More on "We" pressure

In his comment on this post, Caleb asked "Then where does staying connected come in?".

When I first read Friedman's Generation to Generation, and first learned a bit of Family Systems Theory as applied to leadership - I also had questions as to how it all worked.

I mean, if I focus on clarifying my own life-goals (saying "I believe") - won't those I'm supposed to be leading just walk away? In other words, how can a team stay together when the leader resists "We" pressure?

Well, FST gurus say that it is the "We" pressure itself, when properly understood and managed, that will keep the team (or most of it) together. Homeostasis (the tendency of a system to maintain equilibrium) works in favor of the properly differentiated (and connected) leader.

But how?

Here's an example. When I was entering 9th grade in high school, my father announced to us that we were moving from St. Louis to Oklahoma City due to his job requirements. This pronouncement was jarring and abrupt - we had little time to prepare ourselves at all.

Of course, I emoted all over the place, and expressed my discontent with the situation to anyone that would listen. But here's the thing...

When it came down to it - I valued the family system itself over my particular desires in that situation, and so - I reluctantly capitulated. We moved to OKC and life continued. The family system remained together in albeit difficult circumstances.

Another example... How many times have you heard of a parent being extremely unhappy with their child's choice to get married? It happens all the time.

Mom and Dad blow a gasket. "He doesn't make enought money!" or "she's not good enough for you!" are comments often screamed by such parents. But after the marraige takes place - guess what? Mom and Dad (usually fairly quickly) line up and honor the family system.

What's at work in these examples? Friedman would say that homeostasis pressures lead the anxious family members to finally seek to preserve the family system. Put simply - family systems want to stay family systems.

And how does this apply to self-differentiated leadership? Well, if you find your "I believe" statements and your clarification/communication of your life-goals to be upsetting those in your family of origin, or your church, or your workplace - just stay the course.

Don't knuckle under to the "We" pressure. Just remain emotionally connected to the family system without allowing the anxiety flowing through that system to invade you. Remain a "non-anxious presence" in the system.

And then the natural tendency of the family system towards the status quo will (most of the time) cause the other members of the system to straighten up and fly right.

Not so hard, eh? :)

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