Education competency: Drive for results

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success. View all competencies .


Pursues everything with energy, drive, and a need to finish; does not give up before finishing, even in the face of resistance or setbacks; steadfastly pushes self and others for results.

Proficiency level

Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert
Pursues activities with energy and drive Pursues his or her work with energy, drive, and a need to finish Defines his or her work in terms of results, and pursues success with energy and drive Sets clear and lofty goals for himself or herself, as well as for the organization, and pursues them with enthusiasm and energy
Sets goals, and pursues them to completion Does not give up before finishing, even in the face of resistance or setbacks Helps others to define goals and plan a route to successful attainment of them Anticipates obstacles and is prepared with contingency plans so as not to impede the drive to the goal; keeps everyone on track
Is responsible and can be counted on to usually meet goals successfully Consistently meets goals Is a high-achiever with a reputation for success and quality performance Is the go-to person for both action and strategic planning of complex and tough assignments
Will push self for results Continuously pushes self for results Dependably achieves what he or she sets out to do, and expects others to do likewise Runs the race to finish strong, not just to cross the finish line, and is not satisfied with less-than-concrete, stellar results

Overdoing drive for results

  • May go for results at all costs without appropriate concern for people, teams, due process, or possibly norms and ethics
  • May have high turnover under him or her due to the pressure for results; may not build team spirit or celebrate or share successes
  • May be very self-centered, confusing personal have-to-do’s with what needs to be done
  • May be seen as stubborn and unyielding and as sticking to efforts beyond reason, even in the face of overwhelming odds and evidence to the contrary
  • May not set appropriate priorities and find it difficult to change course

Essentials questions

To improve your proficiency, ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis:

  • Have I clearly communicated to my team the goals we must achieve and the timeframe in which we must do so?
  • Do people come to me as the go-to person for critical tasks?
  • What obstacles do I anticipate that may interfere with getting the results I want, and is a contingency plan in place to compensate?
  • Have I depersonalized attacks, learned from mistakes, and set aside personal differences to press on toward the goal?
  • What things do I need to organize better to keep on track and not deter progress?

To avoid overdoing Drive for Results, ask yourself:

  • Am I placing too much importance on achieving results at the expense of the people involved?
  • Am I unwilling to consider a course change to reach the goal?
  • Am I too self-centered, not sharing praise or celebrating success with others?

Interview questions

  • Share with me the most difficult and complex situation in which you set clear, lofty goals for yourself (and others, if applicable), and then pursued those goals with enthusiasm and energy.
  • Think back to a complex and challenging time in which you anticipated obstacles and were prepared with a contingency plan so as not to impede the drive to the goal and, if applicable, kept others involved on track also.
  • Describe two situations that demonstrate your reputation for success and quality performance in the eyes of your peers and superiors.
  • Share two instances that showcase your drive to be satisfied with concrete, stellar results.

