Managing Without Authority…or Experience

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

One of the things I like best about project management is the fact that your success as a project manager is largely down to ability. That’s not meant to suggest that other types of managers aren’t just as good; but the fact that PMs generally don’t have positional authority to rely on help ensures that they are truly focused on doing a good job in managing and leading their teams.

However, that success depends heavily on knowing how to deal with different situations—and that in turn requires experience. What do you do if you are a project manager who doesn’t have much experience? You can’t rely on formal authority from your place in the organizational hierarchy, and you can’t be confident that your background will guide you on how to act in all situations. You also can’t be sure that some of the people around you (stakeholders in particular) won’t take advantage of your lack of experience.

You are not alone
The first thing to remember is that you are not alone, and that is something that can be easy to forget. When you are working with your project—the tasks, team members, stakeholders, etc.—it’s easy to feel as though you alone are carrying the burden for a successful project.

Certainly, the expectation is that you will be accountable for doing everything you can to ensure the project turns out …

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You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

- Margaret Thatcher