Towards an Integrated Assessment of Leadership Potential

January 2012 / Feature Articles

Maretha Prinsloo

Maretha Prinsloo


This paper focuses on the assessment of leadership potential in terms of a number of related philosophical, theoretical, and technical considerations. A critical evaluation of current assessment practice is followed by the introduction of alternative assessment methodologies and techniques aimed at measuring consciousness, cognition, and motivation. Practical guidelines for integrated and holistic leadership assessment, as well as the future of assessment, are also addressed.

1.     Introduction

The issue of leadership is central to the practice of industrial psychology and psychometrics, the purpose of which include realising human potential and transforming counter-productive cultural patterns in order to enhance sustainability, integration, and evolution within the realm of organisational and other social systems. Leadership research includes a focus on the individual (for purposes of personal development); an organisational orientation (to enhance performance and value add in the work environment); or an existential-philosophical perspective (focused on the evolution of consciousness).

The aim of this paper is to contextualise the construct of leadership potential in terms of complexity, collective consciousness, and personal traits. Factors related to cognition, levels of consciousness, and motivation are integrated in terms of a Jungian perspective based on the work of Mindell in particular. Given the shortcomings of current psychometric offerings, alternative assessment methodologies and techniques are proposed for the measurement of the following:

  • cognition by the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP);
  • levels of consciousness by the Value Orientations (VO); and
  • motivational factors by means of the Motivational Profile (MP).

This paper is the first in a series of four on leadership, including:

  • this discussion of leadership assessment solutions;
  • a second article describing a theoretical model of cognitive processing;
  • a third contribution proposing an integrative theoretical framework of levels of consciousness; and
  • a fourth paper explaining the development of consciousness and cognition within the leadership context.

These four aspects represent a holistic perspective on the assessment and development of leadership potential.

2.     The Concept of leadership

2.1. A Practical Perspective

Leadership seems a coveted solution to constantly emerging societal and corporate pressures and is intended to provide the direction and impetus necessary to address socio-political, economic, environmental, and technological challenges. The concept of leadership refers to responses aimed at dealing with dissonance and ambiguity and is designed to enhance the adaptation, integration, transformation, or destruction of systems. Leadership thus encompasses multiple adaptive mechanisms that form part of the unfolding evolutionary patterns of life.

Within the modern world, leadership is widely required to address issues such as the mounting complexity brought about by former short-sighted political and business decisions; and the often dubious motives, hidden agendas and inadequate integrity involved in these decisions; the valuable spin-offs of failure in almost every segment of society, be that crime, warfare, medicine, health or production. It is required in dealing with the global evolution of value systems, worldviews and perceptual frameworks; must engage the escalating risks inherent in global system dynamics, the challenges and risks of technological advances, the Achilles heel of the global economy, as well as the planetary ecosystem and climate change; global resource hunger; the potential threat of power, force, and nuclear capacity; the proliferation and vulnerability of information; and other such dynamic and interactive factors, all of which come with significant price tags and obscure available strategic options and direction.

These and other challenges permeate all aspects of societal life and often go unnoticed. Via leadership–depending on its vantage point–the dissonance can be identified and judgement applied to create potential solutions. Leadership often requires personal energy and courage of conviction, as well as the cognitive capability, social awareness, and skill to align perceptions, implement ideas, and follow these through.

Since leadership occurs within the context of groups and societies, it is also apparent that it is influenced by collective awareness, which generally and globally is relatively low. Leadership effectiveness is thus often limited by the characteristics of orientations such as egocentrism, greed, low integrity, competitiveness, defence mechanisms, the repression of intuitive insight, inadequate levels of compassion, and the inhibition of collective wisdom via alienation, the fragmentation of modern life, and a loss of community.

The concept of leadership refers to a process by which initiative is taken to investigate a particular condition; identify, polarise and weigh up options; and to conceptualise and communicate a purposeful direction. Potential followers can accept the position taken and trust, support, and identify with the person or group representing it. Leadership is manifested via role-based behaviour in response to imbalance and is of a socio-political nature in that it involves a process of internal and external dialogue, mostly conducted with purpose and passion.

The complexity and the pervasiveness of the disequilibria that characterise our world, necessitate a diversity of synchronised initiatives–all of which require leadership roles being taken at all levels and in all segments of society. Unfortunately there are no guarantees as to the value and sustainability of the direction taken. Given the collective nature of leadership, its effectiveness depends on both the wisdom of the leader and the collective wisdom that emerges within the group.

2.2. A Theoretical Perspective

Leadership can be seen in terms of Jung’s (1959, 1965) and Mindell’s (1982, 1985, 1987) views on the ego, the personal unconscious (including the preconscious), and the collective unconscious. Mindell regards group processes to be carried by the roles instead of individuals, but individuals may identify with and represent these roles. Leadership therefore does not merely refer to the individual’s characteristics and the rol that is adopted, but is anchored in the collective unconscious. Various group members may have the potential to represent a particular leadership role, and roles may be passed on from person to person. According to Mindell (1987), this role mostly transcends the individual who in turn also transcends the role. The role is, however, normally adopted by the most suitable and motivated group member. By adopting a role, a particular archetype is actualised via the individual, who then represents a voice inherent in the group process.

Archetypes. According to Jung (1959; Robertson, 1995), archetypal patterns reflect constantly repeated experiences of humanity and are universally understood patterns in behaviour. Archetypes can thus also be described as stereotypes or prototypes, or can be seen as models of personality. Seeing that practitioners in the field of leadership assessment generally are more interested in the practical utility of, as opposed to the depth of, theoretical guidelines, Jung’s work will only be addressed fairly superficially in this paper. However, the following explanation of archetypes illustrates the complexity of Jung’s (1964) views.

Jun g asserts that no fixed list or number of archetypes can be identified. Two of his anthropomorphic (as having a human form or attributes) archetypes of the unconscious mind are the anima (the male feminine) and animus (the female masculine); both of which also form part of collective unconscious (with collective consciousness transcending the personal psyche). The repression of archetypes often finds expression in dreams but may also disrupt behaviour. In addition to the anima and animus, Jung identified the shadow and the self archetypes. The repressed and disowned content of the shadow is mostly projected. The generation of self, at the centre of the psyche, involves a path of individuation by which the conscious and unconscious are unified to enable connection to the collective unconscious. Jung, however, also refers to other archetypes, or fundamental forces that shape behaviour, including those of the father, mother, child, hero, maiden, sage, magician, witch, trickster, dog, mouse, horse, etc.

Myss (2001) describes archetypes as universal forms of cosmic intelligences that people across cultures and countries share and that act as dynamic forms of energy entering our thoughts and emotions. The relationship between the conscious, the unconscious, and the collective unconscious can be explained in terms of archetypal patterns and structures of awareness. According to Myss, archetypes are more than mere inherited ideas–they are inherited modes of psychic functioning. These universally shared patterns of behaviour that stand for the fundamental realities of the human condition can take on a variety of forms. Although there is little consensus on the exact number and nature of these universal patterns, some examples may be helpful in illustrating the notion of archetypes:

  • Mother: acting as source of nurturing and unconditional love;
  • Warrior: protecting and fighting for whatever is seen as right;
  • Guru: taking the role of teacher to the spiritual level;
  • Martyr: suffering and sacrificing for a cause or ideal;
  • Father: protecting, providing for, and overseeing others, at times also authority;
  • Servant: bound by service to others whilst relinquishing own power and needs; and
  • Beggar: dependent on the kindness of others (for example for money, love, approval, etc.)

(Note that archetypes are not to be linked to gender.)

Although all individuals can access all archetypes, individuals tend to use different combinations of these archetypes to make up unique profiles. There is also the possibility of changing the dominant archetypes that are used as templates. There are no good and bad archetypes: all archetypes have a positive and negative (a light and dark) side. For example, whilst the mother archetype is usually associated with nurturing and giving (positive side), it carries with it the possibility of becoming overbearing, or what Myss refers to as the devouring mother who consumes those she loves. Individuals adhering to the same archetype can therefore differ significantly depending on the degree to which the positive and negative sides are accentuated in their attitudes and behaviour.

The emergence of leadership. Jungian theory refers to the self as the sum of the subcomponents of the psyche, including the ego and the personal unconscious. The self can therefore be interpreted to involve a complex collection of personal characteristics spanning, amongst others, adaptive responses to previous experience; levels and themes of awareness and perception; cognitive preferences and capabilities; behavioural patterns; defence mechanisms; the repressed content of the personal unconscious; physical factors; integrity; intentions; and other motivational drivers.

Mindell’s “theory of emergence” postulates collective consciousness in terms of a field or “dreambody” characterised by “holographic patterning,” which impacts on the roles that will emerge. Whether a role is adopted depends on the availability of individuals in the group who can identify with roles emerging from the group process to “occupy the pattern.” Personal views, preferences, complexes, and capabilities are therefore also key components of leadership behaviour.

According to Mindell, archetypes act as catalysts for the adoption of leadership roles by individuals in groups. Leadership in groups is not only carried by individuals, but by roles that could be occupied by any individual in the group. Ghost roles are roles implied by the group’s behaviour, but with which no individual identifies. People are therefore not just separate entities but an inherent part of the global “dreambody” of which, like a hologram, each part contains the whole. Jung’s architecture of the human psyche is adapted by Corlette and Pearson (2003) to explain organisational dynamics. They place organisational archetypes by which meaning is held and behaviour is determined, at the root of the organisational unconscious. These archetypes represent individual and group responses to organisational life. Perception, thinking, and behaviour thus become expressions of archetypes.

