Leadership Lessons: Know Your Crew, Part 3: How to Lead the "Drivers"

In August, I started a five-part series about knowing your crew and the four different social styles on your team, based on the Merrill/Reid Social Style Model. If you haven’t read the first two columns, be sure to start there so this month’s column makes sense. Last month, I shared with you the traits of the “Analytical” social style on your crew. In this column I cover the “Driver” social style.

Drivers are the “control specialists” on your crew. They are “tellers” and “task-oriented.” They like to take control and be in control. They are actually the most difficult people to supervise because they don’t like to take orders from others and they often think they can do the job better than you. They are over-achievers who gravitate toward leadership positions, whether formal or informal. Drivers are obsessed by a strong compulsion to perform and take pleasure in almost any kind of work because it involves activity. Idleness will destroy Drivers. They desire to control and master everything they do.

Drivers like new ideas, challenges and competition. They have a passion for knowledge and are constantly searching to answer the “why’s” of life. They can be overly forceful and may require too much from themselves and others. Drivers are haunted by the possibility of failure. They are self-controlled, persistent and logical.

Strengths of the Driver include: Not easily discouraged, exudes confidence, can run anything, independent and self-sufficient, goal-oriented, extremely productive, organizes well, moves quickly to action, exerts sound leadership and motivates people to action. Weaknesses include: impatient, quick-tempered, enjoys controversy and arguments, inflexible, little tolerance for mistakes, may make rash decisions, may be rude or tactless and doesn’t like to admit wrongs.

I want to share some tips with you for leading Drivers. First, they like the freedom to be self-sufficient. Close supervision is very stifling to Drivers. They want to know exactly what you expect of them, and they will get it done, usually before a deadline.

Drivers like to have choices and must be allowed to choose the most successful path for reaching goals suggested by their leader. They need to know exactly what the goal is, and then be allowed to get the job done their way, at their pace (which will be rapid!). Drivers complete tasks very quickly and want to see results and will often find shortcuts to get the job done faster. Because of their fast pace, they do not always take time to listen to others and their concerns. They have little patience for incompetence or excuses.

Drivers thrive on reaching goals and completing tasks. They are very driven at work and do not like to engage in time-wasting activities. Chitchat is annoying to Drivers. They are also annoyed by illogical or unreasonable tasks in the same way that the Analyticals are.

Drivers usually irritate others in the workplace with their impatience, sarcasm, and insensitivity. They expect a lot from themselves and others and are not afraid to voice their opinions. They are ambitious workers and thrive in positions of authority. Drivers are independent and like to work alone. When put in a team environment, Drivers help to build confidence in others. They increase productivity and speed, and they set the example for hard work and determination.

A great way to effectively lead Drivers is to know what they value and what annoys them. Drivers value achievement, goals, responsibility, decisiveness, challenge and independence. Productivity is important to them, as is speed and control. Drivers are easily annoyed by indecisiveness, procrastination and laziness. They also do not appreciate excuses, hypersensitivity or too many details.

Drivers will be very strong and productive team members if you know how to deal with them. They respect strong leaders who tell it like it is, take a stand on issues and make decisions. If you want to gain a high level of productivity from Drivers, give them freedom to achieve.

My next column talks about the “Amiable” social style on your crew and why they are the easiest to get along with. n