Sunday, August 26, 2012

Edwin Friedman: Self differentiated leader

According to Edwin Friedman, a leader is a self differentiated person who does not get affected by poorly differentiated people.  A leader is someone who can simultaneously maintain relationship with followers while keeping distance from anxieties that followers might have.

In other words, a leader can inspire people to act in certain way, yet does not get weighed down by negative thoughts and emotions from team members.  Instead the leader's presence will defuse negative emotions and replace them with inspirational vision.

It is an interesting theory.  It is certainly true that leaders should not get discouraged by negative scenarios.  Leaders turn negative energy in the organization into shared vision of what could be possible, and inspire the team to achieve that goal.

Leaders do that not only by building trust with team members, but also by constantly questioning the underlying assumptions to change course based on objective facts and reality.  That requires listening intently to team members and leveraging everyone's expertise to make the right decision for the organization.

Toward the end of video, sabotage is discussed where a leader is up against majority of poorly differentiated people.  It is hard to change company culture especially commiserating and emotional dependence are deeply rooted in the organization, which I totally agree.

First job of a leader is to determine whether culture and DNA can be changed.  If not, the leader has to make the tough decision to radically transform the organization by replacing key poorly differentiated people.  But once those negative individuals are removed, the leader now has to fill that opening with trust and inspiration backed by his own actions.

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