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Humanizing the Education Machine by Brian Cahill, Bill Latham, Rex Miller

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Chapter 15The Power of Positive

Knowledge is power and enthusiasm pulls the switch.

—Steve Droke

Several years ago I was asked to work with a toxic and high-conflict leadership team ranked at the bottom of an organization's metrics for engagement. We used the Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment and CoreClarity1 to provide a framework for the team to better understand themselves and one another and to identify the natural areas of friction.

I would be doing all of that over a four-day workshop, and I only had two days of material. This looked like it would be a tough and hostile group. I barely finished my introduction when a hard-nosed engineer to my left said, “So they think we need someone like you to fix us? Good luck.”

This group was not eager, willing, or cooperative when I opened the session. I knew the aggregate talents of the individuals and understood where the group drew both positive and negative energy. Their top two Strengthsfinder talents were Deliberative and Analytical. Both talents are energized by questioning and often killing new ideas. They saw new and untested ideas as risky. And to them “team building” was anecdotal at best, and manipulation at worst.

I asked, “How many of you think we are about to engage in fuzzy-wuzzy, horoscopy, psychobabble BS?” Twelve out of 19 participants raised their hands. I promised them, “If I don't have your attention by noon, then I will shut this down.” By mid-morning we had reset expectations and created interest.

Except ...

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