Showing 8 Result(s)

Are Your Efforts Creating Empowerment or Dependence?

So you are looking to better a situation

There are many, many people out there who commit either their free time or career or both to helping others. These are the altruistic people who are determined to make whatever situation they are passionate about better for all involved. I have seen these people throughout my career, from my days working with children with disabilities, to my work in the non-profit sector, to my more recent role in economic development. In fact, I am someone who is passionate about helping others and improving the lives of everyone in the communities where I live and serve. Often one of the side effects of those who work in roles to make positive change and help others is professional burn out. People who are committed to improving the lives of others often do it at the expense of their own. It’s a kind of the double-edged sword of altruism. The sad reality is, there is always more need than time, resources, and people to provide it. This is often the case because we look to do things for people in the short term to support them, causing the habit of continuing to do things for them, creating a dependence from them, and a never ending need to help them. This is where dependence starts to stack up and become never ending. And thus professional burn out.

Teaching people to fish

It makes sense that when we want to help people, we do things for them. It is a direct line of cause and effect. Someone is in need of help, so we do something for him or her that will help, simple. The problem becomes when we are always doing things for people, and not with people. This takes me back to early in my career when I was working with children with disabilities. I worked with a lot of well meaning people who would do things like typing up notes for students with weak fine motor skills, which seems like the nice and helpful thing to do. The student has trouble typing, so you type for them…simple. The problem with helping them in this fashion is that you are creating dependence. The proper thing, though it appears less nice, is to give the students a portion that they are responsible to do, and you take a portion that you are responsible for. Then over time you adjust the potion to give them more and more, and hopefully one day all. This is about creating independence. In a similar path, in community and in economic development when there are people, businesses, and organizations that require support and assistance the nice and helpful thing to do to take their problems and do the work that they require to be successful. Although, the proper thing, though it appears less nice, is to build resources that will give those in need the tools and supplies needed to support themselves. All of this is really just the practical application of the old adage: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

If you take all of these words of wisdom, approaches, and advice and you boil everything down to its basic core, what you are talking about is empowerment. This is a term I use on a daily basis and have for many years. From education, to career and workforce development, to community and economic development, everything is about truly empowering others. If you create the interventions and resources that people need to lift them up in their time of need, give and teach them to use the tools and supports that will improve their situation, share the workload with them so they are gradually taking on more responsibility, then you will watch them be successful on their own. Its nothing fancy or complicated.

Empowerment is universal, but so is dependence

There are really very few situations where empowerment is not an ideal method to support others. It is the foundation of good education, human resources, community work, economic growth and healthcare, just to name a few. However, we sometimes get caught up in the short-term solution and look to create temporary solutions that end up creating dependence. We see this all of the time when we unintentionally sacrifice what is right for what is easy. This can look as simple and common as not properly training our pets to greet people at the door when they are young and then we need to isolate them or pick them up when we have company arrive. This can also be as large and complicated as when a community becomes dependent on a single industry or large business. If the majority of their employment opportunities are tied to a single employer, without diversifying, the community ends up in a critical situation if that employer were to shut its doors. Large or small, inconsequential or critical, it doesn’t matter, creating dependence is nothing short of setting yourself up to fail.

The Key to Empowerment: Sustainability

What you are doing when you look at empowering others is you are playing the long game to a sustainable solution. Your efforts are geared toward not only the short term need, but the long term benefit of your efforts being an intervention, not creating a permanent and ongoing job or role that will always need to be filled. This is why in my career I have always defaulted to the majority of my efforts being in resource development. Spend the time, effort, and money to create something that will be able to wean someone’s dependence off you, and that can be used over and over by others who require the same support. This is why in my student support role I would create guides and games to strengthen things like typing skills in my students. In career development, I would design progressive experiential learning processes to strengthen skill in communication and independent job search. In economic development, I would focus on processes and information that would support the independence of entrepreneurs. Creating sustainable interventions is critical to building up and empowering those you serve.

