I’m still on my personality-type kick, but don’t fret—I think this will be the last post on the topic for a while.
You may recall that in our last exciting episode there were several personality types labeled in the Max Wideman article (http://www.maxwideman.com/papers/profiles/intro.htm) as not so hot for project management. These were:
- Mix of follower and unsuited: ENFP
- 0% suited to leadership: INFP, ISFP, ESFP, ISTP
My position is that anybody can survive and thrive as a project manager if they play to their strengths and learn how to cope with their weaknesses, or more appropriately, to take advantage of the things they prefer and deal constructively with those things they don’t prefer.
To check my position further, I delved into one of my favorite books, Do What You Are (DWYA), by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. Here’s what I came up with for each of the above Meyers-Briggs types.
- Pros for Project Management: “With the proliferation of technology, there is a rapidly growing need for people who understand technology but also have good people and communications skills. Being the liaison between the technology people and the end users appeals to many ENFPs, who find these jobs satisfy their need to help and be connected with their co-workers.”
- Cons and Coping: ENFPs can be undisciplined about seeing through detailed work to the end and have a natural tendency toward disorganization. To cope with follow-through, the ENFP might try rigorous use of an action items/issues log, checking it twice a day. As far as disorganization goes, there are some great books on the topic; one of my favorites is… is… um… well, it’s in one of these piles somewhere…
- INFP: Same as ENFP.
- Pros for Project Management: ISFPs like being able tocommit to an effort and then see the results. They also like handling problems in a straightforward way.
- Cons and Coping: This type dislikes public speaking, leading large groups, or giving negative feedback. To cope, the ISFP can use his natural warmth and loyalty to reach his team members, and his attention to detail to bring a project to successful conclusion.
- Pros for Project Management: Here’s another type not tagged with the “project manager” job. On the other hand, this type likes motivating people and getting groups to cooperate, as well as juggling multiple activities.
- Cons and Coping: This type doesn’t love advancepreparations and has a tendency to take thingspersonally. To cope with preparations, this person might take a time management course. To take things less personally, she might try lunch or casual conversation with a supportive friend who can help her step back and get some perspective on the fact that it’s all just business.
- Pros for Project Management: DWYA doesn’t call out project manager as one of the professions this type might enjoy; however, the ISPF likes identifying andefficiently using resources, problem solvingand working independently.
- Cons and Coping: This type isn’t keen on long-term planning and likely isn’t a great diplomat. To cope with long-term planning, the ISTP could break a project into smaller pieces than the average PM and negotiate a project plan that is subject to change at each milestone. To handle his lack of diplomacy, he might practice some simple techniques like counting to ten before speaking when irritated, or getting a friendly co-worker to point out when he’s been insensitive (at the appropriate time and place); an executive coach could help modify this behavior, too.
The descriptions above aren’t by any means complete. You can find the complete details in the book.
I took three things away from this little exercise:
- There’s enough information out there to reasonably support the position that anyone can be a successful project manager.
- Some people are going to be happier project managers than others, because it’s a more natural fit.
- There’s more to job satisfaction than personality type. Per DWYA: “In addition to Type, several other factors – such as your values, interests, and skills – also contribute to your level of satisfaction on the job.”
So, if remaining or becoming a project manager makes sense to you right now, I still say go for it, and bon voyage.