How to Be a Leader at Work: Avoid the Drama

We all want to experience more success in our career.

The best way to be great leader at work is to avoid the drama.

Maybe you wonder how to be a good leader at work and worry you’re missing out on opportunities to get ahead. Could you be taking a different approach? Without realizing it, you may be sabotaging your own success.

Think back to the last time something went wrong at work. Maybe you received negative feedback from a manager. Perhaps a project didn’t turn out as planned or a client was upset. I want you to think of a time when things got really messed up. How did you react?

  • Did you take responsibility for your missteps?
  • Did you view negative feedback as a great way to learn and grow?


  • Did you feel picked on?
  • Did you wonder if your boss was out to get you?
  • Did you complain to coworkers about the unfairness of the situation?
  • Did you beat yourself up when you make a mistake?

You know what? Unless you said, “it was my fault and I took direct steps to fix it,” you were engaged in what I like to call, “Stinking Thinking.” Why do we call it that? Because it stinks! This type of thinking is based on three components: blame, shame, and justification. All of them just reek. Stinking thinking sabotages our chance to get ahead. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot.

If you want more power at work, at home, and in your social life, you must stop putting yourself in a position of being the victim. Stinking thinking holds us back from being a good leader at work.

Why We’re Used to Victimhood

Like it or not, we’ve all fallen into stinking thinking and the vicious cycle of the drama triangle. The drama triangle consists of a victim, a persecutor, and a rescuer. We may float around through all three of these roles or we may consistently fall into one. But here’s the kicker—if you fall into any of them, it’s a sign you’re addicted to bringing on the drama.

Maybe you grew up in a household where you were constantly rescuing a younger brother or sister. Perhaps you mirror the same “superhero” mentality in your relationship with your friends or spouse. You may even seek out people who are victims or who allow themselves to hand over their personal power, so you can act the hero and swoop in to fix it.

On the flip side, you may be the one who turns to friends to “vent” or fix it when sh*t hits the fan. You might reach out immediately when your boss reprimands you, because you need the reassurance and rescuing of a coworker or buddy. You need someone to tell you what you want to hear, because you’re not harnessing your own strength.

The third side of the triangle is the persecutor. Falling into this position may happen inadvertently or unconsciously, but if you catch yourself reveling in tearing someone down or knocking them down a peg, then you may be the persecutor. If you always must be right, don’t listen, or simply use your power to exert control over others in the situation, then you might be falling into the triangle too.

When we’re in the drama triangle we might switch roles. We seek out the reoccurring patterns because they’re familiar and comfortable. We tell ourselves it’s our boss’s fault because they’re the persecutor. We ask our coworkers to fix it for us, because we’re trying to connect with them and gain their approval.

Stop the Drama

The drama triangle robs us of our power. It puts us in a vicious cycle where we aren’t moving forward. We’re continuing to chase our tails with blame, shame and justification. We’re not learning and growing. We aren’t coming from a place of transformation, but dwelling in a place of stagnation—a swamp.

The way to find your power, strength and authority at work, is to stop being the victim. Don’t allow yourself to give your power away and seek rescue. Don’t allow yourself to justify mistakes and get bogged down with excuses.

Instead, take responsibility for your behavior. Speak up. If you make a mistake say, “Yeah, I screwed up. I want to fix this.” Then listen and take deliberate steps to resolve the situation.

At the same time, don’t take the blame for situations that aren’t your fault! Over-apologizing, approaching situations timidly and biting our tongue comes from wanting to avoid confrontation.

Confrontation is healthy! It’s time to get direct. Confrontation is expression and getting your feelings out there.

Many of us are afraid to say what we feel because we think we don’t want to hurt feelings. In reality, we don’t want to cause others to like us less. We want their approval. Saying what others what to hear, while you’re secretly upset leads to resentment and passive-aggression.

Fred Rogers (as in Mr. Rogers) has a great quote, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”

It’s the feelings we don’t talk about and we don’t mention that haunt us. So, speak up! Let it out. Stand up for yourself and don’t look to others to rescue you.

When we make mistakes, it’s a chance to learn. With our graduate students, we ENCOURAGE mistakes. Mistakes are great! Mistakes mean you’re putting yourself out there. You’re engaging and trying new techniques. Celebrate your mistakes rather than hiding from them. They’re a vital part of growth.

So, the next time you screw up royally at the office, embrace it. Take responsibility and offer resolutions over excuses. Ask yourself what lesson is available in the situation. What did you learn so you ensure this doesn’t happen again? If you have a strong take-away from the experience, then it’s a success no matter how bad the mistake. Chances are, if you embrace it as a learning opportunity, you’ll never make the same mistake again (and if you do, extract the next lesson).

Go forth, make mistakes and discover the power that comes when you embrace responsibility. Stop approaching situations as a victim or falling into the trap of stinking thinking. Learn and move forward!

To learn more about harnessing your personal power, please take a look at our new course offerings. We offer many of our great lessons and instructions in a downloadable format. Right now, they’re priced at a special introductory rate, so I encourage you to explore them. They’re fantastic. Join us for an upcoming class or networking event in-person as well. You’ll meet other transformational thinkers and form great connections!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University

Photo by Paul Bence on Unsplash.

Discover the Power
to Reach Your Potential

Do you feel powerful? Terms like powerful or strong, often invoke a certain image in our minds, don’t they?

