Differentiated Leadership

I believe, in general, that it is important to avoid reacting to situations. Of course, that is easier said than done. Many of us have been in situations where we have reacted – confrontations with coworkers, stress, familial issues, etc. It’s easy to look back on these moments and recognize where the reaction went wrong and what should have been done or said instead, but in the moment, our emotions and anxiety cause us to react differently than we should. As a leader who is enacting change, we must be able to maintain composure and act as self-differentiated leaders.  Edwin Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership suggests that effective leadership is not so much about having the correct traits or skills, rather it is an emotional process of regulating your own anxiety.

With this in mind, I recognized how important conversations in general are, but more specifically, how important conversations will be in order for the implementation of ePortfolios to be successful. Emotional triangles can negatively impact my plan because it is tempting to gossip and resist new ideas and change. If I can become self-differentiated I will be able to fight these temptations in order to keep things on track. Now with that said, sabotage, in this case, is actually a good sign. If colleagues are trying to fight back, then that means the plan is working. Communicating effectively to my colleagues and administrators as well as maintaining a level head will help me to approach crucial conversations. 

Although I value the information on becoming a self-differentiated leader, I have chosen to focus on crucial conversations first. These two are obviously related, but I don’t think I can even begin before thinking about how to have those conversations.

I feel the first crucial conversations I will need to have in order for my plan to succeed will be straight to the core – aka with the teachers I know will resist. Whether their resistance is because of little experience with technology or any other reason, I will need to have these conversations to make my colleagues feel like they are involved in the process, they are valued, and them and their ideas are respected. I believe I will need to have a strategy before going into these conversations since it is possible that they could get out of control quickly because any time emotions, high stakes, and opinions are involved there is that potential. I feel like the 8 step process (get unstuck, start with the heart, learn to look, make it safe, master my stories, state my path, explore other paths, and move to action) will help with these conversations and all other ones because it does all of these things.


Bardwell, M.D. (2010, November 10). Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership made simple [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgdcljNV-Ew&feature=youtu.be

Callibrain. (2015, August 20). Video review for crucial conversations by Kerry Patterson [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFaXx3pgaxM&feature=youtu.be

Vital Smarts India. (2012, February 10). Crucial conversations explained in 2 minutes [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixEI4_2Xivw&feature=youtu.be

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