The organisational psyche can be viewed in terms of a conscious and an unconscious layer. Whereas the conscious layer constitutes observable behaviour (such as management), the unconscious layer, or organisational shadow, provides the energy for conscious action. The shadow of the organisation is comprised of that which has been repressed within the culture (of a hierarchical institution, for example) and that holds both positive and negative energy. Corlette and Pearson (2003) link the public face of the organisational psyche to Jung’s concept of the persona.

Mindell also differentiates between primary and secondary processes. Primary processes are in the foreground of awareness; secondary processes are marginalised and in the background of consciousness. These two processes often reflect polarities in the individual’s and group’s experience that need to be integrated, as secondary processes normally intrude on and derail primary processes. The dreamlike level of awareness at which these unspoken and often conflicting desires exist have been referred to by Mindell as the level of “sentient essence,” which is capitalised on in leadership contexts.

The concept of “participation mystique” is proposed by Corlett and Pearson (2003) to account for the interaction between organisational and individual archetypes. These archetypes, according to which the collective consciousness is patterned, interact and resonate with the personal characteristics of potential role players to trigger the adoption of certain roles. Multiple archetypes can find expression through one person. Mostly, the dissonance and discrepancies inherent in group processes trigger the emergence of different roles. Mindell describes group processes in terms of polarisation where roles emerge under conditions of disequilibrium. Individuals who identify with particular roles often do so because of their particular worldviews, their capacities, and their personal complexes that resonate with the archetypal patterns of the collective unconscious. The polarisation involved in group processes, as reflected by different roles, can be resolved and integrated at higher levels of awareness.

An example is provided by Mindell’s therapeutic approach by which polarised views held by a group as well as the individual group members, are voiced by particular role players. These positions are supported and opposed by other group members to a point of irrationality, from where it can be integrated and transcended to create higher levels of awareness and thus acceptance of previously denied perspectives by all group members. The dynamics of polarisation and integration significantly contribute to the process of the evolution of consciousness, both individually and collectively and are a key function of leadership. Archetypal patterns are at the core of this process. Besides reflecting particular levels of consciousness and perception, archetypes also act as catalysts to trigger individual responses to group processes and largely determine the manner in which cognitive capability is applied.

Within leadership contexts, the concept of “deep democracy,” as coined by Mindell, provides guidelines. Deep democracy refers to the integration of all conscious and subconscious experiences, roles, and voices. It involves the representation of all the central and marginalised, or repressed, voices that are required in order to understand the complete process of the system. Sustainable leadership can thus be viewed in terms of the creation of deep democracy by facilitating and aligning all potential roles.

Effective leadership thus resides in the degree of match between personal and contextual characteristics. It mostly involves the adoption of a particular role for the articulation of deeper, pre-conceptual awareness, which often has a polarised nature and requires expression and unification as prerequisites for growth in awareness, adaptation, and evolution.

In this paper the assessment of leadership is thus addressed in terms of the work of Jung and Mindell on the collective unconscious and archetypes; a number of consciousness theorists on worldview and value orientation–Graves and Myss in particular; as well as the author’s work on cognition and various assessment methodologies for the measurement of cognitive processes, levels of consciousness, and motivation.

This integrated view of leadership goes beyond trait theory that only defines the concept of leadership in terms of specific personal attributes and qualities, which can be measured psychometrically. Although psychometric techniques, such as personality questionnaires and IQ tests, are widely criticised for their methodological shortcomings and insufficient construct validity, a wealth of research findings nevertheless support the trait theory perspective, especially where it comes to the predictive power of intelligence in leadership effectiveness (Munro, 2011). These findings have resulted in a proliferation of empirical investigations on whether the best leaders are extraverted, have high IQ’s, or the necessary emotional intelligence, for example.

However, trait theory represents a somewhat static and decontextualised view of human functioning, whereas human behaviour is more often than not, an emergent property of highly complex and dynamic systems defined by ‘trajectories of interaction’ between people and groups. Individual responses to environments are difficult to represent in a static manner by classifying individuals. A necessary additional approach would be to also classify the trajectories of interaction in dynamic contexts. The link between individual and organisation personality types in the context of frameworks such as the Spiral Dynamics model, are already hinting at this dynamism (Marais, 2011).

There is indeed strong theoretical support for the collective nature of leadership potential. Leaders seem to pick up on potential roles and the collective wisdom in groups. Given that leadership implies followership, it is just as important to understand the readiness to follow, as it is to illuminate the characteristics of leaders (Marais, 2011). The way in which the predisposition to lead is triggered is well described by Mindell’s Process Oriented Psychology (POP), or Process work. In order for a sense of leadership to be activated, certain prerequisites should be in place, which reside in the interaction between personal and contextual factors.

3.     Contextualising Leadership

3.1. Complexity

In this paper the trait theory perspective in psychology, which implies a generalised and often decontextualised view of leadership effectiveness, is complemented by an emphasis on the interaction between a person as a potential leader and the context in which she leads. An interpretation of the context resides in the collective consciousness, the personal unconscious, and conscious cognitive interpretation.

