In the past few months, I’ve been teaching a variety of project management and hiring workshops. And (surprisingly to me), we’ve had discussions about whether someone is a manager or a lead.
Some organizations have an aversion to calling people “managers.” Instead, they call them “leads.” One organization called their project managers “people lead.”
Here’s my definition. A manager, whether a functional manager or a project manager, has these responsibilities:
- Providing feedback to people regarding their deliverables
- Providing coaching
- Performing career development
- Monitors the team as a system
The person who watches out for the care and feeding of the architecture is a technical lead. Leads do not monitor the team as a system; they only monitor the product as a system. If that person also performs management functions, that person is a manager.
I’m not sure why some people are loathe to use the word manager for the people who perform management roles. I think they are attempting to involve leadership and motivation in their use of the word “lead.” But what I see is confusion. The leads didn’t know they were supposed to do some task, something that would have been clear if they’d been called managers or project managers.
There’s no Right Answer to this dilemma. As long as you think about the title you have (or are about to bestow), you’ll do the right thing. Just remember, if you want a manager, call the role a management role.