Digital Leading and Learning · ePortfolio

Keep the agreeable close and the disagreeable closer

Much of this message on self-differentiated leadership and crucial conversations reflects what I tell my high school students/athletes about life. It’s so important, albeit more difficult, to avoid reacting to situations. With my students who are prone to fighting, I often ask them what is more effective, punching someone when they say mean things or smiling and walking away? Every time they know the latter is the correct response, but their emotions and anxiety cause them to react differently. Being a leader and enacting change is no different. I need to make sure I maintain my composure and act as a self-differentiated leader. This is a serious challenge for me and it is something I’ve battled with for a long time. My husband has helped me become a better leader by helping me realize how I unintentionally speak to others sometimes.

With all of this in mind, I now realize how important my conversations are in general, but specifically how important they are going to be for our ePortfolio course to eventually succeed. Things like emotional triangles will negatively impact our plan because it is so tempting to join the gossip and resist new ideas. If I can be self-differentiated I can combat these temptations and keep things on track. It is ironic, however, that sabotage is actually a good sign. If people are trying to fight back and destroy our plan, that means the plan is working. As long as I maintain a level head and communicate effectively to my peers and administrators, I will be able to approach crucial conversations well.

While I really value the information on becoming a self-differentiated leader, I have chosen to focus on crucial conversations first. They are obviously related, but I just don’t think I can even begin before thinking about how to have those conversations. I have seen so many great ideas disappear simply because the leaders avoided these moments or handled them poorly, and this includes my own ideas.

I think the first crucial conversations we will need to have for our plan to succeed will be with those teachers we know will resist. Whether this is because of a consistent hesitancy to change or little experience with technology, we need to have these conversations to make these people feel like they really are involved in the process, valued, and respected. We need to have a strategy going into these conversations because they can get out of control quickly. Any time emotions, high stakes, and opinions are involved there is that potential, so having a plan will keep us focused on the end result. The 8 step process will really help with this plan for these conversations and all other ones because it does all of these things. I honestly look forward to using this process with our ePortfolio initiation and every other crucial conversation I have in the future!


Bardwell, M. D. (2010, November 10). Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership made simple [Video file]. Retrieved from

Callibrain. (2015, August 20). Video review for crucial conversations by Kerry Patterson [Video file]. Retrieved from

Vital Smarts India. (2012, February 10). Crucial conversations explained in 2  minutes [Video file]. Retrieved from


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