5 Levels of Leadership:
Leaders Are Driven by 3 Needs

5-Levels-of-LeadershipI’ve been exploring developmental stages that people go through as they mature, and in particular, the five levels of leadership. In The Leadership Circle book called Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results by authors Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams, these five progressive stages are:

  1. Egocentric
  2. Reactive
  3. Creative
  4. Integrative
  5. Unitive

The Reactive mindset is characterized by a socialized self (Kegan, 1989), that is, at this developmental stage we try to fit in and live up to the expectations of our families, careers, and society. The sense of self is based on other people, roles, and rules. We decide how we are going to establish self-worth and security. Read More »

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5 Levels of Leadership:
Most Leaders Are Reactive

Levels-of-LeadershipThere are five levels of leadership, according to experts. Just as children progress through developmental stages so do adults. Leaders are no exception, they operate at different levels of consciousness.

I’ve been exploring these levels of leadership as described in The Leadership Circle book called Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results by authors Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams.

Their Universal Model of Leadership is based on these five levels of leadership stages: Read More »

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5 Levels of Leadership:
Stage 1, Egocentric Leaders

5-levels-of-leadershipWhat are the 5 levels of leadership? It’s really not surprising that leaders, like all people, go through stages as they mature. Anderson and Adams, authors of Mastering Leadership, have studied the development stages of adults and drawn up parallel levels of leadership maturity. Their Universal Model of Leadership is based on these five levels of leadership stages:

  1. Egocentric
  2. Reactive
  3. Creative
  4. Integrative
  5. Unitive

Just like children grow through stages, adults also progress through levels of maturity as they age. At each successive development stage, we adopt better ways of handling problems and become more creative at managing our world. Reality does not change. What changes is the way we organize ourselves in relationship to the world. As we shift into a higher-order of thinking the world becomes at once more complex, yet simple and elegant.

Egocentric Leadership

Egocentricity is a transition stage that children pass through on their way to becoming independent adults. It’s typically strong in adolescents. And it’s also a major factor in young adulthood, as individuals search to express their personal identity and focus on the things that define them. In this stage of adult development, it’s all about getting ahead, getting our needs met, and showing what we are capable of achieving.

But it’s also limiting in that decisions are made primarily on the basis of meeting our own personal needs. There’s no shared reality. This preoccupation with self ignores the fact that our decisions and behavior impact others. Therefore, this mental model is limited in its effectiveness. Growth at this stage is when we being to take others’ needs and expectations into account. Therefore, our self identity has to shift so as to define ourselves in relationship with others. It is a process of socialization as the independent individual becomes a citizen.

There is a stage of development of consciousness required for this to happen. When we’re in one stage, we are like fish in water who don’t know anything about water. We assume our meaning making is the way of the “real world.” Our assumptions are automatic and we don’t see that we are being dictated by them. So at some point, we mature, begin to see the fallacies of our assumptions and begin to adopt a way to relate that includes others and other points of views.

About 5% of leaders do not transition out of this leadership stage. They operate with an Egocentric mental model and tend to be autocratic and controlling. They simply are not organized to permit more participatory forms of relationships. Perhaps they have been so successful in past performance that this leadership style has served them well.

Think about it. There have been many successful, charismatic leaders who have operated at this stage of development. Many don’t succeed for the long term. Almost all have problems because of their limited functioning in a networked world.

Next, I’ll introduce the Reactive Leadership stage and show that it has many advantages, and yet, it is also limiting. About 70% of leaders are operating at the Reactive level.

What’s been your experience working for egocentric leaders? Give me a call. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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Leading in a VUCA World:
LeadershipTransformation First

Leadership-transformationHow can leaders prepare for leadership in a VUCA world? That’s the term for a business environment full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. In order to lead organizational change, first leaders must engage in personal leadership transformation.

There’s no doubt that doing business has changed rapidly just in the last five years, and there’s no indication it’s going to let up. Not only is the business environment evolving quickly, but strategies, finances, resources, processes and systems are more interrelated and complex.

This places enormous stress on leadership. Leaders must evolve their capacity to handle complexity in order to stay ahead of the curve. There’s a reason change efforts in companies don’t have a high success record. Read More »

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Leadership Development:
How Leaders Learn to Handle Complexity

Leadership-DevelopmentIn my last post I asked the question, “How can leaders learn to handle the increasing pace of complexity of business organizations?”  Leadership development must prepare leaders to handle complexity. This is the Big Question from what I observe in my work as a consultant and coach.

Leaders are already working long, hard and fast. And most of them are pretty smart to begin with.

