One leader’s name was mentioned in particular, so I arranged to meet with him to learn exactly what it is that he does that achieves such great results again and again.  He spoke of a range of strategies that have continually bought him, his team, and therefore his organisation, great success. 

In this article we’re going to take a look at this leader’s key strategies from an Instinctive Drives™ perspective and explore how any proactive leader can use the I.D. System™ to incorporate them effectively into their pursuit of personal and team success.

1. Assume that 99% of people are smart people!

There are many situations where someone can go from ‘smart to idiot’ in only 3 months! Yet, it’s not because they don’t have something valuable to offer. It could just be something external going on or a chemistry mis-match with another person. However helping them through it or redeploying them to enable them to return to better success, while still seeing them as smart and valuable, is a crucial mindset strategy.

When people make mistakes or under-perform, they seem to quickly move from being seen as ‘smart’ to being branded as an ‘idiot’. Yet almost all people want to succeed, achieve and do the right thing by the company. However, if they genuinely are a mis-match for the culture then don’t rotate or hide them…get rid of them.

If a team member has previously been delivering against objectives then as a leader you have all the evidence you need that your team member’s skills, abilities and ways of operating can produce results.  As a smart leader you’re going to do whatever can be done to get those talents playing out again – whether that means within their current role or an alternative position. 

Given their I.D.™ there a number of reasons why a good team member may start to lose their way.  The common theme to these reasons will ultimately be unmet needs that relate to the individual’s particular set of drives.  A focused one to one discussion, where you encourage them to explore the reasons for their current performance from their perspective, can reveal which of their I.D. needs are not being met and are therefore blocking effective performance. This can then lead to the generation of practical strategies to help them get back in stride and performing well again. For this to happen, you also need to ask them the specific question: What can I do to help you perform better?

The following gives some examples of what can be blocking performance within individuals:

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Verify™ :

  • Are they clear and have they bought into the purpose of their projects and tasks, or do they feel they’re stumbling around with no clear idea of what’s required or don’t agree it is the way forward?
  • Do they feel they’re treading water, and therefore not involved in anything that is developing their knowledge and skills and driving their need for continuous improvement?
  • Are they frustrated by the fact that they feel they are not working with others with similar quality standards?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Verify™:

  • Do they feel the focus of the team, or you as a leader, is continually on what isn’t working rather than what is working and how to make the rest work too?
  • Are they frustrated by being constantly asked to provide detail, evidence and explanations justifying what they did and why?

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™:  

  • Have you made any ‘verbal contracts’ with them that have not played out and not looped back with them on the reasons why e.g. why their involvement in a particular project didn’t happen or why a move or a pay review wasn’t possible?  
  • Are some of their key skills unused and therefore, they feel, being wasted? 
  • Do they perceive that the projects they’re involved in are adding real value to the team, the client and the organisation? 

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™:

  • Do they feel their behind the scenes efforts are not being acknowledged, appreciated or rewarded?
  • Is their role requiring them to be so involved in the doing that there’s little opportunity for them to be creating new directions and projects and then leveraging the efforts of others to deliver on them?

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Complete™ : 

  • Is the plan changing every 5 minutes? Are you keeping them in the loop about the reasons for the change and helping them adjust the existing plan?
  • Are others not following through and so they feel they are unable to deliver on their own objectives?
  • Does their need for harmony mean they’re saying yes to others too often and so are unable to deliver on their key result areas?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Complete™:

  • Are you holding them accountable, not only to the end result, but to every step along the way to achieving it so that they feel there’s no room to creative in reaching the final goal their way?
  • Do they feel bogged down by repetitive and routine tasks to the point they feel they can’t pay enough attention to the new and more interesting stuff that would really motivate them?

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™ :  

  • Do you provide them with enough deadlines to create the sense of urgency they need to work at their best?
  • Do they feel they’re doing the same thing, day-in day-out, or are continually stuck infront of the PC with little opportunity for interaction?
  • Are they working in a positive atmosphere with others who are keen to focus on making things better rather than being critical about what isn’t working?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™:

  • Are they having to constantly fire-fight and are all the urgent things you pass to them genuinely last minute?
  • Do they feel they are always having to make decisions without time for the risks to be considered and with the desired outcome being far from certain?

