Episode 7: Making 'Shift' Happen: Escaping the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) with The Empowerment Dynamic (TED)

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Are you a Victim of Drama? Ever wonder why there seems to be so much drama on your Team or at your company? How much does drama cost your organization in lost productivity, turnover, absenteeism and low morale? On our next Voltcast, Jeff Smith will explore these and other questions surrounding the impact of 'drama' in the workplace with Lee Hubert, Principal Consultant with Voltage Leadership. 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 the company or Team's vision, mission, and productivity can be 'lost.' As David Emerald points this out in his book 'The Power of TED, The Empowerment Dynamic' the antidote to the Dreaded Drama Triangle starts with understanding what role a person may be in and then taking steps to move into healthy roles by focusing on what we want -vs what we don't want.- Tune in to this week's Voltcast and Make'Shift' Happen...!


Lee Hubert is a Leadership Coach, Trainer, Facilitator and Keynote Speaker with Voltage Leadership in Roanoke, Virginia. He brings energy and enthusiasm to grow leaders at all levels, help managers reduce conflict and build teams that produce results. Lee has served in various human resources and leadership development roles at Fortune 500 companies including: MCI, Wisconsin Energy, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Wake Forest University Hospital, and the Hospital Corporation of America. As a public speaker, he has presented leadership development topics at management retreats and strategic planning sessions throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern USA. Lee brings over 20 years’ experience in Management Training, Employee Engagement, Performance Management, Succession Planning, Employee Relations and Conflict Resolution to bear for clients of Voltage Leadership.


Jeff: Welcome and I am so happy you could be with us today. Just a beautiful fall day and we’re so excited to have you. I’ve got Lee Hubert here with me. I’ll introduce Lee in just a second, but what we’re going to be talking about today is the drama in the workplace and how do you shift happen and how do you escape the dreaded drama triangle and empower yourself?

You know I hope you’re in for a fun ride and we’ll have some fun with the cast characters and you know everything from persecutors and villains and jokers and all the kind of good stuff. I have so much to appreciate, some notes and things I’ve gotten in the last few weeks from people from all over the world, China, Egypt, the UAE, Vietnam, and of course many US cities. It is just a joy to hear from everyone and hear what you’re enjoying about the show. Let me tell you how to get in contact with us. First off you’re listening to VoltCast, Illuminating Leadership and I’m your host Jeff Smith.

You can reach me at—well let’s do the email first, Jeff@VoltageLeadership.com is the email and then the website is www.VoltageLeadership.com. You can like me on Facebook at VoltageLeadership. You can connect with me at LinkedIn at Jeff Smith Voltage Leadership Consulting and follow me on Twitter @VoltageLeaders. I’ll get the phone number in a minute. It comes up on break so I’m just going to skip ahead so I can get to Lee here.

There seems to be so much drama on your team or maybe you met your company, maybe in your family. I’m just curious how much of that drama cost you or your organization in loss productivity, turnover, absenteeism certainly, and low morale. Today’s VoltCast we’ll explore these and other questions surrounding impact of drama in the workplace, not just with yourself, but also with others that you work with. Lee Hubert, the principal consulting with Voltage Leadership is here today with us.

Lee: Hey Jeff, how are you doing?

Jeff: I am so happy you’re here so we’re going to talk about this cultural Bermuda Triangle where we’ve got all kind of roles that we fall into. There’s three dysfunctional roles I’m sure you’re going to teach us about. This can also be a real challenge when we get into this cultural Bermuda Triangle and we can’t seem to get our vision mission and productivity really it gets lost. Lee, I know you’re a leadership coach, you’re a facilitator, I know you’re going to be a Keynote speaker in Washington DC tomorrow at the G2 Conference.

Lee: Yes sir.

Jeff: Good luck with that.

Yes and I know that you’ve got tons and tons of experience in great organizations, working at hospitals, and working for power companies, etcetera. You know you certainly have seen drama you know in the workplace. You know I know in our time together, you know we both have worked in human resources. We’ve seen our share of drama.

What is this thing called the dreaded drama triangle and how do we get out of it?

Lee: The dreaded drama triangle and how do you get out of it. We’re going to deep dive into that today. As you know a lot of our content about the dreaded drama triangle and how to escape it is based on the book from David Emerald who you’ve interviewed before.

Jeff: Yes, yes, if you go to our website, we did a VoltCast and you can listen to the interview with Dave. Great guy.

Lee: Which was very good by the way and in his excellent book, The Power of TED, the Empowerment Dynamic describes what the dreaded drama triangle is and what the antidote is which is the empowerment dynamic so listen carefully to me now. We’re going to try to make shift happen. If we’re going to make shift happen, we’re going to try to shift the focus from what we don’t want to what we do want to move from reacting to responding to workplace experiences, reconnecting with and focusing on our desired outcomes.

Jeff: You know when we’re in the drama, what I hear a lot is I don’t want this. I don’t want—you know I don’t want this to happen to me and we certainly—I’ve got a lot of clients that end up that way. They talk about their direct reports or it can be their life or you know in some cases, you know we all have that person that just seems to always be you know a car breaking down. They’re the one that gets a cold, sick child.

Lee: Oh yes the drama queen or king.

