shifting from feeling powerless to empowered

#59: Shifting from feeling powerless to empowered with Tina Frey

We all experience it at some point. Utter powerlessness.
It happens from time to time and can make you feel lost and angry. So how do you to shift from feeling powerless to empowered?

That’s what I will talk about with Tina Frey

Digitalization was already transforming organizations, but the pandemic accelerated this process and made it possible for us to work from home and thus, organize our priorities better. This new hybrid model will become the new way of working for a lot of people, so leaders need to adapt to get the best out of their people.
That’s why we are launching a free two-part webinar series on how COVID is impacting the people, the leaders, and the teams. If you want to participate to become part of a bright future, be sure to check out the link below! Now let’s get to the podcast 😉

Who is Tina?

After finishing school, Tina started out at a small radio station, where people took advantage of her completely. She had to do everything for no money, but she did learn a lot about herself and how business works. From there on, she went to HBO, where she was responsible for training and leadership. She fell in love with the training process and learned a lot! Then Tina went from Volkswagen to BMW, where she could work within human recourses.

It was then that she got the idea to start the retail performance company (RPC), which is a 50-50 joint venture with BMW. RPC is a consultancy all about performance and offers solutions to organizational blocks. When she started out, she had to make a complete launch strategy to present it in Germany, which she had never done on that scale. And when she flew over from the United States to give her presentation in Germany, she reached her lowest point.

You have to fall to get back up

They gave her a straight ‘no’. No further explanation. And when she flew back, she felt two different things. First, she became a victim, she felt lost and powerless, like she didn’t have any choice to make. And then, that feeling flipped into anger. How could they leave her without any feedback, without any support?

Within the world of BMW people which she had known for a decade would tell her that her plan was never going to work and that she absolutely needed a plan B.  And it wasn’t their fault, they were just being realistic. At that point, Tina believed them and decided that she was going to quit. Luckily, when she called up her boss, he told her that she wasn’t going to quit, but that she had to take the weekend and think it through. And that is when she shifted her perspective and decided that she was going to figure this out.

Not everyone finds themselves in this situation, but I think most of you can relate to the feeling of powerlessness. So I asked Tina, how do you help leaders with that feeling of not having a choice or power?


The five choices you always have

The first thing everyone has to realize is that you always have a choice. In fact, you have five. You might not always like the consequences of these choices, but you do in fact have choices. 

1. Choose to remain a victim

You choose to feel powerless and you decide to stay in a victim state. Even when you think it isn’t a choice, it still is a subconscious one, with all the consequences of staying in that state. It is okay to be in the victim state if you don’t have enough energy, you don’t have to fight it. However, you have to think about how that state is serving you. Is this really working out for you? How long are you going to stay in this state?

2. Choose to accept the situation

Accepting situations isn’t always easy. You have to really put the situation behind it, meaning that if someone brings it up, you’ll be able to look back at it without feelings of annoyance or frustration coming up.

3. Choose to shift your perspective

This one is actually very hard to do. The first thing that happens in your body when you are confronted with a hard situation, is the emerging of emotions. These emotions are what we humans use to react to situations. Shifting your perspective means that you see these emotions for what they are; emotions. And look at the situation objectively. Only then can you change your reaction and shift your perspective! It takes a lot of energy to come from the victim state to this point, that’s why it is so important for leaders to manage their energy!

4. Choose to change the situations

This choice is often coupled with the previous one. Once you have shifted your perspective, you can use that new perspective to change your approach to a situation and so, changing the situation.

5. Choose to quit

If you feel trapped in a situation you really cannot get out of, you always have the choice to quit. If you feel like giving up, you can. If the other choices you could make weren’t of much help, this is the last resort that you can turn to.

Why do leaders have a hard time giving feedback?

Well, basically, because of fear. There are three primary things that can make giving feedback harder.

The first one is the association with conflict. It is a limiting belief of many leaders that feedback always leads to conflict. This simply isn’t true, giving feedback can be very helpful if you do it in a good way.
Secondly, a leader doesn’t want to lose their status as a friend or a nice person. It is an obligation for a boss to tutor and help their employees and you can still retain that status if you give them feedback in a helpful and calm manner.
Thirdly and most importantly, a lot of leaders are afraid to hurt someone’s feelings with negative feedback. But the same principle applies here: you are only going to help to get that person on the right track if you give them feedback!


How can you improve your feedback?

There is a whole other podcast dedicated to this very question, but I will tell you what Tina found to be important over her years of experience.

First of all, feedback should not be given once a year or once every couple of months. It shouldn’t be something to be scared of. So instead of giving feedback in a cold, sterile office, it should be more spontaneous and in the moment (doesn’t mean it has to be impulsive). You can take the person in question for a walk for example and calmly explain the situation.

A lot of the time, people can get very defensive. There often is a reason why they jump into the defensive. What Tina found, is that people get defensive when you tell them how to solve their (performance) issue. People don’t want to be toyed around like a robot and want to think for themselves. So instead of giving them instructions on how to solve their problem, ask them to come up with a solution for themselves. This feeling of responsibility gives people motivation and trust.


I hope you can now see how much strength you can get from failure and from feeling powerless. It will make you uncomfortable, but that is where you can CHOOSE to transform!

Have a nice day!

qileader authentic leadership

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