Essays/Articles ::

Leader/Follower Meta Matrix (pdf version)

As indicated in the introduction, I have 2 tables, one that indicates 3 contributors to poor performance in each of the 4 domains, and another that provides recommendations for how to treat those problems. A few preliminary explanations are in order, with others presented just after the table.

The first issue, fixed leader belief system, refers to a tendency for leaders to have rigid ways of going about their job based on an underlying philosophy. By follower restrictive tacit assumptions I mean the thought processes of which they are unaware, but which dictate how they should act in order to be successful. Leader-follower dynamics deals with how they interact.


Key to table: L = leader; F = follower; CT = counter transference; UFT = universal formalistic thinking

Meta goals: learn to learn | leader skills | change/grow | become creative

By referring to meta goals, I am making a distinction between a particular project and the domain itself. The goal is to solve the problem (education, management), work on a specific issue (counseling), or fashion a work of art. Meta objectives transcend the individual projects or problems, which are then seen mainly as vehicles for self-transformation. So becoming a creative artist would, for example, be a meta goal as would achieving personal growth.

Explanations of technical terms:

1. Theoretical abuse, a term introduced by Michael Basseches in the context of psychotherapy, can be generalized to refer to the attempt of a more powerful and less vulnerable individual in a dyad to impose his or her views on the less powerful and more vulnerable person. This concept applies to a variety of contexts. In counseling, it is particularly egregious when a therapist fails to elicit and elucidate the client’s perceptions and conclusions to their fullest extent. In education and specifically in mathematical contexts, instructors often proffer premature explanations for the "answer," in place of spending the time to understand student reasoning. Mentoring also has the potential for this kind of abuse (see O’Neill & Sankowsky, 2001). There are all sorts of pernicious follower psychological reactions to leader theoretical abuse, as I have detailed in several essays.

2. Model I and Model II values (and subsequent behavioral strategies) are terms from the work of Harvard’s Chris Argyris, a renowned organizational scholar. Paraphrasing very briefly, Model I values are "in use" (though rarely espoused) generally when individuals feel threatened, e.g. in a political context or in a situation that has the potential to turn confrontational. They include the appearance of rationality, control over the encounter, and "winning." Model II values, on the other hand, focus on getting at the truth, especially at the reasons behind organizational as well as individual dysfunction. I refer to these systems more fully in various essays appearing on this site as well as in several published articles. Anyone interested in learning more about Argyris’ theory of organizational action will benefit from reading his books referenced in my articles.

3. Transference comes from the psychoanalytic literature. Roughly speaking, it posits that clients respond to therapists in a symbolic manner to varying degrees – i.e. clients play out some of their lifelong issues in the therapy setting with therapists effectively in the role of surrogate parents. Counter transference is the therapist’s symbolic reaction to working with a given client or simply to the role itself. Left "untreated," it can cause a therapist to misdiagnose and/or engage in theoretical abuse.

4. UFT means universal-formalistic thinking, the belief in one set of natural laws and a best way to proceed once circumstances are defined. Dialectical thinking, on the other hand, sees laws as in process so that at any one time, there may be a best way, but there is no single best way for all times. More about this distinction will appear in various essays.