The Takeaway

One of the hardest things to do is to not come to someone’s aid when they need you. It appears cold and callous to then help them with a plan to limit your help over time and to give them tools that they need to do it for themselves. However, messaging and methods of delivery aside, it is critical to look at help and support from a long term, sustainable approach. Just like in parenting, we need to do what is right, not what is easy and be focused on what is the best thing for the future. Doing this will truly help by providing support and encouragement while they become empowered to do more and more things for themselves. Otherwise we will metaphorically and literally have them living in our basement until they are old and grey.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 

Crucial Elements to Consider When Recruiting for High Talent Teams

Adding to the team

Recruiting is always challenging, the hiring process is always filled with so many unknowns and risks. The challenge is even greater when you’re looking to add to a team that’s already functioning well. The potential to throw off the existing team, ruin a good thing, and not successfully find the right fit really puts the pressure on when the time comes to expand your team. Another point to consider is the subtle differences between expanding a team, versus, replacing a member of a strong team. Expanding an already great team seems less risky because you are adding on to it, but you may run the risk of adding an unnecessary appendage to the team, a team appendix if you will. If the addition is not seen as a critical addition that is truly of value and strengthens the work of everyone else, then you run the risk of planting the seeds of resentment and can start to corrode the foundation of the team. In similar fashion, if you are replacing a member of a highly functioning team, then you need to be really careful in your approach. It is advised to not look for a clone to swap in with hopes of not missing a step, this just sets the stage for unfair comparisons and unrealistic expectations. A better approach might be to look at the exit of your team member as an opportunity to restructure the team’s tasks and move tasks around within the team that will create efficiency. This way you can find the fit for the new structure, and find someone who was hired to fit in, not just hired to be the same as the person who left.

But what elements are needed to find people who can fit into the existing team, and make the most of your recruiting efforts?

Here are some elements to consider:


Intrapreneurship is a relatively recent concept that focuses on employees of a company who have many of the attributes of entrepreneurs. They think and behave like owners; showing the long range vision of not just their personal career, but the organization as a whole. They are not “clock punchers” who only work within the time and duties of their employment contact. They take complete ownership of their role and are driven to make their position succeed with the same effort, determination, and ownership that an entrepreneur would with their own business. The qualities of an intrapreneur are exceptional work ethic and integrity, adaptability and willingness to change focus and direction to do what it takes to make their role successful, highly internally motivated, and solution focused with a commitment to find a way to make an innovative idea with potential work.

For more info on intrapreneurs check out these articles by Forbes and INC.


PSYCAP is a collection of core skills that create the foundation to strengthen employee success. Higher PSYCAP is associated with higher performance, lower stress levels and better well-being. The qualities of high PSYCAP increase the flexibility and level of demands that can be placed on an employee, it is a mark of a high capacity employee.

I wrote an article about building and developing Psychological Capital (PSYCAP), titled: Investing in Psychological Capital- Maximizing yourself and your talent pool, Check it out for a more detailed description of PSYCAP.

Strengths based vs All-Stars

This is a really important element to consider when hiring to a team. Are you looking to create a well rounded team or team of well rounded individuals? I can personally say that I have been on both and there is quite a different dynamic with each kind of team. The way I like to explain this concept is to compare this with the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball, where a baseball manager who couldn’t afford to hire a team of well rounded All-stars, so he hired a diverse team of players that were not well rounded but had strong skills for a single position and the passion, and personal grit needed to make the most of the opportunity. If you are interested, here is a good article on how to build a team “Moneyball style” in software development.

This may seem a little counter intuitive at first, to think of not necessarily looking for a team of well rounded all-stars, but to look for a team that collectively have high strengths is all areas, while as individuals have personal areas of weaknesses. However, if you hire the team to play to their strengthens, and strategically choose the people whose strengths compensate for the weaknesses of the others, then you create an environment where everyone is focused on doing what they are really good at and completely supporting each other to move the team forward in a unified direction. This fosters collaboration, pride in one’s work, and naturally boosts employee morale.

The risk of hiring that team of all-stars is that with many people who possess the same skills, all looking for the chance to show their talents off. You could accidentally create, at worst, highly competitive environment where people are more focused on their egos than the team, and at best, a team of individuals who feel they don’t need to work together and collaborate. Plus, like in sports, the All-stars tend to be the ones who are being headhunted and less likely to stay with the team for the long haul.

The Takeaway

If you see the value in these elements and are wondering how to recruit an intrapreneur, with high PSYCAP, to be part of your Strengths Based team, then the best advice I can give you is – give your team complete access to the recruitment process. Include them at every stage; the gap analysis of the team’s current strengths, the adjustment to everyone’s positions to fit the new person in as a critical member, the drafting of the job description and posting, short listing the resumes, and being part of the hiring panel. Give them the sense of ownership and lean on the professional judgement and intuition that they possess that made them a high talent team to begin with.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at