Who is covering your back?

Extraordinary Project Managers build teams and create Tribes of followers to help deliver their Target and navigate the uncertain Terrain of the business and political world that surrounds us. Seth Godin defines a Tribe as a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. Building our Project Tribe is just one of those things we do instinctively but need to remember to do consciously in the seemingly ever-increasingly resource-constrained project world.

Our Tribe will inevitably span a range of levels and functions in the business we operate within and may well include our customers and other external sponsors. Thinking about our Tribe, meeting their needs, and knowing what we can count on them for is an integral part of operating at an exceptional level as Project or Programme Managers. Being mindful that our Tribe is wider than both our Project Team and our stakeholders, we will purposefully build those connections in a steady and collaborative way. Our wider Tribe will help us to have support we can call on when we need it, and also eyes, ears and perspectives that we might not otherwise have benefitted from.

Once we have worked out who is in our Tribe, who we are continuing to connect to, and who is connected to the idea or change we are delivering, we can start working out how they sit in their Attitude towards us and where we need them to be. Albeit totally subjective and risking bias, we can assess which if the 5 Attitude As are most appropriate for our Tribespeople and decide what to do about it, if we need to do some Tribe-building. The 5As we use are Advocate, Ally, Associate (neutral), Adversary and Abdicators….. and then there is ‘Captain Chaos’ who delights us all in flipping from Advocate to Adversary and back again.

We often don’t get to choose our team but we do get to choose who we connect to and how we build our Tribe. Extraordinary Project Managers are mindful and intentional but you won’t see that in a job description!

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