Undifferentiated Fusion

Undifferentiated Fusion: When individual members of a decision making body discern the leader’s preference for a specific decision, and knowing the decision to be wrong, support it anyway.  Whenever I talk with leaders about it (and use the David Whyte story below), a short reaction of insight might be visible in the faces of some hearers.  They remember having been there; facing that moment which called for opposition; knowing the preferred direction is wrong. And then the dramatic moment, the internal wrestling match – often lost – when the head says “no”, but the voice says, “sure, ok”.

A man…finds himself in a meeting room at the very edge of speech;  he is approaching his moment of reckoning and he is looking for support from his fellow executives around the table….The CEO is pacing up and down…He has asked, in no uncertain terms, for their opinion of the plan he wants to put through. ‘I want to know what you all think about this,” he demands, “on a scale of one to ten’.

The CEO…makes it plain he wants everyone to say ‘ten’…He is plain tired, after all this time of people resisting his ideas…(The man) thinks the plan is terrible and that there is too much riding on this solitary ego; everyone in the company will lose by it.  He is sure also, from talk he has heard that half the other executives in the room think so too.  As they go around the shamefaced table, the voices of those present sound alternatively overconfident, or brittle and edge.  Most say ‘ten’, one courageous soul braves ‘nine and a half,’ and (the man) is the last to go. He reaches his hand toward the flame, opens his palm against the heat, and suddenly falters; against everything he believes, he hears a mouse like, faraway voice, his own, saying ten’.

David Whyte – The Heart Aroused

 5 Principles of Courageous Leadership: (Thanks to Ed Friedman)

  • The capacity to separate oneself from surrounding emotional processes.
  • The capacity to obtain clarity about one’s principles and vision.
  • The willingness to be exposed and vulnerable.
  • Persistence in the face of inertial resistance and outright rejection.
  • Self-regulation in the face of reactive sabotage.

No wonder the river crossing is so treacherous.

Peace and Courage,



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