upstart thoughts on talent and leadership

Use your magic powers for good, not evil

In ! Kristy, Development, Manager Tips on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I spent two days last week becoming a certified facilitator of FranklinCovey’s The Speed of Trust materials. I’m a huge Covey fan; The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has majorly influenced how I go about my life, and The Speed of Trust is in that same vein. In short, it’s Good Stuff, and it’s now part of my toolkit along with other favorites like the MBTI and Right Management’s career development material.

I’m a proud OD geek, and I’m passionate about helping others find insight using these tools. But in the wrong situation, they can eff up a team or an organization like nobody’s business, worsening the dysfunction and creating a zombie army of cynical team members.  It all depends on how you use the magic powers.

These tools rock when:

  • The leader has done the hard work of getting self-aware, identifying how she contributes to the team dynamic, and demonstrating changed behavior as a result of the feedback she received
  • The leader has made some tough people decisions and removed team members who don’t play well in the sandbox; i.e., the leader has implemented the No Assholes Rule
  • The leader is committing to a long-term development process for her team, not just a one-hit wonder “teambuilding day”

These tools crash and burn spectacularly when:

  • The leader is checking a box, particularly on his own development plan
  • The leader is trying to fix the team without fixing himself
  • The leader is assuming that a one-day “training,” followed (god forbid) by some Whirlyball, is going to fix everything
  • The leader misuses the information shared by team members during the session

How do we avoid misuse?

Certified facilitators have an ethical obligation to ensure that each tool is used in the right circumstances with the right intent. It can be difficult to speak truth to power when a client “just wants you to come in for an hour” and run through some MBTI concepts. But you’ve got to do the true consulting work.  That’s why you get paid the big bucks and have such a nice cube.

Leaders have an ethical obligation to do the hard work of change, which starts with changing you, which starts with getting self-aware and becomes real when you show others you’ve listened to their feedback by changing how you act. Also, there are some tough conversations and decisions ahead of you if you really do want to help your team. But this is the true work of leadership. That’s why you get paid even more money and may even have wood furniture.

Use those magic powers wisely, peeps.


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