Yet some of the leaders I talk with are feeling like something more is needed. Some new formula, a new concept or managerial fad — something they can do to relieve the burden of stress and strain and to feel once again like they’re “in control,” on top of the incessant demands on their time, skills, and knowledge. Read More »

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Complexity at Work:
Welcome to the 24/7 World of VUCA

Complexity-at-workIf you find that the complexity and pace of business is accelerating, you’re not alone. While we have invented many time-saving tools to help us manage work in a 24/7 world, sometimes it can feel like we’re swimming as fast as we can just to keep pace. Getting ahead is another challenge. When’s the last time you got something done in advance?

There’s a deeper problem here than just getting things done. If you’re in any kind of management position, you may have noticed that it’s not just the fast pace that’s accelerating. Things are getting more complex, more networked, more interdependent. Which means we have to think differently about consequences and the interplay of things. Leaders are more challenged by this complexity than ever before. Read More »

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Coaching Conversations:
Lay Out a Success Plan

Coaching-conversationsA good way to ensure you have productive coaching conversations as a manager is to follow a checklist or framework. I’ve been sharing the FUEL model of coaching conversations, from the Zenger and Stinnett book, The Extraordinary Coach:

  • F = Frame the Conversation. Set the context by agreeing on the discussion’s purpose, process and desired outcomes.
  • U = Understand the Current State. Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view. Expand the coachee’s awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue.
  • E = Explore the Desired State. Articulate your vision of success in this scenario. Explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision.
  • L = Lay Out a Success Plan. Identify the specific, time-bounded action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results. Determine milestones for follow-up and accountability.

Read More »

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Coaching Conversations:
How Managers Explore the Desired Outcome

Coaching-Skills-ConversationsI’ve been reading an excellent book on coaching from John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett, The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow, (McGraw Hill 2010). The reason this book is so valuable is that it describes a four-step framework for having coaching conversations that work for managers who want to help their people learn to solve problems on their own.

No matter what kind of coach training you’ve had as a manager, most models describe a four or five-step coaching conversation similar to the FUEL process: Read More »

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Coaching Conversations:
Understanding Leads to Insights

Coaching-ConversationsI’ve been writing about how managers can use coaching conversations to grow and develop their people instead of just putting out fires and fixing problems. Yet in spite of knowing about coaching skills, many of the managers I speak with struggle to have effective coaching conversations that lead to insights and change. What helps is for leaders and managers to use a framework or system for coaching.

Zenger and Stinnett suggest using the FUEL model in The Extraordinary Coach:

  • F = Frame the Conversation. Set the context by agreeing on the discussion’s purpose, process and desired outcomes.
  • U = Understand the Current State. Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view. Expand the coachee’s awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue.
  • E = Explore the Desired State. Articulate your vision of success in this scenario. Explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision.
  • L = Lay Out a Success Plan. Identify the specific, time-bounded action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results. Determine milestones for follow-up and accountability.

In my last post I wrote about setting up the conversation so that it has an agreed upon purpose and flow. The next thing to discuss is the “meat” of the issue. Managers need to understand what’s going on. And this part can be tricky.  It’s tricky because we have a tendency to assume we understand what’s going on; we fill in the blanks. We judge and usually prematurely. Here are some great pointers from the Zenger and Stinnett book.

Do:

  • Ask open-ended, non-leading questions
  • Aim for greater clarity about the real challenges
  • Act as a mirror, observe and say what you hear and see
  • Follow up on emotionally charged words or expressions
  • Explore what the real issue or challenge is
  • Ask and explore consequences if things don’t change

Don’t:

  • Assume anything, just maintain curiosity
  • Judge, criticize, or categorize
  • Ask for too many details or focus on other people
  • Let the person obsess or ruminate; let them explore possibilities
  • Offer your perspective or advice until the person has explored options
  • Find an answer for the person, let them discover insights and awareness

People won’t change until they experience a need to change, and if you are too helpful, they won’t feel enough tension to be motivated to change. Keep the focus on them and what they are willing to change.

What’s been your experience with coaching conversations at work? Give me a call. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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3 Steps for Managers to
Set Up Coaching Conversations

Coaching-Conversations-3-StepsIn the coaching work I do in companies, I’ve observed that many managers struggle with initiating coaching conversations with their people. It’s not that they don’t know how to coach, it’s that often conversations with their people turn into project task updates instead of furthering the growth and development of people.

In spite of good intentions, managers aren’t having the effective coaching conversations they could because they don’t use a framework to set up the dialogue. From what I’m reading in the book by Zenger and  Stinnett, The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow (McGraw-Hill, 2010), there are three steps that work well for initiating a developmental dialogue. Read More »

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