A paper presented to the Project Management Institute's Annual Seminar/Symposium "Tides of Change", Long Beach, California, USA, 1998 (Updated for web presentation, 2002). Presented here as the fourth in a series linking project type through management style to project success.

Introduction | Review 1950-1970  | Review 1980-1990  | Classification
Findings | Summary & Conclusions | Appendix A  | Appendix B

Findings of the Research

It will be appreciated that much of the sorting described above was subjective and, of course, the propensities and skills of individuals never fit these descriptions exactly. Nor, for that matter, are projects ever that simple. But the arrangement does begin to show a correlation between personal characteristics and the realities of the project management environment.

The results of the process described above are shown in Appendices A and B. The data is also available in the form of a two-part questionnaire for purposes of self-examination.

The resulting four types of project leader may be characterized as follows.

The Explorer - Explorer or entrepreneur type project leaders have a vision of the future and projects are the stepping stones. They are bold, courageous and imaginative. There is a constant search for opportunities and improvements. They are comfortable in the lead, and exude confidence and charisma. They are good at networking and selling. They may, however, have little time for day-to-day problems which are delegated to others. Their project power derives from past experience, enthusiasm, and superior ability to communicate.

The Coordinator - Coordinator types are just as important when the project phase or situation calls for "facilitation". Coordinators generally take a more independent and detached view of their surroundings. They are responsive to the views of project team members, who must take responsibility for their own decisions. Therefore, the Coordinator's role is to ensure that team issues are surfaced, discussed and resolved to the team's mutual satisfaction. These individuals tend to be humble, sensitive and willing to compromise. The Coordinator's power is derived from his or her ability to persuade others to compromise.

The Driver - Driver type project leaders are distinctly action-oriented and are both hard-working and hard driving. Their focus is on project mission and precise project goals. Their power is derived from authority and they are quite prepared to use it. At the same time they are pragmatic, realistic, resourceful and resolute. They are generally well planned and self-disciplined, so for those who have similar traits, they are easy to work with. However, conflict is quite likely with those who are not so inclined.

The Administrator - The Administrator recognizes the need for some degree of stability, typically in order to optimize productivity through maximizing repetition, to the extent that this is possible on a project, in order to get the work finished. Often, requisite data must be assembled and carefully analyzed, with thought given to the trade-offs and how conflicts and problems can be resolved and disposed of. Work must be carefully scheduled and procedurized if potential gains are to be realized and 'all the pieces carefully put in place'. The Administrator's power is derived from intellectual logic and organizational achievement.

From the foregoing and Figure 5 it may be observed that the "Concept" phase of the four-phase high-level project life cycle should start out with the "Explorer" type; then proceed with a "Coordinator" type in the "Development", definition or planning phase; move to an assertive "Driver" type in the "Execution" phase; and conclude with the "Administrator" type in the clean-up "Finishing" phase. In reality, experienced and skilled project managers often find themselves "shifting gears" to suit particular circumstances during the course of a project. Nevertheless, these descriptions should help to match style to circumstances. Conversely, failure to match an appropriate style to project circumstances can quickly demoralize the project work force and lead to unsatisfactory project results.

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