10 March, 2020

Get to Grips with Project Politics | Video

As a Project Manager, you need to get to grips with Project Politics.

But you may say: ‘I’m a Project Manager; not a Politician’

There is an old joke:

The world is divided into two groups: people who like to divide the world into two groups, and those who don’t.

This video is safe for viewing in the workplace.

This is learning, so, sit back and enjoy

In an earlier opinion video, I argued that Project Managers need to be able to synthesize opposites, and appreciate nuances. Nowhere is this more important than in politics, where polarization is an easy default for many. Consequently, a lot of Project managers try to take the position that either:

  • ‘I don’t do politics’ or…
  • ‘I try to rise above politics’

Well here’s a flash. Project Management is politics. Your need to engage with stakeholders and listen to differing views. You must appease, cajole and persuade, and work together to create results… That’s politics.

But where do You Start?

Building political capital is a four-step process. Start by making a robust assessment of where you are on this journey, and then focus on the next logical step:

  1. Understand the power structure? – who knows whom? Who influences whom? Who do you know?
  2. Attract people to you – be confident, enthusiastic, and generous with your time.
  3. Create your reputation – ‘you can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do’ (Henry Ford). Make things happen, inspire and lead.
  4. Build alliances – look for opportunities to help other, and then to collaborate. Politics is applied reciprocity.

The ‘so what?’

So I’d like to encourage you to put more of your Project Management time into building a network of political influence. This has two benefits for you. It will help you deliver great projects. And perhaps even more valuable to you: it will help you build the career you want.

For more on the ‘How’ of project politics, take a look at our article, The Game of Projects: ‘How to Win at Project Politics’.

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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