Lessons for the Project Manager from French and Raven's Bases of Power

Robert Barger, MBA, PMP

As a project manager in a matrixed organization, you operate horizontally in a vertical world. In order to achieve your project’s goals, you will have to coordinate the activities of resources that operate both within your silo as well as outside. You must learn to quickly develop effective, working relationships and clear away obstacles that threaten your project. Your ability to perform these tasks successfully is dependent upon your skill in developing necessary relationships and exerting influence when needed. You are not being paid to produce excuses; you are paid to produce results. The successful project manager is the person who has mastered the ability to get things done. Career project managers know that there is a proper, and sometimes particular, way to achieve those goals.

The project manager must interact with so many different roles in organizations that it is almost a guarantee that during the life cycle of a project, you will have to interact with someone you don’t “control,”—someone who is outside of your direct sphere of influence. So, it is from this perspective that we begin, with the assumption that you don’t “own” all of your team. You need to negotiate and collaborate, and you need to think about how to best play the cards that you have been dealt.

In 1959, John R. P. French, Jr. and …

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