Using “Behavioral Profiling” to Identify “Successful” Project Managers

Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS




Given the observation that some people are just naturally “good” at managing projects and consistently are able to deliver “successful” projects, and given there were no obvious educational, certifications, age, sex or any other demographics that seemed to differentiate them, the research question that resulted in this paper is whether there are any behavioral attributes which can serve to predict with any accuracy who is likely to be a “natural” project manager. This paper explores a pilot research project done to see if the behavioral profiles of successful project managers could be created (it was) and to see if that behavioral profile was a reliable predictor of who would likely to be a good or successful project manager. The paper concludes that while there is anecdotal evidence to support such a claim, that further research is necessary to help validate by adjusting the behavioral profile which was created using the Harrison Assessment Instrument.


Have you ever noticed that some people are just “naturally” good project managers?  That some people, when given a project, seem to be able to quickly define what needs to be done, find the right people, then organize, delegate, lead and motivate the team to complete the project? And in doing so, they seem to make it look easy?

In 40+ years as a practitioner, I saw enough examples of these “natural” project managers that I wanted to explore whether or not they had anything in common.

Simple observation and reflection made it clear that gender, age, education, ethnicity, religion, formal training or job title was not the differentiator.  So what was?  Given such broad diversity, it became obvious that it had to do more with their personalities- that there must be some behavioral traits that differentiated those who were naturals from those who had to work at it.

Initially, I turned to the work of Max Wideman, who had done some research using Myers Briggs, but that proved to be too generic, with the initial research indicating that there were “naturally successful” project managers coming from each of the 16 MB types.  This meant we needed a finer measure- an instrument which went deeper than Myers Briggs.


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the Joint 2011 Conference of the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) and International Association of Project Management (IPMA)  in Brisbane, Australia.  It is republished here with the author’s permission. 


Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS


Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE (#1240), MScPM, MRICS, is Senior Technical Advisor (Project Management) to PT Mitratata Citragraha. (PTMC), Jakarta, Indonesia. www.build-project-management-competency.com. He is also an adjunct professor, Project and Program Management, at the Center for Advanced Studies in Project, Program and Portfolio Management (www.casr3pm.edu.sn) and develops and teaches graduate level curricula in Asset and Project Management for Western Australia University, Perth. www.blendedlearning.ecm.uwa.edu.au  For 17+ years, he has been providing Project Management training and consulting throughout South and Eastern Asia, the Middle East and Europe.  He is also active in the Global Project Management Community, serving as an Advocate for and on behalf of the global practitioner. He does so by playing an active professional role in the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International, (AACE); Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the Construction Management Association of America, (CMAA). He also sat on the Board of Directors of the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS), www.globalpmstandards.org, Sydney, Australia and is active as a regional leader in the International Guild of Project Controls. http://www.planningplanet.com/guild  He has spent 18 of the last 35 years working on large, highly technical international projects, including such prestigious projects as the Alyeska Pipeline and the Distant Early Warning Site (DEW Line) upgrades in Alaska.  Most recently, he worked as a Senior Project Cost and Scheduling Consultant for Caltex Minas Field in Sumatra and Project Manager for the Taman Rasuna Apartment Complex for Bakrie Brothers in Jakarta.  His current client list includes AT&T, Ericsson, Nokia, Lucent, General Motors, Siemens, Chevron, Conoco-Philips, Unocal, BP, Dames and Moore, SNC Lavalin, Freeport McMoran, Petronas, Pertamina, UN Projects Office, World Bank Institute and many other multi-national companies and NGO organizations.  Dr. Giammalvo holds an undergraduate degree in Construction Management, his Master of Science in Project Management through the George Washington University and was awarded his PhD in Project and Program Management through the Institute Superieur De Gestion Industrielle (ISGI) and Ecole Superieure De Commerce De Lille (ESC-Lille- now SKEMA School of Management) under the supervision of Dr. Christophe Bredillet, CCE, IPMA A Level.  Paul can be contacted at [email protected].