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Leading Drivers: Balancing Performance and Results

By Susan Hall

Leading Drivers: Balancing Performance and Results

Do you lead or work with a coworker who is direct, fast-paced, and decisive? Do they tend to use fewer facial gestures and body language when they communicate, but they tend to influence by telling, making declarative statements? You are probably working with a Driver. In Episode 12 of Strategic Insights, Susan Hall and Tim Deuitch share strategies for identifying, working and leading Drivers for improved performance through increasing your Versatility.

Susan Hall: 00:01  Hello and welcome to the Strategic Insights Podcast brought to you by Strategic Enhancement Group. I'm Susan Hall, Vice President of Business Development and Performance Improvement, and today I'm joined by Tim Deuitch, Senior Performance Consultant at Strategic Enhancement Group. Hi Tim. Welcome.

Tim Deuitch: 00:17  Hey Susan. Thanks for having me.

Susan Hall: 00:19  Always great to have you here, Tim. So this podcast is one of a series that addresses the challenges we often feel when working with clients and coworkers that exhibit unique communication styles that are different from our own. There are four styles that we'll be speaking to. The Analytical style, which is task focused, very deliberate, thoughtful, and prefers process. The Expressive, which is people focused, verbal. These people tend to think out loud, they're creative, and also demonstrative. The Amiable style is also people focused, diligent, prefers harmony, and collective input. And finally, the Driver, who is task and results oriented, gets to the point and wants to use their time wisely.

Each of our podcasts will address one of these styles and today we're going to be talking about the Driver. So specifically, colleagues who are Drivers and also employees that you may be coaching who are Drivers. We'll start with a set of characteristics for the Driver style, and then we'll share several practical tips and action steps that you can take to interact more effectively with your Driver coworkers for better relationships and for better results. So first of all, Drivers are task oriented people. They like to get to business first and then after all of that's taken care of, they'll engage in small talk. They like results, they tend to be direct, fast-paced, and decisive. They also use fewer facial gestures and body language when they communicate, and they tend to influence by telling, making declarative statements, as opposed to a more subtle influencing of asking questions. So Tim, what are some of the other behavioral cues that you see from Drivers?

Tim Deuitch: 02:09  The Driver that's a fellow employee, or maybe a person that reports to me, if I'm the manager, this is the type of person that is always looking for evidence behind what might be presented, or you'll be in a conversation at work, or in a conference call, and this is the person who will tend to say, "How do you know that will work?" or "What evidence do you have for this point your making?" Or sometimes, they're pragmatic as can be. It's like, "Is this going to take long?", because they're so task oriented. So that's what I would add, they're looking for evidence behind things because they're always results oriented. They want to know, "Is this worth my time, this conversation with this concept, that you might be floating to me?"

Susan Hall: 02:58  Absolutely, and so, that's one of their core strengths, their focus on results. The fact that they tend to be productive people, they want to use their time efficiently, and they also are very decisive. They tend to make decisions pretty quickly. On the other hand, Tim, what are some of the frustrations that one might experience when working with a Driver, coworker, or employee?

Tim Deuitch: 03:22  I definitely have a few, and of course these aren't universal, but they're typical. Outwardly, they can be cold, they don't have a lot of demonstrative facial characteristics, they can kind of be stone-faced. They can lack humor sometimes, maybe in situations where you could really use a dose of humor, they don't provide it. They can be autocratic when they get under stress, they may not be up very much for brainstorming. They may be impatient when a decision is sort of hard to come by, or people are not coming to conclusion on things. They're the ones who can voice impatience, and that can be real frustrating to people who like to talk things through.

Susan Hall: 04:20  Exactly, and remember, we're talking about styles from different perspectives. So, it's not that Drivers are cold people, it's just we're looking at behaviors only, and their behaviors tend to have more poker faces, if you will, compared to some of the other people oriented styles like Amiables and Expressives, so it can seem that way, but they have access to the full range of human emotions just like all of the other styles too. So, let's talk about specific actions that you can take when dealing with a Driver coworker or employee. First of all, basics, start and end on time. If you can be there, the old adage, if you're not five minutes early, you're late. Sometimes I think that applies with Drivers. Have an agenda, be clear, specific, and brief. You'll want to pick up your pace when speaking.

Not that you need to be incredibly fast, but you want to be very deliberate in your speaking, and very decisive. Drivers, I've found are also motivated by control. They're comfortable being in charge. So when coaching them, make sure that you're getting their input certainly, and setting realistic goals, but also setting stretch goals. They tend to like a challenge. And finally, in terms of coaching, I think the rule of thumb here is initiate and monitor. Ask them to inform you if things aren't progressing, and check in on milestones for larger projects, but don't micromanage, that will drive them up a wall. Tim, what other thoughts do you have in terms of coaching and working with Drivers?

Tim Deuitch: 06:12  Words are powerful with Drivers. They like words like, "results", "efficiency", "control", "time-saving", and "deadlines" because these are the things that they think about. These are the words that go through their heads. They think in terms of time constraints, in terms of ROI, in terms of actual deliverables. So, the more you mirror that language to them, the more productive you can be together.

To present facts logically, as opposed to the notion of from the heart, or through feelings, they'll respond to basic logic behind things. This is also very important, provide options and choices to make their own decisions. It's a way of extending that sense of control to them. So rather than trying to say, "No, this is what I suggest you do and this is the only thing you can do", by offering them the chance to, in a sense, make it their own, you're absolutely speaking their language and their style.

Susan Hall: 07:21  I once had a Driver tell me that, "If you give me the option of yes or no, my gut reaction is almost always no."

Tim Deuitch: 07:25  Interesting.

Susan Hall: 07:32  "I want more options and probabilities." And again, as you said, Tim, if you can make your case based on facts and evidence, absolutely you can sway a Driver to your point of view, as long as it makes sense to them.

Tim Deuitch: 07:45  Yes, absolutely.

Susan Hall: 07:49  As with every style too, there's misconceptions about Drivers, as you've already mentioned, Tim, can sometimes seem intimidating to other styles. They don't typically have a lot of facial expressions, they're fast-paced, they're assertive, and they speak with authority, almost as if what they're saying is a foregone conclusion. But, what I've learned from Drivers is that absolutely they can be influenced, and what influences them is a succinct and to the point case based on evidence and results. So from your point of view, Tim, any other misconceptions or misunderstandings of the Driver style that other styles often make?

Tim Deuitch: 08:34  Yes, absolutely. I want to expand a little bit on the notion that a Driver can be cold. I'm not a Driver myself. When I work with a Driver, I now am very careful to recognize that they have emotions just like I do, that it can be easy to suggest that they don't care. While they'll make a grand declarative statement as though it's obvious to everyone in the room, you have to sort of take that as understanding, this is just how they communicate. Like all people, they have a full range of emotions and feelings, and just don't show it in the same way that you do, or that you might prefer that they do, and I think that's important to remember.

Susan Hall: 09:18  Yes, I think so too. In fact, I got a hug from a Driver-driver the other day, but you know what, I let her initiate it. I find with Drivers and Analyticals, they are not quite as informal around hugs and greetings then some of the other styles are.

Tim Deuitch: 09:35  Not at all.

Susan Hall: 09:40  I think another misconception that people sometimes make is that most leaders are Drivers. After all, leaders are paid to get results and make decisions, and that's what Drivers love to do, right? But the research is, and obviously, we've had close to 3 million people go through Social Style Profiling, and looking at all different types of demographics and levels of management, the research shows us that all four styles are represented in leadership roles. So, it's really about Versatility. In fact, most successful leaders demonstrate Versatility or the ability to adapt their behavior to make the other style a little bit more comfortable.

Tim Deuitch: 10:26  Absolutely.

Susan Hall: 10:28  In summary, Drivers are bottom line, take charge people who want to make efficient and productive use of their time. They like it when you are decisive, respect their time, and support them in getting results. Help them by being on time, prepared, and give them some control over outcomes. Don't be intimidated or afraid to argue a different point. When coaching or working with your Driver employee, make sure they have input and can help shape the solution, give them options, and focus on probabilities and anticipated results. They'll respect you for it, you'll have a much better relationship, and you'll get the outcomes you both want. Of course, we've just scratched the surface today. If you have additional questions or thoughts, please visit us at

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Published: August 31, 2018

Are you frustrated leading a coworker who is direct, fast-paced, and decisive?

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Susan Hall

Vice President- Business Development & Performance Improvement

Susan brings over 20 years of experience working with global markets and organizations, helping them navigate through tough economic challenges while maintaining their margins. Since joining SEG in 1995, she has had the privilege of working with organizations that truly value the development of their employees and recognize the impact their people have on their bottom line results. Susan graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a double major in business management and speech communication. She has also completed course work toward her master's degree at Johns Hopkins University.

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