Successful Intervention in 5 Steps

Weak leaders smugly think, “I knew that would happen.” Cowardly leaders saying “I told you so.”

Not if but how:

Strong leaders tip toward courageous intervention. They don’t sit on the sidelines like cowards gloating over failures they saw coming. They turn potential failures to successes.

On the other hand, interventionist leaders aren’t meddling parents who step in too soon too often. People resent quick interventionist and respect leaders who give them space. Successful interventionists:

  1. Celebrate progress even if it’s minimal. Celebrate more! Your passion to make things better causes you to minimize progress. Minimizing progress demoralizes by undervaluing small successes, past efforts, and sincere dedication. Celebrating progress, on the other hand, honors and encourages.The best form of intervention is celebration.
  2. Fix with not for, unless risks or costs are high. Deadlines may require fixing for.
  3. Make fewer statements.
  4. Ask open ended questions.
  5. Provide outside resources and connections. You may not have the time or knowledge to intervene but you know someone who can. (my second favorite)

Think of yourself as coach and teacher rather than authoritative leader. You don’t play the game. You enhance the play of others.

Strategic delay:

Withhold short-term intervention for long-term benefits. In this case, the consequences of delay may be painful but temporary. Cheering from the sidelines while others struggle forward – and you could help – strengthens the team as long as:

  1. Time allows.
  2. The people involved have potential.
  3. Incremental progress continues.
  4. Costs and penalties are low.
  5. Frustration is manageable.
  6. Learning and development continues.
  7. Learning applies to current projects, untapped opportunities or future vision.

Intervene when:

  1. People max out.
  2. Progress stalls.
  3. Costs are high.
  4. Frustration distracts.
  5. Learning stops or becomes irrelevant.


When and how do you intervene?


This resource helps me successful intervene: “Coaching for Engagement” by Bob Hancox, Russell Hunter, Kristann Boudreau.