I’m curious, what is the Catalyst Effect?


The Catalyst Effect examines leadership and teamwork from a new perspective.  Rather than focusing on individuals with a formal title or specific authority, or “the corner office,” the model focuses on the idea that team members can lead from wherever they are in the organization.

As organizations delayer and place more value on the importance of everyone on a team playing a leadership role at certain times, understanding the competencies needed accomplish this is essential for effective individual and team performance.  This holds true for teams in business, non-for-profits, sports, and the arts.

The Catalyst Effect refers to the impact created through a goal-oriented blending of leadership and teamwork skills, coupled with a big-picture mindset. Catalysts create a dynamic, optimistic, and cohesive force that elevates individual, team, and organizational performance.

How is the Catalyst Effect generated? 


It’s produced through the consistent application of a core set of competencies. These competencies build individual credibility, create cohesion, generate team momentum, and amplify overall impact.

How was the Catalyst Effect phenomenon identified?


Statistics tracked by the Houston Rockets, an NBA team, revealed that when one of their players, Shane Battier, was on the court, his teammates and the overall team played at higher levels. We explored what he did to have such a positive impact and whether the phenomena existed in business, the arts, non-profits, and on other sports teams.  Over eighty in-depth interviews with leaders, employees, and team members, coupled with on-site observations across these organizational sectors revealed that specific people in these settings generate a clear, powerful impact.  That the impact is multiplied when more than one catalyst is on a given team. By analyzing the data we collected, we distilled the behaviors into twelve core competencies, which are organized under four “catalytic cornerstones.”

Must I be proficient in all 12 catalytic competencies to be a catalyst?


Not necessarily.  The greater the proficiency across all twelve competencies, the greater the catalytic impact is likely to be.  To generate that impact, it’s necessary to apply a core set of the catalytic competences, and usually two or more in each of the four cornerstones: Building Credibility, Creating Cohesion, Generating Momentum, and Amplifying Impact.

Can people be trained in the 12 catalytic competencies or develop proficiency in them on their own?  


Yes. Specific behaviors are integral to the twelve competencies. They can be learned and developed through training and/or through self-teaching. Proficiency is acquired through practice and feedback. While some people may naturally apply many of these competencies, everyone can intentionally develop proficiency in them.  Attending a Catalyst Effect Workshop is the best way to get a deep understanding of the model and to immediately apply it to the real-world. For more information on our next workshop, visit the “Workshop” page here.

The book defines the 12 competencies and describes the associated behaviors for each.  The reader can begin their own development process by understanding each of the twelve competencies and by completing the recommended actions in the Application section of the book.

Do I need to be a designated leader, manager, supervisor, or in some other position of authority to be a catalyst?


No. Catalytic leadership and teamwork competencies enable one to lead from wherever she or he is in an organization.  It’s not dependent on title or authority.

Is the Catalyst Effect a leadership or a teamwork skill set?


It’s both. In some ways it’s a hybrid. One can lead from wherever one is—with or without supervisory or managerial power. Shane Battier was a team player without any positional authority. His influence came from how he behaved as a basketball player. The same is true in all other endeavors. Great catalysts can be both effective leaders and team members. We may exert ourselves as leaders in some roles and situations, collaborate with teammates in others, and follow when others are better equipped to lead.

How do you know a catalyst when you see one?


We posed this question during our interviews. And we pose in the book: “Who do you know that when he or she engages in a business setting, on a court or field, or on a stage elevates the performance of those around them?”

With this question in mind, simply observe what they do and say. Be as behavioral in your analysis as possible.  Catalysts promote the effective pursuit of overarching goals. They strive unselfishly to make others better and to heighten the team’s ability to achieve results. They put the team and organization before self. When you see others acting in those ways, you know their motivations are compatible with The Catalyst Effect philosophy and approach. That way of thinking, working, inspiring, and problem solving is a key foundation. When they demonstrate the competencies consistently, you have an effective catalyst. If they have not yet reached that point, perhaps they are a diamond in the rough whose skills are just waiting to be developed.

Is there a catalytic way of thinking?


Absolutely.  Catalysts think beyond their immediate role(s) to ensure what they do is aligned with the overall team objectives and the organization strategy.  They focus on what is best for the team, the organization, and what they can do to propel progress toward goals. They think from multiple perspectives, not just their own. For example, they think from their boss’ perspective, the CEO’s perspective, and the perspective of their peers or teammates. Melding these together enables them to see things from both macro and micro viewpoints, which, in turn, helps them find, develop, propose, and implement effective and well-supported solutions.

If I want to become a catalyst, what do I need to do?


One starting point is to complete the brief self-assessment from the book. It’s available on at CatalystEffect.org under the Assessment tab and also in the Application chapter in the book. It will help you identify your strongest catalytic competencies and gaps to work on.

Next, attend a Catalyst Effect Workshop. In these workshops, the model is presented by experienced facilitators who know how to apply theory to on-the-job application.

Finally, begin adjusting how you think about your work and look at matters from higher-level perspectives. Put your team and organization’s goals ahead of your own. Keep asking, “What’s best for the team?” Seek feedback from your boss and/or peers on your application of the catalytic competencies; then create a development plan.   Check back with us on the website for more suggestions and for real-life examples of catalysts in action!   If you have a question about application, feel free to contact us at info@thecatalysteffect.org.

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