Jeff: Right exactly. You know so I think that you know unfortunately that happens. You know so I know that the dreaded drama triangle has its roots in behavioral health, Dr. Cartman originally identified three dysfunctional roles that people may adopt at home or at work. Could you maybe run us through those roles?

Lee: Sure happy to and yes, Dr. Cartman was originally looking at these dysfunctional roles from the perspective of behavioral health. David Emerald grabbed hold of those and more or less translated them for our application as a leadership development people in the workplace. When a person’s a victim, they tell the world that they are oppressed persecuted by what may not reflect reality or it may, but they are 100% certain convinced that they’ve been wronged and in some way claimed their quote victim status.

Welcome to the next role of the dreaded drama triangle and that’s the persecutor. It stands to reason that we need some form of a persecutor to make sense of victimhood right? You can’t have one without the other so interestingly enough the persecutor role actually has its basis in victimhood.

Jeff: Yes, you know so let’s hit that victim for just a second and then we’ll move on to persecutor. The victim to me is the person’s whose dreams have been thwarted. You know they had what they thought was going to happen just gets blown up and so now they can’t see a way out of it. Unfortunately what will generally happen is a victim, what they do and look around is like who’s causing this problem on me?

That’s where they find a persecutor right? Okay so I think—good to know. When I see it with the folks I work with, it sounds things like you know that’s not fair. People, you know they’re keeping me from being able to be my best self. You know I’ve got teenagers in my house so for those out in the audience.

Lee: No drama there right?

Jeff: We had it last week where the teacher changed the homework assignment and that was just unfair. How dare they? That resulted in some stomping all that kind of stuff. Again a lot of this is just going to be what your reaction, but you know in this case the victim was you know one of my teenage daughters. The persecutor was the teacher okay and so maybe do a little deeper dive on this persecutor and then maybe I think there’s a third character in here too.

Lee: Yes, the great point, the persecutor is actually a victim who would rather bully somebody rather than being depressed. The persecutor can be indirect, direct, and it really is in the eye of the beholder, in the eye of the victim. For example, I’m driving on my way over here to do radio show today. I got behind a person driving 29 miles an hour, making me thoroughly crazy and I was being persecuted.

I was the victim. The persecutor was the solid yellow line on the road. I mean the circumstances were such—don’t they understand that I have to be someplace and clearly I was being victimized so they’re similar. Let’s just the persecutor is an active victim because they’d rather bully somebody else. The quote victim victim is somewhat passive because they view it their world-view is something is being done to me and I am powerless to do anything about it.

Jeff: Okay seems to make sense so we’ve got a victim. We’ve got a persecutor. It’s a triangle so the last role is what?

Lee: Is the rescuer and interesting dynamic with the rescuer. You know the old poor woe is me victim because of their powerlessness waits for their white knight to ride in and make their world right again or so they would have you believe. The truth is the rescuer almost acts out of selfish motives. The art of rescuing is often a short-term feel good and a way of avoiding with their own oppressors in their life. You’ll hear things or you’ll see people patting themselves on the back and say, “What a good person I am. I helped out such and such when they were in a jam.” It’s actually quite condescending because it says to the world, “You poor victim. You can’t handle that you’re incompetent, therefore, I the wonderful I must ride in to your rescue.”

Jeff: Well it’s kind of nice. I liked riding on a white horse in a costume. You know that sounds like it could be a good role.

Lee: Couple of days, 31st I get that, but it is a role and it is condescending and you know what wouldn’t you just rather develop the person and tell what they—and to our point, focus on what they can do versus what they can’t. Focus what want to do versus what they don’t want o.

Jeff: Yes, I’ll push back just a little bit so I think condescending is a decent word. I think that there are times that way—I don’t think—I think often the rescuer doesn’t even realize they’re doing it.

I don’t think they mean to be condescending. I was with a group this morning actually and I call it the Staples Easy button.

Folks are coming all the time with questions, questions, questions and there’s just not enough time to develop them and so they’ve become that Staples Easy button, but they’re also a rescuer because it’s just that they’re so slammed and so busy they don’t even have time. Right so that I think that there are times where like in relationships or I expect you to take an action where if you don’t take my advice then I’m going to be frustrated. I think that’s the condescending part.

Lee: Yes.

Jeff: I would also that many in our audience, you know maybe they’re in charge of HR for their company or they’re a manager with ten direct ports. All day they’re just getting sort of bing, bing, bing, bing, bing.

It’s that Staples Easy button, you know and they don’t mean to rescue, but they don’t almost have a—you know a choice right?

Lee: Well some people and you’re right condescending might be a little too stiff, but there are times when people would just jump in and do the work rather than you know doing the things we’re suggesting. For example, if you have a person who may have some suspect technical abilities and I’ve seen this on teams in healthcare and other verticals we worked in finance, technology. They might have some suspect technical abilities and some have their work covered for them by intentioned teammates AKA rescuers only to discover later after the teammates have moved on that there was still a real exposure for the lack of technical competence. As you know in some of these verticals, you know health care distribution. I mean it’s one thing to have this kind of exposure in a distribution business for example. It’s quite another to have it in healthcare or in a hospital system.

