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Book Review: Ignite the Third Factor

By Daniel Kosir |

Title:Ignite the Third Factor
Author:Dr. Peter Jensen
Publisher:Thomas Allen Publishers

Ignite the Third Factor is as much about coaching yourself to coach people as it is about actually coaching people.

Dr. Peter Jensen, sports psychologist, founder of Performance Coaching and instructor at Queen's School of Business, takes on an issue facing coaches, managers and leaders everywhere: how to get people committed to reaching their full potential.

The developmental potential of human beings has three major components: nature, which establishes the physical and mental road map of an individual; nurture, which includes social and environmental factors that help mould an individual; and the Third Factor, which is the factor of choice or "the important role an individual plays in his or her own 'becoming.'"

It is this Third Factor that successful managers must ignite in their employees to help them reach their pinnacle in terms of talent and potential. What Jensen does is provide a practical "playbook" that you can use to get better at developing others through initiating their Third Factor.

Central to his method is developmental bias, or in other words, recognizing the importance of and being passionate about growing and developing others. Every exceptional coach, manager or leader follows five approaches that characterize a strong developmental bias and help them ignite the Third Factor in their prodigies:

  • Manage yourself;
  • Build trust;
  • Encourage and use imagery;
  • Uncover and work through blocks; and
  • Embrace adversity.

According to Jensen, the foundation for all of the above approaches is effective communication, a topic to which he devotes an entire chapter. Your ability to communicate as a coach or leader is the only way to engage the Third Factor in those you are developing. Jensen takes the chapter to explain the underlying skills that are the basis for good communication: "If you learn to ask good questions, be an effective listener, give really good feedback and know how to confront your performers when things are not going well, you can do most anything."

Jensen presents his ideas very clearly, mapping out how to best obtain and leverage the five approaches in order to develop people more effectively. Jensen also scatters stories from his experience in the sports world throughout, which if nothing else keeps the reader entertained and allows them to visualize how the theories work in practice.

All in all, Ignite the Third Factor is a thorough book, entertaining yet filled with use-value. Jensen provides real advice and discusses real strategy, based on the experiences of his career in athletics but extrapolated to become relevant for the workplace.

This book is recommended to those whose principal role is to develop others, whether as a manager, project leader, mentor or coach. It is an exercise in self-development that aims to make you a better leader, through igniting within people the desire to be better.

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