Transforming organizations through developing conscious leaders is what Dan Miller has been doing for over 35 years. His experiences as front-line supervisor, HR/safety director, training director, and organizational consultant have provided him with real-world perspectives on the challenges of changing safety culture. In his work with over 3,000 organizations of all shapes and sizes, he has seen the powerful results of reducing interpersonal drama in the workplace. When employees, supervisors, managers, and senior leaders take healthy responsibility for how they interact with each other, then safety, quality, and productivity are impacted in positive ways.
The quest to continuously improve and sustain safe work practices and conditions is grounded in our ability to build relationships. In my observation of over 500,000 people, there is a direct correlation between the quality and quantity of interactions among people and organizational performance (i.e., safety, quality, production, effectiveness, and profits). Numerous variables influence the delicate and complex process of human interaction, including how people send and receive messages, what people believe about their interactions, how people understand their own needs, and how they take ownership or healthy responsibility for their part of a situation. All of these components determine how relationships expand or contract.
One of the keys to developing and maintaining relationships is taking 100% healthy responsibility for how we show up in each moment. When I ask people to share their interpretations of certain questions ("Who is responsible for the tools not being put away properly?" or "Who will take responsibility for running the meeting?" or "Who will be responsible for making the sandwiches for the family picnic?"), people respond by saying "It's not my fault, It's someone else's fault." "Not me," "I don't want to get blamed," or "Looks to me like more work on my plate." Responsibility can be thought of as a negative thing, so people want to stay clear of it. Not all people see the world in this light, but the majority of folks I encounter do.
The Karpman Drama Triangle (see Exhibit 1), first developed by Stephen Karpman in 1968, explains how taking more or less than 100% responsibility creates psychological entanglements that negatively impact relationships between individuals, workgroups, and departments. We become stuck in the drama triangle any time we occupy any of the three positions-Persecutor, Victim, or Rescuer-in the triangle. These relationship dramas reduce our ability to be creative, to access our genius, and to tune into our intuition. I would like to explore each position of the drama triangle in more detail so we can get a better understanding of the addictive patterns that people unconsciously fall into and that create all kinds of interpersonal problems and organizational issues.
Exhibit 1. These are the three positions of the Drama Triangle. (available in full paper)