Learning on the job

Learning on your own: These self-development remedies will help you build your skill(s).
  • Set priorities: Resolve to achieve three to five things that are most important to your task. Focus on these goals and spend at least half of your time working toward them, avoiding trivial distractions.
  • Set goals and jump-start your passion: Set achievable goals and objectives, and establish a system of accountability and measurement of your progress in reaching them. Do the things you dislike first, and fashion your work activity to mirror your interests as much as possible. Create a checklist, and celebrate as you cross things off.
  • Observe how to get things done: Review and consider the established set of best practices to produce results (others who do what you are doing or the HR department, may be good tools).
  • Organize: Get and use resources (people, money, materials, support, time) to assist you in your task ahead of time.
  • Get work done through others: Manage people and projects effectively (delegate, empower, communicate, motivate, plan, set priorities and goals).
  • Work across borders and boundaries: Focus on common goals, priorities, and problems. Be cooperative, explaining your thinking and inviting others to explain theirs. Generate various possibilities and promote constructive criticism.
  • Be bold enough and fight the right battles: Take a few risks, push the envelope, and try some bold new initiatives. Recognize mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn and grow. Lead with strength. Allow others to honestly assess results and give feedback.
  • Avoid procrastination: Plan and schedule time to do tasks at hand (divide them into thirds to make them manageable). Do 10% of each task immediately to better gauge what it takes to get the task done. Don’t wait until the last moment to act (even if you think you function better that way).
  • Be persistent: Persevere even when you hit roadblocks. Break your tasks into smaller segments to appreciate your progress. Have a contingency plan of other approaches if the first one doesn’t work out. Stay objective, and realize that resistance is not personal. Focus on your work, not yourself.
  • Deal with stress and strain: Recognize that stress is caused by how you look at events rather than by the events themselves. Reprogram your interpretation of your task or situation by seeking a broader perspective. Seek advice or assistance from others when necessary.
Learning from develop-in-place assignments: These part-time develop-in-place assignments will help you build your skill(s).
  • Integrate new methods, processes, or procedures.
  • Be a change agent or champion.
  • Temporarily manage a group opposed to an unpopular change or project.
  • Troubleshoot a performance or quality problem with an existing situation or procedure.
  • Launch a new procedure or initiative.
  • Work on a crisis management team.
Learning more from your plan: These additional remedies will help make this development plan more effective for you.
  • Learning to learn better:
    • Examine your past for parallels to the current situation. Assess what has or has not worked in the past that you can apply.
    • Learn to compensate for a weakness. Use your strengths, or other people, to compensate for your weak areas.
    • Commit to a tight timeframe to accomplish something. Establish a firm plan and stick to it.
    • Analyze mistakes immediately and learn from them.
  • Learning from experience, feedback, and other people:
    • Get feedback from those in authority. Communicate that you are open to constructive criticism and are willing to work on issues they view as important.
    • Get feedback from your direct reports. Set a positive tone, and don’t retaliate if you don’t agree.
    • Learn from poor authority figures. Determine what makes them a bad example, if you are part of the problem, and if others regard them the same way. Avoid reacting out of anger and frustration, and resolve not to imitate poor behavior.
    • Learn from bad situations and mistakes. Determine why you made a mistake. Be resourceful, and integrate what you learn into future situations.
    • Seek and receive feedback only on the skills important to your present and future success.

Recommended readings

  • Bossidy, Larry, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck (Contributor).Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. New York: Crown Business Publishing, 2002.
  • Carrison, Dan.Deadline! How Premier Organizations Win the Race Against Time. New York: AMACOM, 2003
  • Collins, James C.Turning Goals into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
  • Drucker, Peter F.Managing for the Future. New York: Dutton, 1992.
  • Drucker, Peter F.Managing for the Future sound recording. Beverly Hills, CA: Dove Audio, 1992.
  • Drucker, Peter F.Managing for the Results. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
  • Dumas, Alexandre.Count of Monte Cristo. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.
  • Dumas, Alexandre.Count of Monte Cristo sound recording. Salt Lake City, Utah: Audio Books on Cassette, 1988.
  • Goleman, Daniel.Leadership That Gets Results. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
  • Hawkins, David R.Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior. Carson, CA: Hay House, 2002.
  • Jensen, Bill.Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage in a World of More, Better, Faster. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2001.
  • Keller, Helen.The Story of My Life. New York: Bantam Books, 1990.
  • Keller, Helen.The Story of My Life sound recording. Newport Beach, CA: Books on Tape, 1994.
  • Klein, Maury.The Change Makers: From Carnegie to Gates, How the Great Entrepreneurs Transformed Ideas Into Industries. New York: Times Books, 2003.
  • Laurie, Donald L.Venture Catalyst. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2001.
  • Loehr, Jim and Tony Schwartz.The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. New York: The Free Press, 2003.
  • Longenecker, Clinton O. and Jack L. Simonetti.Getting Results: Five Absolutes for High Performance. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2001.
  • Morrell, Margot and Stephanie Capparell. Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons From the Great Antarctic Explorer. New York: Viking Press, 2001.
  • Niven, P.R.Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining Results. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002.
  • Sapadin, Linda with Jack Maguire.It’s About Time!: The Six Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them. New York: Viking Press, 1996.
  • Stern, Joel M. and John S. Shiely.The EVA Challenge. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2001.
  • Troyat, Henri.Peter the Great. New York: Dutton, 1987.
  • Ulrich, David, Jack Zenger, and Norman Smallwood.Results-Based Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999.
  • Zook, Chris and James Allen.Profit from the Core. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2001.

Next steps

Copyright © 1992, 1996, 2001-2003 by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This work is derived from the LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT® Competency Library developed and copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo for Lominger Limited, Inc.

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success.

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