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Run the right project

Weigh the risks before you dive in

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Your boss asks you to head a prestigious project, and you can’t wait to accept. You know that as leader of a high-impact initiative, you can gain visibility and play an increasingly greater role.

Just don’t overlook the downside. Some teams are destined to fail—and they can drag down their hapless leaders, too.

Analyze the risks before you take on the responsibility:

People. Assess who will comprise the team. Can you fill your group with people who possess the skills, dedication and reliability to deliver?

Also consider how much time team members can devote. If they’ll still need to perform their regular jobs, their bosses may not make them available as much as you’d like. Clarify all this in advance.

Money. Determine how much your boss will allocate for your team’s financial resources. Make sure you control expenditures. You’ll want the freedom to earmark project funds for, say, investing in consultants or staging pilot programs. If money is too tight, your team may never have a chance to make a difference.

Politics. Confirm that influential figures within your organization want your team to succeed. If just one key executive resents your team’s mission or deems it a threat, you may be embarking on a no-win assignment.

Tools. Think twice about running project teams that rely on untested technologies or obsolete equipment. Despite your great leadership and your group’s best efforts, the project can fail if you lack the tools.

Ethics. You’ll want to sleep soundly at night knowing that your team operates ethically and pursues an admirable goal. If you question the underlying purpose of the project or feel qualms about leading such an effort, bow out before you feel boxed in.

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