Where it comes to leadership functioning within the corporate environment, context normally involves an organisational structure reflecting specific contextual goals such as operational efficiency. These functional requirements are best met by specific approaches in cognitive application. The various hierarchically organised systems of corporations also entail cultural and socio-political milieus with associated mechanisms and criteria of effectiveness, reward, and adaptability.

Hierarchical models of work complexity such as the Stratified Systems Theory (SST) of Elliott Jaques (1989, 1998) and the Viable Systems Model (VSM) of Stafford Beer (1995) provide useful guidelines according to which the expected outcomes of leadership in the work context can be understood and assessed. Jaques suggests time frame between when a decision is taken to the point at which useful feedback is received according to which the decision can be adapted as the best criterion of work complexity.

A very brief and simplified description of five of Jaques’s seven SST levels follows, as adapted by the author for purposes of cognitive assessment. The levels are:

  • A pure operational level that is characterised by a highly structured environment; tangible information; a short term focus (days to months); and separate elements of information being dealt with.
  • A diagnostic accumulation level that involves the application of cognition in a linear-causal or tree-structured manner to problem solving in technical environments. The environment is still relatively structured and rules-of-thumb are applied to categorise tangible information.
  • A tactical strategy or alternative paths level that comprises goals related to management, planning and ensuring the operational efficiency of functional business units by improving systems. It may also involve specialised professional work. These environments are less structured and entail the application of theory to real life contexts. The unit of information dealt with involves tangible systems with interactive elements. The viability of the functional unit is at stake.
  • A parallel processing level dealing with broad strategy that reflects the primary goal of integrating fuzzy, intangible, interactive and dynamic systems. Cognitively it may involve the integration of the value chain, of internal and external factors (for example supply and demand issues), of broad strategy with operational strategy, of capitalisation on economies of scale, etc. Existing theory provides insufficient guidelines and modelling of systems may be required. The viability of the organisation is at stake.
  • A pure strategic level focused on strategic intent that involves dealing with chaos and emerging patterns in macro-economic environments, which may impact the viability of the industry. Philosophical perspectives as well as socio-political and environmental challenges within the international arena need to be dealt with.
  • It should be pointed out that Jaques also proposed two further SST levels involving the cognitive requirements described here under pure strategic work. Seeing that the cognitive requirements of the two highest SST levels do not–strictly speaking–exceed that of the Pure Strategic level, only five levels are used for cognitive assessment by the CPP.

Although Jaques’ SST model has been applied globally in organisational development and job structuring over the past few decades, it has been criticised for its reliance on the criterion of time frame as a predictor of complexity. It is the author’s view that the time frame of a task does not necessarily indicate the level of complexity, whereas the unit of information that is dealt with is directly related to complexity. In addition, the top three levels of the SST model do not define types of work that differ necessarily in terms of their respective complexity requirements. The model can thus be regarded as top heavy–probably to account for status factors more so than for work complexity.

The static nature of the proposed time frames (3 months, one year, two years, five years etc.) also fails to accommodate the continuous acceleration of technological progress and cultural change within the world of work. Historically, the majority of jobs reflected the pure operational and diagnostic levels of the SST model, whereas automation of manual labour and the offerings of information technology are transforming work to be increasingly cognitively challenging. The time frames involved at the strategic SST levels are also shrinking due to the integration of business globally and the responsiveness required across geographical regions. The complexity demands of work are further increased by the migration of responsibility for social and environmental impacts down the hierarchical SST structure to all strategic levels as opposed to only the top levels.

The SST model also fails to explain the effects of the internalisation and habitual application of particular responses on work complexity. In addition, it is common practice to delegate the complexity demands from higher to lower levels of the SST hierarchy. Should this be the case, the big picture decisions and predictions that are the territory of higher-level functions are watered down to merely endorsing expert opinion and advice. It thus reduces the discretion and accountability associated with higher SST levels–especially where extended time frames are involved. Examples include political appointments with seemingly pervasive and long-term strategic responsibilities.

Common practice often involves linking the SST model linearly to other job categorisation models that are based on alternative criteria of seniority, such as the number of people reporting to a particular position or the size of the budgets. This confusion is reflective of the SST model’s inadequate specification of the cognitive requirements at the various levels of work. The challenge of identifying criteria that clearly link cognitive processes to complexity requirements is addressed by the CPP as proposed in this paper.

However, not only cognitive complexity, but collective awareness as well, inform and determine the requirements of effective functioning in leadership roles. The Spiral Dynamics (SD) model and other similar consciousness theories that provide useful guidelines for understanding the notion of collective consciousness will thus also be addressed under the next topic of levels of consciousness.

