The Problem with Measuring
Employee Engagement

Employee-EngagementWith so many organizations focusing on Employee Engagement, why aren’t engagement levels across the world increasing?

The Gallup Organization has published many annual reports based on their global workforce surveys. Everyone assumes a shared meaning for the concept of engagement, but there is little agreement in how to improve it. Let’s look deeper.

David Mizne of 15five.com defines employee engagement as “proactively and passionately adding value while aligning with the company mission.” In his opinion, this can be hard to quantify. He goes on to say that, “an engaged employee wears it on their face, demonstrates it in their work and in their workplace communication.” Read More »

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The Changing Face of Employee Engagement

Employee-EngagementWith so many organizations focusing on Employee Engagement, why aren’t engagement levels across the world increasing? According to Gallup’s January 2016 article, The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis, there are serious and potentially lasting repercussions for the global economy.

Only 32% of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2015, compared to 31.5% the previous year.

Wikipedia defines an “engaged employee” as one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about his/her work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

An organization with “high” employee engagement might therefore be expected to outperform those with “low” employee engagement, all else being equal. In the work I do coaching people, I’ve learned there isn’t always a shared meaning of what engagement means, nor is there a universally understood method for developing it. Read More »

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Most Leaders Are at
“Heroic” Developmental Stages

Developmental-Stages

Why aren’t we doing a better job of developing effective leaders? I think it’s because leadership specialists have yet to understand and incorporate developmental stages into their programs. The business performance of any organizations depends on strong leadership, and by that I mean “post-heroic” leaders who can see beyond their needs to be a hero.

The developmental stages research shows that most adults do not progress beyond what is normative—the Socialized, Achiever or Reactive form of mind. A similar percentage of leaders operate at these forms of mind as well.

The problem is that higher levels of consciousness are required to lead today’s organizations. In these so-called “heroic” stages of leadership, a leader aims to achieve success through bottom-line results. This is respected by organizations, in fact, is often the whole point. But things aren’t as simple as they used to be. The complexity of systems and global organizations demands more, requires more of our leaders. Post-heroic leadership is needed to handle the complex world today and this grows when a leader transitions to higher stages of development. Read More »

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Developmental Stages of Leaders:
A Different Pair of Glasses

Developmental-StagesWhat’s the point of looking at leadership through the lens of developmental stages? For the past weeks I’ve been exploring adult developmental stages and five levels of leadership that are progressive according to growing maturity and competencies. Leaders become more effective as they mature, grow their inner game, and expand their abilities. This makes a lot of sense to me, but let’s look at the major criticisms of such a perspective.

“Perhaps the two most serious pieces of criticism lobbed at developmental theories are (1) that they are necessarily judgmental and (2) that they privilege some things over others.” ~ Jennifer Garvey Berger, Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World, Stanford Business Books, 2011

For sure, all assessments and theories that are hierarchical do place some things above others. The developmental stage framework says that as a leader matures, he or she has more ability to see multiple perspectives and tolerate different shades of gray. Author Jennifer Garvey Berger explains it well: Read More »

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Developmental Stages and
5 Levels of Leadership

5-Levels-of-LeadershipDo we really understand the 5 levels of leadership? Some of the great leadership experts readily admit that while they can describe what great leaders do, they do not know how great leadership develops. In an attempt to understand what behaviors and mindset are required to develop better leaders, I’m becoming familiar with the Stage Development framework.

Here is a comparison chart of four leadership experts who define Stage Development, along with 5 levels of leadership behaviors and mindset. Unfortunately, there is no uniform agreement on naming and defining the leadership levels. To me, this results in a confusing array of names and definitions.

5-Levels-of-Leadership

Taking a broad brush, the various stages of leadership development can be roughly summarized.

