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What is a project leader?

Definition: A project leader is a person in charge of leading, overseeing, and coordinating a team of individuals working on a project.

They define the project's vision and communicate it with their team, ensuring they understand it and see a purpose for their work.

Throughout the project, the project leader holds the team together by motivating them, providing support, and fostering a positive and productive work atmosphere.

Responsibilities of a project leader

The project leader focuses on the big picture of the project; hence their responsibilities are oriented around working with people and the project direction.

Their responsibilities are:

  • Developing project and team goals that align with the project vision, which is done together with project managers and other stakeholders by gathering feedback from them and using goals setting tools (OKRs, SMART goals).
  • Delegating responsibilities for various tasks to team members with the right skills and expertise and considering the workload they already have.
  • Creating and maintaining communication channels between different teams of the same project by encouraging open communication, usually done through weekly meetings.
  • Providing feedback to team members and assessing their performance. Their goal is to improve the team's performance by addressing each member's weaknesses.
  • Providing emotional support to the team by making them feel like an essential part of something big.
  • Creating a reward system that incentivizes the team to work towards the project goals. This is done through offering bonuses, PTO, and recognition…
  • Managing conflicts that can arise within the team, and finding ways to resolve them constructively and effectively.
  • Creating progress reports and providing them to the stakeholders and the project team. 
  • Inspiring creativity and innovation by encouraging the team to be open about ideas and new ways of solving problems and giving them the opportunity to test them. 

Difference between a project leader and a project manager

A project leader and a project manager are very similar roles as both of them are focused on planning, organizing, and coordinating various aspects of a project. 

The main difference between a project leader and a project manager is the scope and focus of their responsibilities. 

A project leader is responsible for overseeing the direction and progress of a project, while a project manager is focused on the specific details of project planning and execution. 

A project leader defines the vision and a plan, while a project manager defines the budget, timeline, resources needed, and tasks based on that plan.

In terms of people, a project leader focuses on the leadership by connecting the teams with the project vision, providing the team members with a sense of purpose, and supporting them emotionally through the execution. 

On the other hand, a project manager focuses on the technical aspects, including task management, ensuring the team follows the project plan and meets the deadlines.

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Article FAQs

What makes a good project leader?
A good project leader must have good communication skills to inspire and motivate their team. They must be well organized, adapt to the situation, and have a sense of responsibility and commitment to the project’s success. In addition, a good project leader needs to be open to new ideas and ways of implementing them.
Is the project leader a stakeholder?
No, the project leader isn’t considered a stakeholder in the same way as other stakeholders, like the project sponsor or customers. However, in a way, they can be considered a stakeholder as it is in their interest that the project succeeds.

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