When Your Job Is Kryptonite – Don’t Let It Kill You

June 07, 2010

I was in a writing program a couple years ago and our facilitator Terrie Silverman brought out brown paper and crayons. She asked the five of us to draw a picture of what our day was like.

After awhile we were to write for 20 minutes and then share our writing. One guy, my same age had created the picture on the right.

He had just returned from a meeting he had facilitated and felt great, he knew what he was doing, the audience got a lot out of it and he received kudos all around. That’s the image at the top left.

When he got back to the office that day he felt like he was Superman chained to a desk with Kryptonite hidden under it. Every day he felt more and more powerless.

I am not a psychologist but these symbols to me pointed to a dis-empowered Driver personality. When hope is dashed and the natural leading tendencies of a Driver are thwarted, it is a recipe for drinking, drugs, or self-sabotage.

The Drivers are the natural leaders in a group, the fixers, the ones who relish the spotlight. I should know, I’m a Driver.

What kills me is to see Drivers who are treated as Amiables who need to be told what to do. Drivers are natural self-starters. Their egos are what fuel their projects. They want to stand out, deliver top results, reach for the brass ring.

I asked the guy what was going on. He told me how when he first started his job, he was indispensable with the company President- an Analytical personality. All decisions were joint; they went to lunch together, made plans, business grew exponentially – a great fit for both.

But soon another Driver joined the firm and the boss relegated him to a smaller corner office. Long meetings were held that his opinion was not respected. More and more my writing buddy was sidelined. Lunches with the President were a thing of the past. He felt like he got all the crap and none of the glory he used to.

He had gotten so down on himself that he couldn’t fix it, he truly had chained himself to Kryptonite.

A year or so later he quit that job and struck out on his own. I’m glad to report he is happier than he’s ever been.

Drivers are the natural leaders. When they are second-guessed, their motives and methods questioned and they are not allowed to shine, or made to feel stupid, they will turn inward. And when their natural abilities are reawakened to solve the problem, they will free themselves from you and never look back.

The good news is if you have a Driver on your team – probably a project leader, manager or other responsible position – make sure they can shine. Their egos are wrapped up in their work more than any of the other three personalities. For them it is never, “just work,” it is their self-image.

Drivers only make up about 6% of the population. Crow about their accomplishments – it won’t cost you as much as sifting through a lot of people who are not self-starters, can’t think for themselves or don’t care to exceed a job’s requirements.

Tired of getting all the calls when you are at home? Hire a Driver to be your assistant and nurture their abilities.

Where Expressive personalities, the ones I wrote about last week are the spark plugs to your team, the Drivers are the leaders. Squash the Driver's confidence and you’ve killed your own Superman.

If you feel like you’re working with Kryptonite, do as the Driver did and quit. The world is waiting to take your initiative and run with it.

Don’t make the same mistakes your competitors do when managing people; master the four personalities by getting my new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business and get the most out of them.

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