Roles and responsibilities of a Project Manager

Project ManagerOften, I see number of web searches made on this topic. So, I thought of presenting my views on the same.

The below four lines would be the starting sentences of a typical project team meeting.

“Is every one there?” Manager asked to his team in meeting.

Answer “Yes” came in asynchronously from all different voices.

“Is everything fine? Anyone facing any issues in their project objectives?” This is manager’s voice.

One member raised the voice and told “I have one issue regarding the database design”

………….. And it goes on for an hour.

Why am I presenting the dialogs at the first place to explain the role & responsibilities of Project Manager?

In the above conversation between PM and team, we understood project monitoring role of the PM. Actually, the role & responsibilities of a Project Manager is little complex and needs to be explained elaborately in clear terms for each project. Let me list down few important roles & responsibilities of a Project Manager.(This is not a complete list)

* The Project Manager is the person responsible for managing the project.

* The Project Manager is the person responsible for accomplishing the project objectives within the constraints of the project. He is responsible for the outcome(success or failure) of the project.

* The Project Manager is involved with the planning, controlling and monitoring, and also managing and directing the assigned project resources to best meet project objectives.

* The Project Manager controls and monitors “triple constraints”—project scope, time and cost(quality also)—in managing competing project requirements.

* The Project Manager examines the organizational culture and determine whether project management is recognized as a valid role with accountability and authority for managing the project.

* The Project Manager collects metrics data(such as baseline, actual values for costs, schedule, work in progress, and work completed) & reports on project progress and other project specific information to stakeholders.

* The Project Manager is responsible for identifying, monitoring, and responding to risk.

* The Project Manager is responsible to the project stakeholders for delivering a project’s objectives within scope, schedule, cost, and quality.

* The reporting structure of a Project Manager changes depends on organizational structure. He may reports to a Functional Manager or to a Program Manager.

In a bit exaggerating terms, Project Manager is the ‘God’ of his project and he is the one who decides the success of the project.

Manager Vs Leader

Few days back, I briefed the definition and basic differences of Management and Leadership. The following list shows different characteristics of a Manager against a Leader.

Manager Leader
plans energy
goals vision and values
does things right does the right things
defines vision and purpose statements lives vision and purpose
defines value statements models values
short-term results emphasized long-term results, big picture emphasized
top-down strategy leadership at all levels; everyone strategic
measurement of activities measurement of results
focus on content sets context, pays attention to process
success based on predictability success based on innovation and adaptation
“head stuff” (e.g., behavior, compliance) “heart stuff” (e.g., morale, commitment)
controls inspires, creates new ways, coaches, mentors
linear, rational, analytical systems, aligning the whole, intuitive
techniques principles
one best style (plan, organize, delegate, control) multiple, situational leadership roles and styles
quality control everyone responsible for quality
inward-looking customer-focused
individual effort and reward individual and team effort and reward
management knows best all together know best
success as personal success success as the success of others

Though characteristics of Management and Leadership differs in some fundamental areas, as I mentioned earlier, one needs to balance both management & leadership skills to ensure success in career and life.

Project Life Cycle & Product Life Cycle

As per definition mentioned earlier, Project is the one which is executed to create a unique product or services and Product is the outcome of a Project.

The product life cycle starts with the business plan, through idea, to product, ongoing operations and product divestment.

The project life cycle goes through a series of phases to create the product. It generally defines the task to be accomplished in each phase or sub-phase and the team responsible for each phase defined. In some application areas, such as new product development or software development (as in our example of banking application software development), organizations consider the project life cycle as part of the product life cycle.

Characteristics of a project life cycle:

* Risk and uncertainty is highest at the beginning phases and reduces thereafter as the project continues.

* The ability of the stakeholders to influence the final characteristics of the project’s product and the final cost of the project is highest at the start and gets progressively lower as the project continues.

* Cost of correcting an error increases as the project goes along. 

What is Situational Leadership® means?

Around the world, there is always a debate going on about leadership styles. There is no one-size fits all leadership style exist. Successful leaders are those who can adapt their behavior to meet the demands of their own unique situation. This is called ‘Situational Leadership®‘.

General human tendency in decision making differs time to time and depends on the circumstances. Applying this general behavior into leadership gives excellent results in achieving the success & one becomes Leadership Champions.

Below are the lines that explains briefly about Situational Leadership®. These lines are from HOW TO CHOOSE A LEADERSHIP PATTERN by Robert Tannenbaum and Warren Schmidt.

“The successful leader is one who is able to behave appropriately. … If direction is in order … able to direct; if considerable participative freedom is called for … able to provide such freedom.”

The concept of Situational Leadership® was proposed by Ken Blanchard (who later wrote the famous – One Minute Manager book) and Paul Hersey. According to them – “Leadership is the process of influencing the activities of an individual or group in efforts toward goal achievement in a given situation”

The Blanchard & Hersey Situational Leadership® Model helpful to managers in diagnosing the demands of their situation has been developed as a result of extensive research.

Situational Leadership® model is based on relationship among the amount or the extent of:

  • Direction (task behavior) a leader gives
  • Socio-emotional support (relationship behavior) a leader provides
  • “Readiness” level that followers exhibit on a specific task, function, activity, or objective that the leader is attempting to accomplish through the individual or group

Task behavior is the extent to which a leader engages in one-way communication by explaining what each follower is to do, as well as when, where, and how tasks are to be accomplished.

Relationship behavior is the extent to which a leader engages in two-way communication by providing socio-emotional support, “psychological strokes”, and facilitating behaviors.

Readiness is the ability and willingness of a person to take responsibility for directing his own behavior in relation to a specific task to be performed.

