The Adrenaline Driven People Approach

Imagine you lead a team that contains some adrenaline driven people. They love doing exciting projects that provide the buzz of adrenaline, adventure and achievement.

Sometimes they do stunning work and deliver peak performances. Sometimes they can be difficult or leave it to the last minute before delivering on deadlines.

That may be okay for them – because they love pulling the rabbit out of the hat – but it causes problems for other team members. Let’s explore how to get the best from such people.

Recognising Adrenaline Driven People

Such people are turned on by the adrenaline, adventure and achievement. Let’s consider these themes.


They love getting their adrenaline juices flowing. They may be attracted to sport, skydiving, stage performances, fire fighting, troubleshooting, keynote speaking or other exciting activities.


They love doing projects that provide a sense of adventure. Stretching themselves, they enjoy learning and gathering new experiences.

Frequently turned-on by the highs, they may also experience deep lows. Such people want to feel alive and hate being bored.

They like to have drama in their lives. If you don’t watch out, they may create a crisis just to feel excited or to get a kick out of solving the problem.


Striving hard, they love to reach a goal. They get an enormous kick from reaching a summit, accomplishing the almost impossible or performing superbly in front of an audience. Some like applause and adulation.

Adrenaline driven people bring both pluses and minuses. The upsides are that some can be super positive, deliver peak performances and produce that touch of magic. Some can become icons for others in the team.

The downsides are that they may follow their own agenda, sometimes to the detriment of the team. They can also have mood swings, show impatience or upset other people.

Do you have any such people in your team? If so, try completing the following exercise. This invites you to write the names of the adrenaline driven people you have in your team.

Getting The Best From
Adrenaline Driven People

How to get the best from such people? The first thing is not to be intimidated by them, even if they are powerful personalities.

Remember, it is their job to convince you they want to be in the team, it is not your job to persuade them. You can then make clear contracts about their best contributions to the team.

Good leaders explain the team’s purpose and the possible routes it could follow in the future. They explain the reasons why the team will be pursuing its chosen strategy rather than any of the other possible routes. They then explain the team’s specific goals.

After doing this, they invite people to reflect and decide if they want to use their strengths to achieve the picture of success. You will have your own way of making this happen, but here are some of the themes you may want to communicate to people.

The Picture Of Success

The team’s picture of success – including the
specific goals we want to achieve in the next year – is:




The Professional Standards

The professional standards we would like people to follow – plus
the reasons for these – to achieve the picture of success are:




The Pluses And Minuses

The pluses involved in working towards and achieving these goals
– including the benefits for all the various stakeholders – will be:




The potential minuses involved in working
towards and achieving these goals will be:




The Practical Support

The specific kinds of practical support we will
offer to help people to achieve the goals will be:

We are happy to answer any questions about why we are choosing to pursue this strategy rather than the other possible routes.

We will then give you time to reflect and decide if you want to contribute towards achieving the goals.

If so, get back to us. We can then make clear contracts about how you can make your best contribution towards achieving the picture of success.

You can present a compelling vision and it up to people whether they choose to opt-in. You can then, if you wish, invite each person to do the following exercise. This asks them to describe their best contribution to the team. Meet with them and settle on their agreed goals for the year.

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Helping Adrenaline Driven People To
Develop And Sometimes To Move On

There is another key step in helping your people to develop, whether or not they are adrenaline driven. It can be important to spend quality time with each of them each month.

You aim to build a successful team in which people take responsibility for delivering the goods. So you can invite the person to come to the meeting with their views about the following things.

The specific results I have delivered in the past month and the specific results I aim to deliver in the next month;

The specific things I am doing well and how I can follow these principles more in the future. The specific things I can do even better in the future and how;

The specific challenges I face, the potential solutions for tackling these challenges and the support I would like to reach the goals;

The specific other things I would like to explore about my work and career.

Every person in the team can use their strengths to contribute to delivering the team’s Scorecard – the mandatory things the team must deliver. They can also do stimulating projects that help the team to achieve ongoing success.

At some point individuals may feel they need to move on, which can be a natural step in development. Adrenaline driven people sometimes want to take this step more frequently than others. Why? They get impatient and want to go onto new projects that they perceive as more exciting.

Such people frequently strive hard to reach a specific goal – such as hitting a sales target, launching a product, climbing a mountain or whatever. Reaching the target is great and provides a creative high, but it also leaves a vacuum.

The person then searches for a new sense of purpose. Adrenaline driven people who find a positive purpose can then channel their energy in a healthy way.

Those that don’t may channel it in an unhealthy way and become resentful. In more extreme cases, they may fall into addictions – such as gambling, drinking or getting into trouble.

What does this mean for you as a leader? Keep checking with the adrenaline driven person as they approach the end of a project. You can encourage them to do the following things.

To encourage themselves and do whatever is required to deliver their contribution to the team;

To find or create the next stimulating project – this may be within your team or organisation, but sometimes it may mean moving elsewhere;

To rest, recover and then manage the transition to next project.

Let’s return to your own team. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to ensure the adrenaline driven people continue to do good work that contributes to the team.

Describe the specific things you can do to help them to develop and, if necessary, move on.

Describe the specific things you can then do to continue to build a successful team.

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