Facilitation Antipattern: Helpless

Posted by Doc
Aug 12 2009

Motto: I can’t do it.
Belief: I am not capable of making decisions or taking action on my own.
: Avoids making decisions or commitment. Frequently solicits others to work together and take on leadership/responsibility.
Characteristics: Fearful, lacking confidence, seeks approval.


Helpless can be very subtle, and sometimes very overt. Helpless frequently says things like “oh, I couldn’t do that” or “I’m not ready for that kind of responsibility”. Helpless tends to avoid making commitments and taking responsibility, and is therefore quite skilled at recruiting others to participate and take on leadership and responsibility.

Helpless is only detrimental to a group in the sense that this individual doesn’t contribute fully nor live up to their potential.  Other than that, they may be very positively contributory in discussions and in helping the group move forward.

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  1. […] Antipattern: Chicken Little and Facilitation Antipattern: Helpless (Steven ‘Doc’ […]

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