Both of the selected models, namely the Stratified Systems Theory (SST) and the Spiral Dynamics (SD) theory, entail a hierarchical organisation of increasingly complex systems or “holons”–a term coined by Ken Wilber (2000)–each of which includes and transcends the previous. Both these hierarchical models are also soft in the sense of being dynamic and interactive. It should, however, be pointed out that there is not necessarily a linear relationship between the levels of the SST and stages of the SD models. These theoretical models (SST and SD) thus enable the contextualisation of leadership and inform the cognitive and motivational potential for adopting and effectively implementing leadership roles in the work environment.

3.2. Collective Consciousness

Leadership roles often involve the articulation of the dissonance experienced by others (in the form of pre-verbal needs and opportunities) in order to facilitate a response. The implementation may, however, be soft in that the originator remains invisible (Marais, 2011), yet is directly involved in orchestrating movement across some threshold (resulting from denial and resistance) that suppresses awareness.

The emergence of leadership behaviour is to a large extent reflective of the match and interaction between personal characteristics related to levels of awareness, preferences, complexes, and potential, on the one hand, and contextual requirements and opportunities, as held by the collective consciousness (in Jungian terms this is referred to as archetypal patterns inherent in the collective unconscious), on the other hand. The importance of collective consciousness in organised social systems is referred to by Scott Peck, David Bohm, Arnold Mindell, Patrick de Mare, Joanna Macy, and a variety of indigenous leaders (Goff, 2011). The way in which this collective wisdom is accessed has significant implications for leadership. The nature of collective awareness is also well described by a number of consciousness theorists, developmental psychologists, and theologians such as Graves, Wilber, Perry, Piaget, Kohlberg, May, Kegan, Gebser, and Myss, whose models all reflect the same intuitively appealing structure.

Of particular interest in this regard is the work of Clare Graves (Beck and Cowan, 1996). His Spiral Dynamics (SD) model represents various levels of consciousness or awareness, reflective of certain mind capacities that characterise the individual’s cognitive capacity within particular life conditions.

The SD structure can be linked to and its mechanisms explained in terms of Jungian theory. Jung (1959, 1965) posited the collective unconscious as a field that is patterned by archetypes, or primordial images, and their associated myths. He described archetypes as forms without content that merely represent the possibility of perceptions and actions. The themes represented by the various SD orientations can thus be described in terms of, and activated by, specific archetypes, where archetypes guide the behaviour of both social systems and individuals. This view of the emergence of leadership reflects Mindell’s Process work and Corlette and Pearson’s (2003) application of these ideas to the organisational context. A brief explanation of the SD model now follows:

The Spiral Dynamics (SD) Model. Grave’s Spiral Dynamics model, also referred to as the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET), the underlying structure of which is echoed by numerous other consciousness and developmental models, is particularly useful within the leadership and cognitive contexts. According to Wilber (2001) the SD model provides a profound and elegant system in terms of which human development can be understood. He also points out that subsequent research has validated and refined the model.

According to Graves (Beck and Cowan, 1996; Cowan and Todorovic, 2008), humans respond to life conditions by developing certain adaptive views and capacities. These adaptive responses can be grouped into value systems that permeate the culture of groups, organisations, and individuals. Each stage allows for the possible further development of higher stages or levels. These levels are not to be seen in a rigid way; they represent flowing waves, continuously overlapping and interweaving with each other.

The level of consciousness associated with each of these value systems provides a perceptual framework, a type of intelligence and worldview by which experiences are interpreted and responded to. The various SD levels are also referred to as organising frameworks, memes, value orientations, or levels of consciousness or awareness–all of which can be regarded as synonymous terms in this paper. A sense of flow results from the match between the person’s orientation and the contextual requirements. Better is thus not necessarily indicated by a higher level of consciousness but depends rather on contextual requirements.

Although compatibility between the person’s and context’s profiles tends to enhance leadership effectiveness, a leader who has developed a higher level of awareness than that reflected by the context can guide others to more appropriate and effective worldviews, as well as higher levels of consciousness (Beck and Cowan, 1996).

The SD model is hierarchically organised, and consecutive levels both incorporate and transcend preceding orientations–as reflected by Wilber’s (2000) concept of holons. It is a soft hierarchy, and growth may involve a person or group temporarily moving down on the hierarchy in response to a particular trauma or challenge before transcending previously inadequate worldviews. Transcendence and growth, however, do not necessarily occur. Upward movement only takes place according to the hierarchical structure of the spiral, and levels are therefore not skipped. As indicated–and emphasised by Wilber (2001)–development is not a linear ladder but a fluid and flowing affair with spirals, swirls, streams, and waves–and what appears to be an almost infinite number of modalities.

Particular worldviews, representing levels of consciousness, are generally associated with the manifestations of certain clusters of cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural tendencies. The expanded awareness of each consecutive level of consciousness allows for greater connection to self, others, and the world. Increasingly inclusive worldviews accommodate more complex opportunities for the application of cognitive and leadership capability.

