Leading vs. Managing, or Both?

There are leaders, and there are managers. They are two very different positions. While some people can do both at once, it is an important distinction that should be examined and understood by anyone in a leadership position.

Managers are responsible for the work getting done, while leaders are responsible for forging ahead and showing people how to get the work done. There is a need for both roles, but there can be tension and stress when managers and leaders do not agree—and employees often respond differently to different styles of management or leadership.

Managing Styles
When it comes to management, there are a variety of styles that can be found in the office. There is the manager who likes to run around and put out fires, a direct contrast to the manager who sits back and expects the team to take care of everything. Then there are managers who live to work and expect everyone else to do the same.

Trying to catalog different management styles is almost an impossible task, but there are some important distinctions to understand. Is trust given by the manager to the people on the team, or does the manager watch everything (or try to watch everything)? Is the manager knowledgeable about what is going on in the team or teams, or do they have a hands-off approach? Management style is more than just personality—it is the relationships that exist between the manager and the team members.

Leadership Styles
If management is a matter of using your relationships with the team to get the work done, then leadership is about using your relationship with the team to help them move to new areas. Those areas might be new skill sets or finishing a project of a type that has never been done. The style of leadership can also be as varied as management styles.

The important characteristic of all leaders though is that they understand how to communicate well and motivate people. Without these skills, a leader will only go as far as they can go alone. Whether your style is brash, diplomatic or stream of consciousness, without a team behind you, you will not be leading for long.


Why Project Management?

  1. Become a more valuable contributor to your organization
  2. Develop accurate schedules, track resources, anticipate risks, deliver projects on time and on budget.
  3. Manage teams across organizational and global boundaries.
  4. Determine correct number and types of resources required for successful project execution.
  5. Develop Team-Building skills.
  6. Develop project success criteria.
  7. Improve stakeholder communications.
  8. Communicate more effectively with team members.

Does a PMP Certification Matter?

Interesting article here.

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Project Management Certifications

Some experienced project managers who aren’t certified are bothered by the increasing importance of certifications. These project managers believe that the employers who require them are making uneducated assumptions about the credentials and the impact a certified project manager can have on a project.

Independent project management consultant Spivey, who has 17 years of project management experience but holds no certifications, says employers tend to overvalue credentials like the PMP.

When a project manager has a PMP certification, he says, it creates an expectation among employers that a PMP will complete a project smoothly. What’s missing from that assumption, Spivey adds, are the leadership and governance components of projects that are so critical to their success, but that certification exams don’t, in his opinion, adequately measure. These include: how decisions get made, how project managers motivate and inspire people working on the project, and how they influence buy-in. (PMI’s Langley says the PMP exam poses scenario-based questions designed to evaluate a project managers leadership skills.)

“Just because you have a PMP [certification] doesn’t mean you have that [leadership] ability,” he says. “The PMP is a good indicator that a person has been able to pass a test, but it doesn’t mean they’re the right person to implement and execute a project in every organization.”

Spivey’s opinion is based on the PMPs he’s hired and worked with over the years. Some have been excellent project managers, he says. Others “couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag with a flashlight and a knife.”

Erik Hamburger, who runs his own project management company Ambidexter Management, says good project managers need to bridge what he calls the knowing and doing gap.

“Knowing what you should do as a project manager and being able to do that in the real world are two completely different things,” he says.

Hamburger, who says he has a love-hate relationship with certifications and whose own Prince 2 certification has lapsed, is particularly critical of PMI’s PMP certification.

“You can become a PMP without ever having managed a project end to end, which is kind of scary,” he says. (Hamburger is a former board member of his local PMI chapter in Canada.)

PMI’s Langley says project managers vying for the PMP credential “would not have to lead every project end to end,” he says. But at a minimum, they have to “lead and direct” all the processes in five domain areas of project management: initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

“Just being a team member on a project is not sufficient,” says Langley. “You have to lead and direct against each of those domains.”

Other requirements for earning the credential include three years or 3,500 hours of project management experience (five years if an applicant doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree) and 35 hours of project management education. Project managers also need to fill out an application documenting their education and project management experience, which PMI says can take as much as eight hours. Finally, they need to pass a four-hour, 200 question exam.

Langley says between 60 percent and 75 percent of applicants pass the exam.

Certification cynics may downplay the importance of project management credentials, but the ones interviewed for this article characterize the process for earning the PMP as rigorous.

“It takes a lot of preparation and practical experience,” says Spivey.