Are you having problems having the life you want? Inside you have the power to reach your potential. Discover how with the Wright Foundation.

You may think of superheroes—Wonder Woman, Batman—strong, powerful figures who swoop in to save the world. Maybe you think of real life heroes and inspiring stories of strength and power.

But how do you become a superhero in everyday life? How do you discover your potential when you aren’t even sure what the outcome looks like? In heroic tales the protagonist has a destiny, they’ve got a sense that there’s something MORE in store for them. They have the potential for greatness.

But I’m going to tell you a secret—YOU too are powerful. You have great strength. You have the power to transform yourself–to harness your inner strength, reach your potential and use it as a force for good!

How to Discover Your Strength

Do you ever feel like you don’t know how to reach your potential? You may feel pretty good about your life. In fact, your career may be going well, and your relationships may be on the right track. You might be surrounded by friends you enjoy. Yet, there’s a nagging feeling that you are destined for deeper fulfillment or you have a greater purpose.

No matter how happy we are, how much we’ve grown or how many changes we’ve made in our lives, we sense there is more. No matter how much we achieve, we feel the beckoning of our unfulfilled potential. Some part of us wonders, Am I fulfilling my destiny? Living the life I’m supposed to be living? Becoming who I could become? Is there a greater life—or a greater me—awaiting my discovery? And when our lives aren’t going the way we want, we often hope that a better life is available.

The possibility of greatness is powerful, and it’s why stories of transformation are so resonant. We delight in Harry Potter’s developing magical ability, the Force within Luke Skywalker, the hidden courage of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. We are inspired by the transformational stories of our heroes—Gandhi, from attorney to spiritual leader; Oprah, from abused young girl to a media giant beloved by millions; Abraham Lincoln, from his humble roots in a one-room cabin to the White House.

But is this kind of transformation just the stuff of myths and legends, distant historical figures, or super-celebrities? Is transformation more ideal than real? Can regular people like you and me really change in significant and multifaceted ways? Is it possible to revolutionize all aspects of your life—your relationships, career, sense of self, spirituality, leadership, service?

If you’re like most skeptics, you may think that buying this concept is akin to buying snake oil. In fact, your pantry may be stocked full of dusty bottles of this oil that never delivered on their promises. Maybe you took a workshop or course that talked about transformation, but eventually left you feeling let down at best and deceived at worst. You may have started meditating, gone into therapy or followed the teachings of a guru with the hope that a new you would emerge, but found that while you made some changes, at the core you were the same. It’s no wonder you have doubts and questions.

Here’s the short answer. We’ve all been swindled, bamboozled and hoodwinked—probably not out of a malicious intent by others, but out of our own ignorance and denial of what it takes for real transformation. We all want a quick fix but buying into junk fixes is like a junk food binge, empty calories that never really satisfy. That’s the bad news. The good news is that not only have we witnessed the real transformation of hundreds of individuals, but our research and hundreds of other scientific articles, books and research studies validate the concept.


Transformation comes through examining your early views on your personal power and strength. Then, like those transformational superheroes and celebrities we admire so much, we need to overcome our internal struggles—the feelings of powerlessness and work toward living a life of greater purpose and fulfillment.

If it sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is. As someone who has worked with many students and clients, I’ve witnessed incredible transformations and self-discoveries. I’ve seen people break out of their perceived limitations and self-doubt to discover unrealized strength and untapped potential.

Yet, I too, struggle with occasional self-doubt. I’ve felt embarrassed. I’ve felt shy. I’ve held myself back.

Discovering your potential and harnessing your personal power is lifelong work. No matter how strong we become and how confident we are, we will all experience moments where we question ourselves.

This doesn’t make us weak or any less powerful, it simply makes us human.

Our childhood patterns and beliefs are what we often refer to as our “matrix.” This internal matrix creates and reinforces the way we feel about ourselves. It dictates the way we interact with others and react to situations. Our matrix is our foundation.

Rebuilding Your Foundation

As we explore our relationship with power and seek our inner strength, we may need to do some dirty work. We will need to roll up our sleeves and sort through all our early-childhood structure that creates our beliefs, our patterns and self-doubt. We need to get-to-know our matrix—how our foundation contributes to our beliefs–so we can re-matrix ourselves into the powerful beings we’re meant to become.

This lifelong process isn’t a quick fix. There will be moments where you slide right back into your old patterns. There will be times you catch yourself holding back, doubting yourself or questioning your path.

Change is possible. There is a superhero within each of us. We’re all full of limitless potential. Each of us has the same abilities as our heroes to create and live the lives we desire.

Examine your core beliefs and values. Understand not only what you believe and think about power but WHY. Ask yourself the tough questions and “go there.”

This process of transformation is one I’ve seen over and over with our graduate students. I’ve seen those working in our self-study programs, reading our books and coursework, experience huge realizations and “eureka” moments. As you walk through the process of self-examination, you’ll discover strength unrealized.

If you’re ready to become your own superhero, it’s within your grasp. Begin today!

To explore the great materials and coursework we offer, please check out our new online library! We’re excited to offer many of the excellent lessons online for self-study. If you’re seeking an in-depth experience, please join us for an upcoming weekend training. We’ll help you unlock your personal power.

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Photo by henri meilhac on Unsplash.