Difference Between Leading and Managing a Project

Leading vs Managing a Project

Project management involves the use of knowledge, techniques and skills to execute the projects more effectively and efficiently. Usually the projects are aligned with the goals of the business organizations. Success of the projects heavily depends on the effectiveness of the project team and how well each of them has performed their tasks and also the capabilities of the project manager to lead and manage the teams according to the customers’ requirements. This article elaborates the difference between managing and leading a project in an organization.

Managing a Project

Initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling and closing the project are the essential components of project management. In project teams all the members are working together to accomplish specific objectives and to deliver a quality output for the end users. With the synergy effect, team work is more productive than working as individuals. Project manager is the person who is responsible for completing the project within the scope, specified time frame, within the budget, etc. as he acts as the intermediary between the project sponsor and the project team members.

Difference Between Leading and Managing a project

Leading a Project

Leading a project is guiding the team members to fulfil the project requirements by giving them strategic direction, setting the team’s goal, and aligning all team members in that direction. Effective leaders always motivate and inspire the followers. In the organizational point of view, the project manager as a good leader must encourage the employees to be more innovative and need to inspire them. Then they will try new things and new ways of doing things rather than sticking to traditional methods of performing a specific task. In this way, the employee’s productivity can be improved.

Leading vs Managing a Project | Difference Between


What is the difference between leading and managing a project?

The leaders guide the project team by giving them strategic direction and setting the team goals. Employee’s ideas are welcomed by the person leading a project as employees are facing the real time conditions. So the employees would feel like they are being appreciated, and their contribution is valued. So they would try to provide their maximum contribution towards completing the projects successfully.

Managers are the people who are allocating performance targets for each individual to be completed within a certain period, considering each of their competencies. By evaluating their performance, they decide the area or field which needs to be improved and offer training to match those requirements. 

The project leader should be concerned about motivating the best performing employees by offering rewards like performance incentives, salary increments and also non-financial rewards like recognition, career development opportunities, etc. 

Therefore, it can be the same person who is leading and managing a project, but as project managers they have a huge responsibility to manage the projects effectively while as leaders they have to lead their team members efficiently. Ultimately both leading and managing would be useful to achieve the organizational success in the long run.


Managing vs Leading a Project

• Managing the projects involve planning, coordinating and monitoring the activities performed by the team members, while leading involves providing guidance and support for the employees in order to produce a quality output.

• Leaders always inspire and encourage their employees to be more innovative and creative in performing activities, while managers evaluate the employee performances.

• Leaders are having long term focus while managers are concerned about meeting specific deadlines.


Photo by: IvanWalsh.com (CC BY 2.0)

Pedro Ribeiro Simões  (CC BY 2.0)