Search for a Project-Management-friendly Personality Classification
In an attempt to bring more recognizable and practical utility
to the issue of project manager selection, a six-step analysis was
undertaken. The first step consisted of a review of the last ten
years [1985-1995] of PMI publications to abstract familiar words
or phrases used to describe a project manager's required personal
characteristics and skill sets. The selection excluded words that
depicted technological experience or know-how. The result was a
list of some 200 words or phrases which, together, suggested that
the project manager should be an impossible paragon of virtue!
The second step consisted of selecting familiar but differentiated
headings into which the words could be sorted. The review of the
literature described earlier suggested that with appropriate changes
in terminology the primary X-Y axes of the MBTI grid would be appropriate
and sufficient as separators for a 2x2 grid. This would give rise
to four recognizable project leader types. This result appears to
be confirmed by the work of Kliem and Anderson referenced above.
It is also supported by the observation that the four cells at the
extreme corners of the MBTI 4x4 grid describe characteristics most
often found in project leaders. This in itself was an important
Thus, a horizontal (X) axis was chosen to show a "Problem
versus People focus" and end‑labeled "Inward-looking"
to "Outgoing". This equates to the "Introvert"
to "Extrovert" axis of the MBTI grid. A vertical (Y) axis
was chosen to show a "Receptive versus Directive Style"
and end‑labeled "Autocracy" to "Adhocracy".
This equates to the "Intuitive" to "Sensing"'
axis of the MBTI grid.
The label "Adhocracy" needs some explanation. It is a
term coined by Robert Waterman to describe a particular type of
loose and flexible project team environment. In this environment
it is necessary to lend some semblance of structure to travel the
apparently unknown route to the project's destination, that is,
until its final phase.
The arrangement thus described is shown in Figure
5. Examination of the figure's axes suggests that a person in
the top-left quadrant might be described as an "Explorer"
or entrepreneur. A person in the top-right could be described as
a "Driver"; in the bottom-right as a "Coordinator"
or catalyst; and in the bottom-left as an "Administrator"
or stabilizer. These titles also fit reasonably well with the MBTI
Figure 5: Identification of Project Manager's Style
In the third step, the list of words were assigned to one of the
four headings as seemed most appropriate. They were then subdivided
into "Personal Characteristics" and "Personal Skill
Sets". Personal characteristics are those aspects of a person's
temperament that determine their natural tendencies or preferences,
though these tendencies may be honed by experience. Skill sets are
the project manager's personal "kit bag" of capabilities
that can be developed through training and experience. A number
of the words were deemed to be applicable to all four types of project
leader. The result was approximately twenty five phrases in each
of the four columns under each of the two main headings.
The fifth step involved matching the four leader-type columns horizontally,
and augmenting the phrases if necessary, to provide a cross check
and comparative representation. Finally, the resulting rows were
further sorted into the generally accepted project management functions
of "Planning, Organizing, Executing and Controlling".
(Note: Cleland describes five functions: Planning, Organizing, Motivating,
Directing and Controlling.
Motivating and Directing are taken as being part of Executing. Kliem
and Anderson use the term Leading, but their description better
fits the function of managing execution.)
Waterman, R. H., Adhocracy: The Power to Change, W W Norton &
Co., NY, 1992, p16 & 59.
16. Cleland, D. I., Project Management: Strategic
Design and Implementation, TAB Professional and Reference Books, PA,
17. Kliem, Ralph L. and Harris B. Anderson, Teambuilding
Styles and Their Impact on Project Management Results, PMI Journal
27(1), 1996, p46.