  • Level 1: Leaders who operate at the first stage of development are focused on their own needs to excel. That is why is it called an Egocentric, Opportunist, or Expert stage. Such leaders are acutely aware of what they need to do to succeed and how they need to be perceived by others. Leadership at Level 1 therefore tends to be autocratic and controlling. A leader’s mindset is limited at this stage because there is no shared reality. Growth requires becoming aware and interested in the needs of other people and reaching out co-relationally. This is a normal developmental stage for young adults, but not effective for leadership, although five percent of leaders appear to be operating at this stage.
  • Level 2: A leader’s ability to hold both his or her own needs and the needs and feelings of others simultaneously is the hallmark of the next stage. It is called the Socialized, or Reactive mindset by some, the Diplomat or Achiever stage by others. At this stage, a leader plays by the rules and expectations of the organization and builds alliances but with a focus on how best to get ahead. The focus is on the outer game, in order to gain meaning, self-worth and security.A leader hones his or her strengths, but is limited because of them. At this stage, identity is defined from the outside in and needs external validation in one of three ways, for strengths in relationships, intellect, or results. There are three primary forms of leaders at Level 2: Complying, Protecting, and Controlling which reflect the over dependence on heart, head, or will. When a leaders self-worth and identity are wrapped up in the overuse of strengths, such beliefs are self-limiting because they restrict behavioral options in situations.Most leaders (nearly 75%), as most adults, operate at this second level of maturity.
  • Level 3: This level of leadership is called the Creative, Self-Authoring, Individualist and Catalyst stage and is marked by personal transformation from old assumptions and beliefs and a quest for externally-based validation to a more authentic version of self. The leader seeks to know who they truly are and what they most care about. They start to become visionary leaders, accepting the fact that along with authenticity there is risk of disappointing others, failure and contradicting accepted norms. They let go of their need to be admired by others in favor of a higher purpose. At this level, leaders don’t seek to be the hero and begin to share power. No longer the sole decision-maker, such leaders facilitate groups in becoming more self-managing and involved in the success of the organization. They focus on high performance through teamwork and developing others. Leadership is collaborative. About 20% of leaders operate with Level 3 mindset.
  • Level 4: Called Integral, Transforming Self, Strategist and Co-Creator, the hallmark of this stage is the ability to focus not only on a vision for the organization, but for the welfare of the larger system in which it operates. Servant leadership emerges, as leaders take into consideration more interdependent components and systemic complexity
  • Level 5: This level is called Unitive, Alchemist, and Synergist.  There may be other stages of development as yet unexplored, as very few leaders grow past the fourth level. To some theorists, this level encompasses a spiritual focus.

Most of what I’ve digested about the Stage Development framework as it is applied to 5 levels of leadership has come from reading these two books, which are recommended for anyone who wants to take a deep dive in understanding how to develop extraordinary leaders:

  1. Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change by William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs.
  2. Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams.

As always, I’d love to hear your questions, opinions and experiences. Give me a call. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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Do We Really Understand
Effective Leadership?

Effective-LeadershipDo we really understand effective leadership and how to develop it for business results? If organizations want to grow leaders to meet the demands of an increasingly complex and chaotic marketplace, they need to know which leadership behaviors and mindset contributes most to leadership effectiveness.

From what I see in businesses today, many executives feel unprepared to handle all the disruptive innovations and global challenges in 21st Century business. Things are happening way too fast. We know that some leaders thrive, and others barely survive. Currently, many executives feel like they’re in over their heads. Read More »

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Leadership Levels: the Path
Toward Effectiveness and Agility

Leadership-LevelsI’ve been reviewing a few books that describe five leadership levels as a means to understanding leadership effectiveness. The idea is that if we can assess the stage of adult development of a leader, then not only can we understand that leader’s operating mindset, but we can also form a developmental plan for his or her growth to the next level.

Both these two books are fascinating in that they provide insight on how the inner game of a leader develops by stages toward leadership effectiveness and agility:

  1. Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change by William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs.
  2. Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams.

Read More »

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Leadership Levels:
Self Assessing Leadership Agility

Leadership-levelsWithout an assessment, can you estimate your own or your managers’ leadership levels? Since most experts agree that leadership progresses through developmental stages, similar to how an adult matures, how do you discover where you are strong and where you need to improve as a leader? In order for anyone to make a thoughtful assessment of their leadership development, they’ll have to ask a few key questions.

I’ve been reading about agility as a master competency in the book Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change by authors William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs. Their model delineates five leadership levels of agility: the Expert, the Achiever, the Catalyst, the Co-Creator, and the Synergist. The authors make several suggestions for discovering one’s leadership level. Read More »

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Leadership Agility:
From Co-Creator to Synergist Leader

Leadership-AgilityLeadership development happens when a leader becomes progressively more mature in his or her ability to handle problems, people, and systems in the face of complex environments. It is impossible to lead successfully without growing and continually upgrading capacities to think, feel, and behave at higher levels of consciousness.

Authors William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs in Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change delineate five stages of leadership agility: the Expert, the Achiever, the Catalyst, the Co-Creator, and the Synergist. Read More »

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Leadership Development:
From Catalyst to Co-Creator

Leadership-DevelopmentSo far, in reading authors William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs in Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change, I’ve written about the Expert, the Achiever, and the Catalyst levels of leadership development.

With each progressive level, a leader develops more awareness of the thoughts, feelings and assumptions that drive behavior. At the same time, this increase in consciousness allows a greater capacity to handle complex challenges with both people and business results.

At the Catalyst level, a leader learns to step back and reflect in the heat of the moment, and this increase in awareness helps create contexts that achieve desired outcomes. At the Co-Creator level there is an expanded ability to stop and reflect and to consider possibilities outside of normal conscious awareness. Leaders at this level are able to deploy such inner reflective thinking even while engaged in ill-structured leadership challenges that are mentally complex and often emotionally charged. Read More »

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