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

Review of Selected Literature, 1980-1990

In a paper to the 1994 PMI Annual Seminar/Symposium, Verma and Wideman adapted the concept to correlate with the natural progression through the four generic phases of the project life cycle.[7] Figure 3 shows the concept with terminology modified to suit the project environment. Given that the first two phases of the four-phase project life cycle are concerned with planning and the second two phases with execution, Verma and Wideman differentiated between "leadership" and "managership", as they defined them, and asserted that each is more appropriate to each of the two sets of phases respectively. However, this does not take into account the possibility of different types of project requiring different approaches to be successful.

Figure 3: Stages of Leadership and Followership Development
Figure 3: Stages of Leadership and Followership Development

In the 1980s, Keirsey and Bates revived interest in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI, 1956) with their book "Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types".[8] The MBTI is based on the work of Jung (and others, circa 1920) and, as Keirsey and Bates show, bears a marked similarity to Hippocrates ideas promulgated some twenty five centuries earlier.

Essentially, Jung disagreed with the twentieth century notion that people are fundamentally alike. Rather, he suggested that people are different in fundamental ways and therefore what is important is their preference for how they "function". Hence, their temperaments should be "typed" accordingly. By latching on to the four temperaments of Hippocrates, the MBTI has developed into a useful personnel tool and a lucrative consulting business.

For our purposes later on, it is worth describing the MBTI in a little more detail. The MBTI postulates that the four "temperaments" give rise to four separate but interrelated ranges of personal preferences, or natural tendencies, in a given situation. These ranges may be characterized as "information gathering", "focus', "decision making", and "orientation". The combination of these four give rise to sixteen possible "characteristic types".

Presentation is typically in the form of a 4x4 grid, each cell containing descriptive text. Underlying this layout is a primary X-Y cruciform formed by the first two ranges with each quadrant containing a secondary x-y cruciform formed by the second two ranges.s The two sets together, as shown in Figure 4, give rise to the sixteen "types" just referred to. Since the MBTI is intended to encompass every possible type of individual, it is not unreasonable to suppose that it may be too detailed for project management purposes.

Figure 4: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator 4x4 Grid Structure
Figure 4: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator 4x4 Grid Structure

Turning to the "project context", Cleland, in his book Project Management: Strategic Design and Implementation, discusses project leadership and illustrates a continuum of leadership behavior.[9] This ranges from "Boss-centered leadership" to "Subordinate-centered leadership". However, there is no discussion of how this might be affected by the project environment, specifically, the phases of the project life cycle. Indeed, in recent years much has been written on leadership style, but mostly in the context of enterprise management, not project management.

In 1992, Kezsbom and Donnelly reported on a survey to identify practical qualities of effective project leadership.[10] Data was collected from 224 managers, project managers and specialists working in a corporate environment. Interestingly, they chose to report their findings under two major headings labeled "competencies" and "know-how". The competencies or aptitudes, which encompassed several sub-categories, was described as "Augmentable dimensions of leadership which appear to be personality constructs, but are capable of modification via skills awareness and development."[11]

In the March 1996 issue of the PMI Journal, Kliem and Anderson discuss the project manager's style or approach toward team-building as a key variant in managing projects successfully.[12] They observe that "Only recently has the influence of the project manager's personality on project performance received recognition."[13] They go on to discuss a tool known as "Decide-X" which aids in identifying four primary styles in how a person approaches relevant work situations. They then apply this to the project management orientation criteria of planning, organizing, controlling and leading. The four styles map closely to the four primary styles of the MBTI, but unfortunately they use descriptors that are not terms familiar to the project management community. However, Kliem and Anderson do conclude that "Knowing the type of [project] environment and the team-building style [required] of the project manager increases the opportunities for selecting the right person for the position ...".[14]

For the sponsors and directors of projects, who must select project managers for their projects, the issue is which of these concepts, if any, are suited to aiding in making selection decisions.

Review of Selected Literature, 1950-1970  Selected Literature, 1950-1970

7. Verma, V. K., & R. M. Wideman, Project Manager to Project Leader? And the Rocky Road between..., PMI Annual Seminar/Symposium Proceedings, Project Management Institute, PA, Oct 1994, pp627-633.
8. Keirsey, David and Marilyn Bates, Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types, Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, CA, 1984.
9. Cleland, D. I., Project Management: Strategic Design and Implementation, TAB Professional and Reference Books, PA, 1989, p260.
10. Kezsbom, D. S., & R. G. Donnelly, Managing the Project Organization of the Nineties: A Survey of Practical Qualities of Effective Project Leadership, PMI Annual Seminar/Symposium Proceedings, Project Management Institute, PA, Sept 1992, pp415-421.
11. Ibid, p417.
12. Kliem, Ralph L. and Harris B. Anderson, Teambuilding Styles and Their Impact on Project Management Results, PMI Journal 27(1), 1996, pp41-50.
13. Ibid, p41.
14. Ibid, p50.
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page