A recent post over at the Thought Leaders blog titled When the Boss Says Yes and Means No reminded me of the confused expectations set by leaders when it comes to project support.
We’ve all heard at some point if senior leadership doesn’t support a project or initiative it’s doomed to fail. But what exactly is the definition of “support”? For example, let’s say the powers-that-be don’t squash a project. But they also don’t attend the meetings, provide adequate resources, or promote the benefits of the result. Is it fair to say they “supported” the project?
Another possibility is leadership doesn’t cancel a project but they also don’t know how to support it. Dan McCarthy just talked about the subject in his post What Does ‘CEO Commitment’ to Leadership Development Really Mean?
It might not seem like it at times but, I can see in some instances where the decision to not cancel a project is interpreted as providing support. Maybe just getting the green light to do something is support enough. In other situations, appropriate support might need to be much more. Including leadership team presence and resources like money, equipment, and staff.
Regardless of the reason, it would seem like the defining factor of senior leadership support is directly tied to business goals.
If the project/initiative has direct impact on organizational goals, then senior leadership needs to have a high level of support and engagement. And, if the project doesn’t have a direct impact on organizational goals, then maybe their support can take a different form. You might be asking – shouldn’t every project have a direct impact on business goals…but reality is, many projects don’t. Things like painting the building or upgrading furniture are projects that don’t always have a direct business impact.
What’s important is for leaders to set clear expectations where projects are concerned including letting people know the level of support the project will receive. This can avoid confusion and frustration by employees wondering why their project isn’t getting management support.
Part of being a leader is supporting the organization. Support isn’t a one-size-fits-all matter. Taking into consideration the task, it’s impact on the operation and communicating clear expectations will make for a successful project.
P.S. Speaking of leadership, friends Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris have just launched a book From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership. They’ve also launched a Bud to Boss community. Kevin and Guy have graciously offered to give away 2 copies of their new book to HRB readers. And you will get your choice of receiving the book in hard copy or Kindle version. All you need to do is leave a comment below that you want to be entered in the drawing. That simple. I’ll draw the winning names on Friday, February 18. Many thanks to Kevin and Guy for sharing their new book with us! I’m looking forward to being a part of the Bud to Boss community.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons