One of the key skills for a successful project manager is the ability to work effectively with others. While behavioral styles are as varied as physical attributes there are some common attributes that will help us to understand others. There are many different instruments and techniques for understanding behavioral styles. Most of these tools are based on research that was conducted in the early 20th century. While these tools have been updated over the years the basic premise beyond these has not changed to any great degree. The reason is that the underlying basic human behavior has not changed to any great degree
I personally like to use the DISC behavioral styles analysis which is based on the specific work of Dr. William Marston back in the 1920s. This particular model like many others breaks down the basic styles into four different behavioral styles. From there you can create a greater breakdown which is based on the particular levels of each of these four styles. The important thing to notice out of all this is that while behavioral styles are wide and varied, we can find common attributes to help us understand individuals. Understanding this is essential to be a highly effective project manager.
I see two key reasons why this understanding is important. The first is to understand how to relate to individuals and the second is to understand the way the individuals like to work. For example, there are visionary people that like to see things from a very high level with little detail and there are detail oriented people that like to delve in to the details. Trying to relate in a visionary way to a detailed person, and vice versa, will cause that person to quickly lose interest. Assigning a visionary to do detailed work is likely a recipe for disaster. Highly effective project managers understand these differences and are able to communicate and make assignments based on this knowledge.
When analyzing candidates for project manager positions be sure to spend some time understanding how they deal with various different types of people. If they cannot do this they may not be the best candidate for the position.