Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

And the young shall lead them

Written by: on February 21, 2024

I had a hard time getting started on this blog. It is not that I didn’t read or like Failure of Nerve by Edwin Freidman. On the contrary, it was one of the most thought provoking and compelling books that I have read in a long time. My problem was winnowing everything into what were some of the most important nuggets.

We are blessed with two daughters who love the Lord, their spouses, us, and each other. When our youngest moved back to our area, my husband asked her if she would play in the church handbell choir he directed. Our thought was this would be fun for us and help round out the choir. As a professional musician, she would be terrific. She declined. At first, we thought, really? It’s dad that is asking! She says yes to so many things why no to this? Eventually we realized that what she was doing was healthy. She was taking care of herself after teaching all day. She also knew that our love for her is solid, and she could say no. Her self-differentiation has made our relationship richer in other ways, too. All of us have the freedom to agree or disagree, participate or not, without worrying about how others will feel about a decision. She taught us about being the parents of adult children.

Friedman defines a well-differentiated leader as “someone who has clarity about his or her own life goals and, therefore, someone who is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about.”[1]  It is one of the characteristics when absent can lead to disfunction of leadership in an organization or family and contributes to the following characteristics which include:

Reactivity: a strong reaction to something that happens or someone.

Herding: the characteristic that values togetherness more than individuality.

Blame displacement: rather than taking responsibility for one’s own actions, the focus is on being the victim.

A Quick Fix Mentality: rather than actually working to fix the root of a problem, to whatever is needed to alleviate the symptoms of pain, fear, or sadness.[2]

His ideas on the courage of the early explorers whose bravery to set sail and break physical barriers, even with their failures, highlighted that their courage was costly, at times dangerous and expensive. Yet, the men who sailed broke barriers that people did not even know existed at the time. If nothing else, they opened doors and gave others the courage to say they could try also. They paved the way for the Renaissance era.

As I was reading this week, I thought about an experiment that Tim Harford wrote in his book. Scientist Solomon Asch was looking at conformity. The subjects were asked to pick which line matched a sample one from a group of three. The interesting part of the experiment was the fake participants that would also be voting. Sometime the subjects would get confused and ultimately side with the rest of the group, especially if all the fake participants voted for the same answer. His findings were that people leaned toward conformity. [3]

Friedman held that whenever there were problems with relationships, it was more a result of an often unseen third person, relationship, or issue between them, called an emotional triangle. Among other things, these triangles are formed out of some discomfort, function to preserve themselves, and make it difficult for people to modify their thinking and behavior. [4] Emotional triangles can be between people but also take the form of external entities. Through self-differentiation, emotional triangles can be broken but it means someone within the triangle needs to do the work to make that happen.

So let me circle back to my hesitancy in writing, I realized that what I really wanted to write about was something that I have avoided doing, an area where I needed to be a leader of my own life and healthy participant in a right and responsibility of every American citizen. This week I went to the county voter registration office to change my political party. American politics seems to be at a fever pitch where people are pigeonholed for one reason or another. For example, I have been told by neighbors that I must be a republican because I fly an American flag. In truth, the flag belongs to all Americans and my husband is a Navy veteran. We like it so we fly it. I have also been told that I must be a democrat because I drive a hybrid vehicle. I hadn’t thought of that but if it means I am trying to care for the earth, then so be it. Scripture asserts that, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it” (Psalm24:1, NRSV). My faith prompts me to be careful with earth’s resources. I stand firm that ideologically,  I am neither a republican nor a democrat. In truth, there are things that both parties promote or tolerate that cause me to cringe. Some of these include things that Friedman  mentioned such as demonization, blame shifting, and herding that happens in both parties. Consequently, because the State of Florida has a closed primary which allows voters to only vote for candidates in the party to which they register, I changed my party to vote in the primary election where I think my vote will have the most impact. I think the American political system is on the verge of crossing the threshold where reason and honesty have been left behind. I don’t care if friends or neighbors like what I do. America has a lot to lose if thoughtful people don’t take a stand and vote, not based on wealth or ideology but on the leadership qualities of the person holding the office.

