Self-Differentiated Leadership and Crucial Conversations

It is hard to be an agent of change; not everybody will follow your change. Effective leaders were not made in one day; it is all the learning experience and abilities that make a person a leader. Being a leader is hard and challenging at the same time. I have worked in operations for almost 14 years as a Branch Manager, it is an enormous task, and it becomes delicate dealing with staff members, especially when you’re about to discipline one. I learned to gather all the facts, weigh the decision, make sure to have empathy, be soft yet firm, and how balance it. It depends on the character you are dealing with. 

Now that I am in the world of education, it made no difference. As a leader, I always make sure that I walk the talk. I tried my best to be an example to everyone. I always investigate and ask questions first and never jump to conclusions. Great leaders were followed not because people were scared but because they wanted to. As an agent of change, I will surely have roadblocks, and I will not be able to please everyone. But learning Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership (Bardwell, 2010) and Crucial Conversations (Grenny, et al., 2021) provide resources and strategies I can use when I encounter this inevitable resistance to change. 

Self-Differentiated Leadership

According to Friedman’s theory, being a self-differentiated leader is being able to control and regulate your emotions (Bardwell, 2010). Self-differentiated leaders don’t let the negativity of colleagues affect their mindset; in fact, they usually use those negative emotions to be more productive in their work (Bardwell, 2010).  In order for me to be successful, is to make sure that I will not let any negativity and resistance bother me. Bardwell (2010) mentioned that it’s always about yourself. It will start in yourself, just like the change I would like to create, it will start in me, and everything will follow.

“A well-differentiated leader is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about.”  –  Edwin Friedman

Crucial Conversations

A “crucial conversation” is any conversation where opinions differ, stakes are high, and emotions are strong (Grenny, et al., 2021). As you would expect, these types of conversations frequently happen when you are trying to bring about change in an organization. Reading and learning about the whole crucial conversation is like a gem; the steps discussed in this book apply not just to my Innovation plan but to every crucial conversation that I will have in the professional and personal aspects of my life. Please check out the summary of my crucial conversation and how I am going to apply it to my innovation plan as well as any moment that I need to have a crucial conversation.


Bardwell, M. (2010, November 10). Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership made simple. YouTube.

Grenny, J., Patterson, K., McMillan, R., Switzler, A., & Gregory, E. (2021). Crucial conversations (Third). McGraw-Hill Education.