General Personality Characteristics Suited to Successful Project Management
In our 1996 paper "Dominant Personality Characteristics Suited to Running
a Successful Project (And What Type are You?)", we described four types
of project leader we considered best suited to different project circumstances.
These types were derived from a 2x2 grid formed by two axes consisting of "Focus"
and "Approach". Focus reflects the choice between "Problem"
versus "People", while Approach reflects the choice between being "Receptive"
versus "Directive". These axes, their general descriptions, and the
four consequent project manager styles of "Explorer", "Driver",
"Coordinator" and "Administrator are shown in Figure
1, Identification of Project Manager's Style.
Figure 1: Identification of Project Manager's Style
You will see that we use the term "Adhocracy". This is a label coined
by Robert Waterman to describe a particular type of loose and flexible project
team environment. According to Waterman, under certain project conditions, it
is necessary to lend some semblance of structure to travel the apparently unknown
route towards the project's destination.
The four project leader profiles were 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 Driver - Drivers are distinctly action-oriented and are both hard-working
and hard driving. They are pragmatic, realistic, resourceful and resolute, and
their focus is on project mission and precise project goals. They are generally
well planned and self-disciplined, so for those who have similar traits, they
are easy to work with. Conflict is likely with those who are not so inclined.
Their power is derived from authority and they are quite prepared to use it.
The Coordinator - Coordinators are just as important when the project phase
or situation calls for "facilitation". They generally take a more
independent and detached view of their surroundings. Coordinators are responsive
to the views of project team members who must take responsibility for their
own decisions. Therefore, their 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 Administrator - Administrators recognize the need for stability, typically
in order to optimize productivity through maximizing repetition to the extent
possible on a project and to get the work finished. Often, requisite information
must be assembled and carefully analyzed, with thought given to the trade-offs
and how conflicts and problems can be resolved and disposed of in advance. Work
must be carefully scheduled and procedurized if potential gains are to be realized
and "all the pieces are to be carefully put in place". The Administrator's
power derives from intellectual logic and organizational achievement.
Characteristics required by all four leader types include being "credible, confident, committed, energetic, hard-working, and self-starting."
Remarkably, few project leaders have ultimate project responsibility
in practice. More likely they report to some higher authority such as the sponsor
of the project. Conversely, team members reporting to a project leader typically
have responsibility for leading their own groups of supporting co-workers. Therefore,
in terms of successful project personality characteristics no major distinction
need be drawn between those in either position. Nevertheless, some team members
may show a stronger disposition to "lead", while others are more disposed
Waterman, R. H. 1992. Adhocracy: The Power to Change. W. W. Norton &
Co., NY: 16 & 59.