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Balance Competing Demands When You Lead A Team Project

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The challenge in leading some project teams is the necessity of balancing competing priorities that can pull your team in conflicting directions. Be prepared to deal with these potential opposites.

Big picture vs. small details. You need a strong grasp of the project as a whole—its goals, parameters, and rhythms—so you can guide it in the right direction. At the same time, you’ll have to keep an eye on specific, individual elements: deadlines, meetings, resources, and discipline.

Determination vs. termination. A big part of your job is to keep the team focused and enthusiastic even when the tasks seem difficult and the goals distant. On the other hand, you need to recognize when a particular objective isn’t worth the effort so you can cut your losses.

One project vs. many. Chances are, even though you’re in charge of this particular project, you’ve got other activities to manage. Some may be ongoing; others may be in development. Juggling these different responsibilities is vital.

• Focus vs. context. A leader’s role is to help team members focus closely on the demands of the project, shielding them from distractions. But you also have to keep an eye open for changes in the landscape that may affect the work of the team and the future of the project—developments in the industry or competition in the marketplace, for instance.

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