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Your monthly dose of Project Management articles.

The Missing Authority: Leadership VS. Management

A lesson learned from a TRUE story…


PART I: The UGLY truth

There was an expert manager who joined a corporate firm as a senior technical manager leading different teams. He had high expectations driven by leadership competencies required to manage his teams effectively and deliver projects successfully. After three months only, he started facing a TRUE challenge from his direct manager, who was trying to limit his authority to fail him.

I know!!! It sounds weird to have a direct manager trying to limit the capability of his subordinate. However, this is a common situation in many companies, and unfortunately, this is the UGLY TRUTH.


Back to our manager journey, he was working closely with his team with high transparency and respect. And, he was able in a short time to deliver critical projects ahead of schedule with better quality and higher stakeholders & clients' satisfaction. And this the new fact!

And the story continues, and our manager was able to build new capacities in his team in the following years and gained new opportunities for himself and the team. On the other hand, his upper manager was losing his motive to limit his authority and started accepting the TOUGH FACT. In simple words, our manager was UNSTOPPABLE!!! Moreover, he was able to turn "assuming" to fail projects into successful ones with a short time frame.

After three years, the manager left the firm to start another journey continuing his successful career as a leader and a senior manager. There is no doubt that our famous guy was an exceptional manager who can overcome a difficult situation with a traditional/old school direct manager.

PART III: The SECRET recipe 

This is not the end of the story. It is just the beginning!

The logical-straightforward question that comes to our mind is: "How he was able to succeed in his journey, where he WAS NOT ALLOWED to? How did he make it? What was the secret recipe?"

One day, I asked him the same, and he replied:

"I led by influence and did not by authority!!!" and added that authority is a power given to you and can be taken back from you at any time, where influence is the power you hold, and NO ONE can take it from you.

PART IV: The LESSONS learned

As a result, this is the story of a LEADER who succeeded in leading his projects & the team without proper (deserved) authorization. A leader who believes in INFLUENCE and not in authority. A leader who has real POWER and not offered one.

We might agree with our manager or might not; however, there are great lessons to learn from this experience. It's the fact that Good Leaders know how to deal with the Ugly Truth despite the missing authority, and Good Managers know how to use full authority. But what we need nowadays, managers who practice both strong management skills and robust leadership skills. Managers who know how to use authority and extend it by influencing their teams, colleagues and upper management at the same time.

Exclusive 💬

Hani Hmedeh

About author

Founder of Zmaestro ◼️ Consultant ◼️ Mentor |

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