The PM Podcast

Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 072: Authority

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Thomas CuttingWhen your project fails, your sponsor will only call one person into his office to discuss this failure... you. As the project manager you are responsible for the success and failure of your projects. And that holds true, even if the reason for this failure was outside your span of control, even if you work in a matrix environment in which project managers normally lack formal authority. Yes, we all know that responsibility and authority should be in balance, but more often than not, your responsibility outweighs the formal authority that you receive. You have to fall back to other forms of authority - referent authority, expert authority, reward authority and penalty authority. Thomas Cutting, PMP, has written a series of articles on authority in his blog at and we are happy to have Thomas on the program today. We look in detail at the various types of authority, how they apply in a matrix organization and in a projectized organization and we look at what you can do to regain your authority if you think that you have lost it. As project managers, we don't think about authority often enough. It seems to be something that sort of "just happens". This discussion will give you a lot of food for thought and you will look differently at your personal authority next time that you accept a project.

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