In the face of this year’s presidential election campaign marathon, what should we look for as an indication of a well-differentiated (emotionally mature) leader? In a chronically anxious society, a media-saturated marketplace, and a reactive political climate—all of which theU.S.has these days—it is difficult for hopeful candidates not to get caught up in poor leadership habits. However, non-anxious, clear-headed, well-differentiated leadership is what is required in our confused and anxious situation. So which candidates give evidence of emotional maturity and well-defined leadership? This is more about character than it is about policies, but it is clear that good leadership generally produces good policy. Here’s what a few leadership “gurus” have said?
Rabbi Dr. Edwin Friedman: A well-defined, resilient leader …
- focuses on strength rather than pathology, i.e. rather than on what’s wrong
- is concerned for one’s own growth rather than on techniques
- works with motivated people rather than simply with the symptomatic, i.e. the disgruntled
- seeks enduring change rather than symptomatic relief
- is concerned to define self, i.e. take stands, not simply to give insight
- is willing to look at one’s own “stuckness” rather than always diagnosing others
- adapts toward strength rather than toward the weak
- has a challenging attitude that encourages responsibility
Dr. Peter Steinke: A good non-anxious leader will …
- be calm (in the face of crisis)
- be challenging (when a system/person is stuck)
- focus (in the face of confusion)
- be ready to change (when there are new conditions/situations)
A leader works on self, on his/her own functioning rather than on personality, gaining consensus, techniques, information, or expertise. The field in which the leader works is most importantly influenced by the leader’s being and functioning/doing.
Dr. Ronald Heifetz:
“Exercising Leadership from a position of authority in adaptive situations [situations/challenges in which there are no clear and agreed upon answers/strategies] means going against the grain. Rather than fulfilling the expectation for answers, one provides questions; rather than protecting people from outside threat, one lets people feel the threat in order to stimulate adaptation; instead of orienting people to their current roles, one disorients people so that new role relationships develop; rather than quelling conflict, one generates [conflict]; instead of maintaining norms, one challenges [norms].” (Leadership Without Easy Answers, p. 126)
So how do you think the candidates stack up?