Rowman & Littlefield, 176 pages
Peter Steinke is a clear-eyed, skilled consultant whose insights have stood the test of time. Other than Edwin Friedman, Steinke, a Lutheran pastor who studied with Friedman, is perhaps the most well-known of all practitioners of family systems theory. They both were students of Murray Bowen who generated a theory of human behavior grounded in biology. Bowen “asserts that the emotional system (biology) is elemental to the whole human enterprise.” In this work, Steinke gives a concise overview of the core aspects of the theory as well as the ways in which Friedman interprets it. Few will question his assertion that we are living in a time of enormous upheaval with soaring levels of anxiety. Uproar is the term and the consequence is massive disturbance. Leaders must learn the critical skills to navigate their roles within communities that are experiencing deep emotional disequilibrium. What may be more important, especially for readers familiar with family systems theory, is not to forget the skills learned when you are “dancing in a hurricane.” The book provides examples from church and business, along with a “leader’s notebook,” which functions nicely as a checklist of core skills necessary for leadership. The familiar themes are all addressed: self-differentiation, adaptive versus technical change, calm in the chaos, courage to lead. This may not be new, but it is a good reminder and a primer for leaders who want to keep their skills sharp and minds calm. Perfect for group study.