Project Management. Management or Leadership?

My friend, Nibu invited me if I was interested to contribute to PMI Bangalore chapter newsletter. I am not a PM person but when I work with startup product teams for UX and content strategy, it is quite a PM like role.

Personally, I do not like the PM role in smaller teams because such teams do not need managers. They need right leadership (and not management), and so they should have project leaders.

Since I had worked for bigger teams including corporations in the past, I have some idea of project management (and thanks to my readings by First Round Review, Intercom blog, and SaaStr, and elsewhere). So, I offered to contribute to the PMI newsletter.

You can see the online version of my article Project Management – Rewarding Yet Thankless.


I see that the PMI editorial team did not quote the references where I had mentioned the source. I should cite these of course and here is the list:

  • The leadership style: source
  • Analysis paralysis mode: source
  • Disagree and commit: source

Project Leadership (or Product Leadership)

As I said earlier, I do not buy the role project manager for smaller teams. I would rather have a project leader.

The product teams need right leadership orientation and ‘to manage’ does not really help it. Note that there is same parallelism in ‘project manager or project leader’ as we see for ‘product manager or product leader’, and rightly so (product teams vs digital agencies).

In my PMI post, I listed three must-haves for project managers, and leadership is one of these. That was purely in context of what makes good project managers, and knowing their leadership style helps them in effective project management. I had to list it because the article audience are into project management.

To me, project management itself is leadership, and everything else – be it awareness, communication, big picture plan B, decisions, tracking, gap inventory – all these are ingredients to for a result-oriented leadership outcome.

When Martin Eriksson reverse engineers his PM diagram in this Intercom post, he talks about the futility of a debate on job titles.

It is not about the titles, certainly but titles (when we see it in Asana, Slack or Trello, stay with the team in communication, in the culture, in orientation, and in perception. And so in the work.

So, yes, right titles matter. I hated to call myself a technical writer when I worked on the wireframes of a complex project health screen tool. It was important. Likewise for any role.

I am interested to know any “project leadership” qualities or traits that we may not be relevant to “project managers”. Anyone?

Vinish Garg Project Management Leadership

See the PMI article Project Management – Rewarding Yet Thankless.

We Need a Product Mindset for all Projects. And a Product Leadership

Vinish Garg Product Leadership

Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash