The 8 Project Team Lead Personalities: Which Ones Do You Have Onboard?

To successfully manage a complex and time-critical project, you need to surround yourself with a great team that works effectively and as the one unit. The abilities and personality traits of your team leads in particular can significantly affect the overall momentum of your project, program or portfolio.

So how do you figure out, early on, who exactly your team leads are and what they’re like to work with?

It’s a bit like stealth work. You need to figure out who’s in charge of what areas and make a quick assessment as to what the team leads’ personalities are.

Having a clear grasp of these personalities, specifically how they communicate with others around them, can be valuable in terms of getting things done to time and satisfaction. Get this understanding right and you’re halfway there to connecting the dots and creating a winning outcome for both client and your mental health.

Here’s a guide to what we believe are the 8 different characteristics of a project team lead. This should help you keep an eye out for their personality traits and result in a project that ends not in disaster, but success. The question is: which ones do you have onboard?

1. The Gunner
Overpromise and under-deliver is their motto. They tell you all of the things they plan to do, the speed with which they’ll do it and the fantastic outcomes they’ll create – but never do. In short, they promise heaps but deliver bugger all. Engage them at your peril.

2. The Reliable One
This team lead is always there for you and never fails to produce. Unfortunately, these people are like an elusive wild orchid – rarely seen but extremely valuable when they do surface. Engage them at all costs.

3. The 80%-er
Come on, you can do it, just a tiny bit more. You know these guys. They’re the ones who almost get there. They nearly get it done but never quite get there. Engage them but use wisely.

4. The 100%-er
Sounds like these folk are the ones you want on-board at all costs, right? Wrong. These are the project team leads who give you 100% but it’s generally 100% bad work. You can’t fault them for effort but you can fault them for shoddy workmanship. Avoid them at all cost.

5. The Koala
Cute, cuddly and highly protected as a species (Insert a culture/geography-appropriate creature from your own region if need be, but the message is the same). For whatever reason, they will be on your project, they won’t add value and unless you treat them nicely and fence them off in an environment they like, they will be destructive to your project. That said, the worst thing you can do is start to advocate for their removal – all sorts of pain will come from this and will ultimately distract you from your greater purpose. Engage them with care.

6. The Non-Believer
The title says it all. These people don’t believe the project can or should be done, and will go about delivering it with that belief in mind. If at all possible, turn these people into koalas. Engage them and koala them.

7. The Noise-Maker
These people strongly believe that you haven’t got a clue about what you’re doing (and it’s probably because you haven’t delivered on a ‘standard’ Gantt chart, don’t have EVM and haven’t produced a stop light report). These people can, and will, make lots of noise to deflect from their own shortcomings… by highlighting yours. Just give them what they want as quickly as possible, shut them up and then get back to running the project. Engage them and gag them.

8. The Believer
Last but not least, the believer. These people are, quite honestly, the golden nuggets of the project management world. They believe in what’s being done and have decided to trust and work with you. Hallelujah. Your job is done and this project will be a huge success if populated with these believers. Treat them well, take them into your confidence and support them. Engage them as you’d engage yourself, which says it all.

It’s clear that project teams aren’t a perfect universe and don’t always work the way you want them to. But by getting a decent read on the team leaders, you’ll be able to adjust your own strategies to ensure the project’s overall success.