Leadership is an overused term to describe those in authority. Many organizations falsely assume that authority and leadership are synonymous. Authority figures do have the power to influence, but leadership is actually wielding that power of influence. Organizational structures that do not have mechanisms to ensure that those in authority act as leaders are doomed to common pitfalls when implementing enterprise projects.
Pitfall #1: Over Budget and Behind Schedule
Enterprise project milestones require leadership making key decisions by a specified date. If a key decision is not made by the milestone date, the project is delayed. Project delays are one of the major triggers for cost overruns or total failure. Successful enterprise projects are led by stakeholders willing to make decisions and be accountable for those decisions even if they are unpopular. Of course, stakeholders should attempt to gain consensus. However, a leader is able to make key decisions without consensus in order to prevent project delays. Leadership is a critical component to maintaining the fidelity of the project schedule and budget at critical decision points.
Pitfall #2: Low Morale, High Attrition
Project teams become weary of leadership wavering on the enterprise vision. Project work deliverables must be aligned with the enterprise vision. A culture with weak leadership exhibits indecisiveness on the execution of the vision. Indecisive leadership triggers slow productivity as employees become weary with constant changes in the direction. Skilled weary employees usually leave the organization.
Retention rates on enterprise projects are critical because projects benefit from continuity of operations and institutional knowledge. High attrition rates result in the enterprise shifting resources from focusing on the project to addressing talent management. Authority figures should have the leadership skills to gauge when decision making delays impact worker productivity and morale.
Pitfall #3: Change Management
Projects that lack leadership have high organizational chaos. An environment with organizational chaos provides a platform for adversaries of the project to voice their disagreement. A decisive leader makes decisions quickly so that adversaries are not able to leverage organizational chaos to counter the change management strategy.