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How Do Personality Styles Influence Our Projects?
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A recent (and ongoing) debate on domain knowledge sparked a thought that I am considering delving into in more detail, regarding how our personality styles as PMs influence both our capabilities as PMs, and our management style.

A leadership workshop I attended involving personality styles explored the subject of control. Some people are more comfortable in a highly organized environment, and others in a more chaotic one. You can pick up on some of that looking at things like whether their desks are neat or cluttered, so that you can adapt your own style to communicate with them personally. When people fall more to one side of the spectrum, they may become less comfortable when their environment is on the other side.

My question to my colleagues here is how do you think or personality styles affect our performance as PMs when we have to operate outside our comfort zones? For example: Will a PM who is more comfortable in chaos steer stable projects into chaos, and can a PM who is more comfortable in a highly controlled environment operate effectively when the big risk turns into an issue, and the project becomes a recovery effort?
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Hi Keith: This is super interesting, you've definitely made me furrow my brow and think about this a bit. This is where my thoughts are going right now - the PM is part of a team and while our personality styles may influence the team, this is not the only influence. Most PM's I know of are wired to be organized by nature and are not a fan of the chaotic. I am struggling to think of a PM who I would say is comfortable in chaos. Of course we all deal with some level of chaos - but steering the project into chaos is something I'm struggling to find an example of. I think a leadership workshop on this subject would be helpful for communicating with so many different types of personalities on the project team - but a well seasoned PM should be able to work in most any environment (organized or chaotic) and steer the project toward successful completion of the deliverables......but I am anxious to hear what my fellows peers have to say! Thanks for bringing up this subject - interesting for sure and made me think!
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1 reply by Keith Novak
Nov 20, 2019 3:20 PM
Keith Novak
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I'll give you an example of steering things towards chaos. We often reward people who recovered a project from a tough issue, over those who never seem to have problems. What you may find though is that they caused it to begin with by not planning well. They might say, "I work best under pressure." or "Nothing would get done if it wasn't for the last minute." They might ignore the risks until they become issues, then are the hero for fixing their own mess.
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@Keith, it is impossible that personal style will not affect the performance as project manager. That´s because in my personal opinion the first thing a project manager has to do when has the possibility to be hire to a new job is understanding the organizational culture and style and if it not match with her/his personal style then forget about to take the job
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Dear Keith
Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

I have been thinking a lot about this topic.

I'm reading a book: "Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win" by Jocko Willink

He tells an episode about a team that, having changed the leader, had a fantastic performance.
Previously, under someone else's leadership, this team performed poor

According to him, leadership is a determining factor for team performance.

I take this opportunity to put some of my questions together:

How can we define personality?
Is personality unchanging?

Is leadership style related to personality?
Can the leadership style be changed depending on the circumstances?
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1 reply by Funmilola Kalejaiye
Nov 21, 2019 2:06 AM
Funmilola Kalejaiye
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Keith,

This is quite an interesting topic and one that consistently boggles my mind.

During a training session last year, I learnt quite a lot about personality types and found my leading colour energy is blue. As a procurement personnel providing support to user departments with multiple ongoing projects, needing to manage other people with different personalities, this has helped me to identify when chaotic situations send me into "paralysis analysis" leading to over analysing situations. I have learnt and am still learning to take a step back, calm down, break the situation into small bits that are not overwhelming, ask questions, make decisions and take action. I am also a note taker, usually i take down "to-do-lists" ticking off tasks as they are accomplished. This helps to give me a sense of organisation in situations and provides a form of control in projects.

