Project Managers: People Don’t Like To Be Led

Project management advice: People don’t like to be led, especially professionals with clear responsibilities.  Nobody likes “a person who knows” to tell them what to do next.  All the time.  It’s demeaning and annoying.  So what’s a project manager to do?

Clearly, project managers and leads need to stay a few steps ahead of team members.  If they don’t, projects go astray.  Why?  Because it takes time to formulate a clear vision, one that won’t break down in the face of life’s challenges.  Only by staying ahead of the team can the leadership maintain that strategic edge.  But it’s when that strategic direction turns into tactical dictatorship that things go badly.

Some managers have such a hard time articulating their vision that they resort to dictating exact tactical steps to achieve it, rather than relying on competent people to pull it off.  See the issue?  It’s a difficult balance.



One Reply to “Project Managers: People Don’t Like To Be Led”

  1. Maybe that’s just semantics but some people don’t like to be managed, not led. For me leadership is showing goals and motivating people in a way which works for them. It will be different for an intern and different for seasoned specialist with strong personality.

    The other perspective is management which can look different too. There are people out there who expect detailed tasks and there are those who appreciate “free” roles. The trap we often fall into is in a level of management. Almost no one likes to be micromanaged, but almost everyone expect some high-level management. It’s the role of a manager (in your example a project manger which is a specific type of manager anyway) to find the right way.

    And yes, this issue should be dealt with by the manager not by any team member.

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