The next career step for a Project Manager: (2) becoming a Line Manager

As a project manager, you have honed your skills in successfully leading projects and delivering results. However, as your career progresses, you may find yourself contemplating the next step. In this article, which is part of my series “the next career step for a project manager”, we will explore the transition to becoming a line manager. This path offers unique challenges and rewards, as you take on a new role focused on team leadership and people management.

Transitioning to Line Management

Transitioning to line management can be a natural career path within your organization, with potentially significant rewards. As a line manager, your primary responsibility shifts from project delivery to leading and developing a team. This role requires a different set of skills and expertise compared to project management, emphasizing people management, coaching, and mentoring.

Different Skills Needed for Line Managers

Becoming a line manager requires a shift in focus from technical project management skills to people-centric abilities. While project managers excel in planning, organizing, and executing projects, line managers must develop skills such as effective communication, conflict resolution, team motivation, and talent development. Building strong relationships with team members and stakeholders becomes crucial as you strive to create a positive and productive work environment.

Challenges of Being a Line Manager

Embracing the role of a line manager brings its own set of challenges. One significant adjustment is the shift from hands-on project management to overseeing and empowering a team to achieve project goals. This means you will have less direct involvement in day-to-day project management activities. Additionally, transitioning from a peer to a manager can present acceptance challenges within the team. Overcoming these challenges requires effective communication, building trust, and demonstrating leadership qualities.

Starting as a Team Leader

In many organizations, the transition to line management often begins with assuming the role of a team leader. This intermediate step allows you to gain valuable experience in leading a smaller group before taking on broader responsibilities as a group or department leader. It provides an opportunity to fine-tune your leadership skills, build confidence, and understand the dynamics of managing a team.

Lessons Learned and Insights from My Journey

My managers and human resources asked me often which career path to follow: project or line manager career path. It was a difficult question for me. From one side, line management is a clear career path, with opportunities existing in any company and department, but less related with what I love – managing projects. From the other side, program management is dealing with inter-related projects, organization and alignment with the company strategic objectives, but with much less obvious opportunities in a company.

Summary and Practical Tip

Transitioning from project management to line management represents a new and exciting phase in your career. As a line manager, your team becomes your project, and it is crucial to define a clear vision for the team and create a plan to achieve it. Engage your team in the process, develop workshops to align their efforts, delegate responsibilities, and regularly collect 360º feedback to foster continuous improvement. Embrace the challenges and rewards of people management, and remember that building strong relationships and creating a positive work environment are key to success.

Practical tip: As you embark on your journey to becoming a line manager, approach it as a project, or life project, take your project management skills to make a plan for the transition and achieving the desired goal of being a respected leader by your organization, and most important, by your team. With dedication, a focus on your personal growth, and a commitment to supporting the development of your team members.

The transition may have its ups and downs, but with the right mindset and the application of effective project management practices, you can thrive in your new role. And just remember that: your team is your new project.
Do you still have doubts between project and line management career path? Is there another option possible for a project manager to grow? Why not something in between? Stay tuned because this is what I would like to explore in the next and last article of this series.

Wishing You a Fa-Bu-Lux Life 🙂

You can know more about “Project Your Life” through the:

📕  Amazon (FREE preview): link

🌐  Book website (book delivery only possible for Portugal): link


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