Guideline Ten | Lead

10. Lead and manage people effectively.

Leading and managing people effectively is at the core of running a successful project. Leading and managing during a project is not a title-specific role. At times, as a Manager you need to use leadership skills and at times you need to use management skills. Being able to flex between these two states is required to achieve the best project outcomes.
You need to develop the ability to choose the appropriate time when people need to be either lead or managed. Understanding your own leadership and management style, leading those that do not report to you and leading a dispersed team are all part of the core skills you need to acquire.

Power and Politics
Power: the ability to get others to do what you want them to do*  Politics: power in action, using a range of techniques and tactics
                                                          Buchanan and Badham (2008)

The ability to influence others and put power into action is another core leadership/management skill required for project management. Understanding how you think about power and influencing, and the use of power in action, is critical to how effectively you will be able to influence. Being able to get people who are busy, disinterested or in dispersed locations to be active on the project, where and when required, will come down to how comfortable you are with ‘power in action’. Project Managers or change agents need to reflect on and understand how they manage power and politics in order to achieve the best outcomes for their project
Influencing those who do not report to you

The ‘how to’ of influencing those who do not report to you – or ‘leading leaders’ – needs strategising like any other part of project management. In the end, your ability to influence someone who doesn’t report to you will hinge on whether they respect and trust you, and feel they can rely on you and your advice. In this regard it is essential, early on in a project, to negotiate (either explicitly or implicitly through more general conversations) how your relationship will work. These negotiations should cover, for example:

  • Key timelines and decision times to meet their, and your, expectations

  • What is required of them and what you intend to deliver to them.
What is important for them and what they need to know

  • What you offer them and in turn what they offer you.

The negotiating process should enable you to get to know the other person’s mode of operating, see the world through their eyes and deliver information to them in the format they require. Always aim to get agreements, no matter how small.
It is often useful when leading to have up one's sleeve a number of strategies for getting consensus from your team. Two examples are shown in the ONLINE Resources box on the right. Below you can download a description of the Nominal Group technique that one of us has used successfully in many different contexts. You are encouraged not to repeat them often with the same group as they loose their impact.


Nominal group AL Paper.doc39 KB