When a Driver isn’t just a Driver—Scientists and Commanders


A while back I shared some hints for recognizing a Driver, as well as some suggestions for flexing your own style to theirs. As a quick reminder, generally speaking Drivers are logical, competitive, and tolerant of confrontation. They’re often skilled with numbers and technically-oriented.

You might also recall that I recently revealed there are actually two sub-types of Integrators—Teamers and Dreamers. Well, as it turns out there are also two sub-types of Drivers. We call them Scientists and Commanders. As with the Integrator subtypes, drilling down the level of these Driver sub-types provides us with even clearer guidance on how to flex our style to theirs or to create the kind of environment in which they’ll thrive.

Scientists tend to be quantitatively-and technically-oriented. They seek answers–experimenting, and looking for patterns when they’re trying to understand something. They’re not tied to tradition, don’t prioritize networking with others, and aren’t usually very expressive, emotionally-speaking. You might say they’re kind of doing their own thing in their own world. For that reason, they tend to be less obvious in a group, much like the Dreamer.

Commanders, on the other hand, are a bit easier to spot, more like the Teamer. In interactions with others, Commanders are outgoing, competitive, and don’t shrink from confrontation. They’re goal-oriented and disciplined in their pursuit of those goals. They’re focused in their thoughts and decisive, making decisions quickly and sticking to them. Like the Scientist, they tend to be strong in the quantitative realm.

So how does this help you if you’re interacting with, or maybe managing a Scientist or Commander? Here are some hints:

A Scientist…

  • often sees patterns and connections that others don’t see. Take advantage of this super-power by asking for their assistance in finding the fertile ground between established fields, where there’s space to really innovate.
  • isn’t comfortable with unanswered questions, so send them on a quest to solve a thorny problem and they’ll keep at it till they best it.
  • may not appreciate situations that include “forced networking,” and would probably prefer to use their time in other ways.
  • doesn’t care particularly for tradition or convention and may not be aware of trampling on things that others care about. Help them out by letting them know.
  • may not be especially expressive, which can make them difficult to read. Ask a particularly sensitive type, like a Dreamer, to help!
  • often specializes in wrangling numbers, machines, or technology. Set them loose in these areas and watch them go.

A Commander…

  • is motivated by competition and stretch goals. Don’t be afraid to challenge them!
  • is disciplined and focused and not easily distracted. Commanders report that they’re more effective under pressure, so high stakes situations may bring out their best.
  • isn’t afraid of confrontation, so be ready for a possibly vigorous debate.
  • tends toward quick and firm decision-making, so if you want them to consider a particular piece of information, offer it up early in the process. Once they’ve settled on a decision it may be too late.
  • is often a math-whiz—if you’re not, they can be a great complement to your skills.
  • may not always have a good sense of others’ feelings or needs, so they may benefit from some support in keeping others in mind as they drive toward a goal.

Have you seen either of these sub-types in any Drivers you’ve come across?


Dr. Suz

Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz)
Dr. Suz is the LCC’s very own social-personality psychologist, which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors and preferences are influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their individual members influences their work together. Follow her on Twitter @DrSuzBizChem

This publication contains general information only, and none of the member firms of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, its member firms, or their related entities (collective, the “Deloitte Network”) is, by means of this publication, rendering professional advice or services. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. No entity in the Deloitte Network shall be responsible for any loss whatsoever sustained by any person who relies on this publication.
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6 thoughts on “When a Driver isn’t just a Driver—Scientists and Commanders

  1. My manager is most definitely a Commander. It’s incredibly effective and a great way to make sure that everything on our project gets done. I also appreciate knowing that I can challenge her without offending her. She’s just looking for the most efficient way to get something done right and no matter whose answer it is that’s the best answer for the team.

    Liked by 1 person

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