Don’t worry, this is not about how to get a better reception on your mobile device or car radio. Rather, it is about the interference that gets in the way of achieving potential and ways to remove it.

As a people leader, before reading on, ask yourself – to what extent are my team are achieving their full potential on a scale of 1-10? If it is anything less than 10, just imagine what would be possible for each of those individuals, for your team or for your organisation if they were achieving their full potential ……… oh – and keep reading. If your team are already at 10, fantastic and please share some tips in comments on ways that have helped them achieve their potential to help other people leaders.

I was mowing my lawn when the I noticed it wasn’t doing a great job – it seemed to be leaving a lot of the grass on the garden rather than firing it into the box and the engine seemed to be struggling too. So my first instinct, is to push harder and keep going. Maybe it will clear itself – but obviously no real change came. I take a quick look underneath to see if there is a stick or other blockage but nothing obvious. So I try to continue even though I know it’s not doing a great job. Eventually, I take a closer look underneath and when I push some of the grass away I see that there is some old wire wrapped around the blade. I carefully remove it and away we go.

In this article I share an approach for you to consider bringing to your performance and development conversations that can make a powerful impact and unleash the individuals potential. We will look at the concept of interference as illustrated by Tim Gallwey and share some ideas for you to consider to bring into your next 121s.

The whole area of helping someone to develop their capability and their performance is often approached from a place of “what else can you do to improve?” …..often followed up with a list of well-intentioned suggestions on how to do it.

This approach can sometimes be interpreted as coming from a place of deficiency, an assumption that individual lacks capability or is not currently good enough to perform and need to add something else in order to develop their performance. I think it is worth challenging ourselves on this sometimes.

Tim Gallwey, who wrote “The Inner Game” series of books describes Performance as a formula –

Performance = potential – interference (P=p-i)


A good performance and development conversation helps the individual to realise that they have control or influence over much of this interference and when they identify and remove that interference it creates the space for them to achieve their potential.

What is interference?

Interference is anything that gets in the way of the individual delivering their potential. Initially individuals tend to look at the external factors but, as Gallwey describes, it is often what is going on inside the person that is the greatest interference.

  • External interference may relate to limited technical or other resources, some outside stakeholder interference, environmental factors.

  • Internal interference may relate to self-doubt, self-awareness, overthinking the situation and other messages we tell ourselves.

Bringing this into your 121s

So how you can bring this into your performance and development conversations with your team –

Here are a few ideas to explore this in a relatively straightforward conversational way

Firstly, let the individual clarify where they want to get to – in their current role, in their performance level or their career (by the way, even this step can create an opportunity for removing interference as some individuals may be holding back on their ambitions and goals due to self-doubt or other limiting assumptions. This may be a worthwhile conversation in and of itself!)

Once the desired destination is clear, consider using questions to help the individual explore where they are now and how they want to get there. The intention here is clear away some of the grass and help the individual increase awareness of where their attention is and particularly where that attention may be blocking themselves. Here are some questions that might help:

Some thoughts that might help your people unlock their potential …….. and isn’t that the ultimate role of a people leader?

It’s just another small step in making your conversations engaging and impactful so that you can build people, build performance and build results.

Keep on building