Self-Differentiated Leadership

I have always wanted to be a leader. My mom used to tell me when I was younger I always wanted to be a boss. I had no problem “telling” people what to do. But being able to tell is not the only quality of “leadership material”. I believe that most people feel this way that just tell people what to do and it happens. But, despite this some manage to become effective leaders.  These last few weeks have shown me that not all of our leaders were born with a natural ability to lead, and it doesn’t require special qualities to be an effective leader. Effective leaders choose to learn the tools to become a leader and use those tools to make their leadership effective. Even if you have no plans of ever being in a leadership role, some of the tools that leaders learn can improve other areas of your life as well.

In recent posts I have stated how we as people let our hearts be the determining factor in almost every situation. We tend to let our emotion lead most of our everyday decisions. Because we let our hearts and emotions leads us then as a leader we have to start with the heart. Start with a goal, and form that goal into a “why” statement. When we share the goals that are set in our hearts others and let them why then watch how it can and will inspire others to help us with our cause. Effective leaders start with the heart. My plan to lead our organization to effective change is to start with a powerful why statement that strikes at the heart and gets others motivated to want to change. You can view my “why” statement here.

Influence is a powerful tool to start change. Most effective leaders use several influences to lead. This classed introduced me to this wonderful book Influencer: The new science of leading change by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Mayfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This book introduced to me the “influencer model. This model is so important because it displays what motivates and influences us as humans.  To effectively create change leaders will use most or all sources to make that happen. I also plan to use every one of these tools to influence our group to make powerful changes that will affect the lives of our students in a positive manner.  You can view my influencer strategy here.

Effective leaders realize that discipline is the next step to implement and execute change.  The Four disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals written by Chris McChesnsey, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling gives us disciplines, to execute effective change in our organization. The key ideas of these disciplines is to focus on a few important goals, look to change what can be changed to meet those goals, measure said changes, and create an accountability system. These ideas help us to stay focused on what is important in accomplishing change. Effective leaders are disciplined in execution. Here is my outlined execution plan that will ensure our blended learning initiative is successfully executed.

Until earlier this week I had poorly preconceived notions about leadership. My thought was that effective leaders knew how to regulate and control others. This is not the case. Instead, effective leaders know how to regulate and control themselves. This idea comes from the book, a failure of nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix by Edwin Friedman. This notion that an effective leadership stems from the ability to separate one’s own feelings and thoughts had a huge impact on my ideas of leadership. This idea put leadership within my reach. This is why I now believe that we all have the capacity for leadership. Leaders don’t have special social or emotional powers, but they do know how to effectively self differentiate.

If I am to bring about a change on our campus, I have to be a self-differentiated leader.  Friedman says that “leadership through self-differentiation is not easy; learning techniques and imbibing data are far easier.”  I see this in our every day school lives.  According to Friedman, the biggest challenges a leader faces are emotional triangles and sabotage.

Emotional triangles form in every kind of situation.  In fact, Friedman states that there is no such thing as a “two-person relationship.”  I can apply the same principles to leaders in our school.  There is the leader, the staff member, and the new idea of blended learning in the classroom.  How the leader handles the third wheel is what makes a self-differentiated leader.  I know there will be resistance.  I know there will be anxiety and stress.  The second challenge I will face is sabotage.  As a matter of fact, sabotage is “evidence of one’s effectiveness.”  By focusing on the larger picture and not the technique, I can remain strong while “swimming upstream.”  I should also look to other teachers who are motivated and resilient.

In conclusion, to become a self-differentiated leader and ensure the success of a blended learning initiative, I must focus on being totally self-aware of emotional triangles that are ever-present and realize that others will always try to bring it down.  I have to maintain a sense of myself, watch out for the symptoms of emotional triangles and sabotage, and focus on my responsibilities as a leader.



Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Mayfield, D., McMillan, R., Swizzler, A. (2013, May 14) Influencer: The new science of leading change. 2nd ed. Vital Smarts L.L.C.

McChesney, C.,  Covey, S., Huling, J. (2012, April 24) The Four disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. Free Press.

Grenny, J., Patterson, K., McMillan, R., Swizzler, A. (2011, September 16) Crucial conversations; Tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw Hill.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s