As part of my coaching practice, I find the concept of Drivers and Working styles really useful.  Learning about the 5 behaviour types can help people; manage time better, find ways to deal with stress and work well with others.  The 5 Drivers are: Be Perfect, Please Others, Try Hard, Be Strong and Hurry Up.

What are Drivers?

We develop our Drivers early in life.  At the time they seem like the best course of action to counter unhelpful “don’t” messages.  In reality as adults, if we are under stress, we might use our driver behaviour unthinkingly.  When this happens we reinforce our negative beliefs.   We can never do enough of the Driver behaviour to get the results we want.

On the other hand, when not under stress and thinking clearly we can use the behaviours in positive ways. This is what other people may see as our Working Style.

In this article, I am going to focus on the first of the 5 Drivers / Working Styles;  Be Perfect.

I am sitting here writing this blog article. I have the title, the theory and even the picture I want to use.  Suddenly I am gripped by the thought that I need more information before I can go any further.  I make myself another cup of coffee and start to surf the web to find more information, ideas and references.  This procrastination tells me I have slipped into a Be Perfect driver.  In an effort to ensure I don’t get things wrong I stop taking useful action.  Paradoxically, I still end up feeling bad as this has not helped me write a ‘perfect’ article.

When I am not under stress and thinking straight I will still focus on doing a good job.  I will will pay attention to detail and writing something that is clear and readable.  The difference is that I will do this in a mindful way.  I will be in control of my behaviours, rather than driven by them.

I have set out below some of the characteristics of the Be Perfect as both the Working Style and Driver.

Working Styles versus Drivers

Working Style Driver
value accuracy and attention to detail spend too long attending to the detail and getting it right.
getting things right first time miss deadlines or frustrate others by making or asking for minor changes
be well organised and plan ahead see minor issues as problems.  Let them get bigger in your mind until they seem insurmountable.
prepare well misjudge the level of detail required
a real determination to do things well. over-critical of self and others


How to develop the Be Perfect Working Style.

Once aware of our Drivers and the triggers for them, we can develop ways to use our Working Styles well.  Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Focus on the corresponding ‘allowers’ – It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to be yourself.
  • Set goals such as only producing one draft or checking work only once.
  • Work to deadlines and reward yourself when you meet them.
  • Get involved in activities when ‘just doing it’ is more important than the outcomes you achieve.
  • Think about the relative importance of your standards in different areas of your life. Work out the different standards needed for each one.
  • Be honest with others about your need for high standards.  Work with them to find agreement about what is realistic.
  • Reward yourself when you do things ‘well enough’ or when you let a lack of perfection go.


Acknowledgements:  Drivers:  Taibi Kahler.  Working Styles:  Julie Hay