Making Shift Happen - Escaping the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) with The Empowerment Dynamic (TED)

noun 1. an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances at work
verb 1.  the ability to make peers, colleagues and management immediately crazier than normal

When colleagues adopt one of three primary dysfunctional roles at work, the result is often what we term a “Cultural Bermuda Triangle.” This can be a place where vision, mission, productivity and morale can be lost.  David Emerald points this out in his excellent book The Power of TED, The Empowerment Dynamic.

The three Dysfunctional Roles that form the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) as described by Emerald are:   
1. VICTIM – The “oppressed” underdog who wants to tell everybody who will listen their tale of woe.
2. PERSECUTOR – The real or perceived “oppressor” who would rather be a bully than a victim.
3. RESCUER – The well intentioned “enabler” who helps perpetuate the energy sapping triangle of dysfunction.                

Those stuck in the Drama Triangle seem to perpetually dwell on what they Don’t Want vs what they Do Want.

Emerald explains that the three Roles that form The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) are:
1. CREATOR – The former Victim who moves from reacting to choosing with insight about what they want.
2. CHALLENGER – The former Persecutor who moves from the need to put down to building up.
3. COACH – The former Rescuer who instead of telling victims what to do now asks how they plan to do it.

The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) is the “Antidote” to the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) because enlightened management focuses on what everybody wants with active and consistent steps to make that a reality.


Fortunately, Voltage Leadership has been able to deploy and employ many toxic culture busting techniques at our client organizations that have helped alleviate the symptoms of counterproductive business cultures.

So, stop the drama by understanding what role a person may be in and move out of the Drama Triangle into healthy and productive roles. Make the shift happen by focusing on what we want vs what we don’t want, move from reacting to responding to workplace experiences and reconnect with and focus on our desired outcomes. Save the Drama for your Mama.


Time is the great equalizer.

We all only get 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week.  Whether you are leading a country, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or leading a global business, like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, we all are allotted the same number of hours in a day:  24.

During those 24 hours a day and 7 days a week comes the highs and lows, successes and failures, experiences and missed opportunities that make up a life:  your life.

How we use our time matters.

Yet, most of my clients struggle with how to make their time count.

              “Where do I need to spend my time to have the greatest impact?”

              “I had a 90 hour week last week.  I can’t keep doing that.  I am exhausted.”

              “There is more work than I can manage.  I can’t get it all done.”

              “I want to spend more 1 on 1 time with my leaders, but I don’t have time.”

Sound familiar?

I know it does. Even though this is something I teach and practice, I still find myself saying out loud, “I could really use an extra three hours today.”  And it is true.  I could.

 The reality is this:

Our time will be spent.

The task before us is to choose how we spend our time.

The challenge we face is to choose wisely.

Here are two simple practices I use when my calendar heats up and I want more hours in a day:

1.      Pause.

2.      Prioritize.

When we get going quickly, we erase the most important asset we have: time to think.

Needing more time is a symptom of the Disease of Unmade Choices.  I am not going to get three more hours in a day, and neither are you.  We have to choose what we do with the time we have.  And the best lives and leadership emerges when we choose wisely.

When you find yourself wishing there was more time in the day, here are five quick steps to choosing wisely:

1.      Stop.

2.      Write down what you need to get done.

3.      Prioritize your list by Role and Goal.

4.      Put your top priorities into your schedule for the day/week.

5.      Acknowledge what cannot get done and take it off your list, either for now or forever.

Choosing how to spend our time is a powerful tool.  By choosing, we learn what we are and are not going to do, which enables us to the move forward, more quickly and accurately, to accomplish what is most important.  This is how we end up living a life in which our time was well spent.