Are you challenged by people in your organization hoarding information, pushing their ideas through and making everyone else wrong? Do you have individuals on your team who have to win at all costs and never stop talking about how great they are? You may have what we call a Stage Three Culture. If it happens in your workplace, you are not alone. According to an extensive 10 year study of 24,000 individuals, 49% of employees are in this category. But you can mitigate this type of behavior. 

1. Know their Core Values. 
It may seem difficult, but it is important that you learn what this individual finds important in life beyond winning. If you listen to their stories, you can drill down to core values (a principle without which life wouldn’t be worth living). For example, Jim was sharing a story about a recent achievement. I asked him, “What value was honored that made your success so satisfying for you?” His answer was, “It was an acknowledgement of the contribution I made.” I followed up and asked, “Is making a contribution a core value of yours?” His positive response and body language confirmed that it was.

2. Create the Context. 
When you are ready for the intervention conversation, you will want to set aside an uninterrupted time to meet with the individual. Physically position yourself so that you are sitting next to each other. Say the following, “There is something I really need to talk to about and it’s very important. Frankly, it’s the sort of thing that defines careers. This is something I know you can handle. We both know that (core value) is important to you and to us; this is about unlocking it.”

3. Pierce the Armor. 
We call this the “pierce the armor” conversation because you want to be clear enough to get through to the person and yet you don’t want to overwhelm them. In other words, you want your sword to pierce the armor but not go so deep that you kill him.

Prepare by answering the following question: What is the single very specific behavior change this person could make that will dramatically alter the way people look at them? Say, “I know you value learning (core value) and this is an opportunity for you to learn. It is also getting in the way of other people learning. I have had the opportunity to observe you and I want to tell you something that doesn’t work. You don’t listen to the people that work for you. I know you can listen because I see how good you are with clients but when it comes to your peers and employees, I see that they shut down, don’t tell you the truth, and they are not open to you. This is hurting you, your career, and your opportunity to be a leader. For the next week, I want you to listen to those around you like you do with clients. This is not hard.” 

4. Empty the Cup. 
This means to let the person verbalize his thoughts and empty them from his mind. You say, “Tell me what you think about this,” and then listen. The individual will bring up stories, excuses and blame others. You continue to listen and ask, “What else?” until they run out of steam. Wait a moment, and if there is nothing else, say, “What are you going to do?” and listen for a commitment to action. Finally, ask, “What can I do to help you?” 

This strategy is very effective for making an intervention with strong individuals that don’t see the damage they are doing around them. You will know that you have succeeded when you see your Stage Three individual communicate with more transparency and more often. You will see him credit the team for success rather than taking the credit. He will become more gracious with others, even under pressure. The culture of your organization will become more collaborative resulting in increased productivity and reduced stress.


Mark delivers workshops, keynotes, and retreats for companies that want to facilitate corporate change based on the models and processes of Tribal Leadership. He is the Chair of several New York City “think tanks” composed of successful Manhattan CEOs focused on “outperforming” their competition. Mark applies his 35 years of experience as an accomplished CEO & corporate manager towards transforming the workplace so that all people can experience the joy that comes from making a difference. Mark holds a MBA, is a certified coach and Approved Tribal Leader. Visit his blog,, or contact him at (212) 867-5849 or