I'm a developer and I'm working in a small IT firm. I want to know what are common differences between a project lead and a team lead.

My background: in our company we have only lead programmers and consultants.


9 Answers 9


The roles can vary between organizations.

In general:

A team may be working on several projects, each with its own project manager and/or project lead within the team (if the project is spread out between various teams).

The team on the other hand has its own team manager or team lead (a matter of title in the organization).

In SCRUM each team works on one project (or sub-project), however, SCRUM teams still have two different roles*, **:

Product Owner - in charge of product vision and decides when the product at the end of a sprint is good enough to release.

Scrum Master - in charge of the process and making sure the team can work efficiently.

(*) These roles are defiantly not identical to the "traditional" roles.

(**) I am intentionally only providing brief and partial definitions for the sake of the comparison.

  • @UllasPrabhakar You might want to wait for more answers before selecting one. ( Even though I like my answer :-) ) Commented Jul 4, 2012 at 10:56
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    The product is released when it is good enough, not the sprint. The sprint is a fixed, non allterable timebox for working on the product. #nitpick Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 8:21
  • @HuibertGill Fixed the wording. Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 10:49

Team lead and project lead describe different "dimensions" in a company.

A company consists of people, organised in teams, departments, resorts... (depending on how big the company is) These groups of people need some form of management or leadership. This is where a team lead comes in.

What a company does (on a high level) consists of, daily work (in exsisting processes) or projects (to define new processes, or get better at them) The project lead is responsible for getting the project over the finish-line, and he might utilize one or more teams to do this, or one or more people from differnt teams (to form a project team)

One is how a companie hierachy is organised, the other one is how "work" is organised.

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    Agree completely. These are essentially the same term. The "doer" who is the chief voice of all the "doers." Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 15:42

I think you could easily get a million answers to this if everyone answered with their own/company's definition. However, to me the two are separated by context.

A project lead looks after a (or a set of - usually related) project(s) and is interested in only the remit of that project and the people in his/her project (whetehr perminantly, co-opted or just on a task basis).

A team lead is the mentor/supervisor/manager who looks after a team of individuals - usually of a particular specialisation or area. For example a database team may have one or more team leaders (perhaps one per database platform or one over all) - yet the individuals may be working on the same, different or multiple projects.

A team lead may be under a project lead if the team works solely for one project - or may be hierarchically anywhere if they "own" a team whose members are co-opted onto projects or undertake project work on a task by task basis.

This happens a lot in large companies (with big IT depts) where there are often dedicated specialist (opeartional) teams that will undertake work for projects and that work is under the lead of the project manager (and transfer charged to them usually), but the individuals are still controlled and managed by the team lead who has to look across multiple projects that his team are working on.


A project manager's role is the overall responsibility for a successful planning, and to make sure that their team is performing at their best. A team leader is responsible for the day to day running of the development effort, especially focused on the effort of their specific team and their core focus.


Project leader will lead the whole project, which contain multiple tasks. Project leader will do the people management activities. Some companies project leader is equivalent to project manager.

Whereas team leader will lead a team within the project. Team will be created based on related tasks within the project.

Eg. Project leader will lead for whole multimedia project. Whereas team leader will lead team like Audio player team, Video Player team. Both teams are formed under Multimedia project.

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    Good and simple example, +1!
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 0:52

Team Lead is a management position.

  • Responsible for one or more departments and people
  • Hires People
  • Distributes People across projects
  • Annual Reviews
  • Defines Department Development Process

Project Lead is a leadership position.

  • Responsible for one project or more projects
  • Coordinates project members day to day work

In my organisation this is separated by the permanent organisational roles which belong to Team Leads. Team Leads are responsible for ongoing management of the BAU tasks assigned to their team and any personal or professional growth management as well as any disciplinary or HR type engagement. It is a permanent role.

The project lead on the other hand is a transient role with responsibilities only within the temporary endeavour (project) they are responsible for. Line management etc remains with the owning Team lead rather than transferring to the project lead. The technical expectations are the same as those of a team lead managing his BAU projects.


The Project Manager is responsible for the planning, management commitments, customer communications, financial success, project schedule commitment, and overall success of the project.

The project lead(s) is responsible for the coordination and successful completion of some or all of the project tasks. Depending on the size of the project, there may be multiple project leads on a project. (i.e. software lead, hardware lead, clinical qualification lead, validation lead)


You use the word "team" when you talk about human beings and you use the word "project" when you add to the equation the software programs, the budget, the deadlines, your boss, the users, etc. Managing a team is not the same thing as managing a project. A project manager can have a team manager. When you manage a team, you make sure that everybody arrive on time and that they do what is requested. You manage their sick leaves for example; you evaluate their performance; you manage the rewards and the salaries. When you manage the project or the team, you make sure that you have sufficient budget and time to do what your boss agreed on. Managing the team, you make sure that everybody understand the problem to solve. You can also have many different work teams in the same project, separating people depending on the task they do to be more efficient.

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