Spencer Holmes is the managing director of Global Project Leaders Ltd. He runs projects, trains and consults globally on the subject. His passion is for helping project managers develop the resilience required to thrive in an increasingly pressurised world. His company can be found at www.projectleaders.com
In the final part of the series, Spencer Holmes describes a new approach to the development of project managers to meet the current challenges of organisations in all sectors. This week: Group orientation.
The final facet stands alone as a factor. In the first three we looked at 'approach' facets, namely pragmatism, creativity and positive intolerance. In the second batch we looked at 'awareness' facets; stability, motivation and communication.
This final facet stands alone, investigating degrees of preferred interaction. It is called 'group orientation'. The Project Leaders definition reads, "group orientation refers to refers to the extent to which the individual enjoys and seeks working with others, involving team members in decisions and looking for others' feedback".
In relation to more established personality tests, for instance Myers-Briggs (MBTI), the comparison would be with degrees of introversion and extroversion. A lot is said about these traits, or preferences, and there also appears at times to be a degree of confusion.
"...if you are introverted, are you relying too much on 'detached' communication to run your project? With increasingly global teams and long-lasting travel bans, you'd have every excuse."
For example many people find it most odd that I am, according to MBTI, quite categorically introverted. Particularly weird, they think, based on the fact I have been stood up in front of a large group performing for the day, two days or week. Surely I should be sat in a dark cave somewhere doing something nerdy? The truth is, that's exactly what I do as soon as the course is over for the day. Or better still, go for a run where no-one can interrupt me for quite some period of time.
Introverts can get out there and mix it with other people, only afterwards we need to recharge, preferably alone or in the company of a very small group of trusted others. By the same token, I'm reliably informed that extroverts can sit quietly and contemplate stuff – although I've never seen it.
Wikipedia offers these definitions:
Extroversion - "the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self" – and so, crudely speaking, we would expect them to have higher levels of group orientation. They would be more energised by the presence of others and take pleasure in being a part of it all, often a notable part.
Introversion - "the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life"– as mentioned, we can do the group thing but it costs us in energy points.
Interestingly, the upsurge of virtual social networking sites and blogging has enabled introverts to finally, safely, 'mix' without having to mix and express our feelings without looking anyone in the eye. Seriously, it is a point to reflect that if you are introverted, are you relying too much on 'detached' communication to run your project? With increasingly global teams and long-lasting travel bans, you'd have every excuse. We all know, however, that on many levels, email particularly is a low-quality communication medium and contributes little or nothing to group cohesion.
So what does all this have to do with project leadership as opposed to management? Well, a lot. Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic's extensive review on leadership that was the first part of developing our psychometric, led to the clear conclusion that a majority of 'leaders' out there are or were extroverts, no doubt ably assisted in the just-out-of-sight background by many less predominant managers.
I know from experience and reading that this is not always the case; the 'Level 5 Leaders' in Jim Collins' 'Good to Great', for example, are not typical leadership figures by any means. But statistically this is the case, theories abound as to why, are extroverts just more likely to push for position? Do we elect those we like instead of those who are best equipped for the job?
The second part of this facet (the final part of this series) will be published later this week.