Jeff: Yes sure so it seems like we got three roles that we covered in this section and you know I think what we’ll do is we’ll continue to build this. We’ll make it even stronger. We’ll help people understand the roles as we go throughout. One thing that I’d want you to know is that we do all three roles. Right so we have a default role.

List terms what I want you to be thinking about is what is your default role? We each have one. We can be a persecutor. We can be a rescuer, but we tend to default to one or the other and don’t think a victim as like this negative terrible word out there. It’s just where do you find yourself in space? Do you find yourself having everyone else seem to dump on you or do you feel you’re in control of your world? You know if we’re going to play the victim card, I see that we’re getting ready for a break Lee and here we go again. We’re being oppressed by the time. We’re being victimized once again by the hard break or you know what guys. We can’t wait to see you again on the other side of this break from our sponsors. We’ll see you in just two minutes take care.


Jeff: Welcome back, this is Jeff Smith. We are talking about making shift. How do you move from drama to empowerment? I’ve got Lee Hubert from Voltage here today and I would just like to give a shout out, you don’t ever hear him, but Jason is our sound engineer and he had the plugged in the phone number for me so at the top you know I could have been a victim. I couldn’t find that phone number at all. Jason was my rescuer and so if you need us.

Lee: You were persecuted.

Jeff: I was no. He was my savior. Okay he was a rescuer so that number again is 1-866-472-5788 and thanks for joining us today. Before the break we were talking about the three roles in the dreaded drama triangle and we’re going to start to talk about how do we go about getting out of the dreaded drama triangle, but first we have to fully integrate it and understand it so Lee can you just remind us of those roles?

Lee: Yes, please. Three primary roles that make up the dreaded drama triangle, the dysfunctional roles, there’s the victim. This is the oppressed underdog who wants to tell everybody. Second role is the persecutor. This is the real or perceived oppressor, the one who would rather be the bully rather than a victim. Then the third role is the rescuer, the well intentioned, enabler emphasis on well intentioned who helps perpetuate the energy sapping triangle of dysfunction.

Jeff: That didn’t sound good.

Lee: No.

Jeff: You’ve heard me I’ve got four children so for folks out there that maybe are trying to understand the role just to a better extent. This is every Disney movie ever made basically and almost every drama show that you watch in the evening so let me just give you an example. A victim is from Beauty and Beast was Belle so she gets kidnapped away. You know, made to stay in the castle so her persecutor was the Beast right. Then originally her first rescuer was going to be her Dad. Her Dad goes away and then you know he gets Gaston and Gaston is going to come and save the day.

Lee: Gaston.

Jeff: I want you to hear these things move and how—in just minute we can shift in the conversation because that’s just like our workplace. One minute Belle is victim, but then the Beast goes and likes her and they fall in love and so all of the sudden now Beast become the victim. Gaston becomes the persecutor and look Belle went from victim to now she’s the rescuer. Well that’s not enough. Now the whole town’s going to come and now they’re going to be the persecutor. Again the Beast is the victim. Dad and Belle, that’s our workplace though right.

Yes so maybe you know this dreaded drama triangle—what are some of the impacts on business. What’s the impact in our organizations Lee?

Lee: That is a great question and you know you’re right. You could make the case that business is a victim of the dreaded drama triangle and it is ugly. It is.

Jeff: Ugly.

Lee: It is ugly and the symptoms of unchecked drama, not inclusive list, bad turn over meaning bad turn over declining engagement, lack of discretionary effort, lack of just plain eye contact when you’re walking down the hall and talking to somebody, loss productivity, increased absenteeism. I’ll say situational ethics because sometimes the victimhood has its own little operating system that challenges people to behave differently, not to mention it can be a breeding ground for more victimhood. For example, if there’s a performance issue on the team. The team is like a little work family like you were just talking about and the teammates observe that the leader you know is really not doing anything to address it. They all see it. At times as you know for me HR practice over the years, peers may decide this isn’t for me and want to work elsewhere.

Jeff: This morning, again I was working with the organization and we’re talking about bad attitudes right and so they we’re people that we’re walking around with that sort of victim mentality and so it represents things like a bad attitude. Certainly the folks are engaged. You can see them in a meeting. They’re not putting in their two cents in and then someone else is their friend, tries to rescue and says, “Hey, you know Lee why don’t you get in the game here?” Lee puts in says, “Fine, I’ll put it an idea.” Then there’s Jane over there and she’s like, “Lee that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Lee: We’re you there?

Jeff: I was there.

Then I’m like, no no no I’m the leader of this organization. I’m like, “Jane that’s not how we’re going to talk about.” Now she thinks I’m her persecutor. She thinks—she’s just persecuted and Lee’s just like, “Oh good gosh can I get out of this meeting already?”

Lee: Yes.

Jeff: Right so these are all the things that happen and they’re not—they’re really not spoken. You know so I think we’re getting a sense for the role again as a reminder we’re all—we do all of these things. We’re all part of this you know. I tend to be my default position is a rescuer so listeners might ask you I tend to want to come in, but I will tell my team my own kids when I’m with my daughters, I tend to be more of a rescuer so my teenage daughters, I did not grow up with sisters. When I come in, I’m sort of like, I don’t really understand my wife, Beth is always just kind of rolling her eyes. Like she doesn’t—they don’t need rescuing here, but I have two boys too. When they like maybe talk back or you know they don’t stick up for themselves, I can be a bit of a persecutor because I remember what it’s like to be a you know almost teenage boy.

