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Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.

Personalities Power Projects

In my last Blog, I talked about the role of a Project Manager (PM) and how PMs help an implementation team adhere to the project scope and timelines. But while all PMs have some things in common, each of us has unique strengths and challenges.

I just got through “reading” Gretchen Rubin’s “The Four Tendencies”1 by audiobook while commuting back and forth to work in my truck. From the descriptions, I could instantly identify my own type, which made me wonder how this personality trait or tendency affects my effectiveness as an LRS EOM project manager.

Gretchen’s breakthrough framework consists of four distinct types, each with clarifying patterns of behavior. These categories are Upholder, Questioner, Obliger and Rebel. Where one lands in this range revolves around one’s propensity (or lack thereof) to conform to outer and inner expectations. It was surprising at first, but the author’s insight does make sense. The four tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.2 This in turn can translate into whether we succeed or fail; accomplish a task on time, late or never; whether we can persuade and influence others, etc.

Gretchen sums up each Tendency in a few words. Do you recognize yourself?

  • “Upholders want to know what should be done
  • Questioners want justifications
  • Obligers need accountability
  • Rebels want freedom to do something their own way”3

This is another nugget for a PM’s toolkit, for sure! Try to identify the tendency of each member of your project team and those of your Customer. You can then adjust how you speak and ask questions, depending on the nature of the person with which you are interacting; in doing so, you’ll make the most of everyone’s strengths. This innovative approach may even favorably impact the project timeline! It should certainly create a more pleasant, less stressful and very productive experience for the entire team and can even be applied in one’s personal and social life.

Through awareness of these personality profiles, we can better understand ourselves (our true, hardwired nature that is not going to change) to create situations that suit our Tendency and be more successful. This also enables each of us to understand other people’s perspectives and be more accepting of the natural inclinations of co-workers.

Something as simple as adjusting one’s own approach may make all the difference. “We’re more likely to be persuasive when we invoke the values that have special appeal for a particular Tendency:

  • Upholders value self-command and performance
  • Questioners value justification and purpose
  • Obligers value teamwork and duty
  • Rebels value freedom and self-identity”4

“It’s far easier to succeed when you know what actually works – and why”.

Think how harmonious the workplace could be! Could it help lower blood pressures? Adhered-to timelines? (Oh, that it could be so!) Preserve one’s sanity? Increase tolerance of teammates’ idiosyncrasies?

Maybe we should all consider wearing name tags to reveal our Tendency. It might save time... Mine would read “Hello, my name is Cheryl and I’m an Obliger.”

Which tendency are you? Check out Gretchen’s thirteen-question quiz and find out today! https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/


1 Gretchen Rubin ,The Four Tendencies The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) (Harmony Books, 2017).

2 Rubin, The Four Tendencies, 12.

3 Rubin, The Four Tendencies , 229-230.

4 Rubin, The Four Tendencies , 230-231.

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