You do also need to take into account the match between the knowledge, skills and abilities an individual brings to the role and the actual demands of their role – there may be times, for example, when even with additional training and support, a genuine disparity has occurred which may require moving them to a more suitable role or even their release from the company. 

Similarly, each team member will have, along with their I.D., their unique personality and attitude to the situation they are in, which are also factors to take into account when deciding the best way to manage underperformance.  

As an effective leader you should always take action to address poor performance and never underestimate the effect of your failure to do so on the rest of the team.  However, the key message when addressing performance issues is to begin from the mindset of assuming that 99% of people are smart and do want to do a good job and, that it’s your job as a leader to work with them to get things on track for consistent performance.

2. Be genuinely interested in people…really! Get close to them. Know their world.

Understand what’s going on in their personal life. Although this becomes increasingly challenging as your organisation expands, you can still drive good communication channels to help them better understand you and your world and listen to their feedback.

It can also be as simple as asking them how they are, and wishing them a great weekend, rather than just diving straight into the issue or purpose of the call. Actually you could argue that the issue simply gives you a legitimate reason to connect with them and further develop that connection.

Making genuine personal connections can help strengthen relationships between a leader and a team but also help you to see what truly motivates individuals.  The following will give you some insights into how their life outside work is significant to them or how it relates to work:

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Verify™ :

  • What are the areas outside work where a team member is hoping to improve and develop – being a better parent, achieving a lower golf handicap, learning a language?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Verify™:

  • Just because your question of how was your weekend?” was met with the short response of: "good" does not mean you are being blown off. They just aren’t into the analysis of it (e.g.figuring out the best part). Still take the time to ask but, if you want better answers ask better questions e.g.What did you do on the weekend? followed up with: Oh really, how was that?

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™: 

  • What hobbies and activities allow your team member to get their sleeves rolled up and get hands-on outside the workplace?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™:

  • How does your team member’s life outside the workplace reflect their philosophy on life generally? If they are excited about something that happened ask them what it meant to them that it happened: it is this deeper meaning that they appreciate you understanding.

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Complete™ : 

  • What’s your team member’s ‘bigger picture’?  How does their work-life fit into their overall life plans including plans for the family?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Complete™:

  • They will appreciate any distraction from what they are working on at that minute. They love variety even in conversation. Simply make the effort to ask them about something other than the topic you really need them for.

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™ :  

  • Be genuinely excited about what they are excited about, even if it is simply you being excited that they are excited about it! They feed off positive energy and buzz so feed this even more where you can.

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™:

  • They will naturally separate work and play.  This is not because they don’t enjoy their work, it is just that they keep the two worlds separate.  Take time to ask them about their weekend or evening but if they shift back into work mode don’t take it as a dismissal, it is just where their head is at that time.

3. Get smart people around you who genuinely compliment your gaps … and who then collectively compliment each other as well.

This firstly requires you to be really honest with yourself about your own talents and weaknesses. Secondly, it requires you to have a very good understanding of each person on your team. Not just their strengths and weaknesses, but also their ambitions, values, limitations, operating styles etc.

Knowing your own I.D. will give you great insight into your unique needs, talents and vulnerabilities, combined with your own self knowledge you will be armed with plenty of information about the gaps you need to fill!

Depending on which drives you have you’ll want to look at how others in your team that are driven differently to you can provide a set of talents complimentary to yours.  For example:

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Verify™ :

  • Who will check out that you’re including the progress or achievements in your communications rather than only the things that are going wrong  (which in your mind are the areas for improvement) so you can maximise the positive impact you are looking for?
  • Who can you go to when you don’t have time for analysis and you need a decision to be made?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Verify™:

  • Who can check over the detail and help you pick up where you need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s? 
  • Who can fire questions at you to prepare you for when you know you’re going to get grilled by others over a project, your performance or a new idea?

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™: 

  • Who can help you see leverage where you never saw it before - ways to take what you do today and expand its reach tomorrow?
  • Who can let you know when your open and honest communication is going to land with a big ouch!

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™:

  • Who’s there to give you a reality check in terms of how a great idea in theory may play out in practice? 
  • Who can help you get the message across clearly so that others really get what you are trying to say?

