What type of project manager are you?

Adeline Teoh ed.
April 11, 2016

Are you a thinker or a doer? This unhelpful binary assumes people can’t be both, even if they have a tendency towards one skill or the other, and that can affect the way you manage projects.

I was talking to friends the other day about personality tests, specifically the Myers Briggs Type indicator, which splits the population into 16 different personality types. I did the test a while back, 15 years ago now, and remembered I was designated an INTJ, but I’d forgotten what that actually meant, so I looked it up.

It turns out INTJs are researchers, which is to say they crave information and seek detail and care more about knowledge than nearly everything else. I was happy to embrace the label because it’s largely true, but it occurred to me that categorisation can often be harmful because it seeks to place boundaries around what we can and cannot do, and emphasises what we are ‘naturally’ good at. This can discourage people from working to change their ‘type’ because they accept that it’s just not in them to do things differently when perhaps they should consider strengthening their weaknesses.

One of the most dangerous things about this relates specifically to project managers, who work across a whole spectrum of skills. Who manages stakeholders better, introverted or extraverted project managers? Many would instinctively say the extraverts because they’re ‘people people’, but actually it doesn’t matter. Both types of project managers successfully manage stakeholders.

Who submits better reports, the detail-oriented project manager or the big-picture person? Who manages risk better, the risk-taker or the risk-averse project manager? The answers to these questions are really not indicative of capability. While a detail-oriented project manager may be naturally inclined to submit comprehensive reports, it doesn’t mean the big-picture person is unable to do so.

Project managers, at least the ones I know—and I have a sample size of hundreds—are both thinkers and doers. There is no ‘type’. The only people who aren’t suited to project management are the ones who don’t want to do it and even then it’s surprising to see the results when reluctant accidental project managers are made to perform.

Have you ever been typecast as a project manager?

Author avatar
Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of ProjectManager.com.au. She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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