Lee: Oh yes.

Jeff: How you’re going to stick up for yourself.

Lee: Well you mentioned the magic word, Jane. Jane you’re listening, you know this is all good. Okay, the—I learned many years ago, I’m a little bit of a rescuer too so there are times when you’re listening to your spouse or whomever—you’re listening to your team at work and there’s some instances where you’re not supposed to propose a solution.

Jeff: Right.

Lee: You’re just supposed to listen. You know I’m also very high—I and D on disk as we’ve talked about in previous shows that you know my default position is to try to jump in and rescue or do something. Find a solution and move on.

Can’t you see the solution I can see it. I’m the brilliant. Let me come in and rescue and let’s move on right?

Jeff: Yes.

Lee: You’re still back here in victimhood. I’m just like, “Okay.” After awhile I don’t know if I can help you.

Jeff: Well there are many people that are listening that are probably like Belle. If they’re listening to us you all know. Well in the computer while they’re driving they might be driving off the road at this point. We’ve got them as so much drama you know. Is there an antidote for all this drama? It clearly, you know we don’t want this to always be the case, but is there something that we can do?

Lee: Absolutely. I mean if you observe that this counterproductive behavior goes on and self-perpetuates, it just goes on in ad nauseoum and it just sucks the energy right out of your company or right of your teams. Fortunately you know as you know Voltage Leadership has been able to deploy and employ many toxic culture-busting techniques and we do this on site at client organizations. It meets the dreaded drama triangle head on so remember those stuck in the drama triangle seem to perpetually dwell on what they don’t want versus what they do want. Here’s the antidote. We’re going to talk about the empowerment dynamic right?

Jeff: Yes.

Lee: The three roles that form TED the empowerment dynamic, T-E-D are the creator, the challenger and the coach. The creator is the former victim who moves from reacting to choosing with some insight about what they want. Okay just pause for a second. Let that sink in right? They move from reacting to choosing with some insight about what they want, begs the question what do you want?

Are you able to choose by the way you have some responsibility in the transaction? The challenger is the former persecutor who moves from the need to either put down or pull down to building up. Similar dynamic, why do you need to do that?

Jeff: Sure.

Lee: Third thing is the coach. The former rescuer who instead of telling victims what to do now asks them how they plan to do it?

All you parents out there I mean just heard you talking about your boy. Okay how are you going to do that?

Jeff: Right.

Lee: Or you girls. I’m not going to rescue—how are you going to do that? That’s really interesting and if you have trained them to accept your rescuing behavior, they’re going to expect it.

That’s a shift okay we’re making shift happen.

Jeff: Right.

Lee: There gets a shift o gee, that’s really interesting. How are you going to do that?

Jeff: Yes, you know what’s striking me is the difference between Beth and I—a lot of times in the household our parenting styles even you know if kids forget their chores or something like that. Beth will know how busy they are, tons of homework and activities and all that kind of that stuff. She tends to just naturally rescue whereas I am much more like, “Oh my gosh get it done.”

Then I try to take a step back and say, “Okay let’s have a conversation about what’s the ideal outcome?” As I think about it you know when we’re at our best I remember to calm down and ask a question and I ask something like, ‘how do you think you can best—most effectively do your chores this week’? In the workplace, you know you’ll have sometimes they’re like, “Oh I’m just so overwhelmed. I’m you know really struggling so the victim hey look this a big word bad things happen to people okay so we’re not talking about murders and things like that, but I will tell you that there are former victims that somehow I’ll get back to creating in the future and say, “This is not how I’m going to be.”

We’re more in the workplace saying, “You know you just kind of had a bad deal done to you.” Now it’s a matter of are you going to harp on the bad deal or are you going to say what are the possibilities? Okay yes it may stink that I didn’t get the promotion I was hoping for or I didn’t get the shift that I want to work. Given that what can I do so this has the questions that create or ask. That starts to say, “What can I do?” Instead of like, “Oh everyone’s doing something to me. Hey I can control my own attitude. I can choose my attitude that other kind of see why.”

Lee: Yes, I see why hey I like it back to the future. It reminds me of the movie. Yes, when you think about the—I somehow see you doing an after action review with your kids—is that?

Jeff: Sometimes that happens after a while. They roll their eyes.

Lee: You’re doing a root cause analysis after the fact while Beth is just in there saying, “Okay you know.” When you look at the other roles, you know you were talking about victim to creator right? We’re looking at the rescuer to coach role as well. Just like the victim and the creator, the primary action was moving from reacting as a victim to choosing as a creator than in the rescuer role, the primary action goes from telling to asking. As we alluded to earlier how are you going to do that?

Jeff: Alright are you go tell me?

Lee: Yes, how are you going to do that? The rescuer thinks sometimes you know I have to save other people, it’ll be good. It’ll be worthy. I feel sorry for them as a victim.

You know they jump in and save the day and you know the coach thinks differently. You know they’re resourceful and I think these people are capable, resourceful, and creative. I trust their abilities. I’m compassionate, but I’m engaged. I’m supportive. You know I’m not relieving them of the responsibility to do things they should really do for themselves.

