Referent Power and Value in Relationships

Personal stories that show growth of a professional are close to our heart. Every professional has a personal story that they can share, but what makes a great story even better is the ability to show lessons learned through that story and why they matter to you (the reader).

This experience turned lesson are the types of blogs we at Agile Scout love to read and we came upon such a story with Courtney Behm (@cabehm) who describes her movement into project management and some very clear realizations from her experience.

Though the title of her article points to the fact that project management isn’t all about metrics and following a ton of data on spreadsheets, we think another appropriate way to title her work would be: Project Management, All About Relationships. This is because that’s what project management is really all about at the end of the day is it not?

“People can easily rest in the belief that PMP certification and expertise with tools, schedules and change management analysis make the PM, I’d like to offer an alternate viewpoint.  At the end of the day, it’s really not about the metrics.”

So what’s the point? The point is that no matter what tools you have or what education and background you have, at the end of the day if a project manager wants to have value-add impact to a company it’s their ability to have referent power, meaning, they have the ability to garner support through their charismatic and inspiring attitude.

“Referent power comes from who we are, day after day, and it’s essential to our success in a role that bridges so many functions, yet owns none of them.  The challenge is that we may need to develop a deeper self-awareness in order to understand more completely how we can become a person worthy of respect and liking.”

Absolutely, right on. We completely agree Courtney! Certifications, education, experience, and tools are all very important, but character goes far beyond all of that.


“But most of us are not “experts.”  We’ve done good work, and we know our stuff, but Oprah has never interviewed us on the fine points of our latest book.  So we can’t play the expert card.”

Exactly. We’re not experts according to this definition. We should all hope to continue and grow in our professions and do the best work we can for clients.

Read more about Courtney Behm’s experience here.


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