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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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12.4. Trusting others

The deeper and wider a hierarchy of an organization becomes, the more common it is to rely on granted power. There is greater fear among leaders about how to keep the masses working together (or perhaps, how to prevent them from starting a revolution), and there is the belief that there isn't time to engage everyone in the organization in a kind of discussion and communication that requires using earned authority. Even on small teams, I know some leaders who don't believe they have the energy or time to engage all of their key contributors in this kind of leadership style. The solution to this problem is another kind of trust, called delegation: trusting others to make decisions.

Authority and trust often accumulate around different tasks or areas of knowledge. Joe might have the most authority when it comes to C++ objects, and Sally might be the best person for database work. Healthy, communicative teammates trust each other enough to know when someone else has more skill or a better perspective, and then solicit that person's advice without fear of embarrassment or ridicule. This is a real fear because engineering disciplines have ripe cultures of passive-aggressive behavior around asking for help (i.e., rtfm). Even in computer science departments in college, self-reliance is seen as a core competency, and students asking peers for help is often considered a sign of weakness.

From a project perspective, Sally's authority on database design is only as good ...

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