My very first interview for a project management role wasn’t about my attention to detail around planning and controlling a project — thankfully! I don’t recall talking at all about the ‘technical’ side of the job. The bulk of the conversation revolved around my personality and how I would use and change it to suit the situation.

This concept was quite new to me, and something I’d never thought of before. However, I would be leading major transformation projects while also managing a team of software developers, and the two, I was told, would need different approaches.

Fast forward 20 years and this is something that rarely, if ever, makes it into the project management textbooks, let alone interviews. It doesn’t often make it into blogs either, as we don’t appear to understand or admit that the project manager is the key determinant of whether or not a project succeeds.

The research tells us otherwise.

In 2007, Purcell and Hutchinson found a direct correlation between an individual’s personality and a successfully delivered project. A report in the Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management in 2014 confirmed that to be successful, project managers need to demonstrate extravert and perceiving personality traits (more about that soon).

Noted project management researcher Lynn Crawford argues that once a project manager has achieved an entry level of project management knowledge (yep, entry level), then more knowledge doesn’t ...

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