Power. It can be a wonderful thing. It can also be the worst thing possible when it falls into the wrong hands, goes to someone’s head, or is neglected in such a way as to damage the goals, cohesiveness and progress of the project.
It can be a project manager acting out of control or outside the guidelines of his professional authority. It can be a project team member leading key tasks who is avoiding the delegated authority thrust upon him.
Whatever the abuse may be, it needs to be recognized quickly, dealt with swiftly and eradicated efficiently so as to best ensure that the forward momentum of the project is not affected too adversely. But how? These are dangerous situations with customer’s dollars at stake. And customer satisfaction at stake. And our own organization’s reputation at stake. If not handled appropriately, the consequences – at least to the project at hand – could be catastrophic.
Three potential leadership-abusing situations to look for:
Avoiding what’s assigned.
When team members seem to be abusing any leadership responsibilities thrust upon them for a project, it may become most apparent in what they aren’t doing as opposed to what they are doing. What I mean by that is they may be disregarding their assigned tasks – which are critical to the completion of the project – for their own tasks and focus of what they believe to be more important. Team members refusing to follow what has been delegated to them for what they believe to be more important can in fact be doing great harm to the project engagement. And such rogue behavior can also be detrimental to the overall cohesiveness of the project team – especially if it involves a senior team member with some authority over other members of the team.
Most organizations have at least some sort of structured methodology in place for how they go about the practice of managing projects day in and day out. They may not always be the best practices and some employees may have ideas on how to do things better, but until you have taken your suggested process or methodology changes or improvements to senior management for approval, the assumption is always that the normal processes will be followed. Leadership that abuses this will appear to be “going rogue” and while their ideas may be good, their actions – without formal approval – may actually be divisive and detrimental to the project and to the organization.
Team cohesiveness eroding.
When leadership is being abused or seems to be very misguided, the effectiveness of the team will diminish as well. Team members may seem to be unsure of what they should be working on or they may seem to be aimlessly working on several tasks – far too much multi-tasking – without really accomplishing anything of significance. This will be most apparent to the project client as project progress will seem to be mysteriously stymied and they may begin to reach out to executive management in the delivery organization to express concerns.
In Part 2 of this two part series, we’ll discuss ways to respond to or handle each of these situations and some high-level responses to leadership abuse.