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Why personality matters in project management

By CCIWA Editor 

We all have different elements to our personality – some people are inherently flexible, others like structure and data and then there are those who are great conversationalists and storytellers. 

Clinton in’t Veld, national general manager of Scope Training which trains people in project management, believes a project manager needs to have the discipline almost inherently, their personality. Veld has been involved in project management internationally since the 1980she’s author of the Managing by Project methodology and founded the X-Pert Group.  

“They need to be organised, be quite specific about how well they do it and then being very effective in the way that they mobilise resources to get work done,” he says.  

“I suppose to some degree, project management is taught and there are lots of great bodies of knowledge, certifications, qualifications in project management, right up to PhD.  

“But I do believe from my own experience that a lot of it is inherent in the personality of an individual, be it male or female.  

Unless you have those traits, you may not necessarily fully appreciate what it means to run a project, you know, with that sort of intuitive skills inherent in your personality.”   

One way to drill down on a project management style is to look at the leadership styles that you or an employee may have. It’s best to take positive elements of each style, and most importantly, to be consistent.  

Some leadership styles are: 

  • Authoritative: This style allows for great vision and decision making. Less time is spent making decisions and it creates consistency and clarity.  However, it can lead to greater churn, over-reliance on the leader and a lack of feedback.  
  • Coercive: A coercive leader makes decisions, tells people what to do and always expects compliance. It can cause improved efficiency and productivity especially in unsettled or inexperienced teams, it can improve workplace safety and stop employees from bending the rules. However it can reduce diversity and innovation, cause retaliation and employees to leave.  
  • Democratic: These leaders empower their team members and allow them to work autonomously. This creates strong connectivity in the team, encourages creativity and better enables complex issues to be solved. However, decisions can take a long time, the leaders can become inclusive and employees can become frustrated if their input is not taken on board.  
  • Pace setter: Like the title suggests, these leaders obsess about getting the job done better and faster. They set high standards and will often just do the work themselves. A pace setter can keep everyone on track but they often have trouble delegating because they believe they can do the job better themselves. Therefore, team members don’t grow.  
  • Affiliative: The primary concern of these leaders are the people/staff. They deliver clear instructions and allow autonomy. They offer positive feedback, reduce stress and reward often. However, they tend to avoid conflict, they can cause complacency in a workplace and complex problems may not be solved.  
  • Coach: The coaching leader doesn’t really delegate and leaves people to it, they encourage people to try something new and offer support. It can lead to a positive workplace, increase staff skill sets and make it easier for teams to accept change. However, a coach needs to be very skilled themselves, their style needs time to make a difference to the workplace and different coaches may be required for different roles.  

By further researching and understanding which leadership style best describes you or your employee, you can match your project management style. Remember that different projects might need different approaches.  

 Also, the amount of experience your team has will affect your project management style. If it is a team that has been working well together for a long period of time, how you manage them will be different to if you are establishing a new project management team.  


We all have different elements to our personality – some people are inherently flexible, others like structure and data and then there are those who are great conversationalists and storytellers. 

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