Incredible it may be, but the data is beginning to emerge that this could indeed be the case. The usual caveat about generalisations aside, this is what my recent research is starting to reveal. And, you don’t have to be a project manager to learn from these results.
Based on a group of 195 project managers I have discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that they are more likely to be high in Tact and Diplomacy and low in Determination, than the general (professional) working population. To be honest, I had expected the opposite.
These people all completed my Influence Profile that measures preferred behaviours when working with others. This is not looking at their actual behaviour, but rather the way they would most like to behave (which is reality is the default behaviour they use most of the time).
Within this psychometric, four dimensions of behaviour are analysed andthen ranked (Sociability and Networking, Determination, Emotional Control and Tact and Diplomacy). The result is a short report that describes how the individual is likely to be viewed by their colleagues.
If these results are borne out in practice it would mean that project managers will tend to:
- Be mindful and sensitive to the feelings of others they are working with.
- Have accurate insights into what people are really thinking/feeling.
- Search for consensus and harmonious outcomes.
- Are good at helping groups to make decisions.
- Listen well to what stakeholders have to say.
- Do not force their own goals/opinions on others.
However, it also means that they will tend to:
- Wait too long before making a decision.
- Avoid being assertive and pushing through their ideas.
- Be swayed too easily by others, potentially buffeted by political winds.
- Worry too much about other people’s reactions.
- Not stand up to adversarial stakeholders.
- Let others direct the issues and discussions.
In certain situations, the above is absolutely perfect. In others, it will leave the project manager flailing and struggling to get things done.
What is important here is not how project managers prefer to behave, but how they need to behave to deliver their objectives. If the difference between preference and need is too great, it is likely that the project manager will suffer stress and strain because of the stretch from their comfort zone. Consequently, they’ll probably revert to type.
With awareness and practice, adapting these behaviours becomes easy, and fun.
To turn this towards a practical outcome, it is important to:
- Understand how you prefer to behave, your default.
- Consider, in your situation, working with your stakeholders, how you need to behave.
- Finally, look at simple ways that you can begin to adjust your behaviour to become more effective at working with and influencing your stakeholders.
The bottom line is that the correct style is the one that maximises the potential to get the outcome you want.
(at time of writing, this is free)