A good while ago I was part of a fascinating and illuminating discussion with the rest of my senior leadership team and the brilliant Giles Barrow who I have mentioned before. Among the myriad of topics and ideas discussed was the subject of driver behaviours and you’ll need to forgive me as it was one of the wonderful conversations that jump from here to there but I’ve tried to summarise the main points here. I think they are useful as ways, not to categorise people, but to look at where the behaviours of different individuals come from and how we can recognise the motivation behind them. These drivers are a feature of individuals in all positions in schools and I think it’s useful not just to look at others in these terms and allow us to empathise and work more effectively with those around us but also to reflect on our own driver behaviours.
The behaviours were categorised in five main ways (Try Hard, Be Perfect, Please Others, Be Strong and Hurry Up) and I’ll go into each one a little here.
The group of people with Try Hard as their main driver behaviour can be identified as enthusiasts who will get on board with ideas or invest a great deal of time and effort into a new project – and perhaps another new project, and another etc! As is becoming obvious from the implications in the last statement the potential pitfall with this driver behaviour is that while there is masses of enthusiasm a characteristics of those with Try Hard as their motivation is a failure to complete and see things through and it is the role of those who work with or lead this group to enable them to use this enthusiasm and channel it effectively into completion rather than false starts.
Those driven by Be Perfect are always striving for excellence. No bad thing and yet along with this can come an anxiety over never failing. It is vital for these people to be able to feel that having excellence as an aim is a positive thing but that they must be able to accept that good is also a positive outcome and to perhaps be supported to recognise what is good enough as an outcome.
Please Others as a driver behaviour can give a strong sense of service and these will be the people who take up the yoke as Covey identifies in Principle Centred Leadership. The potential difficulty here is the need to be liked as part of pleasing others. This can lead to the individual putting themselves second, third, or last in relation to others or – and this is where I feel it could be problematic in a leadership position – someone who is so motivated by the need to be liked that it compromises their direction and ability to lead others.
Those who are motivated by being strong are individuals with real endurance and will work on and on, perhaps like Boxer in Animal Farm. The danger here is that these are people who avoid emotion or feeling human and see this as a weakness. To support these individuals and allow their hard work to deliver results for themselves and the organisation without breaking their backs they need to be made to feel ok to, well, feel and ask for help.
Efficiency is a real strength for those with Hurry Up as a driver behaviour. People who may be solution focused and determined to get things done rather than wait around pondering options and consultations. At times obviously these are incredibly useful – a fire drill needs efficiency rather than discussion – but obviously the flip side to action, action, action is a lack of thought about options and taking the time to think things through and to ensure that the most appropriate cause of action is taken and for leaders a course of action that will carry the rest of the team with it. Being given the space to think is crucial to help these individuals and allowing them to identify the times when stopping and considering the steps is a greater route to sustainable success.
As I said these aren’t supposed to simply categorise individuals. There is a lot more to people than five driver behaviours but perhaps by recognising these we can see when the driver behaviour is taking over either ourselves or others and see how, through identification and awareness we can help each other to accentuate the positives and work on the drawbacks of them.
Lots of Love