Zero Drama Leadership

A programme for new and seasoned team leaders.
Skilfully cut through the noise, with care and respect, to get work done.

© Max St John. All rights reserved.

Less drama, more impact.

The promise of being in a leadership role is that you’ll be able to affect change, or at least have a greater impact.But often the work comes last, sidelined by politics, curveballs and ego-wrangling.As a result, you end up feeling constantly behind and stressed out.Zero-Drama Leadership gives you a completely new lens to see how and why people get distracted from what needs to get done.It gives you the skills and tools to reduce the noise, skilfully dodge the politics and and move everything - and everyone - forward.

What is 'drama'?

Drama is a way of describing the conflicts and distractions that knock us off track and tie everyone up in knots.The term was coined by Dr Stephen Karpman, a psychologist and the creator of the Drama Triangle.He identified how people get stuck in zero-sum games, playing out scripts and taking up roles, which define their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

The drama triangle

In these games, everyone gives away responsibility and no one gets their needs met. Sound familiar?More importantly, he showed how they could be resolved and side-stepped, if you know what to look for and how to respond.This programme teaches you how to understand your relationship to the drama so that you can recognise the subtle cues and clues, ensuring it doesn’t get in the way of what needs to get done.Read more about the drama triangle

© Max St John. All rights reserved.

Navigate the chaos, calmly.

Zero Drama Leadership is about removing the barriers to getting work done.People who lead teams and run projects can find that themselves fighting fires on multiple fronts, often due to sticky 'people problems'.It can leave you feeling stressed or heading towards burnout while still not getting any closer to delivering your work.Aside from the important human impact of this on the individual, teams and organisations suffer as a result.None of us ‘leave their feelings at the office door’ (even if that door is now the one to your spare room) and everyone is prone to being sucked into these dramas at any time.If you understand the typical relationship dynamics that lead to zero sum games, you can stop yourself from becoming sucked in.And if you can calmly step outside of the them, you can ask different questions, which get different results, avoiding the draining relationship dynamics that often consume people.Once you can do this, you are able to be the calm, collected leader that cuts through the noise so that other people can take responsibility and focus on the work.

"This has changed my relationships with everyone I come into contact with. I respond to challenge in a genuine calm and calculated manner. A weight has lifted."
- Chief Exec, charitable organisation

© Max St John. All rights reserved.

How does the programme work?

Small cohorts meet regularly supported by a host and facilitator.We explore how we can relate to and identify the different roles people play in the drama triangle.We unpick the pitfalls and traps that make us susceptible to the normal, organisational games that go on, and learn tools to keep us ‘on the outside’.Through discussion and practice we learn how to support others, to reduce the distractions and stresses that get in the way of the work.Between each session you will take away questions and small tasks, relevant to your work, to provide you with input and feedback for the sessions.At the beginning and end of the programme, you’ll have a one-to-one coaching session.The first will be to prepare for the programme, and the last to pull together your personal reflections and any actions for your further development.

Content and structure

The programme runs in two formats:Open programmes
The open format allows anyone, from any organisation or background to join a course. These run three times year, with dates listed here.
Private programmes
The private programmes are for individual organisations who want to put cohorts of their team leaders through the course. The content is the same but dates and locations (including in-person training) are tailored.
Typically a programme runs over two months - with two coaching sessions and six group meetings:Pre-course coaching session: talking about your current challenges, the course and getting you prepared for the course.Six, fortnightly online group sessions: teaching, discussion and action-setting in a group of (maximum) 10 other participants.Post-course coaching session: drawing together your insight and identifying how you want to apply it to your work and career.

How to join

The next open programme starts on the 4th of March 2024.The fees for the open programme are on a sliding scale:* Corporate sponsorship: £700* Individual participation: £600* Public service worker: £500If you’d like to book a place, ask questions or discuss a tailored, private programme, please email

© Max St John. All rights reserved.

Who leads the progamme?

My name is Max and I’ve been a trainer and coach for 10 years, specialising in participatory leadership and healthy conflictI’ve led projects and teams for over 20 years, across government, the private sector and international NGOs. I’ve been an independent advisor to the Cabinet Office, I've taught at business schools and run leadership retreats across Europe and Scandinavia.I’ve been working with the Drama Triangle for a long time, teaching it as part of my How to Fight Well practice.Increasingly it has become one of the most useful tools in my work with leadership teams, and so I’ve built this programme around it.Personally it’s allowed me to enjoy working with other people much more than I used to, to focus on the work I want to do and be more available for myself and my family.I’d like more people to be able to do the same.

What people say about my training

"Inspiring, practical, simple, challenging, transformative.""I can’t stress how much it helped me to modulate my responses, identify trigger points and manage myself better.""Cage your inner monkey, while you teach it new tricks before releasing it on the world again.""I used to focus on 'the other', the 'opponent'... in reality, I hold the key to resolving the conflicts I find myself in. This course gave me my personal key."

Find my writing and audio

If you'd like to get a feel for my work, you can find me here:
How to Fight Well: my writing on conflict
Finding Steady Ground: my podast and newsletter
LinkedIn: professional profile and updates

© Max St John. All rights reserved.