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The five ‘flavors’ of project management leadership
UST AS THERE are five primary
flavors we can taste that combine to create literally millions
of potential food flavors, five essential
project management styles define our
own leadership style.
We are products of our genetic heritages as well as our experiences. No
human being is as simple or as complex as psychologists, politicians, sociologists or evolutionary biologists try
to make us out to be.
We all embrace one of the five following primary leadership styles and
simultaneously have traces of the
other four that come to the fore
when our primary leadership game
plan isn’t working.
By recognizing these paradigms of
how we manage projects and lead team
members, we can enhance our
strengths and minimize our weaknesses. We also can recognize these
traits in others and use that knowledge
to our advantage as well.
The developmental leader. This
leader uses formal and informal learning as a tool to maximize potential, in
both himself and his charges.
Strengths: By emphasizing continual
reinvention of himself through neverending education, he keeps fresh eyes
on the target of profitability and is
aware of all the latest methods of how
to achieve it. Constant review of
marketplace conditions means that
new so-called “niche” opportunities
will become available to your company before most of your competitors
are aware of them.
Weaknesses: He can often become
lost in the pursuit of knowledge for
knowledge’s sake without regard to
day-to-day reality. The never-ending
quest for knowledge can detract from


the daily tasks at hand at the expense
of job profitability.
The character-based leader. This
leader uses longstanding personal
habits, principles and behaviors to get
things done.
Strengths: As long as these traits are
positive ones such as honesty, attention to detail and punctuality, consistently profitable job performance can
be expected. When the chips are down
or he is assigned a job that otherwise is
headed toward disaster, these positive
personal character traits can be inspira-

ego allows him to let fellow team members become more fully integrated
within the project’s scope, allowing all
involved to do their jobs better by playing on their own strengths.
Weaknesses: He lacks attention to detail at times or lacks focus at times on
necessary day-to-day goals and project
milestones. There’s sometimes a mild
streak of laziness because he’s empowered others to do much of the actual
work that another leadership style
would have taken over. Delegation and
assignment of authority on the project

The responsive leader uses
his wits to respond to project


tional to those around him and
enhance the chances for potentially
pulling a bad job out of the ditch.
Weaknesses: A character-based leader
sometimes has an overblown sense of
self-importance and a stubborn streak
that tells those around him that he
thinks he’s always right, even when
reality indicates otherwise. When
these types possess any character flaw,
they are usually reluctant to try to
change for the better, even when it’s
clearly called for.
The situational leader. He uses
maturity and the recognized capabilities of fellow project stakeholders to get
the project accomplished.
Strengths: He usually takes simultaneous macro (the forest) and micro (a single tree) views to analyze the totality of
the project and choose the best course
of action. Modest to complete lack of

also can lead to wanting to be liked too
much by fellow team members and can
result in avoiding conflict or discipline
that’s often necessary to control a job.
The functional (expert) leader. He
uses personal knowledge, experience
and personality to get things done.
Strengths: He has hard-won insights
and “insider knowledge” of ways to accomplish tasks on time and on budget
that others might think impossible. He
usually remains calm and focused in
the most dire of project management
situations, because he’s seen worse and
not only survived but thrived.
Weaknesses: Ego and inflated self-importance to the point of hubris can be
downright objectionable to other
stakeholders. This often will negate
what other positives he might bring to
the table because nobody wants to
work with him. Stubbornness and sub-

sequent outright refusal to follow
company policies and procedures can
manifest itself in increased liability
exposures for the company.
The responsive leader. He uses his
wits to survive and respond to project
problems and to develop solutions.
Strengths: An uncanny sense of selfpreservation usually drives a similarly
uncanny ability to take any job in any
state of disarray and close it out profitably. Fellow stakeholders often
respond positively to his understated
sense of quiet self-confidence and
leadership by positive action more
than mere words or orders.
Weaknesses: Frequently distrustful of
other stakeholders with whom he
doesn’t have a track record from past
jobs. That can lead to eventual mistrust
from those stakeholders not included
in “the clique.” Tendencies to take
shortcuts and bend the rules in order to
show job progress — which makes for
messes that will be discovered later
that somebody else will have to clean
up after the project is completed.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter
what style of leadership you possess or
that possesses you. You have to recognize that you operate day-to-day with
one primary style and bits of the other
four in varying degrees. So, when
you’re getting ready to do something
brilliant or, conversely, equally stupid,
you’ll know it and can act on it (or
not), as the case may call for.
H. Kent Craig is a second-generation
mechanical contractor and project
manager with unlimited Master’s licenses
in boilers, air conditioning, heating
and plumbing. He can be reached by
calling 919/367-7488, or via e-mail at His Website is

Current Mechanical earns its MSCA ‘Star’
FORT WAYNE, IND. — The Mechanical Service Contractors of America has
named Current Mechanical an MSCA
STAR Contractor.
Contractors that achieve MSCA
STAR Qualified status belong to an elite
group of contractors within the heating and air conditioning industry,
MSCA said. These firms have verified
that they uphold a strict code of business ethics, employ the best-trained
and most qualified workforce, maintain a safety record above the industry
average, offer outstanding customer
service, and focus on continuing education and training for all employees.
“Current Mechanical pursued this


MAY 2006

designation as a means of providing
our existing and future customers with
industry validation that we are providing the highest level of skill, quality
and value in our market,” General
Manager Pete Smith noted. “Our mission statement, ‘Delivering value
through quality and performance,’ has
been this company’s guiding tenet
since our inception in 1978. Achieving
this designation is an honor and a
credit to the professionalism and
dedication of every member of the
Current Mechanical team.”
Current is a member of the Linc
Service Network. By earning the STAR
designation, it joins a select group of

other mechanical service contractors,
several of them Linc Service Contractors, who have earned this designation, LINC said.
“We’re proud to see members of our
network achieve this success, as it reinforces our standards of excellence and
raises the bar for the more than 130
franchise locations that comprise our
organization,” Linc Network President
and CEO Scott Giacobbe said. “I commend the staff at Current Mechanical
for their commitment to excellence.”
Established in 1978, Current Mechanical is led by CEO and founder
Robert Current. The company, which
joined the Linc Service Network in

2004, offers commercial and industrial
HVAC, fabrication, industrial piping,
service and maintenance and temperature controls to customers in Fort
Wayne and surrounding communities
in Ohio and Michigan. More information is online at
Linc Network, headquartered in
Pittsburgh and Atlanta, is the franchisor of the Linc System, a business
format for operating a commercial
HVAC service business. Founded in
1979, the Linc Service Network provides energy solutions to commercial
building owners worldwide.
More information is available at