8 tips for managing without authority

When it comes to managing indirect reports, there's no substitute for experience. Here’s how two project management veterans have found success in the challenging but rewarding world of managing without authority.

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Managing teams without direct authority over the participants isn't a new concept, and professionals charged with organizational leadership responsibilities are almost certain to find themselves managing indirect reports at some point in their careers.

If you’re new to this, you might feel as though you’re set up to fail. While indirect reports contribute to project goals and have defined deliverables, they are connected to project leadership through a "dotted line." And managing these reports often doesn’t come with input into HR-related issues. But the lessons you learn from this experience can be invaluable.

So, what actually works in the real world when it comes to managing indirect reports? To find out, we talked to two veterans who have seen it all. A project manager with more than 15 years of experience managing and leading virtual and collocated teams, Susan Legg McKinley currently works for healthcare services company Cardinal Health. A former marine, teacher and attorney, Frank Zammarchi is a senior acquisition specialist at IBM in charge of the procurement side of all agreements that come to IBM as a part of the company’s acquisition portfolio. Zammarchi has more than 30 years of experience leading indirect reports.

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