Leadership: Goals and Change

Objective: To demonstrate how focusing on bad things depletes energy levels, while focusing on good things raises energy levels.

Equipment: Two flip charts with markers and a room large enough for two group discussions (or two rooms - one for each group).

Time: Five minutes for the instructions, 25 minutes for the group exercise, and 15 minutes for the follow-up discussion.

Divide the learners into two groups. The first group will discuss among themselves bad working experiences, such as a bad boss, working environment, and coworker. The experiences can be on either their present job or a past job. Have them jot down a brief highlight or description of each bad experience on the flip chart.

The second group will discuss among themselves good working experiences, such as a great boss, working environment, or a great company. The experiences can be either on their present job or a past job. You will want them to work on this exercise for about 25 to 30 minutes. Have them jot down a brief highlight or description of each good experience on the flip chart.

Monitor and coach the two groups. You will see a difference between the two groups, happy faces vs. glum faces, excitement vs. let's get this exercise over with, bright flip charts vs. dull flip charts. In other words, there will be a marked distinction between the energized group (discussing good experiences) and the drained group (discussing bad experiences). Make notes of what you see.

When the time period is over, bring the two groups together to discuss their bad and good experiences. Have each group give a brief (about 5 minutes) presentation of their highlights of bad and good experiences. The bad experience group goes first. (NOTE - their short presentation might start affecting the second group) Next, have the second group highlight their good working experiences. When the second group is finished, point out the marked differences between the two groups. Ask them how they felt while they were discussing their bad or good experience.

NOTE: About the only time that this does not work is if the bad experience group gets a pumped-up leader, either formal or informal. Their enthusiasm can often change energy draining experiences into energy giving experiences for a short duration. If this happens, have the members discuss how they were consistently pumped up by the leader. In addition, point out that is it extremely hard to stay energized for long periods in situations like this.

Before going on to the following discussion, you might want to give them a short break and an energizer to bring their energy levels back up!

Discuss the Transformation Process

Focus on what you want ... not on what you do not want. When people focus on bad things, energy levels tend to go down and they feel drained. By focusing on what you want (the good things) your energy level will go up and you will feel energized. For example, what kind of team do I want, NOT this is the worst group I have ever worked with.

Do not fall into the trap of focusing on the past, anger, or having no clear vision. However, you can look to the past to see how to get through the change experience by using past experiences and lessons. You want to pull your people into your vision by having a clear graphic vision of the future that can be expressed in words. You must be able to tell them what you see, hear, feel, and want to do. If you try to push them into the future their energy levels will go down (and so will yours) because the focus will be on blame and what is not working.


As you go from your current state to your desired state you will meet barriers. But, these barriers are only illusions! You know where you want to go and how you to get there, there are no barriers, only challenges that will help to create and define your team!

Next Steps

This activity is based on the Leadership and Change chapter

Return to the Leadership Training and Development Outline