The initially proposed, and rather cumbersome labelling technique of the Spiral Dynamics model, postulated the organisation of a double spiral in terms (a) the problems of existence: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and (b) coping mechanisms: N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U to provide an AN, BO, CP, DQ, ER, FS, GT, HU categorisation. This has since been replaced by using simple colour codes. Eight such colours are currently identified (with possible additions in the future): Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange, Green, Yellow, and Turquoise. These colours represent ways of thinking that have far-reaching effects on an individual’s life and group adaptation. Each of these colours has a particular credo referring to either an expressive, internally controlled I (the warm colours), or a self-sacrificing, externally anchored we side (the cooler colours).

The eight valuing systems can be divided into first- and second-tier consciousness. The first-tier consciousness encompasses the first six colours (Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange and Green). What is common amongst the first-tier valuing systems is that they tend to be emotionally driven and normally do not appreciate the existence of other valuing systems. That is, each of these six would see their own worldview as correct and may be very critical of others–Green less so than the colours preceding it. Second-tier consciousness is reflected by the Yellow and Turquoise valuing systems and encompasses the  first-tier. Unlike first-tier thinking, second-tier consciousness appreciates the necessity of the various other valuing systems. As Gardner (Wilber, 2001) observes, the whole course of human development can be viewed as a continuing decline in egocentrism.

Graves also addresses the issue of leadership by indicating the different leadership assumptions associated with each of the valuing systems and by emphasising the leaders’ grasp of the spectrum of valuing systems. However, according to Graves, there is no blueprint for leadership: how one views effective leadership is to some degree contingent on one’s position on the spiral, as well as the context–interpreted in this paper in terms of complexity requirements and collective consciousness. Graves’ ideas on the leadership assumptions associated with each of the orientations appear in table 1.

Valuing system Assumptions regarding people at work Assumptions regarding work Leadership style
Purple People seek a paternalistic environment and are bound to the group; in-group reciprocity is important The organisation is like a parent providing security; traditional ways are important Nepotism is accepted; it is self-sacrificial to promote group loyalty and coherence; in-group–out-group polarisation is common; the leader should come from the in-group
Red People need to be coerced in order to perform; they need strong leadership; nobody is to be trusted; people respond to the carrot-stick approach Work must provide for basic needs–then people will comply; people’s natural goals are in conflict with that of the organisation Strong, directive leadership; clear pecking order; emphasis on power and ran
Blue People need structure and order; they need to be told to do things the right way; being dutiful and correct provides meaning Duty is paramount; discipline is strict; inequality is natural and for everyone there is a purpose or role; the organisation must provide order and security Higher authority rules by rightful compliance; avoidance of innovation and risk taking; moralistic and prescriptive
Orange People are motivated by achievement and material rewards as well as by playing the game; value add has inherent motivational value; personal responsibility or accountability is important Competition is important for productivity; the first priority is the viability of the organisation Performance is evaluated continually; rewards are accorded to those most successful; administration is pragmatic; appointments are according to objective criteria; resilience and flexibility; the future can be created
Green People are motivated by human contact and want to maintain harmonious relationships; emotions need to be addressed; diversity is accommodated for Sharing and participating is better than competition; involvement and participation of all is valued; diversity in approach enriches outputs Emphasis on consensus and compromise; facilitates processes rather than directs them; open communication is stressed
Yellow People need to do things that will provide self-actualisation; learning and understanding is intrinsically rewarding Change in organisation is inevitable; organisation must capitalise on the diversity of the workforce; contextualised; functionality is focused on Emphasis on access to knowledge, information and experience. Holistic approach. Appreciation of simplicity after complexity.
Turquoise All is interconnected; human connection is via spiritual and experiential bonds; awareness of contextualised changes is important; personal purpose is highly regarded Work must be meaningful to the overall health of all; emphasis on the importance of enhancing Life (the principles of Life) Social and environmental responsibility is emphasised; all previous approaches are integrated and transcended

 Table 1: A Spiral Dynamics (SD) View of Leadership Assumptions and Styles

Even though the first Beige value system of the SD model (described in terms of day-to-day physical survival) is most relevant in the modern world, it has been excluded from this table given the current focus on leadership

As mentioned, individuals adhering to the first-tier of value systems often view their own perspectives as correct and may be quite critical of other value systems. Individuals representing the second-tier value systems (Yellow, Turquoise) generally show a greater understanding of other value systems. By focusing on this grasp of other value systems, three different categories of leaders are identified by Beck and Cowan (1996): meme wizards/ systems wizards, change wizards, spiral wizards.

Meme wizards understand a given value system and know intuitively how to lead others who share this value system. Change wizards appreciate the transition between different value systems. Spiral wizards (Yellow and Turquoise) display an understanding of the entire spectrum of value systems: they can appreciate a wide range of views and react to a number of systems simultaneously. Diversity and a certain degree of chaos energise rather than inhibit the latter (Beck and Cowan, 1996). They tend to see connections and patterns not noticed by others; think in terms of open systems rather than final states; spot trends and may have an intuitive understanding of timing; sense the needs of other value systems (and also speak the language of these other value systems); respect the integrity of other value systems; can mediate amongst conflicting value systems; see both the detail and the bigger picture; and go beyond quick fixes and linear reasoning to arrive at an integrative, holistic understanding of situations.

