Project managers are typically assigned project teams that consist of individuals from the Business, HR, Finance, Real Estate, and Technologies (if not a tech led project). These individuals either volunteered or were volunteered to work on the team.
Six Sigma, PMP, Prince 2, and other project methodologies touch upon change management but don’t focus on important aspects of group dynamics and leadership.
Did you know that teams go through the Tuckman’s Model of Group Development?
You may recognize it as the Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning of groups. It’s important to be aware of these stages of group evolution because I’ve found that within these stages an informal leader can emerge.
Why does it matter if there’s an informal leader in your group?
Before answering the question, I would like to explain the difference between a formal and informal leader.
A formal leader is an individual whose job is to be the leader of the group (e.g., Project Manager is automatically the team leader). Organization authorizes role.
An informal leader is an individual who does not have official authority over the team but is being followed by the group members. (e.g., when one finds that the team is following one particular team-member instead of you). Team authorizes role.
It’s important to identify the existence of an informal leader because that individual has the informal power and authority to either support your efforts or completely undermine them.
Informal leaders emerge when the team does not support/believe in your leadership. It’s at this time that you would need to revisit your leadership style to meet group needs.
Below are some tips that I’ve used as I’ve progressed from Project Manager to Portfolio-level Leader.