Effect of the Leadership Lurch part 1

by Jane Mason Bloggers Circle January 2010

Earlier I wrote about the Leadership Lurch at my client.  Here, I am writing ab out one of its more pernicioius outcomes:  the confusion between leadership and control.  Yes, yes, I know I wrote about my feelings of failure just a couple of days ago, but a girl has to have defense mechanisms or she’ll die.  So, without further ado…Effect of the Leadership Lurch part 1.

What is fascinating about my client at the moment is that, in the absence of any real leadership, they are putting increasing numbers of business and project controls in place.  They ar e hiring more people, establishing more “rules”, putting more project management structures into place, and insisting on implementing “project control committees” f or all projects which they say are validation opportunities (that’s when you run your ideas past people to test them) but are, in fact, what they say on the tin – CONTROL commi ttees.

Control is not leadership.  Control is control.  The client will not increase the chances of a project delivering better results by upping the already onerous levels of control.  The Bo ard at the client will increase the chances of a project delivering better results by:

1.   prioritising the number of projects in place so that they are all properly resourced rather than deploying loads of people on a 10% basis to five different projects in addition to their day job;
2.  trusting project resources to lead and manage the projects rather than insist that low impact decisions must be made at board level;
3.   making time to resolve critical conflicts quickly and thoroughly so the same issues do not appear repeatedly.

The fact that there are increasing numbers of control mechanisms being implemented indicates a level of anxiety at Board level that is out of control.  The right thing for them to do it to take a step back, re-assess the situation, change things (plans, people, timelines, goals…) that need to be changed, and take responsibility.  All of this requires making and imp lementing decisions. 

The fact that the Board members do not trust project resources indicates that the Board members do not trust each other.  Therein lies both the cause and the effect of the Leadership Lu rch.