Just like the officers on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise (original series, please!), the personalities we bring to managing projects can be quite diverse.
This is one of the profession’s benefits – there is no single right way or best practice to managing projects. And this uniqueness also applies to growth in the profession – whether it is crossing the chasm of business domains, focusing on getting better at delivering a specific type of project or even growing your skills within a PMBOK knowledge area, there are ample opportunities for personal development.
Here are just a few of the characters I’ve run across in my fifteen year mission exploring the profession.
James Tiberius Kirk
Like Captain Kirk, these project managers emulate the motto of Star Trek’s Federation by constantly seeking out new (project) life and civilizations. They relish the unknown – once they have completed one or two projects of the same type or complexity, it’s off to challenge themselves with something different. Retaining Kirk PMs can be difficult if your project portfolio doesn’t possess sufficient depth and breadth. They also are eternal optimists – like Kirk, they don’t believe in the no-win scenario.
Some project managers possess Scotty’s exceptional ability to turn engineering lemons into high performing lemonade. They relish the challenge of taking on troubled projects and turning them around. Rarely does some one enter this role without having gained sufficient experience successfully delivering projects from start to finish but at some point they realized that their personality and temperament are best suited to troubleshooting.
If you get off on the science or techniques of project management and find the soft side of the profession doesn’t enthuse you, you might be a Vulcan. Such project managers rarely (perhaps once every seven years?) let their emotions get the better of them which can be a crucial skill when everyone around you is losing their cool. However, this apparent lack of emotion and empathy can make it difficult for them to effectively use influence or persuasion to help their projects and having to put up with illogical behavior from their stakeholders can cause deep frustration for them.
Dr. Leonard McCoy
If you come across as a bit gruff but underneath that tough exterior beats an empathetic heart of gold, you might be a doctor not a project manager. Bones serves as a good foil for Spock with one embracing their humanity whereas the other struggles with it. Bones project managers will possess a high EQ and are confident relying on that to help them make decisions more often than with pure logic.
Uhura posesses exceptional linguistic skills and we all know project managers like her who know just what to say in a given situation. Such project managers are very capable of managing stakeholder expectations and rarely struggle with managing the communication demands of complex projects.
So where will YOUR project management career boldly go?