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Complete™ : 

  • Who can show you where a change to the original plan will get an even better result?
  • Who can let you know that your need for harmony is, infact, causing longer-term disharmony?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Complete™:

  • Who can help you to ensure follow through by keeping you honest – reminding you of the things still to be done?
  • Who can ensure that others, both inside the team and external stakeholders, are kept in the loop when changes in thinking and process occur?

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™ :  

  • Who can keep you motivated to see something through to the end when there’s no choice but to keep going with it?
  • Who can identify the risks for you, the places that things might fall apart, so that you can be ready for them?

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™:

  • Who can push you out of your comfort zone and identify the risks of not stepping out of it?
  • Who can help the team develop its profile and exposure to those that need to know by making them aware of its wins and what it has to offer? 

4. Don’t rotate or hide poor performer… get rid of them


This is always a difficult part of any leaders job.  As a consequence there is the tendency to shy away from the hard decisions – moving people around a variety of roles in the hope that something will fit.  It rarely works and can often become a cancer within the team.  We will often employ probationary periods as a testing mechanism however despite the doubts still in our heads we can often continue with our appointment. If there are any doubts at the end of the probation period don’t continue with the appointment instead tighten up the requirements and try again. If the poor performer is already part of your team and you’ve already made every effort to improve their performance then it’s time to manage them out.   The truth is that if someone isn’t doing a good job, they usually know about it.  Most people want to do a good job and feel as though their contribution makes a difference - it’s just human nature.  So although the process may not be enjoyable initially it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.  The self understanding and insight that is offered by the I.D. System™ can genuinely help individuals see and appreciate their strengths and acknowledge how the role they are currently in does not play to those strengths and perhaps even amplifies their vulnerabilities.  Chances are the individual in question is unhappy and feels bad about their inability to deliver – although this may be masked by hostility!  Regardless as a leader you have a responsibility to the team to ensure only top performers stay and you also have the opportunity to help someone out of a role that is making them miserable knowing where to focus their attention to find a new, more suitable role for them.   In terms of the team there is an obligation to walk your talk and not talk about a high performing team and then tolerate poor performance and free loaders.  If you do it will affect the people you attract into the team and the standards the team sets and more importantly achieves.  This raises the bar and the accountability across the entire team.  Accountability and transparency of performance is a vital ingredient in developing high performing teams. It you have a poor performer in your team and it’s time to remove them focus on their talents and how they are not being utilised in the role they are currently in.  People will naturally gravitate to certain roles based on their I.D.™ and their perception of the role, you can genuinely help those leaving the business by helping them seek roles that will work with their strengths not against them. As a litmus test which can help them to know if they are in the right role or performing their role true to themselves make them aware that: 

In the right role those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Verify™ naturally:


  • Investigate thoroughly and persevere with problems until they are solved
  • See ways to continuously refine and improve things
  • Quantify, compare and prioritise, then work through the top priorities with precision.

In the right role those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Verify™ naturally: 


  • Give unconditional encouragement and acceptance, including listening without advising.
  • Move on quickly – don’t hold grudges or get “bogged down” in detail.
  • Encourage answers from others.

 In the right role those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™ naturally:

  • Deliver outcomes which are practical, durable and of high quality.
  • Demonstrate congruency between words and actions.
  • Function with an “anti-waste” nature, doing exactly what is required and focusing on the basics. 

In the right role those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™ naturally: 


  • Are very perceptive of other peoples’ feelings and adjust their approach accordingly.
  • Leverage their time (our maximise their personal contribution) through delegation and not getting involved unless necessary.
  • Conceptualise, theorise and work towards a better tomorrow. 

In the right role those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Complete™ naturally:

  • See and address ramifications to maintain harmony (the whole picture).
  • Follow things through to completion with tenacity and focus.
  • Comply with rules and expectations, also demonstrating reliability and dependability. 

In the right role those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Complete™ naturally:

  • Exhibit genuine flexibility, naturally willing to change direction.
  • Focus on goals / projects rather than processes / effort.
  • Pioneer – working things out as they go.

In the right role those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™ naturally: 


  • Are quick on their feet and “off the cuff”, often appearing to create opportunities out of nothing.
  • Inspire and persuade others to go beyond their comfort zones.
  • Strive for simplicity in everything.

