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Member Perspective: Increasing Team Responsibility May Increase Value - Cathy Bolger

Mon, May 21, 2012 5:39 PM | Anonymous
"Don't do for the team what they need to do for themselves, for example, transcribing the flipcharts from a session, etc.  Sometimes facilitators are too helpful and build a dependency on them. If it's the team's work they need to ‘own’ it and take care of it.”  Sharon Lieder

I recently facilitated a series of experiential activities with a group of leaders. It was designed as a mini-orienteering, and at the beginning of the exercise, we divided them into two teams and asked them to select a team lead.  We then gave each team lead a map and asked him or her to assign roles (timekeeper, navigator etc.) The two teams then took off, meeting challenges along the way to their final goal.  

Over time, we gave the teams more and more responsibility.  So, beyond a solid design, a lot of upfront planning and preparation, and getting things started, the facilitators stayed in the background.  In addition, we noticed that the more the participants did for themselves, the higher they rated the value of the experience.

So adding to the statement by my colleague Sharon Lieder, "Don't do for the team what they ‘can’ and need to do for themselves…”

Cathy Bolger is a San Diego-based coach and trainer specializing in Presentation Skills and Conflict Management Skills.  More information at: and she can be reached at

Thanks so much to contributor and ASTD-San Diego Member Cathy Bolger.  Want to make a contribution to the ASTD-SD Blog?  Send me ( your 300-800 word post (Cathy's post above is 200 words), a two sentence bio and I'd love to post it for your fellow ASTD-SD Members to see and comment on. 


  • Mon, May 21, 2012 6:44 PM | Anonymous member
    I've seen this go both ways - stronger team and chaos! I'd like to know more about how you determine the readiness of the team (and its leaders) to take on such a task.
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    • Mon, May 21, 2012 7:34 PM | Anonymous
      Good point Rebecca--we gave out more and responsibility gradually over time, so were able to monitor. Thanks, Cathy
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    • Tue, May 22, 2012 11:10 AM | Anonymous
      my previous comment should read more and more responsibility gradually over time...
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  • Mon, May 21, 2012 8:11 PM | Anonymous
    Totally agree Cathy & Sharon! Wish I had learned that lesson YEARS ago... let the team do what they can for themselves! I finally started a few years ago, after DISC Team Trainings have them compile & produce the request each team member had, in reference to how they would like to others to communicate with them. And... no surprise... a lot more ownership and follow-through. With much admiration for you both, BB
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    • Tue, May 22, 2012 6:50 AM | Anonymous
      Thanks Bonnie! The good news is we learned from our experience! CB
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  • Tue, May 22, 2012 9:58 AM | Anonymous
    Cathy, always interesting to learn about your successes and tips. This is a simple but valuable idea. Thanks for sharing!
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