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How to Connect Project Management and Business Leadership

How to Connect Project Management and Business Leadership

Small businesses are by far the economical drivers of most, if not all, countries. Not only do small businesses contribute a lot to the economy as far as job creation is concerned, but the tax revenue earned from such businesses make it possible for local economies to grow, develop and thrive.

Regardless of how minute the business is, it still needs management. Like most projects, small businesses require a steady and knowledgeable hand to drive them forward. This is the only way to ensure that every facet of the business is running smoothly and making economic sense.

In almost every business, there are profound aspects of project management with which the business leaders must contend. Even though project management and business leadership are almost interchangeable concepts in the minds of many, being able to identify and pinpoint the difference is one of the things that set successful businesses apart from those that are not successful.

The difference between project management and leadership in business

In order to understand the difference between the two concepts, one must look at them separately. Only then, will the importance of either one to a small business be apparent.

Project Management

A great project manager is someone who ensures that every facet of their designated project or department is running smoothly. They, therefore, need to poses some, if not all, of the following attributes:

  • Organization skills
  • Planning skills
  • They have to be authoritative and in control
  • They need to direct their staff in the direction they want the business to go
  • They need to be able to carry out staffing duties.

This involves identifying and recruiting the different talents that they envision their team needing in order to succeed. Project managers are put in place to ensure that everything is running smoothly. They implement the company’s policies in regards to whatever project they are working on at the time and mostly think incrementally.

Business Leadership

It is a necessity that compels most project managers. Leaders inspire people to achieve goals. A good manager should also possess good leadership skills. Leading a team means inspiring them to share your vision. Not all good project managers are good leaders, and not all leaders can be good project managers.

This is a delicate dynamic. For a leader to be highly effective within an organization, they need to be more than just inspiring. They need to have the authority to be effective. Part of a managers duties is directing the flow of work. This is one aspect that needs great vision and leadership. It cannot be achieved without the necessary authority.

Quite simply put, a leader is someone who people will willingly follow due to their personal attributes. A manager is someone who people have to obey or else they will get fired or written up. As much as leadership is a more desirable quality, both functions are necessary for a business to succeed.

Benefits of project management to small businesses

There are a great many reasons why excellent project management is essential to every small business that wants to succeed. The problem, as mentioned earlier, is that most business owners do not take the time to clearly develop effective project management skills. It is true that ‘Project Management’ as a subject can sound a little intimidating. It does sound like something you need to go to school for before you can qualify to do.

Yes, professional project managers study the craft and have excellent knowledge in their field. But when you break it down, every business owner is a project manager to some extent. Albeit through arbitrary means.

A project is any activity designed to produce a certain result. Isn’t that exactly what your business is? The only difference is that projects involve groups and, for the professionals, a predetermined course of action that involves technical know-how as well as good leadership skills. Aside from that, effective project managers should always:

  • Ensure that everything is running smoothly
  • Managers are the people entrusted with achieving the projects, and to a wider extent, the company’s goals
  • A manager ensures that the structure, controls and systems put in place are adhered to for the better good of the project and company
  • Managers analyze and neutralize threats to the project

Benefits of leadership in small businesses

As mentioned earlier, it is paramount for every project manager to have a good grasp of business leadership. Possessing this skill will only make their jobs easier and more efficient.

  • Leaders are the innovators in a company. They think radically and if given a chance, they can bring a company to great heights
  • Leaders command a loyal following. They are the people who motivate and sway the staff’s opinion. This can be a great tool for dealing with employee dissatisfaction
  • Leaders are always looking for new opportunities for the business to grow

Great leaders also happen to be great innovators. They are the people who see the big picture. The people who are always looking towards new opportunities and new heights. They inspire trust among the employees, clients and even their managers. In a small business, the manager may not be the leader of the pack. But the leader still has to obey the manager.

Whereas the different roles are not interchangeable, they are reliant on one another if the company is to scale to greater heights. It is the leader’s natural born duty to innovate and inspire, it is the managers given duty to ensure that those innovations are well administered and are implemented within the company guidelines.

For a small business to succeed, it needs both. Whereas a company can still survive without innovative leaders, it cannot function properly without managers. The trick is to find a project manager who possesses great leadership skills. Someone who can both administer and inspire. Someone who sees the big picture and can successfully get others to see his/her point of view and get them to follow his/her directions willingly.


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