Skip Navigation LinksHome : Background

Management Drives is a complex and sensitive profiling tool, developed from an academic psychological theory and tailored for practical use in a business context.

How did the concept of Drives come about?

The Management Drives system is based on the work of Dr Clare Graves, an American psychology professor and a contemporary of Maslow, who developed his theories in the 1950s. He wanted to examine what constituted psychological maturity, and conducted extensive research among respondents drawn from a wide range of age groups and countries. From this research he identified a discrete group of motivating factors, or Drives, which combine in each person to form their world view.

Graves concluded that each person is made up of a unique combination of Drives, some of which may complement each other and some of which may be in tension; and that we try to align our actions and environments with these Drives – which explains our behaviour, our feelings and our thinking patterns.

From Graves to Management Drives
Management Drives Field Handbook

The concept of Drives as identified by Graves has been developed further for use in the workplace, as a teamwork and communication tool, in the form of Management Drives. In the last ten years, the theory has been refined and progressed, using further empirical evidence, by Cor Keijser and Stephan van der Vat in the Netherlands. Their theories on the Drives and their applications in a business context can be found in the publication Management Drives Fieldbook.

How do we experience Drives at work?

Perhaps you work with someone who is constantly coming up with new ideas for solving a problem – even after everyone’s already agreed on a solution. You can’t understand why he doesn’t just accept what’s been decided and get on with sorting it out. Or you may have another workmate who seems arrogant and only concerned with making herself look good, whereas you think that it’s more important to work collaboratively and supportively.

Understanding your own Drives and those of your colleagues helps to explain what’s behind this behaviour, as well as the way that you interpret and react to it. Your colleague might have a strong complexity (yellow) Drive, which makes him want to find the perfect solution to the problem; but your need to make progress, from your goal-directed (orange) Drive, means that you view his behaviour as obstructive. Or it’s your arrogant colleague who has the goal-directed and ambitious orange Drive, but you’re filtering how you view her behaviour through your own strong (green) community Drive.

What are the Drives?

We identify six Drives which affect the way you behave at work:

Yellow is the Drive seeking to analyse, understand and comprehend
Green is the Drive giving priority to people and social relationships
Orange is the Drive pursuing progress, performance and results
Blue is the Drive wishing for certainty, clarity and order
Red is the Drive demonstrating daring, speed and power
Purple is the Drive seeking safety and familiarity

Your personal profile is unique, like your fingerprint, and is a combination of both acceptance and rejection of each of these drives.

An awareness of the Drives within your organisation will help improve communication and teamwork, and can be used to build more effective and constructive working groups and practices.

Word collages courtesy of
© 2010 Management Drives UK | From The Sequoia Partnership Ltd