Welcome to this weekly online resource. Executive coach and wellness professional Jo Foster, offers thought provoking insights on positive psychology, mindfulness and self care. As well as access to her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations. 

This week we are continuing to look at the psychology of leadership. 

“The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances."  Viktor Frankl


In this series on leadership psychology so far, we have looked at differing leadership attitudes, the emotional intelligence skills that empower our choices and the psychological and behavioural information that feeds into these choices. In my last instalment we looked at the inherent traits of the 5 Drivers, in this instalment we look at how to gain access to this knowledge and how this may help inform our choices. 

We can't change where we have come from, but we can seek to gain wisdom and understanding from our experiences and decide where we go with this knowledge. Decide on who you aspire to be and how you fulfil that aspiration. In this pursuit, this week I am exploring how we can identify what our drivers are, more importantly what we can do with this information.

How we identify our drivers

It is as simple as take the test and review the drivers summary for a context of meaning. Have a go here

The results

It is typical to identify to some degree with all the drivers and for some of us we may score fairly evenly across the board. For some of us there may be one or two drivers that we score more highly in and recognise a greater degree of truth in. The great thing about this test is that there is no "bad" score. All the drivers have their positive attributes and enable us to excel in different circumstances. The value in knowing your drivers, is that you can more readily identify how to leverage your strengths and manage the limiting tendencies that emerge in times of stress.

Responding to your triggers

Having a sense of what your drivers are is interesting in isolation, but where this information comes to life is in context of our everyday. You may notice that there are certain 'triggers' that bring out behaviours in line with a particular driver. For example, when I'm writing I recognise both tendencies of Be Perfect and Hurry Up. Identifying these behaviours that are triggered by this task, enables me to adopt mechanisms to help optimise my potential in this instance. For example, my personal dialogue if I am procrastinating is "make a start & have a go", this can inspire the action of beginning the task and breaks down the enormity of expectation around the finished results.  At different stages of the task different dialogue is required, such as "good enough" when the review process begins to absorb inordinate amounts of time and conversely "take your time" when I'm feeling rushed or pressured. 

Take a moment to consider your own triggers; These may be tasks, particular relationships, events, or any circumstance that bring about a consistent reaction or pattern of behaviour in you. Then consider, what is the language that promotes the opposite to your reaction? And, how can you leverage the positive attributes of your other driver tendencies to improve your performance to this 'trigger'?

A cast of characters

As well as developing supportive language in the form of phrases or mantras another approach is to consider the there are multiple identities in your character, you are a cast of characters, one character for each driver. At different times different characters will shine through or dominate. When this happens which of you other cast members could come on stage to accompany them, support or even take on the spotlight to enhance the performance? 

At a team level

It would undeniably be helpful to leaders to understand the drivers of their team members, however it must not be underestimated how deeply personal this information is. Remember, these aspects of our personality are inherited, unconscious and go to the very core of who we are.

Image by Kyle Head

So a word of warning, this might not be something that others are willing to share. Handing out the test to your team and then judging them on the basis of the results would likely be damaging and counterproductive. Instead, develop your own self awareness as the platform from which you can recognise and empathise with the familiar characters and driver led behaviours that you observe in others. Respond in the way that promotes their qualities, respects their abilities and limitations in equal measure and supports them to be true to their character.  Do this and you will inspire confidence not only in your ability as a leader, but more important in their own abilities. 

At an organisational level

We have been looking at drivers largely at a individual and micro level, but what about at a organisational level? Apple has a mantra "Think Different" to inspire the energy, creativity and enthusiasm to break the mould and try new things. This is a phrase that evokes the qualities of the Try Hard driver character. What driver character could your business do with encouraging? What phrase can you create to support this?

When it comes to shaping who we aspire to be, where we come from lends it's self to grounding us in reality. It is important to note, that whilst we may seek to promote different aspects of our personality, there is little merit to trying to wholly change our inherent drivers. Rather we can embrace our personal truths and committing to enhancing our ow inherent qualities that enable greater personal fulfilment. 


In the next and final instalment of this series, we will take a look back at how this informs our approach to dynamic leadership.


Nutty pithivier with watercress & pistachio pesto

By Waitrose

I have too many good things to say about this recipe. It's a labour of love that is so very worth it. 

This is full of slow energy releasing carbohydrates and protiens so it will keep you fuller for longer and help reduce that Christmas over-eating!