Project Management Central

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Topics: Career Development, Leadership, Organizational Culture
Have you ever questioned whether you are directing or wearing the reins of a project?

To be successful, project managers need empowerment, which one normally gets through the mandate of a charter. Have you ever found yourself lacking the authority, but holding the title – what are your thoughts and experience when one is confronted with this situation?
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You do not need "formal" emporwerment or autorithy. If exists, the better. If not, is up to you to create it. That is the diference between reactive or proactive project manger.Forget about to behave like if things "will come from heaven".

George -

You do your best using all your powers of influence, persuasion and other soft skills to help your team succeed. This is not an uncommon situation in functional or weak matrix structures or in those companies at a low level of project management maturity.


I am lucky enough that my current project is the biggest one for my customer. It means, that the project carries a lot of weight for our resourcing and budget requests, often displacing other projects and even operational work.

Managing without authority is a basic class for project leadership.
What you need for it is the skill of influencing others. This is a core skill for project managers, it is actually the last quadrant of emotional intelligence.

I agree with Sergio and Kiron. It is up to you to create your own environment. Empowerment really matters but you have to do your best all the time.

You have the sponsor holding the purse string and levels of hierarchy sitting on top of you. This is a typical scenario.

As a Project Manager, You are more like the conductor of an orchestra making sure that the ensemble is able to create music that is hopefully pleasant to the ears.

Its of IMMENSE importance for a project manager to be EMPOWERED . Organizations that are well matured in project management practice shall sure have project charter in place , citing the authority leveraged to PM to use resources to deliver the project . However many organizations that are either still maturing in PM practices or have low PM maturity end up missing empowering PMs . Repercursion to such a miss includes , PM being clueless about decision making , need to keep chasing other for small lil approvals on things , always lowers down the morale of PM . Considering the points cited ,it becomes difficult to manage the team and project .

It is a very simplistic and shortsighted view to say that if the PM is not empowered then they need to empower themselves. You cannot empower yourself if the environment itself does not exist. The previous company management I worked at were masters at installing people without empowering them to make REAL decisions. REAL empowerment means that decisions can be made that can alter the outcome of the project. Empowerment is not the ability to manage the lunch hour and tea time of team members or to make decisions that are ring-fenced. I've abdicated responsibility because 'management' agreed with my assessment that we were doing the wrong things but instructed me to continue because we could not afford to do the right thing. So after trying everything I could I refused to lead the team any further. But besides the fact that I needed to do as I was told I was 'empowered' to do anything I wanted ;) In a situation like that you CANNOT create your own empowerment.

Empowering PMs is nearly impossible in many if not in most organizations Why? Because PMs in most cases don't hold senior positions in the organization and many times other project team members are much higher then them.

Nowadays in many organizations it is possible to start your career in project management straight from college. I have seen projects "managed" by junior PMs very young with team members much more senior then them and at a much higher pay.

When companies want someone empowered to lead the project/program on behalf of the sponsor they rarely empower the PMs what they do is they higher a project or program director which may be a former a PM but usually is someone who holds or held a senior management position.

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"In opera, there is always too much singing."

- Claude Debussy



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