Aaron J. Shenhar, Institute Professor of Management,
Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ and R. Max Wideman
The original of this paper first published on the PMForum web site, September,
2000. (Updated presentation, April, 2002.) Presented here as the fifth in a series linking project type through management style to project success.
Published here April, 2002.
Four Types of Project Leader
The resulting four types of project leader may be briefly characterized as
Explorer. The explorer or entrepreneur type project leader has a vision
of the future and projects are the stepping stones.
Characteristics: strategic thinker, bold and imaginative, comfortable in the
lead, and exuding confidence and charisma.
Coordinator. The coordinator types become paramount when the project
situation calls for "facilitation".
Characteristics: practical, thorough, willing to compromise and takes the time
to ensure that team issues are surfaced, discussed, and resolved to mutual satisfaction.
Driver. The driver type project leaders are distinctly action-oriented
and are both hard-working and hard driving.
Characteristics: pragmatic, realistic, resourceful, structured and hard driving,
and their focus is on precise project goals.
Administrator. The administrator recognizes the need for some stability,
to optimize productivity through maxim repetition to complete the work.
Characteristics: analytical, responsible and dependable, gives thought to trade-offs, conflicts and problem resolution. Work is highly organized.
In reality, experienced and skilled project managers often find themselves
"shifting gears" to suit immediate circumstances during the course
of whichever stage the project is actually in. Nevertheless, experience and the
literature suggest that it is unusual to find all four traits in a single person.
What is important across all four styles is the project managers force
of personality, tenacity and skill.