Sunday, May 15, 2022

Leading a team of rivals

Bidding on large contracts often requires teaming with a rival(s) to fill gaps in skills and capabilities. One day you're trying to beat them in a competition as your rival, and the next day you're teamed with them, now trying to beat yet another guy, with your 'rival' now your BFF.

And, what if you're the prime contractor PMO in this arrangement required to manage such a team of rivals with all the parochial tensions, biases, mistrusts, and suspicions that go along with such temporary truces between otherwise competitors?

From experience: leading coalitions is not easy! 
  • It take the patience of Job, and the resolve to direct traffic -- sometimes saying Yes! and sometimes saying No! 
  • It can't be a matter of permission and consensus when the chips are down: you are the team lead, and lead you must.

General Eisenhower had the mother of all coalition leadership jobs. Here's what he says:

"Success in such organizations rests ultimately upon personalities: [executives, managers, technicians] --- and even populations(*) -- must develop confidence in the concept of single command and the leader by which the single command is exercised. 
No binding regulation, [teaming agreement], or custom can apply to all its parts--only a highly developed sense of mutual confidence can solve the problem" ;

And, the 'problem' Eisenhower is referring to how to get disparate personalities -- some prickly, some quiescent, and some rude -- to [temporarily at least] cooperate for the greater good, and put aside parochial tensions, biases, mistrusts, and suspicions that go along with such temporary truces.

His remedy, not explicit above, is to attain confidence from performance. And that requires promoting the achievers and relieving the non-achievers -- with dispatch!

(*) In the PMO context, 'populations' is akin to all the sundry stakeholders from project investors to product users and maintainers

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