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Power: Use It or Lose It November 28, 2011

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Management & leadership, Organizational dynamics.
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One of the best managers I’ve ever known told this story about his first year leading a product development organization.

The team used a standard lifecycle with gate reviews at the end of each phase. In theory these were checkpoints that strictly required the completion of certain tasks or the achievement of some measurable level of performance in order to move to the next phase. Unfortunately, as often happens, the checkpoints had become a routine rubber stamp — a project status report rather than a pass/fail gate — and phase requirements that were not completed were either delayed, waived, or ignored, with consequences later in the program.

That is, until the checkpoint when this manager refused to play along and allow the team to advance to the next phase, making it clear that these deliverables were requirements, not suggestions. The program team that failed the checkpoint had to put in extra time to fulfill the requirements for a rescheduled review meeting, with no change to the program’s original delivery date. No one came unprepared to a checkpoint again.

This manager understood the importance of an early exercise of his positional power to assert influence. It’s not enough to create and communicate a vision and set performance expectations with measurable objectives; a manager must also be ready to insist that others follow in order to be taken seriously. Having power and never using that power is the same as being powerless.

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1. Needed: More Ideas Than Programs « Managing in the 2000s - June 25, 2012

[…] an earlier post I told the story of a senior manager who was fairly new to his executive position (Power: Use It or Lose It). He took advantage of an early opportunity to exercise his positional authority and refused to […]


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