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Your Personal Kryptonite

You are an aspiring superhero who is honing your powers to help your colleagues and company to be successful. You gain satisfaction from your efforts and experiences as you learn and grow as an individual in your team.

Superman with his invulnerabilities and superpowers was affected by a fictitious radioactive element called Kryptonite. In the presence of Kryptonite Superman was no longer “super” losing all his powers, susceptible to injury and at the mercy of his enemies. (yes there are other types of Kryptonite – I am talking about the green variant :P)

During your career you will come across someone or something that is your Personal Kryptonite. Exposure to your Kryptonite can be for short periods or prolonged periods.

“Your Kryptonite” makes you feel weak as you lose the “powers” that you are trying to make use of to achieve both your own and your team’s goals.

In software delivery teams your Kryptonite is also likely to affect your fellow team members if it is affecting you, some examples being:

  • Long standing unresolved blockers
  • Individuals inside or outside of your team
  • Environmental issues

How do you deal with your Personal Kryptonite? Here are some suggested approaches:


In an Agile delivery team if Avoidance is taken literally avoiding your Personal Kryptonite is not a great option as you are still being exposed to it. One of the core values of XP (Extreme Programming) tells us you should have Courage so you should look to deal with your Kryptonite head on?

Another way to look at this option is to eliminate your Kryptonite, I am not advocating harm here! One of the options Scrum Masters / Development Managers / Project Managers should consider if resources are under-performing is to remove them from the team for the greater good. However this does require courageous behaviour from someone in the team especially if the effect of Kryptonite is not obvious.


This option is to figure out a strategy to reduce the impact / exposure to your Kryptonite. If your Kryptonite is a person then before looking at elimination you should look to grab a coffee with the individual to air your concerns. The goal should be to work together to resolve any issues by talking them through.

  • Feedback to the individual needs to be constructive as otherwise there is a chance the effect of your Kryptonite actually becomes worse.
  • Look for common ground and use this as a starting point.
  • You may find that the person is oblivious to the effect he/she is having on you or the wider team.
  • Discuss how the individual is affecting both team and individual effectiveness and how you feel?
  • You may find your own actions / interactions may need to be changed?

If the outcome of your chat is not positive and your feedback is ignored, the next step is to raise this with the Scrum Master or the Line Manager who should be looking at the Avoidance approach above.

Prolonged exposure to your Kryptonite is fatal

As with Superman prolonged exposure to your Kryptonite is going to affect both you and your team. This exposure will lead to your team becoming disillusioned, demotivated and not performing to the best of its ability.