The last 5 blog posts have examined several lenses through which leaders can come to better “see” themselves. Leaders who are better able to observe self are better able to regulate anxiety and thus more effectively lead their teams. We have explored the leader as a part of nature, as a part of a multigenerational family and as part of social groups.

Last week we peered through the lens of over/under-functioning. This is a dynamic relationship process through which an over-functioning leader plays a part in the under-functioning of the team. This lens describes the relative “position” of leader-follower.

Distance/Pursuit is the final lens in this series of blog posts. Through this lens, we are able to see “movement” between leader and follower.

The Distancer

The distancing leader moves away from the team and towards the facts. She trusts the metrics and is protective of her turf. She is cautious and resistant to change.  The unknown is chunked off into small bites of certainty. Logic rules the day. Today she executes on principle and is confident in the numbers. Tomorrow her principles blind her to the emotional chaos within her team and convictions occupy her mind.

At the core, she distances from self, it is better to know what she thinks than to know what she feels.

The Pursuer

The pursuing leader moves towards the team and away from responsibility. He demands trust and centers himself within a protective ring of collaboration. He takes risks and moves fast. A new initiative is prioritized on the sole merit of its newness. Emotionality rules the day. Today he prides himself on openness and honesty, he is excited with possibility. Tomorrow his honesty is cruel and paranoid delusions occupy his mind.

At the core, he is in pursuit of self but must find it within others.

The Flow

The distance between the leader and the follower remains fixed when efforts to change direction are aimed at changing the other. Distancing to cause pursuit is nothing more than a self-deceptive form of pursuit. A conscious and continual effort to change self in relation to the emotional process of distance and pursuit is at the core of leadership. The leader must ride the waves of distance and persuit like a surfer. If she gets too far ahead of the wave she will sink, if she waits too long to cut back she will be crushed.

The distancer must overcome the fear of connection and the loss of self. The pursuer must overcome the fear of separation and the loss of cohesion.

“Leaders must never pursue a distancer and never give pursuers one extra inch of space.” Thomas F Fogarty, MD