Post-Heroic Leadership: From Achiever to Catalyst

Post-heroic-LeadershipHeroic leaders are often effective, but increasingly, post-heroic leadership is required in today’s complex global marketplace with fierce competition. What do we mean by post-heroic leadership?

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, “Increasingly, the heroic model of leadership is being challenged by a movement toward shared responsibility. Post-heroic managers allow their employees to contribute to the process of managing and thereby produce better results and higher morale.”

If we look at leadership as progressing through developmental stages, we can see that with experience and maturity, leaders improve their self-awareness, their leadership awareness, and their capacities to handle people and complex systems and situations. Not all, however. Some leaders get stuck at levels that are no longer effective. Read More »

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5 Levels of Leadership:
From Expert to Synergist

5-Levels-of-LeadershipMy previous posts about 5 levels of leadership were based on what I’ve been reading in Mastering Leadership by Anderson and Adams. There are many other theorists and authors that propose five levels of leadership development. What’s key to understanding is that in order to develop as a leader, one must grow one’s level of personal maturity and mastery.

There seems to be increasing agreement that leadership effectiveness is highly correlated with the developmental stage of a leader. Over the last 30 years, a series of studies have shown that as a manager matures through progressive levels of mental and emotional development,  he is more effective as a leader. (For example, read the studies by William Torbert.)

At higher developmental stages, a manager becomes more strategic in thinking, more collaborative, more proactive in seeking feedback, better at resolving conflicts, more active in developing subordinates, and more likely to redefine problems and capitalize on the interdependence of the system. Read More »

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Leadership Development:
Growing Into Maturity

Leadership-DevelopmentFor most of my adult life I’ve been on a quest to help people grow. If you’re leading a business, you know that personal development goes hand in hand with leadership development. Anyone in business today can sense that the demands of our rapidly changing global economy are stretching our abilities. New personal capacities as well as new leadership competencies are needed.

That’s why I read so many books on leadership; I’m trying to understand what’s needed to help leaders grow. I admit that sometimes there are so many theories and catchy phrases it gets confusing. Most recently I wrote about the developmental stages leaders go through as they mature. The ideas of Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams in Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results outline five levels of leadership.

You can read my posts about this here. I wanted to know if these five levels (Egocentric, Reactive, Creative, Integral, and Unitive) were universally accepted as a true model for leadership stages, or if they were unique to The Leadership Circle, a constancy firm with their own assessments and programs. It turns out these categories were created by the authors, but based on 30 years of research by developmental psychologists. Read More »

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Leadership Development:
Leading from an Integral Level

Integral-LeadershipOngoing leadership development is the most important key to leading successfully. Anyone who has led a team or business for any length of time with any degree of success can tell you that it requires continually evolving one’s skills, of both mental and emotional capacities. What gets you to one level of responsibilities in an organization won’t necessarily get you to the next. No leader can afford to stagnate.

In my coaching practice, I’ve worked with a few highly effective leaders over the years. I’ve noticed that some grow with the job and get better over time. And some clearly don’t. Why is that? Read More »

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Leadership Development: The Creative Stage

Leadership-DevelopmentIn my previous posts I’ve been discussing leadership developmental stages and in particular the five stages of leadership as described in the book called Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results by authors Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams. As adults grow into increasingly mature mindsets, we can handle more complexity in managing both tasks and people.

Anderson and Adam’s Universal Model of Leadership is based on these five levels of leadership stages: Egocentric, Reactive, Creative, Integrative, and Unitive.

Fully 70% of leaders operate with a Reactive mindset. Only 20% of leaders transition into the Creative operating stage with a mere 5% able to mature into an Integrative mindset. Reactive mindset is typical of most managers and leaders. When we look at transforming organizations into more participatory engagement cultures with shared responsibilities, we find that Reactive leadership reaches its limits. Read More »

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Developing Leaders:
From Reactive to Creative Mindset

Developing-LeadersIf we’re going to do a better job of developing leaders, we must understand adult developmental stages, or how people grow their mental capacities as they mature. I’m not referring to how we acquire more knowledge or skills. How do leaders expand their awareness, consciousness, and ability to understand and manage complexity? How do leaders develop their capacities to handle complex problems, a chaotic and uncertain market place, and conflicting needs of stakeholders?

In my exploration about how adults and leaders develop as they mature, I’ve learned there are many theorists with similar models. Robert Kegan writes about the Self-Sovereign Stage (Egocentric) as we transition from adolescence to adulthood, the Socialized Self (Reactive) where we define our identity from external sources, and the Self-Authoring Stage (Creative), where we create a sense of internal control and identity. There is a fourth stage, the Self-Transformative Stage (Integrative) where we operate with higher purpose and manage multiple perspectives and complexity within a system. Read More »

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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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