Project management is now a core area of activity for every business. The planning and organization of material and human resources is essential.
The management of protocols and procedures for the achievement of a business objective is now considered vital operations for the development of a company.
In fact, having a solid project team structure in place means being able to take advantage of a competitive business plan. This, in turn, translates into significant profit potential for the firm.
This is why figures like the project leader (PL) or project manager are so important: they are key to effective project management. In fact, they serve to ensure that the company is highly competitive in the marketplace.
We tend to hear more things about the Project Manager, and less about the project leader.
This is why we will focus this article on this intriguing role. So, who is the project leader? And what is their place in a project team?
Who is the Project Leader?
There is no clear definition of who is the project leader since it is a new role.
To provide an exhaustive explanation and a satisfactory portrait of the project leader, we can make use of the simple deduction from the name of the professional figure itself. In fact, literally, project leader means "guide of the project".
In this sense, the project leader (also team leader) is the managerial figure of the project team. They are responsible for guiding the team members towards achieving the set project goals.
In software development teams, the project leader is also known as the Scrum Master or Development Lead Sprint.
Project Leader vs. Project Manager
There is certainly a substantial degree of ambiguity around the figures of the project leader and project manager in terms of their respective role definitions and duties. In fact, these two jobs are often made to coincide or, at least, the difference between them is not well known.
Both professionals are responsible for ensuring that a project is carried out in a consistent quality within the firm. In particular, they occupy the top positions in the project team, which they lead in achieving the company's objectives.
Generally speaking, the two figures can coincide within a company, i.e. a project leader can also be a project manager and vice versa. This means that both work personalities can take on the role of their counterpart.
As a starting point for clarifying the differences between these two professional categories, we can consider the concepts of Leadership and Management.
The project manager is active in the organization and planning, as well as in the monitoring of company projects. In essence, they oversee the progress of the project process. In fact, they are in charge of managing the resources, budget and costs related to the project, as well as its progression and performance.
The project leader, on the other hand, is in charge of directing and controlling team members, among whom they must act as a glue. They are responsible for raising the awareness of the people involved in the project. The project leader is also responsible for motivating and spurring them on to increase their commitment to the company's cause.
The project leader adds value to the project, as they are responsible for giving meaning and consistency to the work of the team. In a nutshell: the project leader is a kind of spiritual coach and acts as ongoing moral support for the project team.
In conclusion, to illustrate the differences between the project leader and the project manager, the project manager is in charge of the project processes. The PL, on the other hand, deals with the people involved in the project.
What does a project leader do?
The project leader is responsible for engaging, motivating and spurring the project team on, providing support to individual members, in order to foster a collaborative, stimulating and engaging work environment.
The project leader is the leader of the project team. They are the person who keeps the team together and directs them towards the optimal success of a company project objective.
They have the task of coordinating the group of people assigned to them and giving them responsibility.
Each day, they should make sure that every member of the team feels comfortable.
More specifically, the project leader is responsible for:
- planning the activities of each member of the project team,
- ensuring that the activities of all members are integrated with each other and in accordance with the achievement of project objectives,
- keeping track of the team's work, its progress or any delays, so that the plan can be updated in real-time with the project manager,
- ensuring quality work results,
- supporting the team morally and psychologically, especially assisting weaker members of the team and encouraging overall growth in a positive sense, even when problems occur,
- scheduling meetings with other managers,
- drafting reports on project progress.
The project manager is a multi-faceted figure who must possess a versatile and diverse skill set and different abilities.
A good project leader needs to possess the following characteristics:
- High organizational and management skills,
- Strong social skills and sense of community,
- Outgoing personality, able to engage and motivate,
- Large doses of empathy,
- Leadership tendency,
- Remarkable resistance to stress and pressure,
- Dexterity in conflict management,
- Skill in assessing risks and developing immediate solutions.
Since few are able to fill the role of project leader, this professional figure is highly sought after in companies, especially in recent times.
The project leader must have excellent interpersonal, social-communication and empathic skills, as well as technical, organizational and managerial competencies. This makes them professionals who are not easily found.
In fact, the remuneration confirms it. In the United States, the average salary estimated by Indeed is $105,488 a year.
Of course, this is a relative figure: the amount of a project leader's salary depends on several factors. These include the experience of the project leader, their level of preparation, the type of company and business sector in which they are employed, etc.
How do you become a project leader?
There is no specific training to become a project leader.
Preferably, however, candidates with a university degree or master's degree in relevant disciplines are considered.
In addition, or possibly as an alternative, certificates from training courses, equivalent certifications, or work experience are very appreciated.
The project leader is a fundamental figure for the optimal realization of the project. In fact, the project leader can achieve high levels of performance because they are dedicated to taking care of the human and emotional components of the team, rather than just the factual component.
A good project leader must be able to act differently depending on the situation and understand the various personalities that make up their team. This is the only way to provide the best possible support. A project leader must be decisive, but thoughtful. As support for their work, just like the project manager, the project leader can also rely on Project Management software.
Are you a project leader? Feel free to share your experience with us!