Self-Differentiated Leadership

Self-Differentiation of a Leader

        I have a hard time thinking of myself as a leader, but this must change.  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.  Learning a new way to introduce homophones or analyzing the latest ELAR test scores is easy when you think about trying to make a change in the way teachers teach and the way students learn.  Scary…but it can be done.  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.”  Think about your relationship with your significant other. There is always a third wheel – a child, financial burdens, an affair, etc.  The list could go on and on.  I can apply the same principle to leaders in our school.  There is the leader, the staff member, and the new idea of mobile technology 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.  Stress is a sign that a triangle exists.  To be a differentiated leader I must “understand where I begin and end, and where others begin and end” so as not to become entangled in the triangle’s stress and burnout symptoms (Walters 2016).

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 mobile technology 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.


Please review my previous posts about how to bring about an organizational change!


Friedman, Edwin. (1999). A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix [Kindle Edition].  Retrieved from

Walters, Teresa. (2016, February 21).  Chrysalis Connections | 10 Attributes of a Differentiated Person.  Retrieved from


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