How to Lead a Project Without Authority

Adriana Girdler

Everything you need to know about running a project team that doesn’t report into you Leading without authority is a critical skillset for project managers …

Everything you need to know about running a project team that doesn’t report into you

Leading without authority is a critical skillset for project managers because more often than not, you’ll find yourself running a team that doesn’t report directly to you.

So, the question becomes, how do you keep them motivated and ensure the project is successful?

There are a few major things you need to know that will help you successfully lead a project without authority.

What is leading without authority?

Leading without authority is when you’re leading a project where the people on your project team don’t report into you, but you’re still responsible for the success of the project and ensuring that those on your project team stay motivated and focused.

Have a Strong “Why”

The best motivation comes when people know exactly WHY they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s not just about getting tasks done; it’s about giving your project team a sense of purpose so that people know why what they’re doing is really valuable.

Get Buy-In

There are a few ways you can get buy-in to ensure everyone is on board with what is happening on your project.

When it comes to your action plan, if you’re using a Work Breakdown Structure, you can develop this together as a team which not only creates buy-in, but also accountability.

Another thing you’ll want to consider doing is ensure your team is part of key decision-making aspects of the project. This includes brainstorming and working through disagreements! It really goes a long way.

The final way you can get buy-in is to have them sign the charter. By having them sign it, you’re basically asking them if they agree with the ways of working, and they are signing off saying that they agree.

More Tips on Leading Without Authority

There are a few more things you need to know about leading projects without authority. So, if you’re managing projects, head over to YouTube with me and we’ll keep chatting about how you can ensure every project is successful, even when your project team doesn’t directly report into you. See you there!

If you want even more project manager tips on every aspect of managing a successful project, make sure you check out my SLAY Project Management course where I give you all the templates, tips, and techniques to implement if you want a 100% project success rate going forward.


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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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