According to this model, as the level of readiness of the follower continues to increase in terms of accomplishing a specific task, the leader should begin to reduce task behavior and increase relationship behavior. This should be the case until the individual or group reaches a moderate level of readiness.

As the follower begins to move to an above average level of readiness, it becomes appropriate for the leader to decrease not only task behavior but relationship behavior as well. Now the follower is not only ready in terms of the performance of the task but also is confident and committed. People at this level of readiness see a reduction of close supervision and an increase in delegation by the leader as a positive indication of trust and confidence.

They define four leadership styles:

1. Telling/Directing Leader — a leader provides detailed instruction and closely coaches the follower.
2. Selling/Coaching Leader — a leader provides explanations and principles, engages the follower in a discussion of the work, and coaches as needed.
3. Facilitating/Counseling Leader — the leader assists the follower with goal clarification and ideas, then coaches as needed
4. Delegating Leader — the goal is clarified and the work turned over to the follower.

Situational Leadership Styles

Any or all of these leadership styles can be used effectively, depending on the readiness of the follower as determined by:

• The ability of the person to do the job (Skill) —has the necessary knowledge and skills to do the work.
• The willingness of the person to do the job (Will) —has the necessary confidence and commitment to do the work.

Following picture shows various stages of Follower’s Readiness/Maturity Level based on Skill & Will.



Four stages of follower readiness according to Hersey & Blanchard are as follows:

* People who are both unable and either unwilling or too insecure to take responsibility to do something. They are neither competent nor confident. (M1)

* People who are having less skill level, but willing to do necessary job task falls into this M2 category. They are motivated but currently lack of the appropriate skills.(M2)

* People who are able but unwilling or too apprehensive to do what the leader wants (M3)

* People who are both able and willing to take responsibility and do what is asked of them (M4)

We can have better understanding of the Maturity Level & Situational Leadership® Model by integrating their views.

As followers reach high level of readiness, the leader responds by not only continuing to decrease control over activities, but also by continuing to decrease relationship behavior as well.

* At stage M1, followers need clear and specific directions. So the appropriate style is high-task and low-relationship or Telling/Directing (S1).

* At stage M2, both high-task and high-relationship behavior is needed or Selling/Coaching (S2). The high-task behavior compensates for the follower’s lack of ability, and the high-relationship behavior tries to get the followers psychologically to “buy into” the leader’s desires.

* Stage M3 represents motivational problems that are best solved by a supportive, non-directive, participative style. The right approach would be low-task and high-relationship or Facilitating/Counseling (S3).

* At stage M4, the leader doesn’t have to do much because followers are both willing and able to do the job and take responsibility. The followers need neither task directions nor motivational support, thus low-task and low-relationship style or Delegating (S4) work best for this kind of subordinates.

Note: Situational Leadership® is a registered trademark of the Center for Leadership Studies,

More articles on Situational Leadership®

1. variations in situational leadership® models

2. Knowing and switching leadership styles for managerial effectiveness

3. What, why and How of delegating

Management and Leadership

Though management and leadership are different words with different meanings, but they are not mutually exclusive. One needs to balance both management & leadership skills to ensure success in career and life.

All leaders should possess management skills without which they can not transform their vision into actions. Every manager should have leadership skills to bring the team along with him and not just concentrating on the work to be done.

* Leadership is giving direction or setting up new vision and values for a group that they follow.

* Management controls or directs resources in a group according to principles that have already been established.

Management is mostly deals with controlling things whereas Leadership deals with inspiration, creating new ways, coaching, mentoring.

Management emphasizes short-term results whereas Leadership emphasizes on long-term results, big picture.

There exists a famous proverb which differentiates a manager from a leader in simple terms.
A Manager does things right but a Leader does the right things.

I think the above few points are enough to understand the basic difference. Let me list down few more differences in another post.

Project Phase

Project phases are the real construct of a Project Life Cycle. Phases are generally arranged sequentially so that the output of one phase acts as input to the next phase.

Impacts on cost, resources, time to make change and risks vary from one phase to other – usually cost & resources are high at start and decreases toward the closure; time to make a change is low at start and increases towards closure; risk of failing during starting phases are high but it becomes better as time moves (even some projects got closed after execution of first few phases).

Characteristics of Project Phases:

*The completion and approval of one or more deliverables characterizes a project phase.

*A deliverable is a measurable, verifiable work product such as a specification, feasibility study report, detailed design document, or working prototype.

*The deliverables, and hence the phases, are part of a generally sequential process designed to ensure proper control of the project and to attain the desired product or service, which is the objective of the project.

Project Life Cycle

Today, the topic is Project Life Cycle. There are millions of templates available on Project Life Cycle around the world as each project is unique and executed with different customer requirements. There is no single best way to define an ideal project life cycle. It depends on the performing organization or project manager to adapt one life cycle model that suits for the project to achieve project objectives.

Each project life cycle is usually subdivided into number of project phases which gives project manager greater control of project & easier management of the project. Project phases have dependencies between them. Collectively, these phases are known as the project life cycle.

At the end of each phase, there can be few deliverables which needs approval or sign-off to start with next phase. There may be scenarios wherein next phase started even before getting earlier phase sign-off.

Banking application development project life cycle: Requirement gathering, fit-gap analysis, design document, coding & development, testing, deployment, user training & sign-off.

Project life cycles generally define:

• What work to do in each phase (for example, in which phase should the technical design be performed?)

• When the deliverables are to be generated in each phase and how each deliverable is reviewed, verified, and validated

• Who is involved in each phase (for example, concurrent engineering requires that the implementers be involved with requirements and design)

• How to control and approve each phase.