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  • Writer's pictureEilish Jamieson

Can we ever really known what drives someone?

Is it possible to know what is important to someone by their actions?

We can never assume you know what drives someone.

Over the years I have hired, managed, mentored and coached hundreds of people. In the early days, I found it awkward to ask the questions that may have helped me understand their drivers. In later years in my executive career, I knew the questions, but it felt inauthentic when in my heart I knew my own drivers were out of sync with my priorities.

The concept of drivers is a powerful tool that can help achieve personal growth and change. It was introduced by the American psychologist Taibi Kahler and is now used worldwide.

Drivers are messages we receive from our parents and incorporate as problem-solving strategies during childhood. We activate them when we feel challenged as to our basic OK-ness in order to regain our balance, but the result can lead to problems in the short or long term.

That high achiever in your team may be driven by fear and insecurity.

The loner in the team may be driven by a desire to belong.

The 'difficult one' may be driven by a strong sense of justice.

We can never fully know other peoples drivers because we don't know their stories.

As leaders we have a duty to support people to be at their best. We can't assume we know their drivers. Just as we can't assume we know their stories.

What we can do is create a space where people feel secure to be themselves. To model the behaviours of respect and awareness. To create an environment where people do not feel pressure to live up to the (often wrong) assumptions of others.

Don't assume.


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