Personality Types & Project Management
I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing my own personality and how that frames the way I work, interact, and communicate with people. I’m sure I’m not the only one doing it—we project managers have been known to (occasionally) be a little type A, interested in analysis, and great at communication. So why wouldn’t we be interested in finding out more about what makes us tick?
Personality analysis creates a framework for ourselves to understand how we lead and communicate, and how others do the same. It can help us in difficult situations, project communication, career advancement, and personal relationships. Just as we might learn how to recognize the warning signs of a project about to go over budget or past a deadline, we can use personality self-awareness to better predict our impact on projects and teams, and to understand how our personal feelings and reactions play into our everyday interactions.
Personality Types in Project Managers
If you don’t already know your personality type, there are plenty of tests and scales to choose from. I am partial to the 16 Personalities test, which covers the Meyers-Briggs types—one of the more common personality indicators out there. DiSC, Enneagram types, the Big Five, StrengthsFinder, or the original Jungian Cognitive Processes (which MBTI is built upon) are a few (of many) other options.
I’ve started thinking recently about how much of our innate personalities feed into project management skills and how much we naturally alter ourselves to work within such a career, given how much we interface with complex problems and different people through our work. Do we hone our personalities more because of our positions and the people and projects we come up against? Do we become more self-aware and tap into that naturally? Or do we repress some tendencies and strengthen other natural weaknesses, with or without realizing it as project managers? Likely all of those, and I find every possibility fascinating.
The Link Between Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness
Emily Scala recently wrote about the importance of emotional intelligence as a leader. Going beyond merely understanding our own personality traits, emotional intelligence is what gives us the ability to recognize and manage emotions in ourselves and when reacting to others. Becoming emotionally intelligent beings helps us become better leaders—and it all begins with self-awareness.
Our Brains Hate Project Management
But we do it anyway. My friend Carson Pierce is giving a talk soon at Ground Control Conf about our brains on project management. So much about what we do everyday as PMs is counterintuitive to our natural instincts and abilities—confronting difficult conversations, overcoming multitudes of cognitive bias, and multitasking between projects, clients, and our teams. We do it all anyway, but how do we mitigate the tension caused by such unnatural tasks?