Four Types of Projects—Which Kind Are You Leading?

May 19, 2021 4 min read
Four Types of Projects—Which Kind Are You Leading?

Learning to trust your instincts is an important leadership skill. Use this wisely, and it will give you a head start when project planning.

Read on and I’ll explain…

Shape Your Leadership Styles

When embarking on a new change project, project managers and project sponsors often get a gut feeling about how things will proceed.

Let me ask you this: What mental impression are you left with when appointed project manager? A feeling of confusion or bewilderment? Confidence? A sense of purpose? Excitement?

Understanding how you feel about a project will assist you identify the type of project you are running and how best to deal with its challenges.

What’s more, it will help you to choose the right leadership style for your change project.

Here’s why…

4 Types of Projects

Eddie Obeng, a British educator, author and motivational speaker, reckons there are 4 types of projects. I’d agree with him.

In All Change! The Project Leader’s Secret Handbook, Obeng also describes how our feelings about a change project helps us to identify with the idea behind the project.

A person who is going nowhere can be sure of reaching his destination.

For example, if you are unsure of what is to be done and unsure of how to go about doing it, you are likely to feel as if you are caught in the fog.

Your gut feeling may be one of fear, loss, confusion, or uncertainty.

Walking in the fog is the first type of project Obeng describes. The others are making a movie (film), going on a quest, and painting by numbers.

Understanding the 4 types of projects can help you to predict problems and put measures in place to avoid them. And the leadership styles needed to deliver organizational change are closely related to each type of project.

Walking in the fog

If you don’t know what you want nor how to achieve it, you are likely to have a walking in the fog type of project.

Typically, the organization is attempting to do something different. Something that hasn’t been attempted before. These projects all start because of a change in circumstances.

For instance, introducing a new business strategy responding to political, legislative or socio-economic organizational change. As such, this type of change project calls for certain leadership styles, e.g., tight control, strong communication and innovation and creativity.

These projects require teamwork and a desire to work and learn together.

Walking in the fog, projects should proceed cautiously. If not, you risk delivering nothing of benefit to the organization.

Making a movie


If you know how but not what you need to do, you have a making a movie type of project.

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