Is there such a thing as being too driven?

driven: adjective

UK  /ˈdrɪv.ən/ US  /ˈdrɪv.ən/

Someone who is driven is so determined to achieve something or be successful that all of their behaviour is directed towards this aim:

Like most of the lawyers that I know, Rachel is driven.

So, today’s burning question is – is there such a thing as being too driven?

The answer is yes, but it has taken me decades to accept it and understand why.  During my first career nothing stopped me, however within 2 years of leading teams in my twenties I had many bad habits bashed out of me, including:

Over-discipline whilst being a soft touch:  People retain the bad bits and forget the good.  All that happens is that they are extremely surprised when you are nice to them. As I was saying about being double-talked – fear is not actually all that helpful for most jobs.  Tough benevolence is better in terms of your team’s perception than Soft Terror. eg.  Presenting yourself as being fun and very helpful will gather more intelligence and awareness of the team’s current strengths and weaknesses than austerity.  It also seems ridiculous to up targets when people are still worried about quality levels, however if you want to do this, you need to up the confidence level of the team generally, and you cannot do this without humour.

Presenting the negative before the positive: I used to work with an academic who teetered around the edges of the emotional intelligence movement – you may want to look up Positive Psychology for this one – telling people that “they must achieve or else” is far less effective than telling them they are doing a good job, and you want to help them get even better.

Not allowing people to have their own terms:  I have, in the past, been presented with carved vegetables from staff who absolutely loved me despite me working them into the ground twenty hours a day.  Be aware that even at your worst, if you are expressing something about yourself you are contributing to group effort rather than imposing a structure that is not necessarily helpful.

Class structures: In the UK in particular, we have to be extremely class sensitive.  I, as a posh person who happens to swear quite a lot, have had a lot of issues with staff who believed that they were working in a glorified death camp, with all the associated rules.

It is far better to retain a certain level of humility when managing, again this facilitates communication.  If people feel, as they did a few weeks ago, that they are contributing to a group effort they will put more work in than if they feel you are behind them with a giant socio-economic whip.  By this I mean, be careful of creating artificial structures which inadvertently exclude people.  People will follow your example, so you need to encourage a spirit of cooperation.  At one point I had a devout Catholic Irish boy working with an Apprentice Boy from Northern Ireland. (sworn enemies)  It was not easy, but I managed to make it work.

Dealing with Senior Management:  Whilst they do like you to recognise where you are in the food chain, senior management do not like a crawler.  Being too nice is as bad as not caring.  It is important to present a piece of less pleasant information alongside every good bit to present an image of integrity.  Failing to do so implies you are hiding something.

I will do a few more posts on this, but this will do just now.

Much affection,

Ina the rebel.






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