What does “going victim” sound like?

Great leaders and high-performance teams listen carefully to the tone and direction of their conversations. They can identify when a group begins to lose its power by complaining about things it cannot affect and blaming others for its own lack of effectiveness. This is the sound of a victim: “If Congress would just do its job, we could do ours.” You cannot gain anything by wishing that things we can't control were different.

Good leaders identify when groups operate from a sense of empowerment and a can-do attitude; great leaders help victim-oriented groups regain their power and help empowered groups sustain theirs. The VICTIM–LEADER PRIME is the “nuclear PRIME” because groups hate it when it is brought to their attention, and they resent the person who revealed it. This is because it is, of course, much easier to be a VICTIM than to be a LEADER.

Groups are moving toward being LEADERS or VICTIMS at any single point in time. They talk either about things they can do or about what's being done to them. Once it can distinguish this PRIME, a group becomes directly responsible for tolerating victimhood. This awareness makes what once was easy—hiding out and blaming others—suddenly unpleasant and intolerable.

To take responsibility at all times—to be the cause—may feel like a huge burden. VICTIM–LEADER therefore is one of the few ...

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