To excel as a project leader, it’s important to understand you can’t manage people, you can and should mentor, motivate, and lead. In order for project managers to become effective leaders, it’s equally essential to understand the different leadership styles that allow you as a leader to tailor your communication styles to meet project and business goals.
In a new study by Deloitte called, “Business Chemistry in the C-suite,” Deloitte’s Greenhouse Experience team researchers surveyed 661 C-suite executives and the results revealed four scientifically based patterns of behavior. The four primary Business Chemistry types are:
- The Pioneers who lean towards seeking opportunities through their ability to spur energy and trigger imagination in those around them.
- The Drivers who hunger for challenges and tend to garner momentum.
- The Guardians who crave stability and thrive in environments filled with meticulousness and precision.
- The Integrators who gravitate towards establishing a connection and are able to establish team cohesiveness.
The survey found that “65 percent of CxOs (Chief Experience Officers) are characterized by two Business Chemistry types.” Further, in organizations with over 100,000 employees, “the proportion of Driver CxOs (38 percent) is greater than that of Pioneers (29 percent).”
When does each of these types of leaders excel?
Pioneers excel when they are creating and blazing new trails due to their energetic nature and ability to easily express themselves and remain in a collaborative state. They easily adapt in situations and change direction quickly and smoothly when they need to. Pioneers think quickly on their feet and spend little time looking in the rear view mirror unless there are important lessons to learn. This type of leader trusts their instincts, and can easily function in the gray, yet make fast yet informed decisions without much fear.
Drivers tend to focus on the facts, whether it quantitative measurements or any other form of verification. Many drivers are technical in their field such as scientists, mathematicians, or engineers. Everything they do must be supported by facts. These are logical thinkers that must substantiate everything. They are bold, outspoken, and direct and leave little room for idle chatter. Drivers excel at getting to the root of things and driving results.
Guardians are likely to lean towards the “measure twice and cut once” motto due to the tendency to need affirmation that things are in order and accurate. This type of leader likely calculates everything down to the smallest measure to ensure there are no surprises – they are unlikely to appreciate surprises. Guardians may also live by the adage of trust but verify in order to sleep well at nights. Risk is not a friend, and they may seek multiple ways to analyze situations and vet findings and are not apt to adapt well to too much change. Guardians excel at being methodical.
Integrators excel through their ability to thrive in a world of collaboration, making them likely to be well received by groups. They encourage a high degree of consensus for decision-making and factor in the thoughts and input of others before landing on a final decision. Integrators are not fans of risk and will tend to shy away from it unless the masses are leaning in that direction. The thoughts and feelings of those around an Integrator weigh heavily, but they also tend to naturally gravitate towards being safe and traditional.
Which type of leader are you?
We all tend to think of ourselves in terms that most match who we desire to be or become most, but which of these chemistry types are we really when we are truthful with ourselves? Which one of these would those around us peg us as? We can get a clue in this through our conversations and interactions with others. Often how we see ourselves differs from how those around us tend to see things.
It’s okay to fall short of the chemistry type we wish to be as long as we accept two things.
- We are imperfect some of the time.
- We can improve all of the time.
Once we accept these two factors, the journey to excel as true leaders can begin. None of these chemistry types makes a better leader all the time. It’s key to remember each of these chemistry types has its advantages and disadvantages at different times. Remaining agile creates the opportunity to be versatile and flex as situations warrant. The reality is you may lean towards one or two of these chemistry types most of the time.
The key is knowing when and how to draw on our strengths or which strengths need to be developed to become more flexible and effective, especially under pressure. Knowing which leadership style or styles you fit will enable you to maximize your effectiveness and better understand the impact you have on a project as well as the way you interact with your team and other stakeholders.
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.