Ask people the best thing about Drivers, and a clear theme emerges: They get sh*t done. Even when it’s difficult. Especially when it’s difficult. Because if you had to capture the spirit of Drivers in a word, it would be CHALLENGE. Drivers love a challenge, and they love to challenge. They are focused and competitive. To get the results they want, Drivers will calculate the shortest possible path and stay on course despite whatever, or whoever, gets in their way. This directness infuses everything they do, from the way they make decisions to the way they interact with others. They like to get to the point.
Drivers are not the warmest and fuzziest of the types. They don’t mince words and they don’t sugarcoat. Expecting small talk? Drivers see it as a waste of time. No clear agenda? Come back when you have one. Vague ambitions? Intuitive conclusions? Emotional interpretations? Good luck with that. Drivers are logical, technical, and quantitative. They want data and structure. Try to engage them without these things, and they have no qualms voicing their displeasure. Even if you do arrive armed with facts, don’t expect Drivers to accept them at face value. They will likely question your data, dispute your premise, and argue with your conclusion. But often that’s not a bad sign. Drivers are competitive and love to debate. They respect someone that can go toe to toe with them—and they don’t give out points to people who are self-eff acing. Tell a Driver you’re not that good at something and, chances are, they will believe you.
Drivers won’t waste a lot of time digging into your motives, or questioning their own. It’s not that they lack curiosity—in fact quite the opposite. But their interests are more pragmatic than philosophical; more “How does this clock work?” than “What is the meaning of time?” Drivers are deeply inquisitive and experimental. They will often ask “Why?” and then determine a way to find out.
Drivers dislike ambiguity, so they quickly look for patterns and move forward with solutions. They want to figure out the reason for everything, and if they can’t find one, they assume it must not be important. They make decisions swiftly, discarding what they consider extraneous to zero in on an answer, even if it’s unpopular. For Drivers, if the facts suggest a particular choice then any feelings about it are irrelevant. They’re also comfortable with risk, as long as it’s calculated.
There are two sub types of Drivers: Commanders and Scientists. Commanders are the take-charge, more extroverted type. Scientists are the cerebral, more introverted type.
As the name suggests, Commanders are disciplined and tough minded, ready to lead the troops toward the goal. They like to be in charge, and even when they are not the official leader, their dominant presence is hard to miss. Commanders are not reserved; they tend to be energetic, quick speaking, and outgoing.
Compared to their Scientist counterparts, Commanders are more focused. Once they’ve got the scent of a goal in their nostrils, it’s hard to distract them from their track. Their bias is for action versus deliberation. And while Drivers in general are competitive, Commanders take it to the extreme. Even if there’s no explicit competition, Commanders will often create one. That could be as obvious as a “my [insert noun] can [insert verb] better / faster / cheaper than yours” kind of standoff , or it could be more subtle, like jockeying for status, titles, compensation, and resources.
Scientists have a more inward orientation than Commanders. They aren’t hierarchical and don’t put particular value on relationships or social networks. Rather, they’re focused on ideas. They tend to be very intellectual.
Scientists are more curious than their Commander counterparts. They love to explore, to probe, to experiment. For them, the goal is as much about gaining understanding or solving a puzzle as it is about achieving a specific objective. They are highly visual, picturing problems in their mind in order to dissect them. Scientists also tend to be less traditional, willing to try new things in order to tease out hidden truths.
Overall, Drivers are direct, unapologetic, and compelled more by logic than emotion. They approach work much like an algorithm, analyzing options and outcomes unencumbered by second-guessing, fear of conflict, or worry about collateral damage. For a Driver, these costs are necessary to getting things done.
When Drivers see a mountain, they don’t see an insurmountable obstacle. They see a challenge they can climb over, tunnel through, or move if needed—and then perhaps boast about. Drivers have a laser focus on achieving objectives, which makes them incredibly useful for a team. Indeed, of all the types, our research shows Drivers are the type that people say they most value. And yet, they are also considered the least enjoyable type to work with. People are complicated.
This is an excerpt from our book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships (Wiley, 2018). Check it out to read what Kim Christfort and I write about the deftness of Drivers, and the difficulties with them too!