[1] Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure Of Nerve (New York: Church Publishing, 2017), 15.

[2] Friedman, 60.

[3] Tim Harford, How to Make the World Add Up (Great Britain: Bridge Street Press, 2021), 145-148.

[4] Friedman, 218-219.

About the Author

Diane Tuttle

13 responses to “And the young shall lead them”

  1. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hi Diane,

    Greetings from DLGP02!

    I sometimes wander across cohort lines to see what amazing people are thinking. I just chanced across yours this morning.

    YES, US politics have become cringeworthy.

    On March 9th I am doing an Immigration Symposium at Dallas Baptist University. Yup, Texas.

    It should be interesting to see what comments pop up!


  2. mm Ryan Thorson says:

    Thanks Diane for your thoughtful post, for recognizing differentiation in your daughter and affirming it and for practicing a healthy response to politics in a very anxious system. That is definitely something that will be needed in the months ahead!

  3. Christy Liner says:

    Hi Diane, great post. I love how you tied your application from the reading to changing your political party. Since making that change, do you feel any anxiety about it, or are you at peace with being differentiated from your historical political party?

  4. Diane Tuttle says:

    Hi Christy, I am at peace with my decision. I know some people think not sticking with one party is a cop out but I really don’t care. I think my hesitancy was sharing it. There are a lot of highly opinionated people where I live, maybe everywhere, and I had to decide if I was willing to be open to criticism. Once I decided I am, it was freeing. Thanks for asking.

  5. Daren Jaime says:

    Hi Diane! I love how you took something like changing a political party and applied it to our everyday lives. Sometimes, that ship has to leave port to find the possibilities that exist, and when we make little but huge choices such as yours, it freees us to set sail to new places. I also appreciate you cultivating an environment where your daughter can say no. I wondered how hard it was to take the emotion out of hearing no and not giving her significant pushback?

    • Diane Tuttle says:

      Hi Daren, It wasn’t always easy to check ourselves but we knew it was in her best interest and ours? Once were framed it for ourselves that is was a good decision, it gave us the freedom to continue to ask when we had a need but she had the freedom to decline. But, it also works both ways. We are not required to say yes if it just doesn’t fit when either of us are asked to do something. The payoff is well worth the decision. Thanks for asking.

  6. mm Jennifer Eckert says:

    Diane, thank you for sharing your story. In a culture that leans toward a herd mindset, how might you encourage others to be a differentiated leader?

    • Diane Tuttle says:

      Hi Jennifer, Good question. I think what Friedman said “someone who has clarity about his or her own life goals and, therefore, someone who is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about.”(p.15) is an important piece of this. In my mind I think it boils down to taking time to know our selves and then have the integrity to stand up for ourselves, not in an obnoxious way but in a calm and kind way. I think that sometimes saying no can, actually, be kind to the other person.

  7. Debbie Owen says:

    Diane, I couldn’t agree with you more about “America has a lot to lose if thoughtful people don’t take a stand and vote, not based on wealth or ideology but on the leadership qualities of the person holding the office.”

    What are some leadership qualities you look for in a well differentiated leader?

  8. Diane Tuttle says:

    Hi Debbie, If I am looking to hire someone, I look for a person who is confident in who they are, has the ability to articulate personal goals, and is not afraid to make a decision and then stand by it. Primarily, I look for a person who somehow can articulate what integrity means to them and is able to give examples how living with integrity might have had an either positive or negative consequence for them.

  9. Julie O'Hara says:

    Hi Diane, Thanks for your post. Some years back I changed to ‘unaffiliated’ on my voter registration card. It means I’m left out of primary elections in Oregon. I did it for basically the same reasons you cite. What has become the most upsetting to me about politics is that ordinary people cannot discuss it without real relational risk, the reactivity is just too strong, following the example of ‘leaders.’ If you engage in political conversations, what tools, if any, did you find helpful this week. (And I also thought it was so much, too much, loved it, couldn’t nail down my big idea.)

  10. Diane Tuttle says:

    Hi Julie, thanks for the question. The first thing that jumps out is to be aware to not triangulate. I need to be aware of me and my position and not try to impose it on another or be swayed to avoid discomfort.

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