Graves also identified three principles underlying a healthy leadership style: Politeness, Openness and Autocracy (POA). These characteristics cater for the value orientations and emotional needs of those who perceive the world in terms of any of the colours of the full SD spectrum. Useful to consider in this regard, are the rules of thumb for leaders as indicated by Beck and Cowan (1996): it can be problematic if the value orientations of followers are more complex than that of the leaders; the leader must show some potential for change–if not, the leader will be incapable of dealing with changes in the life conditions of the organisation when a follower’s potential for change is absent (or severely obstructed). The leadership approach should somehow incorporate that specific level; the leader should not be too far ahead on the spiral compared to the followers (except for the Yellow orientation of spiral wizards)–if so, followers will have little or no understanding of him/her and alienation may follow. When the group is diversified, the leader should preferably come from the most complex system available in the group.

Tools such as the Value Orientations (VO) and the MP were developed by the author to measure the various SD value systems, or levels of consciousness. Information obtained from these instruments provides a frame of reference to understand the way in which cognitive capability and preference are applied within the leadership context.

3.3.Personal Orientation

The view held here is that leadership emerges from a resonance between the personal resources and perspectives that a potential leader can access to fulfil a role as required by the context–in which complexity factors as well as the collective consciousness of the group play critical roles. Leadership potential is thus not regarded in terms of personal traits only, but the emergence of leadership behaviour is seen as a function of the interaction between the individual, or self, of the person involved along with the context.

Orientations in individual and group consciousness can be depicted by archetypal patterns.  Individually held archetypal energies create predispositions that may echo the collective consciousness.

An alignment between contextual requirements (the collective SD level and associated archetypes, as well as the SST complexity levels) and personal orientation (SD level and personal archetypes as well as SST capability) culminates in role assuming behaviour, thereby potentially contributing to the emergence of leadership roles. In this resonance among the collective, the context, and the person/group, the correspondence of archetypes is of particular importance. Should leadership not be in flow with the contextual characteristics, it may affect the sustainability of the role. Leadership at higher levels of SD and SST functioning, however, is sustainable and effective if the interface between personal and contextual SD and archetypal factors are carefully managed in a manner that is perceived as sincere. Higher level SST solutions also need to be carefully interpreted in terms of lower level SST concepts. This demands a great deal of self-awareness and depth of understanding of others from the leader, which primarily becomes possible at the second-tier SD level, and therefore the Yellow value orientation (at which spiral wizards function). The possibility of future growth and adaptability is generally enhanced where the leader’s orientation and capability overlaps with that of the context, yet shows potential for higher level SD and SST functioning.

The interaction between these various personal and contextual factors can perhaps be represented graphically in terms of a number of overlying and intercepting segmented dials/ discs/concentric rings that can be rotated independently to reflect potential interrelationships between the various factors. The following simplistic diagram illustrates the concept in terms of the SST and SD levels only (here single instances in terms of the degree of resonance are indicated although there are more).

Figure 1: Personal and Contextual Factors

This view is rooted in Jung’s and Mindell’s explanations of the person-context interaction. The assessment of levels of awareness and motivational drivers as proposed in this paper capitalises on the concept of archetypes as a starting point in unravelling the issue of motivation and therefore as key determinants of individual and group behaviour.

The  MP (Prinsloo and Prinsloo, 2005), as described below in capitalises on archetypal patterns that are linked to a number of theoretical perspectives and constructs. These include the SD model of Graves, Beck and Cowan; the work of Myss on archetypes as well as spiritual awareness; Shalit and Lazarus on motivation; various authors on consciousness; views on integrity; Goleman, Schein, Cooper, and Sawaf on the concept of emotional intelligence; Goffman on self-presentation; Transactional Analysis; as well as wisdom from the Enneagram.

4.     Assessment of Leadership Potential

In this paper, a theoretical perspective on the emergence of leadership behaviour is presented following, amongst others, the work of Jung and Mindell on collective consciousness, Graves on levels of awareness, and Jaques on work complexity. The adoption of specific leadership roles is viewed in terms of the interaction between contextual factors related to complexity requirements and the collective consciousness on the one hand as well as individual characteristics on the other.

In order to apply the proposed view of leadership within the world of work, appropriate assessment methodology is required to accommodate for the dynamic and contextualised nature of leadership behaviour. In this section current psychometric practices are discussed and alternative assessment techniques proposed for the measurement of cognition, levels of consciousness, and motivation.

4.1. Current Psychometric Practice

For purposes of psychological assessment and development, leadership can be approached from a: (a) behavioural; (b) psychological (motivation, emotion and cognition); and/or a (c) spiritual point of view. The latter accommodates the elusive concepts of personal purpose and that of consciousness development.

