Project Leadership vs. Administration – what do you focus on?
Project Leadership focuses on people. Project administration focuses on the process steps and metrics. A mature project manager possesses and practices both these skills. In fact, they can be complementary and interdependent.
Project Administration is about the process steps to get to the results of the project, most likely a product. It is about creating, measuring and observing the metrics that tells you the health of your project. These metrics tell you the symptoms. Once you drill down on these symptoms, you can get to the root cause of a symptom. Sometimes, you will learn that the root cause is related to people on the project, e.g. people coming late to the project scrum meeting. To solve the people problem, you will need leadership skills.
Project Leadership is about guiding and influencing team members. A project leader will collaborate with stakeholders and sponsors to agree on the purpose of the project. Project leadership skills will help you to – align stakeholders around a common goal, generate and keep trust, and empower others. Sometimes, Project Leadership Skills are referred to as people skills. A healthy dose of project leadership skills will ensure easier and more successful project administration.
A project leader helps the team decide where to go and what to build. A project administrator helps get the project done the right way by checking the progress at periodic intervals to ensure the project is moving in the right direction and progressing at a desired pace.
Let us take an example to illustrate the difference between a leader and an administrator . You are the project, program or portfolio manager in charge of a project to build an information systems product to increase sales conversion rate for a client. The project team is split across three geographical locations. As a project leader, you will bring together the sales leaders of the three locations, understand what their business problems are, learn what they really want and align them around a common objective – you are playing the role of a project leader. Let us assume that you, sponsors and stakeholders agree that Salesforce (SFDC) is the best product to achieve the purpose and to solve the business problems. You have been playing the project leader so far. Now, you are given the charge to implement the SFDC application. You will create a time, cost, scope and quality baseline. You will utilize your project administration skills to measure, let us say after a month, how the project is progressing – e. g. is it on time?