Bart is the CEO of NIMO and the co-author of "Being The Project Sponsor". I have known Bart for a number of years and am really impressed by his relationship-building skills. He has an amazing ability to be direct and honest and at the same time strengthen the relationship. This is what Bart says about lateral governance.
You’ve got to be fearless when it comes to your project
One of the biggest challenges that project managers face is what I call lateral governance. I use the term to describe situations where individuals – who are not part of the project’s governance structure – use their power and position to influence the project in their own interest. It could be, for instance, that your line manager isn’t happy with the financial results of the project so far, and asks you to disguise the project losses to prevent her from having a difficult conversation with the board of directors.
The best way to deal with this kind of behaviour is to create clear communication lines and well-described tasks and roles & responsibilities of the project team, project board and the stakeholders. And if a stakeholder tries to influence a team member directly, ask them to escalate it to you so that you can deal with it. As project manager you need to be fearless and brave enough to tell the stakeholder to use the official lines of communication. Don’t fear your job, your boss or people who think they are VIP’s. Always think and act in a way that’s best for the project. You and your project executive need to be in charge and in control.