Are you a warrior or a farmer in your project management style?

How does personality affect your projects?

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Taking time out to observe

It’s strange how we change as get older, for example history used to be my least favourite subject but now, all of a sudden, I can’t stop watching history documentaries. What’s happening to me? As I get more mature (I used to get older now I have decided to mature instead), I find that I am more observant and I have started to notice some interesting nuances in the workplace, particularly in the area of project management.

Why plan or consult?

It is noticeable how projects reflect the personality of the project leader. For example the ‘life and soul’ of the party attacks projects with gusto. They will not see the need for planning, organization, keeping project workloads, or consultation – they see these activities as “just a waste of time” and something that will only delay the project.

I will bet that you know one of these folks, and you know that their completed project will be creaky and slipshod, but it will work after a fashion (What does ‘work after a fashion’ actually mean? Never mind that, we don’t have time for contemplation because we have an important project to deliver early). This person must beat deadlines and if those targets are beaten everybody will hear about it.

The cautionary approach

On the other hand we have the perfectionist. This person is a meticulous planner. Every project they manage is addressed with great caution and lots of planning. The problem is that the perfectionist can delay a project because all this planning means they take too long to actually achieve objectives. Ever seen a TV drama that seems to meander for ages before coming to a grinding halt as though they have suddenly run out of script? Well the perfectionist is just like this, starts great but ends up in a last minute panic.

Are you a Warrior or a Farmer?

Which personality type are you? Let’s look at another angle, picture two ancient tribes. One tribe are successful raiders who live by aggression and violence, while the other tribe are peaceful farmers. Both tribes have great chiefs and are very successful. What would happen if these great chiefs were swapped? The new farmer chief would not have a clue when it comes to forward planning. The chances are that the chief will be killed by the tribe. On the other hand the tribe of the warrior chief would see that chief as crazy and will ignore the chief as much as possible.

The key is to recognize what kind of leader personality you are. Are you a warrior or a farmer? If you can recognize which you are, then you can compensate accordingly. In other words, figure out whether you are the bad cop or the good cop and try to become the ‘middle cop’.

Sit back and observe

Observe other leaders and try to decide where they fit in the farmer to warrior scale. Watch their style to see how they cope. Learn to manage your own personality, for example some farmers may take up physical activities, while warriors often try to be more studious.

All of us fit somewhere between the 2 extremes whether we like it or not. Work with what you have, manage the good and bad points, and your chances of delivering successful outcomes will increase greatly.

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Malcolm Fry

Malcolm Fry has more than 40 years of industry experience. This brings an unparalleled breadth of knowledge on IT business and technical issues and has made him a regular keynote speaker all over the world. Malcolm has authored many publications on IT service and support. Some of my publications include A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a CMDB, How to Build a Service Management Department, and ITIL Lite a Road Map to Partial or Full ITIL Implementation. Malcolm is also a member of the v3 Advisory Group and a mentor for the Service Operations book. In 2009 I was awarded the prestigious Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award for IT service and support and in 2014 the IT Industry Legend Award.
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