Thursday, February 07, 2019

Power, politics, and getting sh!t done as a project manager

Power, politics, and getting sh!t done as a project manager
Leadership and management are ultimately about being able to get things done. Your skills and qualities as a project manager help you to achieve the project goals and objectives. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of power. Along with influence, negotiation, and autonomy, power is one of the key elements of politics.

Power and politics are probably the most important topics in project management, but at the same time, they’re one of the least discussed subjects. They are neither “good” nor “bad,” “positive” nor “negative” alone. Each organization works differently, and the better you understand how the organization works, the more likely it is that you will be successful.

Politics has a bit of a dirty name. It’s associated with false promises, backstabbing, alliances and manipulating others. But the worst weakness of politics is its failure to deliver on its promises. Time and time again we see public politicians or business leaders failing to deliver the change they promise. And we as project managers do as well.

Power, in the engineering sense, is defined as the ability to do work. In the social sense, power is the ability to get others to do the work (or actions) you want regardless of their desires.

When we think of all the project managers who have responsibility without authority, who must elicit support by influence and not by command authority, then we can see why power is one of the most important topics in project management.

Power can originate from the individual or from the organization. Power is often supported by other people’s perception of the leader. It is essential for you to be aware of your relationships with other people, as relationships enable you to get things done on the project.

There are numerous forms of power at the disposal of project managers, but using them can be complex given their nature and the various factors at play in a project. Some forms of power are:

> Positional (sometimes called formal, authoritative, legitimate; e.g., formal position granted in the organization or team);

> Informational (e.g., control of gathering or distribution);

> Referent (e.g., respect or admiration others hold for the individual, credibility gained);

> Situational (e.g., gained due to unique situation such as a specific crisis)

> Personal or charismatic (e.g., charm, attraction);

> Relational (e.g., participates in networking, connections and alliances);

> Expert (e.g., skill, information possessed, experience, training, education, certification);

> Reward-oriented (e.g., ability to give praise, money, or other desired items);

> Punitive or coercive (e.g., ability to invoke discipline or negative consequences);

> Ingratiating (e.g., application of flattery or other common ground to win favor or cooperation);

> Pressure-based (e.g., limiting freedom of choice or movement for the purpose of gaining compliance to desired action);

> Guilt-based (e.g., imposition of obligation or sense of duty);

> Persuasive (e.g., ability to provide arguments that move people to a desired course of action); and

> Avoiding (e.g., refusing to participate)

Effective project managers work to understand the politics inside their organization, and are proactive and intentional when it comes to power. These project managers will work to acquire the power and authority they need within the boundaries of the organization’s policies, protocols, and procedures rather than wait for it to be granted, or not given at all.
Posted on Thursday, February 07, 2019 by Henrico Dolfing