn’t realise what it takes to get there.  People follow him because they share the vision, are inspired and motivated to help him fulfil that vision.  Managers are the ones who help get the people arrive at the leader’s vision.

It’s easy to see how the leader could be the company’s CEO or Director, and amongst his followers, there are good managers.

But to be a leader and manager rolled into one (i.e. a Project Manager)?  That’s pretty tough.

As a project manager, I look at details such as resource availability, capabilities, gaps in these, delays, scope creep, stakeholder management, etc…. in other words, problems, problems, problems.  I have to think of ways to mitigate, overcome or avoid problems.  Sounds sufficiently occupied to not have time to be a leader.

Even as I attempt to be a leader and not worry about how to get there, well… i just can’t.  I have to look at the details and the details tend to dash my hopes about the possibility of reaching fresh horizons.  Or I can dream and vision all I want but I need someone who can work out the details to get the team there.

Project Manager = Manager x Leader?  Tough tough.  But …

Sounds like fun and a challenge worth taking on.

We’ll see if I arrive there.  Check back in in 5 years. 🙂


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