Project Management

Do You Need Permission to Lead?

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.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

There has been a lot written over many decades around the differences between leadership and management, but most of that is focused around the way the skills are applied. But permission is also a differentiator between the two concepts.

To be a manager, you need to be appointed, to be given a role. Project management is the perfect example. Your employer made a decision to train you on project management skills, or to hire you for a project management role. When you are appointed to oversee a project, that is a formal granting of permission for you to manage the work and the people.

But even though leadership is the single most important aspect of project management, you don’t need permission to apply those leadership skills. An example will illustrate the point:

A resource has been assigned to your project. That assignment was made by the individual’s line manager, who becomes a resource owner stakeholder of the project. You probably had a chance to discuss who might be appropriate from their team, but ultimately it was their decision who to assign because they are the manager. When the individual is working on the project, they report to you for their project work but continue to report to their line manager for any other work they are assigned to (and for the administrative aspects of their employment). They may talk to you about taking a week off, but …


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