The Difference Between Project Manager and Project Lead

  • Kate Borucka
  • September 29, 2017
  • 4 min read

Projects manager, project leader, aka project lead, team leader, there are so many project manager jobs that it’s easy to get confused. Some organizations hire one of them, others hire them all.

If you still don’t know the difference between the project manager and project lead, we’re here to help.

What Is The Difference Between Project Manager And Project Leader?

You’ve probably heard these two terms being used interchangeably. But are they synonymous? Today with TimeCamp you’ll find out about the differences and similarities between the two. We prepared a comparison of the position of the project lead and project manager. You’ll see which tasks belong to them and which don’t, what makes their work different and how important it is to know the distinction between them in case of a project leadership.

It may not be easy to see the difference at first but you don’t have to worry, the two are similar that’s why it may be a challenge.

So make yourself comfortable and follow up!

Who Is Project Lead And Who Is Project Manager?

In general, a project leader can be a project manager, but the project manager is not a project lead. Still, they both have certain tasks and plans. They carry out the projects and make sure everything is finalized. But their roles are not the same.

There are slight differences and it’s worth to know them. Especially, if you’re planning to become one of them.

project lead graphicsProject Lead

 Here are some of the most important duties of the project lead:

  • Leads people throughout the project. The project leader tells people all the basic information concerning the project. He’s always there in case any trouble appears and is a guide for the team in their tasks.
  • Is concerned with the project’s outcome.  She’s interested in the effects. The how, why, what for. She aims to make sure the project is carried in the best way possible. That every detail is taken care of and there are no understatements.
  • Project lead has a vision in which he engages people. He motivates them, gives clues, ideas. He listens to the team, takes care of its needs and pays attention to how the employees feel. Also, he makes sure the atmosphere at work is friendly so the work is being done productively and with dedication. So ideally, he has great project leadership skills.
  • Has people beneath him. Project lead has more freedom than the project manager when it comes to giving orders and controlling people. He leads the project.
  • Adds value to the project and team. Project lead gives the team’s work a meaning. She makes people feel that their work is appreciated and important. She’s spiritual support for the team.

Project managerProject Manager

 Here’s how project managers job is different than project lead:

  • She is concerned about meeting deadlines. There is a project and it needs to be done. Everyone has to do his/her job and that’s what matters the most.
  • Has a tactical approach. Takes care of budget, schedule, deadlines, documentation, staffing, HR, people, etc. project managers are not there to motivate people but to keep things organized.
  • Reports the progress. Is responsible for delivering updates on the project progress and possible obstacles.
  • Is beneath project leader. He doesn’t have that much freedom when it comes to people. He manages the project and that’s his main role.
  • She takes care of the business administration and related activities and synchronizes work to meet the objectives.

Leadership — the Common Goal

Being either a project manager or a project lead requires a lot of work in terms of managing business administration, analyzing data and tackling challenges. And sometimes it may be tough to keep a hand on all these aspects. After all, both positions are about project leadership skills — leading and guiding people through all the stages of a project or product life. And a good leader doesn’t only talk, he also does a lot to enhance the work.

Leadership is undeniably the common goal in project management. Both personas lead and project all aspects of work to unite the team and make sure processes are on track.

Since both roles have to be performed with attention to details, it is extremely important to always have access to all data. A leader has to act smartly and that’s why he needs to use tools for improving and synchronizing the work.

There are many project management tools available on the market and one of them is TimeCamp, one of the top 10 time tracking software with the desktop app.

Leaders need to know how much time employees spent on work. It’s also important to control the budget,

Invoicing and a wide range of integrations are also a great advantage as they allow those who lead to work on different aspects of work in one place, which is so important in the duties of project managers and project lead.

timecamp screen

And TimeCamp works as a great assistance tool for leaders. If you like to have everything under control, it’s a perfect solution for you. Especially if you’re a project manager or a project lead.

Remember, both the project manager and project lead have to be able to see the projects and the company’s progress. It’s a significant part of their work as leaders.

Find out more about TimeCamp’s great features which make the work of a leader better.

Start tracking today for free

To Sum Up

Even though the role of the project lead and project manager may seem similar, they have small but important differences. The terms may be used interchangeably in one company but for other businesses, they can mean something completely different. You don’t want to end up doing the project lead’s work when you’re supposed to do the work of a project manager! 😉


Make sure to check out TimeCamp Planner – our new innovative task management app with chat! Perfect for leaders and teams wanting to enhance productivity. Keep up with the deadlines and stay on top of your work!

Last updated January 29, 2020

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  1. MarieAnne P.
    June 29, 2018 at 14:23

    Thank you so much for explaining the difference! Now I know that my husband is a project leader 😉

  2. SIdney
    June 6, 2019 at 13:33

    Thank you for the clarification. It would be great to see female pronouns in this article as well so that a larger audience can identify with it.

  3. Stephens.Carey
    December 29, 2019 at 17:40

    In order not to leave regrets and regrets in life, we should try our best to seize all opportunities to change our lives

  4. Quinn
    September 29, 2020 at 01:44

    Good document with a clear explanation. Just a thought, why does the Lead have to be a male, why is gender associated?

  5. Joey
    November 30, 2020 at 09:39

    Agree with Sidney’s comment on pronouns (and images). I’m a project lead and I’m female – I would appreciate if this article honored the possibility of this occuring.