When you get to the persecutor challenger dynamic, the antidote being the TED right. We’re talking about the empowering people. The primary action goes from putting down to building up. You think, why do you need to pull anything down. The persecutor a lot of times thinks I must win. I’m dominating. I know best. You know and sometimes they have never been really challenged themselves right so they may be—have that dynamic. The challenger on the other hand you know lets things unfold. You know they are supportive. You can do this and I have every confidence you can do this.

Jeff: Right.

Lee: They have that awareness and you know they provoke or evoke feelings in themselves to others to take positive action.

Jeff: Well you know I think lots of good things there so we’ve gotten it and we’ll just continue to do a bigger debrief about how do we do it and how do we put this into play.

It’s time to catch up on another break so we’ll see you on the other side of two minutes when we’ll discuss practical ways to put TED to use. Thanks and we’ll see you in two.



Jeff: Hello and welcome back from break. This is Jeff Smith and I’m here again today with Lee Hubert. Lee works for Voltage Solution Consulting and we’ve been having an awesome conversation around how do we make shift happen? How do we move out of the drama in our workplace into a more empowering space and we’re going to pick up a little bit from our conversation game last week where we had Jennifer Owen-O’Quill on and we talked about coaching for peak performance. We’re going to kind of intermesh these two.

What I want you listeners to be thinking about is in that last section, we talked about the three roles, a creator, so that’s the person that’s the former victim that moves into the space of how do I get to choose? How do I empower myself, how do I move into proactive space about shaping my future? There’s a challenger. That’s the former persecutor who needs to move from putting people down to how do I build up?

The intent changes they’re looking about how to we make the team better. How do we make the organization better? How do we make that person better? Then finally the coach, that’s the former rescuer and they are—what they do is from telling and giving advice they shift to asking questions and hoping to do things. I want you to be thinking about what’s the one that’s going to be the hardest move for you?

For me a lot of times going from persecutor to challenger is a hard role. I don’t realize when in persecuting mode, the easiest shift though for me is rescuer to coach. As a listener, what I want you to be thinking about is what’s your sort of default role do you think it’s going to be the easiest to get into and how can you get in there? Additionally, what I’d say about like a creator is getting comfortable with asking questions. If you walk away with a lot of work after having a conversation with someone that you work with, you’re probably still in rescuer mode.

When you’re in coach and challenging mode, you should be having that other person scope out their work. Yes, you might need to give them a one key contact, but in general, that’s going to be their job to go follow up. You know if you’re in rescue mode, you’re going to want to do all of that work. You know because you want to feel valued right? Okay so good so that’s kind of the primary recap of that. Let’s talk about what we’re seeing Lee in some of the companies that we work with on how do we actually use this and go into some practical ways of putting this in play?

Lee: Interesting question, like you say yes, you recall from last week VoltCast with Jennifer Owen-O’Quill. You were discussing coaching for peak performance and there’s a message there. Think about it, you’re coaching for peak performance. You know all teams have drama to some extent or another. What are the tools and tips and practical application of things we can do to help people overcome some of these things? Let’s start with victims. On a team of ten people you’re going to have one or two, maybe three victims—10%-20% something like that.

Jeff: Sure.

Lee: Some of it is a choice. Some of it has to do with how they’re wired at the factory. Some of it has to do with their maturation process. Some of it might honestly have to do with your leadership style or lack thereof.

People will generally agree drama is not a good thing. It sucks energy out of the teams and everybody roles arise. You people are rolling their eyes I see who you are right now. Okay great so what do you do? Well behind the manager’s closed door, there are some things that we point to in particular doing some of the one on ones. One of the things is one of those equations that you employ. It’s about performance right? I mean your last week you were talking about coaching for peak performance. There’s an equation. I site the equation slightly different from yours. Performance is that person’s potential minus interference.

Jeff: Sure.

Lee: I will use the word distraction a lot of times.

I’ll kindly and tactfully get that person behind my door either as the boss or as a HR person and say you know tell me about the things that are distracting you and I’ll try to listen as intently as I can and try to coach them up or scope their world to try to limit those distractions. For my point of view and my experience with a lot of different organizations, this has been really valuable.

Jeff: Yes.

Lee: Because a lot of times the victims feel something bad is happening and they feel like they’re not heard.

Jeff: Yes, I work with a lot of victims as well and so I think that there’s an element. You have to listen, but you have to challenge. You have to really coach them up and say, “Here’s what I’m noticing.” Recapping back to them because a lot of times victim want us to make sure that they’re heard. In a well-run one on one and I like the tease for next week. For next we’re going to be talking about behind the manager’s closed doors. We’ll give a lot more tips and tools next week so stay tuned to Lee and I for next week, tease, tease, tease.

I may be persecuting a few of you out there, but you know it will be coming next week, but it’s that good effective one on one where you listen, recap, but you don’t necessarily accept it. I’d also just say, you know I’ve got some folks that say, “Should Jeff I handle their personal problems?” Well you know here’s what I would say about that is that you’re getting a whole human being. You’re not just getting the worker.

Lee: Yes.

Jeff: Your job is not to solve their personal crisis, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be empathetic.

Lee: Oh, but I’m a rescuer. I want to solve their personal crisis.

