Chapter five of Bridges recognizes the need for role models and emotional resources in building bridges out of poverty. The analysis begins by distinguishing functional systems from dysfunctional systems. Functional systems are any system in which individuals have rules, roles, and relationships. An example of a functional system is a school system. The school has rules like “No talking while the teachers talking,” and “No sleeping in class.” The school has roles like teachers, students, and administrators. Lastly, the school has relationships like the student-teacher relationship and the classmate (friend-to-friend) relationship. Though the school system functions well for many students, for some it is quite dysfunctional, which is the extent to which an individual cannot get his or her needs met within the system. Those students often look to role models and emotional resources to help fill the gap in their needs and respond to the dysfunction.
Similarly, society is a dysfunctional system for those living in poverty, and impoverished individuals often rely on role models and emotions when dealing with society. We must remember that emotional responses dictate behavior and ultimately determine achievement. If someone’s emotional memory bank is overloaded with negative feelings towards society, then that individual is likely to behave in response to those emotions. In order to help people move out of poverty they must establish relationships with role models who can nurture their emotional development into positive emotional resources that elicit positive responses and encourage achievement. To do this, organizational leaders must always seek to become role models who can mentor and create positive relationships, everyone should teach and practice goal-setting, and everyone should teach and learn hidden class rules.