Actually, leadership simply means management. But that is no longer what the term means today. It is about true leadership and not about managing.
Management vs Leadership
Management means keeping an organization running; leadership, on the other hand, means changing it and involving others in the process. Here it is already clear that both managers and leaders fulfill an important function in projects.
Profile of a “leader” in a project
A good leader is characterized by the ability not only to motivate team members but also to lead them towards a common goal. As a leader, you act as a role model and inspire people to pursue, implement and achieve their goals and ideas.
Here is a short list of key competencies a “perfect leader” should bring into the project:
- They are good coaches
- Encourage the team and refrain from micromanagement
- Are interested in the personal and private well-being of their employees
- Are productive and results-oriented
- Are good communicators
- Help with career development
- Have a clear vision and strategy for their team
- Have the necessary expertise (in context with the project) that helps to advise the team
Qualities that make good leaders
In addition to these competencies (mentioned above), there are also a number of characteristics that distinguish good leaders:
- Resilience and patience
The ability of resilience helps to cope with tensions and to use them as an occasion for development. This ability is ideally complemented by a strong sense of patience.
- Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence describes the ability to recognise and influence one’s own feelings and the feelings of others. The US psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike used the term “social intelligence” as early as 1920. People with high emotional intelligence are adaptable, flexible, confident, and work effectively towards their goals.
- Constructiveness and solution orientation
Many people see a problem and get stuck in it. All their energy is focused on this problem. Basically, one should concentrate on the solution and invest all efforts in developing a solution strategy. That is what good leadership is all about.
A leader needs the trust of his team (or project team). This includes the ability to communicate your intentions and reasons for decisions clearly and transparently, as well as to implement announcements and promises.
A crucial quality for leaders is to have passion for the job and to actively show (and live) it. The productivity of the individual depends very much on the personal attitude, a good leader is a role model in this sense.
- Sense of responsibility
A sense of responsibility is an essential quality for leaders. Mistakes happen and are to a certain extent part of good development – especially in projects. Good leaders show understanding and work with their team towards improvement. Within the framework of a sense of responsibility, the leader bears the ultimate responsibility and stands behind his team.
Each project needs a manager
In the literature, one finds statements such as: Managers are administrators, while leaders are visionaries. Management stood for organisation, planning, and control. Leadership wanted to inspire and motivate with visions. I would like to elaborate on the differences here.
The practice in innovative companies or projects shows: A project needs both. In typical Erasmus+ projects, the project coordinator must play both roles – the coordinators should be good managers with leadership competencies. Goleman, D (1996): Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Bantam; INT Edition