Work philosophies are changing, fast. Flexibility is as important as salary, if not more so. The most qualified employees don’t hesitate to switch companies to further their careers. In a nutshell: the days when people stayed with the same organization for 20 years are far, far behind us.

There’s a need to rethink corporate culture, but it’s hard to pull away from the way things have always been done. These old patterns can blind people to their counterproductive behaviors, which in turn lead to a lack of cohesion and teamwork.

That’s where The Empowerment Dynamic®, aka TED*, can make a real difference.

Mind games

TED* is derived from a concept developed by psychologist Stephen Karpman in the late 1960s. In Karpman’s drama triangle, there are three roles that generate and perpetuate conflict: the Victim, the Rescuer, and the Persecutor.

Victims feel misunderstood, inferior, and unlucky. They see life situations as a product of fate and believe they are powerless to change them.

Rescuers want to save others. Driven by a deepseated desire to feel needed and validated, they tend to do too much, all the time.

Persecutors are strongwilled and uncompromising. They try to build themselves up by putting others down.

The three roles in the drama triangle are dynamic, which means that someone can go from Victim to Persecutor in the space of a short conversation. They often reflect unconscious fears: the Victim’s fear of failure, the Rescuer’s fear of abandonment, and the Persecutor’s fear of becoming a victim.

Moving forward with TED*

In 2005, David Emerald came up with The Empowerment Dynamic as an antidote to Karpman’s cycle of conflict. He posited a triangle of possibilities in which people can take charge and be open to change. That means:

The Victim becomes a Creator. Creators understand they have choice and agency. They demonstrate resilience and forge their own path.

The Rescuer becomes a Coach. Coaches foster personal growth by facilitating reflection and learning. They inspire, encourage, and help people see things in a different light.

The Persecutor becomes a Challenger. Challengers are direct. They ask the hard questions. By challenging, they push people to redefine their limits.

TED* and you

The TED* approach uses introspection and action to maximize engagement and break old habits. To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you know what your default role is? Do you tend to be a Victim, Rescuer, or Persecutor?
  • Do you know which roles your colleagues are most likely to adopt?
  • Do you understand the dynamic that creates? Is it positive, negative, or neutral?
  • What do you focus on? The problem or the outcome?
  • Do you feel like you provoke reactions or is that something other people do?
  • What strategies can you use to shift your stance?
  • With TED*, the idea is to switch roles as needed in order to welcome everyone’s perspectives and move toward a common goal. There’s no magical switch to be flipped, just a steady evolution toward a corporate culture that’s in step with the needs and expectations of today’s employees. Where voices combine instead of drowning each other out.
  • Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” He couldn’t have been more right.

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