In my opinion, a PM has to learn about personality types and understand the various colour energies to understand how to handle different situations and people. No two projects are ever the same and it is important for PMs to identify their strengths and weaknesses to know which colour energy needs to be pulled up with respect to different projects.
Network:365



Nov 20, 2019 3:09 PM
Replying to LORI WILSON
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Hi Keith: This is super interesting, you've definitely made me furrow my brow and think about this a bit. This is where my thoughts are going right now - the PM is part of a team and while our personality styles may influence the team, this is not the only influence. Most PM's I know of are wired to be organized by nature and are not a fan of the chaotic. I am struggling to think of a PM who I would say is comfortable in chaos. Of course we all deal with some level of chaos - but steering the project into chaos is something I'm struggling to find an example of. I think a leadership workshop on this subject would be helpful for communicating with so many different types of personalities on the project team - but a well seasoned PM should be able to work in most any environment (organized or chaotic) and steer the project toward successful completion of the deliverables......but I am anxious to hear what my fellows peers have to say! Thanks for bringing up this subject - interesting for sure and made me think!
I'll give you an example of steering things towards chaos. We often reward people who recovered a project from a tough issue, over those who never seem to have problems. What you may find though is that they caused it to begin with by not planning well. They might say, "I work best under pressure." or "Nothing would get done if it wasn't for the last minute." They might ignore the risks until they become issues, then are the hero for fixing their own mess.
Network:0

Keith,
I believe it does affect performance and it is by nature. However, with patience and learning how to grow and adapt to various personality styles the PM will know how to dal and react in almost any circumstance. This reminded me of "learning styles" and how Instructors and Professors have to teach and deal with students of various backgrounds and cultural experiences.
Network:16220



You're forgetting about the third kind of organization, which in my experience is the most common: the chaotic organization that is convinced it is organized.
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1 reply by Suzi MS
Nov 22, 2019 2:13 AM
Suzi MS
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Agreed Sante, many - is there a specific term for it though?
Network:1714



I'd look at personality and preferences as biases. If we are self-aware of those and have mechanisms in place to alert us when we are letting them cloud our better judgment, then we should be fine. The challenge is when we are unaware or choose to ignore them.

The organization's culture also does play into this. If the organization rewards firefighters, when there are no fires to put out, sometimes there is the temptation to start some fires...

Kiron
Network:129811



Keith

I believe personality plays a role in performance but an experienced PM should be flexible to manage projects as needed. You do not always get the chance to manage jobs you are comfortable with and when that happens, you have to adapt yourself as a leader to manage that job even if you are out of your comfort zone.

RK
Network:75



Hi Keith!
On my experience working with small companies and startups I am usually asked to help solving the chaos itself, because the teams lost control of what they’re doing, deliveries are late and sponsors and clients become impatient.
When I read your comparison about neat or cluttered desks on reply to Lori, I immediately imagined myself approaching a cluttered desk, and I have to admit I’d clean and organize things before I get to work there, of course! Haha
That’s my personality, which seems to be helpful for others feeling lost in chaos. Maybe I’m some type of firefighter, however if there’s chaos but no fire I feel I can’t be helpful with project management. Those have found their own way.
We’re all different and I respect that, and I adapt as much as possible to personalities and cultures. But I do tend to bring things to my comfort zone because that’s also the help chaotic people usually need at some point.
Network:582



Hi Keith
I would guess that Command and Control type PM's do not make a lot of friends these days .
On the other hand , Servant leaders would tend to get work done from the team through influence and polite assertiveness and are likely to be more successful in delivering any type of project, be it chaotic or halcyon.
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2 replies by Adrian Carlogea and Deepesh Rammoorthy
Nov 21, 2019 5:30 PM
Adrian Carlogea
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Since this discussion is related with the one with the PM's domain knowledge it is important to say that the domain knowledge does play a crucial role when it comes to the style a PM can use while managing a project.

An obvious question arises: if the PM is not an SME then how can he formulate the commands to give to the team? The obvious answer is that he/she simply can't.

Many PMs are forced to be so called servant leaders since they simply lack the knowledge to give commands to the the team members and as such they can't adopt a command and control approach even if they wanted to.
Nov 21, 2019 5:41 PM
Deepesh Rammoorthy
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Hi Adrian
Completely disagree with your understanding of Servant Leadership. Servant leadership is independent of Domain knowledge.

In your Utopian world , perhaps organisations will let SMEs do their jobs without there being a PM to steer the ship . In the real world however, a good PM is worth their weight in gold . It does not matter if it's a development project or a Commercial off the shelf application or a building contract or making a movie, there absolutely needs to be a project manager and they DO NOT need to have domain knowledge . They need to have exceptional people skills though.
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