Jeff: Yes you would, but what we need to do as a coach is say, “Gosh it’s really hard, what do you need from me?” Okay and you should not be picking up a lot of it, but can be empathetic and understanding. If your organization has employee systems programs, you may pass them on to there. If it’s a time management issue then let’s talk about it, but really a lot of times it’s just starting with listening to that person, the victim in this case and then not going in rescue mode, but more into coaching and challenging mode. Good what else you got for us. What are some other best practices?

Lee: Probably like you. I was just going to say you mentioned the word challenge and present. Those are two big things. There’s a challenge aspect to being the coach obviously and informally in the drama triangle, the challengers, the opposite of the persecutor.

I would add on to that thought that the challenger is part of the coach to your point. I think it’s a valid one. I think it’s a great one actually. If you don’t challenge the victim, they’re going to take away from that transaction, that managerial transaction that their behavior is okay.

If you don’t challenge it, it happens all the time people—there are people in leadership roles and sales roles and management roles who for whatever reason I’ll use lack of challenge or just managerial laziness. Nobody’s gotten them behind the closed door and to say are you aware of that right?

In other word was present and as you know we talk about the five gears.

Jeff: Right.

Lee: Our people present, so the non present leadership role that wants to perpetuate drama can do so by ignoring their team.

You go by what—by that I mean when somebody brings you to something are you listening? You don’t have to agree necessarily.

Jeff: Sure.

Lee: A lot of times when people leave a company or a team or because drama it’s because they can’t be heard.

Jeff: Yes so I think—well I want to take it up from that is leaders out there, you got to present in two ways. One is when someone’s coming in on one on one or even a team meeting, you’ve got to turn off the smart phone. You’ve got to get away from the computer and just really look the person in the eye and really listen to them. Otherwise it could feel like you’re persecuting a little bit and not really giving the time and attention.

Lee: You’re almost disrespectful.

Jeff: Right and that would just feed into that sort of victim mentality right? I think the second is, yes you can’t want to be light because our job is as a leader is to set the tone to create the environment. If we’re going to be at the coach and the challenger and allow creativity you have to happen.

Lee: You mean shift to happen.             

Jeff: Yes, there we go. We have to create that space that happens and if you’re getting everyone to sing Kumbaya and like each other and all of that then you’re not going to get to this space.

Lee: Right.

Jeff: What’s going to happen is you’re actually going to end up creating a new set of victims because they’re like how come there—a person that always gets to get by with things. They seem like the leader’s pet and all of that kind of stuff.

Lee: Sure.

Jeff: Some of these you could say, “Oh, it sounds a little soft.” Is not soft at all. This is hard.

This is art form to be able to find that space of running a really well hone team meeting where you allow conflict, but it’s healthy conflict. It’s not persecuting, it’s challenging.

Lee: That’s excellent.

Jeff: It all makes sense?

Lee: It does. You’re talking about engagement individually and as a team.

There are two things I wanted to touch on. One was you know as you know I’m a big fan of the team charter, the team’s mission, vision, and value and that is absolutely a function of leadership.

Jeff: Yes.

Lee: If you want to decrease drama on your team, set a healthy tone for the team. I mean you said it. I mean there are teams that are replete rife with leaders who just don’t pay attention and when they don’t, sometimes drama results in noise. Nobody cares I mean you can hear the words.

They’re not paying attention why should I care right? You know and even you know it depends on what your after as well. Is the tutelage or the coaching about skillset? Is it about personal development? You said the word the whole person. What do you want?

Jeff: Right.

Lee: What do you aspire to? You want to finish an advanced degree. You want to improve skillset, all of that stuff.

You actually want to understand the people that are in your charge and you roll up and see if you can do things to help them be healthy and productive and happy right. Now I learned many years ago you don’t necessarily have to love everybody to do business with.

Jeff: Sure.

Lee: It isn’t about my personal ego or comfort within my own skill about whether or not the people on my team like me. There’s an element to that. Of course we’re all human beings, okay. Well and you are on your family, but there is a clear line of demarcation where you’re in a role and they’re in a role. Your role is to develop them if you’re paying attention. Dilbert points this out brilliantly. I wanted to get to him in just a second.

Jeff: Okay yes, let me just recap there and I’ll let you get to some Dilbert here. Effective one on ones will help to get to what I call the desired outcomes. What is they’re hoping to do?

What is it you want? What are your goals? What are the outcomes? Different set of questions and dealing with the current reality of this stinks, life’s not fair yadi yada yada ya team meetings. We should have a clear set of expectations of how we’re going to interact with each other so that just by setting clear expectations so setting some ground rules how we are going to interact if there’s a break down, how do we handle a breakdown?

How do decisions get made? What are the roles? Provide clarity. All of that allows people to come in and do their best work so if you’re wondering how again all the drama, hey get curious. Ask what are the desired outcomes? Set some team ground rules so that we know the operating norms around here.

Lee: Absolutely right well you—as you know we employ and deploy what you called the waterline.

Jeff: Right.

Lee: We’ve done this in many clients. Some of you have been—we’ve been together with and it’s a functional leadership so if you want to decrease drama, get out of the drama triangle and you know and foster engagement and healthy things on your team, think about going farther up the food chain to the foundational of things of mission and vision and roles and responsibilities. Many times when there’s drama on a team, leadership falls into the trap of drilling on one or two people or a small group of people, big mistake.

