Common Project Management Styles


What is the project manager’s role and which management styles suit that role best? Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you in this short tutorial video.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

what project management style is best for you?

In Review – Common Project Management Styles

There are many management styles by which a project manager can lead a project. Jennifer looked at those which are most appropriate through the lens of what that project manager’s role in the project might be.

Project Manager’s Role

Jennifer began by broadly defining the role of the project manager as one who plans and directs work for a group. They are also responsible for monitoring the project’s progress and taking corrective action when needed.

A senior project manager is a person who directs the work of a group, which includes other managers and project managers. They work on higher levels of planning strategies or help to roll out those strategic plans.

Project Types

Next, Jennifer looked at the variety of projects that exist. There are many, and they can range from technical to creative, simple to complex.

Where the project manager meets the project is at functionality. Functionally, the project manager must be able to create a solution, execute a plan with project management tools, build a team and manage a crisis.

A project manager is going to have a style of thinking as they tackle these tasks. It starts with some questions, such as: “How should this problem be approached,” and, “What’s the best way to manage this person or these people?

Managing Team Members

Like project managers, team members have different ways of doing things. Some are commanding, intense and have hardcore personalities. Others are more detailed, compliant problem-solvers. Still others can be team-oriented people. A manager must know how to work with all of them.

So, there are many types of projects and many styles of thinking, but no one style fits all. Therefore, the key to managing successfully is flexibility.

Project Management Styles

There are six project management styles that Jennifer identified in the video. She used Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, as a guide. While there are likely many more styles, and hybrids of two or more of these, the half-dozen listed below are fundamental:

  • Authoritative: This type has a vision and shares it. They are knowledgeable and collaborative, encouraging people’s strengths.
  • Coercive: While this sounds negative, it’s a great style for junior teams, as it provides strong guidance.
  • Democratic: Managers of this style offer little to no guidance. They foster self-directed teams and usually have high employee morale.
  • All for One & One for All: These managers are more apt to let you work at your own pace and facilitate a creative environment, balancing life and work. They tend to skew on the younger side.
  • Pace-Setter: They expect high standards from those they lead and themselves. If you’re not up to snuff, they will get rid of you.
  • The Team Leader: They are strong coaches, who are patient and offer encouragement to their team.

That’s a lot of styles. Which is right for you? Well, first Jennifer suggested you consider the project and then select the style most effective for that situation.

But what is your style, and can you just change style like you do your clothes? Yes and no. Jennifer says first take an assessment test, like those online, to see what type of personality you are. Then work with a coach, get training and experience. One style might fit best, but you could learn from them all.

Pro-Tip: A manager must be somewhat of a psychologist, aware of how people think and the best way to engage them on their level. If you’re interested in delving deeper into the many styles of thinking, check out Jennifer’s book, Optimize Your Thinking: How to Unlock Your Performance Potential.

Thanks for watching!


Today we’re talking about common project management styles. So in today’s whiteboard session, I wanna talk about the project manager role, a few aspects of projects and why this is important, then I wanna talk about a few project management styles and how to determine which one applies.

So first of all, if we go back to the role of the project manager, they’re responsible for planning and directing work for a group of individuals.

They also monitor the progress of the project and take corrective action.

And then as the project manager progresses into a senior project manager, they can also get into not only directing the work of a group or sometimes managers who manage the direct reports of the people on the team but other project managers, but also they can participate in the strategic planning and rolling out the strategy throughout the organization.

So let’s look at some different aspects of projects. Well, first of all, they could be technical in nature or creative in nature. They can be anywhere from complex to even simple repetitive projects.

So functionally, if we look at a project manager, they’re responsible or involved in creating a solution, executing a plan, building a team, or even managing a crisis.

I write a lot about this personally in my own book called “Optimize Your Thinking: How to Improve Your Performance Potential.” But in there, I talk about the styles of thinking where it’s really looking at how to approach and solve a problem and also how to work with an individual, a person, or a group of people.

So why is this important? Because we need to know how to apply this.

Here’s an example. In one company that I had, I was responsible for assigning different project managers not only to large projects but also other client accounts. So what I started learning was different people brought different styles to a project. And maybe I couldn’t involve them or assign them to a certain type of project or an environment. So here’s some examples of why.

So let’s take for instance, Pat. Pat was very commanding and very intense and hardcore. But he was very good in environments where they were first maybe implementing a project for the first time, really weren’t sure about how to go about what the steps were or how to navigate different politically charged environments. Well, Pat was excellent for that. But other environments weren’t really…they didn’t really know how to take him…his approach to things.

And then there’s Bailey. So Bailey is very detail oriented, very good with compliance and figuring out how to solve complex problems. So again, she was that person who’s gonna find the needle in a haystack.

But Bailey wasn’t someone that we could put in the front end of the project, trying to create a solution. If things were very ambiguous, then Bailey wasn’t the right one. But once we determined what we were gonna do, Bailey was the perfect one to help sort out the details and work with all the team players to formulate a plan.

And then there’s Casey. So Casey, very high level, very creative, very vision focused, very team oriented and loved dealing with the people. People would follow Casey wherever she went.

But Casey was great with getting people involved and engaged in the vision and taking that vision forward. So as we can see from this, there are many types of projects, many styles of thinking. So you begin experiencing that no style really fits all or every type of project. So you need to be flexible.

So there are project management styles. And specifically, one reference I love is by Daniel Goldman. He’s the author of “Emotional Intelligence.” So he outlined these specific type of project management styles.

So I’m gonna go through these, very high level. There’s a lot of detail, a lot that you can find out about these styles, but I wanna give a few highlights about each style.

So there’s the authoritative. So the authoritative is great with sharing a vision, encouraging others to collaborate with each other. The authoritative is generally very knowledgeable, encourages people’s strengths.

Then there’s the coercive, kind of sounds like a negative connotation to the word, but applied appropriately, it’s great for junior team members who maybe aren’t sure exactly what to do. So the coercive is great about guiding junior team members. They provide strong guidelines.

So then there’s the democratic where there’s not really any guidance, more like if you think about a self-directed team, maybe a sports team without a coach, but they have high employee morale, because the people on the team can manage themselves.

Then there’s the all for one and one for all. It’s kind of like work at your own pace where there’s a lot of high creativity and the people involved are really interested in balancing their work and their lifestyle. And that’s great, a great approach for the Generation X or Generation Y.

Then there’s the pace setters. So they have high expectations and high standards. And they’re quick to terminate those who are weak on the team.

And then there’s the team leader, so very strong with coaching, very high patience level, encouraging the team members.

So as you can see with these aspects, of course, if they’re applied in the wrong way, they can result in negative results for not only the team but the project. But applied appropriately, they’re really great.

So people still ask, “Well, which style?” So you have to consider the project and then the select the most effective style.

So then people still wanna know more about “Well, what’s my style?” Well, here’s some recommendations. So there’re different assessments that you can find out more about your leadership styles, your ways of thinking.

So the more you can learn about yourself and get those assessments and work with the coach, because a coach is great with taking those assessments and helping you improve behaviors to begin building those strengths.

And then of course get training and experience in different types of projects and working with different types of people.

So as you can see, there’s a lot about this. And if you need additional resources to learn more about project management styles, then sign up for our software now a

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