The Project Management Project (C3)

Unleadership: the bad, the ugly and the dotard.

A manager stands where he sits; the leader sits where he stands

Earlier this week, I wrote about the boss archetypes that are beneficial to a project.  Today, the focus is on the bad, the ugly and the dotard, with a segue towards how to choose an archetype.

Archetypes to avoid.  Three archetypes must be avoided at all times, or terminated once discovered.  There is no rational justification for employing either one unless the organization seeks self-destruction.  No project can succeed under the invertebrate management framework that they inspire.  They include the misnager, the anager and the abdicrat.

The misnager archetype describes an individual who is in a position of authority but is unsuited to the role, either out of incompetence, management whims, or career dissonance.  The misnager is prone to making the wrong decision to solve an issue.  He will tend to focus on the menial and the custodial at the expense of the big picture and material concerns (prone to kyopia, discussed later).  Whatever the situation, the misnager is usually unable to discern what truly matters from the noise, and chooses to act on what is easy and benign, either out of cluelessness or cowardice about the potential consequences.  The misnager shares one trait with the tyrant: the reflex of blaming others when things go wrong.  He will even go so far as to select a fall guy before making a decision and include that person in his decision-making strategy.  In the misnager’s world, it’s always someone else’s fault.

The anager proactively seeks to not manage.  He shares many of the misnager’s traits but takes them to their logical extremes.  The anager will refuse to make decision or inject himself in the decision-making process.  Fear of accountability, of responsibility, and of unemployment is the prime motivator of this individual.  The anager readily delegates his authority to subordinates and assumes that he is off the hook if bad things occur.  When forced to make a decision, he is paralyzed and prefer to flee rather than face the music.  The anager archetype is not even interested in shifting blames unto others; his ultimate objective is self-preservation.

The abidcrat is someone who will neither lead or be led.  This is the individual who believes himself empowered to operate outside of the hierarchical structure of a project team.  Most often, it is associated with people whose organizations are unwilling or unable to fire them.  They develop a profound sense of entitlement and self-appreciation that is out of all proportion with their contribution to the team.  The abidcrat will do as he pleases, when he pleases.  When placed in a position of authority, he is wholly unreliable.  One simply never knows what will ensue from his meanderings.

Archetype selection.  There does exist one ideal project boss: the manager who can lead.  She knows the business, the features of the organization to succeed with the project, the right resources available and the pertinent mechanics and associated mechanisms to get the job done.  The project manager can start from the mandate given by her boss and execute that mandate in an autonomous fashion, regardless of the vagaries of the evolving work. The great project manager does not need to be specialized in any of the accountability areas under her control.  The real specialty is the ability to create and maintain a framework within which all functional areas work as one.  Finally, great project managers succeed in developing profitably performing assets.


Further insights can be gleaned from chapter 3 of Investment-Centric Project Management, available on


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