Self-Differentiated Leadership and Bringing the Organizational Change Process Together

Understanding Self-Differentiated Leadership: The Key to Effective Leadership

Leadership is a complex and dynamic concept that plays a crucial role in the success of organizations and teams. One approach to leadership that has gained attention in recent years is self-differentiated leadership.   Self-differentiated leadership is a leadership style that draws its principles from Bowen Family Systems Theory, a psychological framework that is characterized by a leader's ability to maintain a strong sense of self while simultaneously remaining connected and engaged with others, especially in times of stress or conflict.  


What’s Your Why? Self-differentiated leaders have a deep understanding of their own values, principles, and emotional reactions. According to research by Kamdar & VanDyne, self-differentiation is a key component of effective leadership during organizational change. This self-awareness allows leaders to make conscious choices in their leadership style and decision-making.  

This clarity can guide your choices and actions, ensuring they align with your values and principles (Sinek, 2009).  As a leader, knowing my "why" provides myself with clarity and purpose throughout my leadership journey and it also helps me to understand the underlying motivations that drive will drive my actions and decisions as a leader. 


Having an Influencer Strategy: Incorporating an influencer strategy into your self-differentiated leadership approach can help you effectively communicate your vision, inspire others, and maintain your authenticity and principles. By leveraging the principles of influence and combining them with self-awareness and emotional regulation, you can become a more impactful and influential leader.  Research also suggests that effective communication is a critical component of successful change management (Kotter, 1995).  Leaders need to be skilled communicators who can also express their thoughts, needs, and expectations clearly and assertively, without resorting to aggression. In addition, effective leaders also need to be able to actively listen to others, while valuing their perspectives and feedback. 

By incorporating an influencer strategy into my self-differentiated leadership approach, it can help me to effectively communicate my vision, inspire others, and maintain my authenticity and principles. By leveraging the principles of influence and combining them with self-awareness and emotional regulation, I will become a more impactful and influential leader.


The Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX): 4DX emphasizes the importance of identifying and communicating clear, specific, and measurable goals (Covey, McChesney, & Huling, 2012). Self-differentiated leaders who understand this framework can use it to set and communicate their leadership objectives with precision, ensuring that their team understands the "why" behind these goals. One of the central concepts in 4DX is the idea of identifying the "Wildly Important Goals" (WIGs), which are the most critical objectives that will have the greatest impact (Covey, McChesney, & Huling, 2012). Self-differentiated leaders can use this principle to prioritize their efforts, aligning their actions with their core values and principles.

As a self-differentiated leader, I can benefit from understanding "The Four Disciplines of Execution" because it provides a systematic framework for setting, communicating, and achieving goals. By leveraging the principles of 4DX, I can align my leadership objectives with my values, maintain my purpose, and create a culture of accountability and engagement. 


Kamdar, D., & Van Dyne, L. (2007). The joint effects of personality and workplace social exchange relationships in predicting task performance and citizenship performance.

Kotter, J. P., “Leading change, Why transformation efforts fail,” Harvard Business Review, No. 73, 1995.

McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY, Free Press.

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