Episode #20: Dysfunction of Sabotage

Change for the sake of continuous improvement and development should be something that everyone jumps on board with, right…? Especially when it’s in everyone’s best interest – people are going to love it! That might be true in theory, but in practice it’s a totally different story. Just ask anyone who has ever led a change process in an organization, and you’ll be met with a resounding “No way. That just doesn’t happen.”

So, time after time, change initiatives fail because of the fixed belief that change should be easy. As a result, leaders aren’t prepared for the resistance, opposition, and passive-aggressive behavior that plagues change processes, because in their minds, “everyone’s going to love it!” If you are leading change, you should expect sabotage and resistance as a normal and natural part of the process. If you don’t expect it, the Dysfunction of Sabotage will cause your initiatives to fail, leaving leaders, employees, and the organization stagnant in their comfort zones with sometimes devastating consequences…

In today’s episode, Anne & Heather explore the Dysfunction of Sabotage and share some real client stories that illustrate just how common it is to find this type of leadership behavior in organizations today. They’ll also share some practical tips that you can use if the Dysfunction of Sabotage is causing your leaders to undermine themselves, their employees, and the organization as a whole.

If you want to know more about Anne & Heather’s work with dismantling dysfunctions in organizations and leadership behavior at Caliber Leadership Systems, check out:




Stop contributing to organizational dysfunction. Pick up your copy of So, You Think You Can Lead?: A Guide to Developing Your Leadership Authority and Potential

Make sure you sign up for our weekly newsletters for tips on how to dismantle dysfunction and develop your leaders: https://bit.ly/dismantlingdysfunction

Are you dealing with an organizational dysfunction you need help with? Or do you have a story you would like to share on our show? Contact us at [email protected].



  • [01:37] Episode introduction and overview 
  • [02:42] What is the Dysfunction of Sabotage? 
  • [11:55] The Saboteur – the guardian of our comfort zone 
  • [13:54] Organizational stagnation caused by the Saboteur 
  • [23:28] Slowing down change through procrastination 
  • [24:53] Catastrophizing & doubt casting 
  • [30:14] Oppositional, rebellious acts 
  • [32:02] Episode gem & practical takeaway 
  • [34:52] Episode wrap up



  • The Saboteur Persona is known as the Guardian of Change but when its unconscious, it becomes the Guardian of our Comfort Zone. The Saboteur causes us to fear stepping out of our comfort zone to take advantage of opportunities that will lead to greater empowerment and success. 
  • When in the Saboteur Leadership Persona, we are frightened of losing our grip on power and will do what it takes to hold on to power, status, and influence. 
  • During change, the Saboteur leadership Persona shows up in the form of procrastination, especially when it comes to aligning behavior behind new goals. Leaders will say they’re on board, but then act like they’re not. 
  • Many high-achieving people who operate from the Saboteur Leadership Persona don’t plan and instead stay stuck in the weeds. While they complain about how busy they are and how they want things to be different, they insist they can’t stop long enough to change their behavior. 
  • Sabotaging ourselves leads to the sabotaging of employees and can even spread through an entire organization. Check out the full episode to learn how you can take back your organization’s leadership power from the Saboteur and avoid the devastating consequences that can come with being stuck in the comfort zone.



"Deciding to compensate for poor performance instead of managing it is an act of self- disempowerment."
episode 18 quote tile 2 - "When acting from the Victim Leadership Persona, our power and sense of personal agency is taken away by seeing situations through a  lens of helplessness."
episode 18 quote tile 3 - "Self-disempowerment starts from within. Leaders need to recognize when they are keeping their self-esteem low."
episode 18 - quote tile 4 - "Leaders need to watch that they aren't being pulled into the position  of rescuer when interacting with employees."

Did you enjoy this episode?

If so, sign up for our newsletter and get exclusive access to some of our best content!

Plus, we’ll keep you in the loop – you’ll be among the first to know when we’ve hit “upload” on a new podcast, article, or YouTube video!