When I work with project teams, they often have both project leader and manager roles, but are unclear about their respective roles; or have only the one role, and miss out some of the vital responsibilities.
In my continued reading of Stephen Covey’s 8th Habit, I find that he and his team have done some valuable research on the respective roles of leaders and managers which could off course be usefully applied to projects.
I suggest to the teams that I work with, that the leader’s role is to help the team, their customers, their sponsors etc. clearly articulate and understand the team’s goal, and each of their roles in relation to it. S/he thereby gives them the means to be ’empowered’ in fulfilling their role with respect to the team.
The manager’s role is the to provide the team with the tools and approaches that will enable them to fulfill their roles, and to facilitate them through their work.
In the words that Covey and others use, the leader is responsible for ‘people’, the manager for ‘things’. But of course the roles will blur, especially if one person is taking care of both. The important thing is to recognise all the facets that need to be taken care of to achieve a high performing team, and to use the strengths of all team members to do just that.