The genius of the Driver personality type is in moving past or eliminating unnecessary obstacles and reaching a goal. “Genius” is used here in the old sense – meaning a person’s special gift or talent. The Driver is less concerned about process than accomplishment. When he works, it’s less about feelings and relationships than achievement.
He’ll take criticism for not being a “people” person, but he’d rather get something done and walk away than join a family and sink together or spread out success over a slow, trudging period of time. “Let’s all trudge on together” is not the Driver’s motto.
He’ll take criticism for risking a mistake, or making a mistake that could have been avoided with weeks of planning, or for being wrong 3% of the time. The Driver sees 97% accomplishment and 3% failure as perfectly acceptable, since he can complete those accomplishments while others are still considering their first activity. In investment, for instance, a small, continual failure rate is an ideal companion to the Driver: instead of waiting for a sure thing, and acting only then, he can act immediately and reap the rewards of overwhelming successes that outweigh any failures. Failures are seen by drivers as incidental. Being occasionally incorrect is the cost of doing business.
Often, Drivers are good at leading goal-oriented teams (e.g. sales teams or projects involving creation or change), persuading audiences (Drivers can see what the audience must see to succeed by the same standard), and running businesses. Drivers are often found as CEOs and executive management, at the apex of their own operation, or motivating audiences to change their lives rather than wait until their dead. In corporations, highly-ranked drivers are typically forgiven for being blunt and demanding; line-level drivers don’t last long, except in Sales – where there’s a tacit authorization to ‘drive’ as much as you want, as long as you produce. Some operations reward the very thing that would cause others to cringe and expel you, as they plod along in their usual uncertainty, daily chaos, and meandering acceptance of mediocrity.
In entrepreneurship, you’ll find lots and lots of Drivers. When I talk with Mortgage Brokers on the phone – self-operated professionals that have to be involved in achievement (bottom line: they must sell), sales, and marketing, I’m continually talking to Drivers. It’s a bit like the Sopranos: if you want to be in that family, you have to earn. You’re goal driven, because you know if you don’t sell, you don’t eat, your family doesn’t eat, your dog doesn’t eat.
Drivers, it is said, see the end, and jump ahead to reach it. Drivers who are immensely successful, in corporate life, in (entrepreneurial) business, in non-profit work (yes – Drivers are often some of the most successful at attacking the problems of the poor) – Drivers who are immensely successful will build teams that include other personality types and utilize their talents to the fullest. Social geniuses will collaborate with Facilitator geniuses on the front lines of creating and maintaining business relationships, internally and externally. Process geniuses ensure that everything adds up, all the bases are covered, and there are no open holes in the gameplan; it will move forward, regardless, says the Driver, but your job is to make sure it doesn’t fall in a crater by missing a fact or a broken process.
Drivers who operate in the Process area can be extremely adept at insisting on a change of direction when they detect a pitfall up ahead – they may not call a halt or ‘merely’ present the information – they see the goal – but they will propose ways around and push until one is chosen – either by them, which is fine, or by the Driver above.
Drivers often do work for other people, but for how long and with what dedication depends on the management. Incompetence in management often sees a Driver as a task-oriented person, and assigns a plethora of tasks (typing, reformatting, e-mailing, data-gathering, etc.). Competent management assigns a Driver goals (streamline this process, eliminate this problem, find a solution for this barrier, make x happen). Drivers thrive on goals and rise to the challenge – they see accomplishment as their role in life.
Drivers don’t need as much care and feeding as the social personality types. Or, better said, they need an entirely different type of care and feeding. Just as Process people can’t thrive around intellectual chaos, random and haphazard data collection, and disdain for rational business conduct, so the Driver has needs. Drivers often thrive on one thing – recognition for accomplishment. Give a Driver credit for achieving a set of goals, and you’ve activated his internal motivators. In other words, he knows that others know that he’s doing what he’s designed to do – his purpose and contribution is confirmed and extended. Always follow up with another goal.
Drivers are often thought to be “unmanageable”. This is often because the manager doesn’t understand the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators of the Driver, and how to work with them. In the “top-down” world of corporations, the Driver can get a reputation of being “hard to work with” – this masks management’s burden of better learning how to work with highly effective people who are highly effective because they’re not merely compliant. In fact, give Drivers the raw tools of their craft, give them the motivation they need, and take off the reigns, and you will have allies that produce results when you need the results no matter what. If there’s a choice between making someone unhappy and watching the project fall into a hole, the Driver will make someone unhappy. It’s how he’s built. On a day to day basis, give Drivers goals, and get out of their way.
Give Drivers a team, and empower them with authority, and set a goal, and you will see amazing things. The Driver will make a company within a company and ensure that results are produced for the internal client. Is it any wonder that Drivers often branch out and start their own companies and organizations? Often their love-hate relationship with the goals and culture of corporate life equip them with the insight they need to not relive the failures of many project teams. If you want to know why you’re failing, enlist a driver and set a goal of having a half-dozen answers on your desk by Wednesday. Then go back to work and forget about it; it will be done. Drivers are set it and forget it relationships. Make sure they see the goal at the end, give them what they say they need to reach it (the tools, the empowerment, the freedom), and let go; set it and forget it. Drivers are plug and play achievers.
For those wanting the smoothest incorporation of highly effective drivers into their organizational culture: besides the above, there is one piece of advice. Work as much like a goal-driven project team of highly-effective individual contractors and as little like an environment of placation and obeisance as possible.
The top-down model doesn’t allow your Drivers to be as effective. Forcing them to concentrate on everyone’s feelings at the expense of the free-flow of data and other tools, starves your Drivers of raw resources and burdens them with distractions, robbing them of focus. Support and back up your Drivers when Social and Facilitation geniuses complain that they’re not stopping to make sure everyone is happy, or that they phrase things in blunt, direct ways, or that they don’t seem to care about office birthday parties. Occasionally remind your staff that they’re achieving the goals of the team, are highly effective at what they do, and we need them, and not only will those same Social and Facilitation geniuses begin to support their activities, smoothing out the seemingly ‘insurmountable’ relational issues that take place in office culture over petty things like office supplies, but your Drivers will be more effective than ever. You have got to back them up, recognize their achievements, and protect them from inappropriate scrutiny and scorn from either non-Drivers or other Drivers who see them as competitors or, in a corporate environment, insufficiently deferential.
If you’re a Driver (and most people who run things are – not necessarily the person whose name is on the check – the person who “runs” things – who “drives”), then keep in mind the essential value of each of the other personality types as well as fellow drivers who work for you. A civilization, company, structure, family, organization… cannot survive without all of the personality types, and cannot thrive without the things that make each of those personality types supremely effective. But that’s another conversation, and we won’t start it today.
Phish wrote these lyrics:
I’ll tell you about the driver who lives inside my head
Starts me up and stops me and puts me into bed
When he makes decisions I don’t have to wait
But sometimes it seems that he’s got too much on his plate
Like this morning when I woke up and he dressed me in this shirt
That looks a little ragged where he dragged me through the dirt
I’m moving through this life and I’m thinking about the next
And hoping when I get there I’ll be better dressed