• Dr. Fred Johnson

The Damaging Pitfalls of Every Driven Leader: When Too Much Is Too Much

Updated: Nov 16


What is a Driven Leader?


How would you describe a driven leader? Think about the driven people in your life. Are they motivated? Are they determined? Do they seem to achieve what they set out to do?

Are they more aggressive? Do they tend to be perfectionistic?

Driven leadership is what most people view as the narrow path toward a successful life. However, what if there was a better way forward? What if you could move away from the perfectionism of driven leadership and into a life of deliberate leadership? Deliberate leaders understand that purpose must fuel everything they do. This style of leadership is more impactful.

Let's unpack the 8 P's of Driven Leaders and uncover why Deliberate Leadership offers a pathway for a more fruitful life.


1. Performance is everything to a driven leader.


Driven leaders operate with a specific core narrative. This narrative is based primarily on performance. High performance is critical to any business sector. However, leaders seeking personal worth and value in their performance will begin to see life as a scoreboard and people as tools to increase points. When performance is a scoreboard, driven leaders live and die with every action, project, or deliverable.


Driven leaders ride the rollercoaster of their sense of value because life is full of peaks and valleys. Fear of failure drives the performance, and fear that "I am not enough" creeps in as a dominant way of thinking. Deliberate leaders understand this. Deliberate leaders operate from a different core narrative that declares: "I am enough." When leading from this place, proactive leaders step toward living by the declaration of their value, not the desperation of their fears.

2. Driven leaders are pushed from behind.

When leaders are driven, they are pushed from behind by fear. When leaders are deliberate, they are pulled by purpose. You'll live by someone else's noise if you do not know your purpose. You may live according to the expectations of others, a fear of failure.


Think about how you handle feedback. You may receive 99 positive comments and one negative comment. That negative comment is the one that takes root. It shapes and drives you toward different actions. It pushes you forward. Deliberate leaders are not controlled by fear but lean into the power of their purpose.

3. Driven leaders push others away.

There is no such thing as success on an island. It takes a community to pull something off. One of the major pitfalls for driven leaders is perfectionism. Perfectionism pushes people away. Deliberate leaders commit to excellence instead of perfectionism. Leaders who commit to excellence seek to teach and inspire those around them when they encounter failure. Perfectionism only brings shame when goals are left unmet.


Perfectionistic leaders have to succeed. Leaders who commit to excellence want to succeed.


There is a difference.

4. Driven leaders are parked when the snow comes.

When inclement weather comes, you must have the right vehicle to tackle the conditions. So too, when the stormy conditions of adversity hit leaders, it should inspire reflection and reliance on others. Deliberate leaders understand that pouring into others is critical to surviving hard times. We don't pour into others so that we can get something in return. Instead, we pour into others because it's the right action.

Driven leaders will stay parked in the snow with no one to help them. Adversity will isolate driven leaders. Instead of being prepared, they're left to brave the conditions by themselves.

5. Criticism causes panic in driven leaders.


When operating from a place of fear and having an identity tied to performance, criticism will feel like a personal attack. Criticism will crush driven leaders. Feedback will not be an opportunity for growth but a fortress to defend. Deliberate leaders understand the value of feedback. They know that it is a gift.

Driven leaders will struggle to receive hard messages. Deliberate leaders understand that those hard messages don't define who they are. As we say all the time, it's not about your mama. It's just information.

6. Driven leaders are patients suffering from destination disease.

"When I get promoted, I'll be happy."

"If I could buy that car, I'd be happy."

"When I have more money, I'll be happy."


The destination will never be enough. When you get there, you're never actually there. There will always be the next thing. The constant, no matter where you are, is yourself. Anxiety and fear will follow if you aren't happy with who you are when you look in the mirror, no matter the destination.


Deliberate leaders understand the importance of living in the moment, pouring into others, and believing they are enough.


7. Driven leaders pound doors that don't exist.

Similarly, deliberate leaders focus first on self-leadership. Instead of willing things to happen, deliberate leaders focus on what is within their locus of control. Driven leaders focus energy on what is outside of their control. Frustration increases. Driven leaders drive people away.

Driven leaders will huff and puff and blow the whole house down. They'll leave quite a wreckage in their wake as well. Often, driven leaders create more problems than they solve. Deliberate leaders understand that they aren't the center of the world. They aren't the main character. Focus on what you can control. Orient toward solutions and the doors you were pushing on may open themselves.

8. Driven leaders see people as pawns instead of prizes.

People are not tools. They are quite the opposite. They are of infinite value. Deliberate leaders recognize this by believing in others with no expectation of return. They believe in themselves, but they also recognize the immense value of coming alongside others toward a goal.

If you stop believing in people, you will lose your leadership influence. Driven leaders objectify others. Selfishly, people become a means to an end. Are people just assets, or are they the reason you come to work each day?

Refresh your purpose, change your outlook, and recognize the value all around you.


Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

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