Jeff: Sounds like a victim just waiting to happen and persecutor.

Lee: To my earlier point about being a breeding ground for further drama. They may have some legitimate things; however, if the roles and responsibilities and expectations are pointing out with clarity.

Jeff: Sure.

Lee: Then that’s a different discussion. That’s a performance issue.

A lot of times leadership just doesn’t do that. You imagined everything. They’re too busy. They’re this. They’re that.

Jeff: Right.

Lee: You are translating the strategic intent for the frontline people on your team.

Jeff: Well I think I just have enough time here for a Dilbert. What in the world were you talking about?

Lee: Dilbert rocks okay.

Jeff: Oh I see, the cartoon Dilbert.

Lee: Yes, this is the cartoon Dilbert. If you envision this with me in your mind’s eye, there’s Dilbert and he’s talking to the boss and it’s a brief conversation and it says, “To the employee, how is that employee engagement going?” The boss says, “I’ll make you a deal.” It says, “I’ll pretend to be happy here if you pretend to believe it.”

The boss says, “I need more than that. Well I want—I also want you to pretend that you’re loyal to the company.” The employee says, “Well I can do that if you pretend to be interested in my career development.” They wrap up by saying, “Can we do that without talking.” The boss says, “That’s the best way.” The debrief with the boss is my job was a lot harder before I figured out all the shortcuts.

Jeff: That is not what we’re talking about, but Dilbert is so often on track. What I would say is we’re going to wrap up the show here in just a minute with a few practical tips to take away, a preview of next week and then an ability to sort of just say, “How do we actually do this in the workplace?” I choose to be a creator now and it is time for a two-minute break.

Lee: Great.

Jeff: We’re looking forward to coming back after break. Talk to you in just about two.


Jeff: Welcome back here to the last segment of the show. I’m so glad you could be with Lee and myself today. We’ve been having a great conversation around drama and empowerment and how do we get in and out of drama and into some empowerment and things like that. We’ve had cartoon characters, Disney shows, Dilbert.

Dilbert, we’ve had a little bit of all kind of characters on this show. You know even in you know like Batman, you know Batman can often be the rescuer and the Joker is the bad guy. He’s the persecutor and then you know Lois Lane or whomever can be you know like I said Superman, but yes mixing my metaphors. You know they’re—we’ve got them all and so it’s just always happening in our life. You know so what I would say is you know people do make this shift though. It can sound like it’s just impossible to have happen. Let me just tell you about one of the situations and Lee I’d be asking you to be thinking about one for your yourself.

Lee: Sure.

Jeff: To share, but what I’m picturing is that I had this person that was just constantly sort of in the victim space and what would happen is that they were gosh. Their team really always banged on the door so she was a leader so she’d be sort of this rescuer to the team. She was the easy button, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, but then what would happen would be she would start to feel like a victim because she felt like people were kind of taking advantage of her. She was working long hours, tired, overworked and overwhelmed.

Lee: She said I’m the victim.

Jeff: Yes and it was easy to see that right and new health and not giving—spending any time with the kids.

Lee: Getting persecuted by the employer under all the circumstances.

Jeff: Yes and so what we were doing was helping her recognize that she was the one giving away a lot of her time. The others weren’t really trying to persecute her necessarily, but she made everyone come by and ask questions. She is didn’t have regular scheduled one on ones. She didn’t have regular scheduled office time.

That’s what we started doing, saying alright. So what are the possibilities so she says, “You know what I really want—I want to be home for dinner at least three nights a week. I want to be able to sit down with my family.” See how that’s just shifting. What do you want?

“I want to be home for three nights a week.” Okay great. “I want a team that knows how to answer their own questions and can give each other feedback and hold each other accountable.” Right we create some tools where she could teach them that.

Right and she became more of a challenger to the team and saying, “Hey when they ring feedback, have you shared that with somebody else on the team?” Instead of jumping in and solving it and it these little steps and I will tell you that now she’s able to have sort of three to four nights a week at dinner. She created her own space and said, “I’d rather have one late night.”

Her son has practice at night so instead of going—rushing home and rushing out of there, she makes one long night and then picks them up from practice and feels like she’s caught up. Instead of being in that victim see how she created so many.

Lee: Awesome.

Jeff: Rooms for herself.

It is—you are capable. It may take one or two months to get from that space to a new space. You have to believe in the possibility. What about you? You’ve been working with tons of people, give me an example?

Lee: What I heard you say is this individual may have been allowing themselves to persecuted.

Jeff: Oh totally right.

Lee: Not having the boundaries and sometimes people just don’t give themselves permission to have boundaries.

I’m envisioning actually several managers, but a couple—one in particular where you know behind the HR door over the years, they come to HR and say, “I got a problem with an employee.” Really what’s the problem? Well I got somebody’s who’s not fitting in with the team. Really what’s the problem?

Jeff: You look excited about this actually.

Lee: Yes well you could probably my voice inflection changed to the you know. What’s the problem? Well they’re difficult. Well what about them is difficult? Well they have a bad attitude. Well could you explain? What does that mean?

