Ever Mad at a Team Member?

Business Situations 07 150 Ppp

This blog is about a case study using triads to identify creative ways to solve a problem.

The Case

Jay leads an engineering team that takes care of the back-end activities of software migration projects. One of his staff – Cedric, is inexperienced in back-end work, yet presents a cavalier “I know everything” attitude. Regardless, Cedric resists a part of his job such as talking to clients to see what they need/care about regarding the new software. He notes that clients should provide feedback without being “chased” and that chasing them is useless.

At the same time, Jay knows from experience that including clients upstream saves time and suffering downstream. Jay has his own pressures from his boss and other organizational stakeholders who want to see this project go smoothly, with as little user disruption as possible. He invites Cedric to reach out to clients, among doing anything else to make sure that they understand what the software migration will mean to their daily workflow. Instead, Cedric has stopped responding to Jay with words and does so by grinning, instead.

Surely, there’s more to the story than we know, but what’s important here is the application of human-centric leading (HCL) and the use of triads to identify new ideas or strategies for problem solving.

Reactive Triad

Jay hates Cedric’s grinning — it makes his so mad.

You can see from Jay’s triad below, he wants to go to war by seeing Cedric as a cog in a wheel that either performs or doesn’t. He wants to tell Cedric what to do and ensure that it’s clear who’s the boss — the good old legacy industrial model at work that sees people as objects.


This triad is not very resourceful. It reflects what gets triggered by Cedric’s grin and pulls Jay into his least-effective self — he judges and feels judged by Cedric. As you can see, the thoughts and feelings are perfectly aligned for a street fight that would surely draw blood. The behavior is only too common, behavior that Jay knows never generates good results.

You can’t influence anyone you judge (without force), so the easiest way to get out of judgement is to empathize by going to the Acropolis.

Jay was clear that he didn’t like this triad because it felt terrible and created more stalemate. So, he asked himself, “what do I want to think, feel or do to solve this issue?”

He charted out a new triad starting with new behavior.

Responsive Triad

Jay wants to be an HCL so he drew out what looks like his highest-effective self. When needed, he asks himself, “What would a wise person do?” and then finds himself reconnected to his inner wisdom.

In being an HCL, Jay sees people as people, treating them with respect. He seeks to understand what they want and need. Knowing that everyone uses every one of their thoughts, feelings and behavior to fill their basic needs, Jay contemplated on what Cedric might need — basically what’s being masked behind the grinning. He would then inquire about that to make sure he’s verifying with Cedric instead of making things up in his head.

Jay charted out a few triads, but this is the one that he decided he’d put into practice:

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As you can see, this triad includes resourceful thoughts, feelings and behavior. They reflect Jay’s highest effective self and when his highest effective self is leading, his experience shows that he always gets good results.

Notice that the behaviors listed do not respond to solutions to the project challenge, rather the inter-personal communication. By respecting Cedric, listening and looking at his behavior from the Acropolis, Jay taps into what’s really going on at the core level, rather than what seems to be going on at the symptom level. He then validates what he’s come up with, with Cedric.

By opening up dialogue, Jay and Cedric can generate ideas that solve the customer feedback and the other project needs.

While it’s not always easy to live and lead from his highest self every moment of every day, Jay knows when he’s straying (he notices his emotions) and how to get back there using triads. The more Jay practices shifting from his least effective to his most effective self, the faster and more easily he does so.

The ‘How-To’

As a summary, here’s how to shift from leadership strategies that don’t work to those that do:

      • notice your emotions and use them to tell you whether or not you’re in the best state of mind/state of being
      • draw out the triad you’re using when things aren’t going well
      • chart out the triad you want to have — how do you want to feel, think and behave?
      • take action from your new triad
      • notice how the new triad feels in practice and the results it creates

Tune in for next time to find out how it went with Jay and Cedric!


[Image from Freepik]