Member Login

Driven to Lead - Four Basic Human Drives

Driven Leaders

The late Harvard Business School Professor Paul R. Lawrence and Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria propose a theory of four basic drives that motivate all humans in Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices (Jossey-Bass, 2002). The drives are:

1. To acquire what we need for survival, conception and our offspring’s survival. This drive far surpasses our drives to acquire food, water, warmth and a mate. We are driven to attain things that interest us, give us a sense of identity and meet our loved ones’ needs.

2. To defend ourselves and our offspring from threats. We’ll protect our family and groups to which we belong, our ideas and beliefs, our sense of pride and hope, and our self-image.

3. To bond and form long-term, mutually caring and trusting relationships with others.

4. To comprehend (to learn, create, innovate, and make sense of the world and our place in it).

Leadership, they note, must effectively balance these four basic human drives. While other species survive by feeding, mating, fighting and fleeing, humans survive by feeding, mating, fighting, fleeing, befriending andfiguring out.

Humans have evolved to survive differently from other animals. We have endured as a species because we learned to work in groups and rely on problem-solving skills, rather than brute force, inborn physical capacities and instincts.

We achieve an optimal state of leadership when we cultivate and consciously manage all four drives. It’s not enough to be mindful of one or two of them. As Lawrence and Nohria wrote:

“We would predict that those who have found ways to satisfy all four drives (at least over time) will feel more fulfilled than those who have focused on some to the exclusion of others.”

Lawrence expands his theories in Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership(Jossey-Bass, 2010), citing contemporary brain research that supports how the four drives influence decision-making and actions.

As a leader or manager, how are you balancing all four drives in making business decisions that respect the drives to acquire, defend, bond and comprehend? If you’re ignoring one drive in favor of another you may find yourself and your organization in trouble.

In the work I do coaching leaders in organizations, we discuss how to make balanced decisions that sustain progress and profits. Maybe it’s time we have that conversation? You can contact me here

For now, gaining an understanding of these drives gives you a tremendous leadership advantage — a valuable lens through which to view people’s behaviors. You can develop these qualities by working with a professional coach.The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders put positive leadership into action?Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to be more motivational? Inspiring leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I an inspiring leader who helps individuals and organizations achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders develop more positive teams.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders inspire followers. You can become a mindful leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman

Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach|
Trusted Advisor to Executive Leadership Teams
Mindfulness & Emotional Intelligence Workplace Expert

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter:
Visit Maynard's Blog: 

Connect with me on these Social Media sites.





Box 1009, East Greenwich, RI 02818
Phone: 401-884-2778
Fax: 401-884-5068
© Society for the Advancement of Consulting. All Rights Reserved. Web Site Design and Hosting by
WebEditor Design Services, Inc.