There are many different types of Project Managers with varying degree of skill and experience. I like to categorize project managers by their ability to Lead and their Project Mgmt knowledge. Building up both these skills is key in being a great Project Manager. In this post, I'll talk about three types of project managers you can find in a PMO. This would be the Theorist, Organizer, and Fire Fighter. The Theorist
This is the person always talking about the latest in project life cycles and explaining the difference between iteration vs incremental or agile vs waterfall. They are the ones that want to create or change the process with the best of intentions. Sometimes the change results in a process improvement, and other times not so much. They are always great to have when working through issues and risks. Their ability to follow process is moderate and also have a moderate level of leadership due to their ability to have a vision of how things can be.
Every PMO needs a few of these people. Regardless of the process, they will follow it to a letter. Everything is in order and easy to find. They are especially great if you are in a regulated environment. The weakness with this type is that having perfect documentation (by itself) does not translate to an on time project with great product deliverables. Their ability to develop and follow process is high and leadership is low to moderate as they have a tougher time when things are not going to plan.
The Fire Fighter
For the fire fighter, you are always running to where you see the problem. They have a sixth sense when something is wrong and can smell BS from 20 yards away. Their ability to hone in on the issues and bring the team together is critical. As for the documentation, a smart fire fighter will give the process stuff to the organizer or theorist. As you can probably tell, their process knowledge tends to be low to moderate. Their ability to read people, and get to the root of uncomfortable issues, makes them stronger leaders.
There are many types of Project Managers beyond the three above. Regardless of the label, a strong project manager must be able to lead people and combine that with sound project management practices.