This paper was first published in the Proceedings of the 29th Annual Project Management Institute Seminar/Symposium "Tides of Change", Long Beach, California, USA, 1998. (Updated presentation, April, 2002.) Presented here as the sixth in a series linking project type through management style to project success.

Published here May, 2002.

Introduction | General Characteristics | Myers-Briggs
Comparison | Observations | Summary/Conclusions | Appendix A


The tools and techniques of project management are sweeping the western world in a frantic race by enterprises to remain competitive in a global market. No doubt this rush has spawned the feeling of "Tides of Change". However, there is also increasing recognition that the art of just drawing bars on charts, however electronically automated, is not enough. The people that work in project teams together with their leaders are the ones that count. The question is, what sort of people make for successful teams — and do we have enough of them in the typical organization?

Over the years, many efforts have been made to classify different types of people, especially according to their effectiveness and suitability in a corporate organization. The tacit assumption that everyone belongs somewhere is often made, and it is just a question of finding where. This is not necessarily true of the project world. This environment generates stress in meeting specific goals often within severe constraints, plus the conflicting stresses of serving across organizational boundaries, to say nothing of a frequent overlay of multiple projects. Not everyone is comfortable in this atmosphere.

The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to focus on those characteristics most relevant to a successful project management team and how these people compare to the population at large. Four project leader profiles have been identified in a previous working paper using the Myers-Briggs typology as a structural basis but using vocabulary more appropriate to project work.[1] While the project leader profiles are very distinctive, the attributes that make up these profiles are more generally spread throughout the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) matrix.[2] We make the usual assumption that people with these same attributes are more likely to be compatible while working together on a project team.

Keirsey and Bates have identified the distribution of personality types through the sixteen cells of the four-by-four MBTI grid.[3] By using this as a basis for comparison, we can gain an interesting insight into the availability of people suited to various roles in project work. By deduction, we may also infer which personality types are not at all suited to project teamwork.


1. Wideman, R. Max. 1996. Dominant Personality Characteristics Suited to Running a Successful Project (And What Type are You?), AEW Services, Vancouver, Canada.
2. Briggs, Isabel Myers. 1993. Introduction to Type. Consulting Psychologist Press, Ca.
3. Keirsey, David, and Marilyn Bates. 1984. Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types. Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, CA: 167-207.
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