From Project Management to Project Leadership: Leadership is Influence

There is a common misconception in project management (and business), that leadership is exclusively reserved for those at the top.

As John Maxwell (American author, pastor, and speaker) said, “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

The truth is effective leadership transcends position and title. Leadership is influence.  

Project Managers (PMs) play a unique role in managing the details and ultimately, the delivery of a client’s specific need, through the skills and talents of other team members.  

A PMs influence will impact the client’s team. It’s important that organizations searching for a consultative partner understand the influence a PM will have not just on the project, but on the relationships with and within their team as well. 

The tightrope that all project managers face is understanding the balance between managing the project and leading the team.   

Too often a project manager finds themselves managing the nitty-gritty details and forgetting the ‘influence’ factor they have on the broader team. PMs play a pivotal role in creating positive and negative experiences, and the most successful project managers create a culture of leadership at every level of the team. 

A true measure of success for a project manager is in how well they lead, not manage, their projects, the people on their teams, the expectations of their clients, and ultimately, their career path. 

There are 5 P’s of Project Leadership that every project manager needs to be aware:

  1. Position 
  2. Permission 
  3. Production 
  4. People Development 
  5. Personhood 

In this series, I’ll explore each of these stages to help project managers recognize and own their level of influence.  

As project managers, we must remember that we are leading a team of individuals with influence. 

What will we do with all the influence we have been called to lead?