What I think they need to you know vacate my—okay what does mean so they want you to do all the heavy lifting, translation, you’re the rescuer.

Jeff: Ah.

Lee: They were bringing to you the rescue mode and a lot of times that’s what the expectation is culturally right. They’re expecting you to do the heavy lifting for them. Anyhow the—where the shift took place was you know we would get behind the door. This is—not necessarily the HR door with the manager and say, “Look you know.” This actually happened. I would look at the person and say you know what we’ve got a—we have a totally respectful dialogue with you. We’ve got some feedback and some encouragement. I would look over at the manger and say, “Your manager’s about to give you all this feedback.” I am I persecuting you? I’m forcing you to do the—I’m not their manager. Last time I checked you were the person that was in there—they were in your role up not mine.

Jeff: Sure.

Lee: There’s a coachable, teachable moment there for leaders to say you know here’s the shift. We’re making shift happen. We’re getting out of that rescue mode and we’re going to be in the coach mode where you—I absolutely have to find the fortitude. It’s good. It’s good practice. It’s what we’re paying you to do for crying out loud. How are you going to do that?

Jeff: Yes so what I’d say, you’re going to go throughout the day and there are going to be some parts where you rescue and there are going to be some parts where you’re coach. We’re trying to get you to be more consistently so the shift doesn’t happen overnight. You just don’t flip a shift.

Lee: What was that?

Jeff: You just don’t flip a switch, exactly.

Lee: Shift happens.

Jeff: That’s right. Maybe we’ll just persecute myself, but what’s going to—what we’re trying to do for you here then we’ll continue this conversation next week is just more times throughout the course of the day don’t be in that rescuer mode.

Lee: Yes.

Jeff: Don’t fall into the victim mode. You know as you talked about. You know I use the same example like you know driving and I could have left five minutes earlier and it wouldn’t matter if the person was driving 29 miles an hours in front of me. If I left five minutes earlier I could have been.

Lee: Oh that made a great deal of difference to me. I was persecuted. I was a victim. Let me tell you.

Jeff: Sure you are, but if you left five minutes earlier, you could have been there and been calm and it could have been a lovely drive in.

Lee: Yes it wouldn’t have—there would have been somebody else.

Jeff: Anyway though what will happen is these are little things that you can do each week and so I don’t think that there is a perfect sort of pill that you take here.

What will happen is starting to ask yourself you know what should I be doing here? You dropping the word should, just what do I want instead of finding out what I don’t want. I don’t want someone to drive slow in front of me. Well what I want is I want to get there calm and relaxed.

What can I do next time to do that differently? Maybe on my team you know what I want is a really good relationship with people in my team so what I can do is set up a team where we have some recognition and we have clear expectations and it’s enjoyable. It’s moving from reactive to proactive.

Lee: Well there was also a phrase that says how would the person or manager that I want to become handle the things that I’m about to do. Sometimes if you haven’t had those incremental steps or baby steps making the shift happen, it’s good to get out of psyche just a little bit and ask that question. How would the person or manager that I want to become deal with the things that I’m about to do?

Jeff: Oh that’s excellent.

You know it’s been a fast moving, you know venture through this and so next week what we’re going to be doing is we’re behind the manager’s closed door. You know you always wondering what’s happening back there and it’s always unclear to people what actually they do. Lee and I are going to pick up the conversation next week with a series of conversations about how do you effective one on one, maybe some ideas on effective team meeting. How do you really give some tough feedback and be able to challenge that person. We’ll have some tools. We’ll have some thoughts about that. Lee anything else you want to tee up for next week?

Lee: You’re going to be behind the manager’s closed door and everything that that entails. If you ever had to have that tough conversation or have avoided having that conversation and there’s drama on your team, stay tuned next week. Save the drama for your mama. If somebody’s engaged in drama, remember you do not have to sit through the entire performance. I love that.

Jeff: I love that. Yes, just because someone has a lot of drama in their life doesn’t mean that I have to buy the ticket right.

I do think that that’s you know my closing thought on this whole drama thing. Is it—don’t invest in other people’s drama. Really get the people on your team that pulling with you that have positive energy. If they’ve got bad attitude and you try and try then it’s time to give some really clear expectations about what is our team going to look like and how do you need to be on our team. Having the courage to have a tough conversation. Again probably do that on a one on one, set some clear expectations in a team meeting, but don’t become the rescuer. Lee, it’s been fantastic with you. I’m looking forward to having you back next week. I know you’ve got to hit the road here in just a minute. Good luck in your speech in DC.

Lee: Yes sir, thank you, looking forward to it.

Jeff: Alright so just to recap. It’s been great having you on with VoltCast, Illuminating Leadership today. We are so looking to having you talk to us. If you need to reach us in the interim, please call us at area code 547-798-1963. You can also reach us at Jeff@VoltageLeadership.com. Our website’s www.VoltageLeadership.com. You can like us on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. Connect with me at LinkedIn Voltage Leadership Consulting or LeeHubert@VoltageLeadershipConsulting. Follow me on Twitter @VoltageLeader and you’ve been listening to VoltCast Illuminating Leadership. It’s been an awesome week. We cannot wait to have Lee back next week. Thanks and everyone have an awesome week. Thanks. Bye now.