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Assess your competencies as a project leader

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Professor Graham Winch, Professor of Project Management, and  Dr Eunice Maytorena-Sanchez, Senior Lecturer in Project Management at Alliance Manchester Business School, will be hosting an interactive workshop ‘Strategic Project Organising’ at APM’s Power of Projects Conference on Thursday 9 June. APM spoke with them ahead of the workshop about the importance of project leadership.  

What are the main differentiators between project managers and project leaders?  

There has been growing understanding of the importance of leading projects distinct from, but complementary to, managing projects. Leaders emphasize projecting towards outcomes and creating ways of achieving those outcomes, while project managers emphasize delivering the outputs that underpin outcomes. The two roles are symbiotic, with leaders doing more sensemaking and relating, and managers deploying the project management toolkit to deliver excellent results.  

Our workshop at Power of Projects will help individuals assess their competencies as a project leader. We will present a project leadership model developed in collaboration with BP and BAE Systems and we will then provide an opportunity for delegates to assess themselves against this competency model. 

Why is leading projects so important?  

Project leaders need to shape the project towards desired outcomes but also be ready to address black swan events, such as the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine and the ensuing disruptions to project supply chains. What these recent events have highlighted is how important project resilience is. Consummate resilience involves sensemaking, relating and redesigning the project organisation, while retaining focus on the project outcomes and their supporting narratives. 

How are project leaders different from leaders more generally?  

Project leaders are different because they have to look many years into the future to project desired outcomes rather than managing in the present and near future. They also have to create the temporary organisation that delivers on those projected future outcomes from scratch. This means careful attention to creating new relationships rather than developing existing relationships. 

Many people find themselves expected to lead projects without a real understanding of the difference between leading projects and managing projects. This session will help you think through the distinctive challenges of leading projects and help you identify your development needs. If you want to know more about how to develop these leadership competencies, please do come to this session.  

Book your place at the Power of Projects Conference on Thursday 9 June  


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  1. Peter Simon
    Peter Simon 24 May 2022, 12:19 PM

    Hi Just a quick observation - where does the Project Sponsor fit into all this? It looks like the Project Leader sits between the Project Manager and Project Sponsor: - Project Manager - outputs - Project Leader - outcomes - Project Sponsors - benefits? What are your thoughts? I suggest that many Project Managers would consider themselves to be Project Leaders. Is there a need to invent a new title? Peter Simon HonFAPM FAPM

  2. Matthew Johnson
    Matthew Johnson 24 May 2022, 02:17 PM

    You make a good point, Peter. Many Project Managers undoubtedly do consider themselves to be Project Leaders. In fact, our Chief Executive, Professor Adam Boddison, will be addressing the issue of what characterises a project leader at our upcoming Power of Projects conference, in addition to the session hosted by Professor Winch and Dr Maytorena-Sanchez. We hope to see you there, but this is a theme we'll be sure to return to and explore in greater depth even after the conference, due to the interest within the profession.