 In the right role those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™ naturally:

  • Identify the risks and work to eliminate them.
  • Perform to deliver a standard that won’t need “self promotion”.
  • Meet obligations even if not enthusiastic or a deadline doesn’t exist.


 5. Go through proper channels and use whatever communication medium it takes to get rid of poor performers… but do it!

This key ingredient is pretty self-explanatory but it would be easy to brush past it’s significance and therefore it warrants a specific mention.   There are obviously channels for managing someone out of a business and proper protocol must always be followed, however never allow excuses to creep into the process.  Do what needs to be done and do it early. 

6. Ensure a clear and compelling vision to which everyone in the team is aligned

The vision of the organisation is most powerful when it’s clear and compelling, when there is no ambiguity or room for interpretation but leaves room for individuals to become attached to it in a way which is meaningful to them.  It is something that everyone in the business can be proud and passionate about its pursuit.  This is in part achieved by having the team help develop the vision, and their ownership is enhanced when they cascade that shared and mutually agreed vision down through the chain of command to their own reports and team members. The vision is in effect the target for the business, the future destination to strive toward on a consistent basis.  The vision of a business does not magically appear as soon as the laminated poster does in the foyer, it doesn’t suddenly come to live when it’s quoted in the Annual Report or discussed in passing at the AGM.  A true corporate vision is like a lighthouse for the business – guiding decisions and actions ALL THE TIME.   When someone is inspired by the vision of your company you can see it in their eyes, they find solutions where only problem existed in the past, they work with not against others and move confidently toward the future with pride, this can be a powerful motivator.  In many teams though it can also be a complete waste of time!   Knowing your teams I.D.™ can help enormously in ensuring it is not the later.  Everyone responds to different influences and those can be uncovered by knowing the I.D. of your team members.  It is then possible to find ways of expressing and articulating that vision in a way that will genuinely inspire and tap into their innate motivation.  As a result of this each individual member of the team understands the big picture in a way that is meaningful to him or her. If a team member has lost their way and performance has suffered they may have lost sight of the vision of the business or not relate to it in meaningful terms.  This can obviously happen when new members of the team join and were not necessarily involved in the formulation or creation of that otherwise shared vision.  However it is your job to ensure you get to know what their individual dreams and aspirations are and finding ways to ensure they meet those dreams and aspirations within your team framework.   For example Sarah joins the team and discussions with Sarah highlight that she really wants to gain an MBA.  The corporate vision is already in place as “To stay at the top of our industry through innovation, inspiration and outstanding customer service.”  Providing her probationary period worked out, her KPIs could be set at a performance level that, if met resulted in the company funding her MBA.  That is going to motivate Sarah, especially if she is helped to see how her performance and further eduction will help ensure that the business stays “at the top of our industry through innovation, inspiration and outstanding customer service.”  The vision comes alive for her! When a working with your people to connect them to the vision: 

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Verify™: 

  • Need to know why what they do is important in the context of the vision.  They also need feedback that assures them they are on the right track measured against that vision.
  • Need to be constantly improving, if there is no more room for improvement or advancement they may dis-engage.  They may need a new goal or to see that the goal can continue to grow.
  • Need to be working with the best.  If the company isn’t doing well or loses it’s industry leader status it can affect their motivation.  Help them see how their performance and the team’s performance can help retain the top spot.

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Verify™:

  • Need answers.  They don’t like to have to think too much but prefer to know what they are doing and do it well.  If there role has too much ambiguity and need to innovate they may withdraw.
  • Need clear concise direction or discussion.  If the vision is wordy – work together to make something shorter and more meaningful for him or her.
  • Need to feel as though the vision honours individual contribution beyond what people do but who they are and how they behave.  If their only measure of success is the cold hard facts and they are not encouraged on a regular basis they can feel just like a cog in a machine.

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™:



  • Need relevance – if they don’t see the connection between what they do and the vision of the business and where it’s going they may dis- engage.  Spell it out.
  • Need a congruent environment.  If what is verbalised as the vision is not executed in reality they will be withdraw and performance will suffer.
  • Need quality tools and equipment so they can effectively demonstrate their skills.  This can be especially debilitating if the vision of the business refers to quality yet the equipment and resources are sub-standard. 

Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Authenticate™:



  • Need to leverage their effort and be free to delegate effectively.  If their role changes to be more hands-on or the vision is all about concrete outcomes with no regard to creating feelings or the ‘soft’ results performance can drop.
  • Need to know that their conceptualising and “invisible” (behind the scene) contribution is being valued.  They need to know you know what they are doing and appreciate it.
  • Need to maintain their idealistic beliefs and if the vision ceases to pursue those ideals over time they will dis-engage from the business.

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Complete™:



  • Need long-term solutions and continuity.  If the vision is tinkered with frequently they will not take it seriously but rather wait for the one that we will all finally agree upon.. 
  • Need harmony And things moving on track. They may need to be reminded how important their role is in maintain harmony and continuity in the business
  • Need clear expectations so they do not respond to airy fairly visions – ensure you quantify the vision with them so they understand the expectations and how they fit into delivering that vision.

 Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Complete™:

  • Need variety and spontaneity.  If the vision doesn’t allow for that or feels restrictive and formulaic then this person will not respond. Work to reframe the vision in a context of change and constant evolution for them to buy in.
  • Need to be free to deliver on the goals without too much regard for process.  If they feel constricted their performance will suffer. Show them their boundaries and allow them freedom within these and where possible introduce more freedoms into their role.
  • Need flexibility and to be able to keep their options open so ensure there are parts of their role that allows for that.

Those driven by the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™:



  • Need a fun, dynamic working environment and to them a vision can sometimes seem too stuffy or formal.  Explain your vision in a different way to incorporate the importance of a high energy and how the journey of achieving it can be fun.
  • Need challenge.  If the vision doesn’t demand the team to stretch these people can dis-engage so ensure than they have individual goals that fulfil their need for impossible challenges and tight deadlines.
  • Need to be able to “make it up as they go along” and know that others trust their ability to do that.  If the vision doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that framework ensure there are certain parts of their job that allow for that.

 Those driven to Avoid the Instinctive Drive to Improvise™:

  • Need to be certain before committing.  A vision that is too airy fairy vision won’t inspire these people because they want to follow a logical process to eliminate risk and therefore make a considered choice.
  • Need to see the connection between what they do and the on-going value and success of the business
  • Need to have space and time to finish the tasks at hand and avoid being rushed. 

Remember your primary role as a leader is to consistently get the best out of yourself and your team and setting them up for success the right way right from the start is important.  Link-up Consulting successfully uses it’s High Performance Team Model as a proven framework for excellence, incorporating these and many other strategies.   I.D. offers the individual insights necessary to get the best from each person as well as finding appropriate and practical strategies for bringing the team together in a powerful cohesive way.  If you would like to discuss our approach and how it may be applied to your business, please email us at and we will contact you to arrange a suitable time.   If you’d like further insights into the art of leading high performance teams then please let us know so we can add you to the pre-release register for our forthcoming e-book - “In-stride in Business: Leadership”.  Be one of the FIRST to benefit from this detailed and comprehensive look at Leadership through the lens of I.D.  Helping you to make it just that little bit less lonely at the top!  As soon as it’s available we will email you details.


Author's Bio: 

Paul Burgess

Creator of the I.D. System™ and CEO & Founder of Link-up International

I.D.™: 8147

The history of I.D.
In a quest that started over 20 years ago, Paul’s questioning mind was driven to understand what makes people tick. His fascination with the “nature” versus “nurture” argument was first triggered while working in the area of financial services, specifically in the area of succession planning within family owned and operated businesses. Time and again Paul saw business owners trying to push round pegs into square holes, simply to satisfy social expectations. He saw eldest sons forced into positions that made them miserable and unproductive, and even threatened the survival of the businesses while the perfectly suited and motivated youngest daughter simmered on the sidelines. Paul embarked on a period of intense study in his drive to find a solution that could be helpful, practical and transformational. He studied the history of psychology including noted theories of many highly respected psychologists and philosophers including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St Thomas Aquinas, Maslow, Freud and Jung. He also studied many of the existing profiling tools that promised the answer. Through empirical research with people he lived and worked with on a daily basis - studying them and discussing why they did what they did - an intense, passionate, life journey began. The I.D. System™ was born.

Click on this link for more information on Paul Burgess