This series of blog posts started in a tight spot. Leaders who are more able to “see themselves” are better able to function in tight spots. We have explored the leader as a part of nature & the leader as a part of a multigenerational family. This week we explore the leader as a part of social groups.

Can you “see” yourself within the group?

Two forces are at play within social groups: Individuality and Togetherness. These forces are not directly observable just as the wind is not directly observable. But, you can “feel” the wind and “see” the wind.

Feeling the wind

The togetherness force drives cohesion within social groups. When your individual thoughts and beliefs are at odds with the group you can “feel” the pressure to fit in as surely as you can feel the wind on your face. If the force of togetherness is stronger than your force of individuality you will sacrifice principles to maintain group cohesion. Feeling this pressure is Level 1 awareness of the togetherness force. The focus in Level 1 awareness is the force the group exerts on you.

Seeing the wind

Just as the group exerts pressure on you to conform — you may be exerting pressure on the group to conform. If you need the group to go your way the togetherness force is driving the bus. This is more difficult to see. It requires Level 2 awareness. In level 1 you can feel the wind. In level 2 you must see that you are generating the wind. Clearly articulated thoughts, beliefs and opinions that are calmly rooted in the individuality force do not generate wind. As surely as you can see the effect of the wind in the trees you can “see” yourself by observing the effect you are having on others. The focus shifts from others to self in Level 2 awareness. This is made possible through the observation of others.

In level 1 you may feel yourself becoming upset, annoyed, betrayed, irritated, fearful, etc. The result may be conflict or avoidance (fight or flight).  This manifest in physiological or behavioral adaptations such as: flush face, agitation, fidgeting, raised-voice or conversely looking away, walking away, lowered-voice.  The felt experiences of Level 1 provide the insight for Level 2 observations of self through others. The group becomes a mirror to see self. If you articulating your position from a place of individuality you will see calmness and order in the mirror. If you are communicating your position from a place of togetherness you will see anxiety and chaos in the mirror.

The forces of individuality and togetherness are counterbalancing. Next week we will add another lens to see self through … reciprocal functioning.



Photo by: Robert Couse-Baker