Current psychometric practice, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired. Traditional psychometric tests of intelligence, emotional intelligence, and personality are widely criticised. However, this dissatisfaction has not resulted in many fundamental strides towards the transformation of the discipline. There is, however, significant activity in test construction, packaging and marketing–which proves to be commercially viable.

In this paper, the spotlight is not on psychometric tests such as personality questionnaires, IQ tests, assessment centres, simulations of situational judgement, structured interviews, or any of the other commonly used techniques. Nor is it on their underlying theoretical models such as the big five personality factors or the many models of intellectual functioning. The statistical underpinnings of these theories and research will also be passed over for current purposes. The overall effectiveness of existing psychometric tools in predicting leadership effectiveness will, however, be discussed briefly.

As far as psychometric assessment goes, it generally seems that intellectual functioning–IQ test results, or “g” (general ability) in particular–correlates significantly with leadership effectiveness. Meta-studies on IQ test results generally indicate a predictive power of around 30% within the leadership arena (Munro, 2011).

However, IQ tests are characterised and affected by assumptions regarding the genetic basis of ability; the static nature of IQ; structured and domain specific test content; reliance on educational exposure; convergent logical-analytical skill requirements; its linear-causal nature; and the impact of speed on power. These assumptions have had the result that IQ tests capture only a relatively small aspect of the requirements of everyday intellectual functioning in business and leadership contexts.

There is still much controversy regarding the predictive power of personality and EQ test results, but the research findings are generally not that impressive.

Most of the existing personality tests reflect the big five personality factors. The constructs of the Five Factor Model (FFM) are: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

The rather disappointing findings on the predictive validity of personality factors in the leadership context can, amongst other factors, be blamed on the assessment methodology used; the constructs measured; the statistical techniques used to investigate test results; and the criteria of what leadership effectiveness entails. Personality and emotional intelligence tests can be criticised for, amongst others, measuring preferences only; using constructs that are highly contextually bound and may not be generalised across situations; employing test items that are transparent and can be manipulated; and disregarding the dynamic nature of personality. The assessment results are thus contaminated by the adaptive nature of personality and contextual factors, as well as the role of motivational drive and defence mechanisms. The results also reflect cultural orientation and language proficiency. In addition, the level of generalisation of the constructs measured also seems to be a function of the test methodology rather than a reflection of the specific characteristics of individual functioning.

Research findings on the predictive validity of psychometric indications of emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) are particularly disappointing. Even though Goleman (1996) and other proponents of EQ regard it as the major predictor of leadership, and some studies report impressive correlations between leadership behaviour and EQ test results, this is not usually the case. Van Rooy and Viswesvaran (2004) find the level of predictive power of EQ to be approximately 2% within the leadership context. There may be several reasons for this result, including the research designs followed, the measurement of criteria for predictive validity, and the statistical techniques applied to investigate the findings.

Given the inadequate prediction of leadership effectiveness by existing psychometric tests, one can only conclude that there is more to the equation. The complexities involved in leadership research necessitate a fundamental rethinking of assessment purposes and applications.

4.2. A Holistic Assessment Approach

The approach proposed here emphasises the need for a holistic assessment and development approach; the contextualisation of results; professional, individualised feedback; and the use of a new generation of assessment tools that are not necessarily based on the limiting theoretical assumptions of traditional psychometrics.

Assessment methodologies and tools for the measurement of consciousness and cognition will now be addressed, including:

  • The CPP, which assesses cognitive capability and preference, and links a person’s functioning to the Stratified System Theory (SST) of Elliott Jaques in order to contextualise cognitive application;
  • The Value Orientations (VO) technique, which aims at measuring the value systems or levels of consciousness of the person in terms of a number of consciousness and developmental theories, Grave’s Spiral Dynamics model in particular; and
  • The MP, which capitalises on the archetypal nature of human behaviour and links the results to a number of Jungian and psychometric constructs

The cognitive tool, namely the CPP, is a computerised simulation exercise that involves the externalisation and tracking of thinking processes according to thousands of feedback loops. The consciousness tool, the Value Orientations (VO), is a computerised questionnaire, largely non-transparent, devoid of socially desirable item content, and which does not rely much on self-insight. The motivational assessment technique, the  MP, is also a computerised game capitalising on archetypal themes rather than transparent questions relying on self-insight. Information from all three these tools provide an indication of leadership propensity in particular environments.

The integration of holistic assessment by means of automated simulation games, comprehensive reporting, contextualisation of assessment profiles in terms of work requirements, and suitable developmental initiatives provide the building blocks of an intellectual capital management approach within the context of leadership assessment and development. The assessment methodologies developed by the author and proposed here, are innovative, holistic, contextualised and purposeful in nature; and they are anchored in long-term qualitative, quantitative and action research.

4.2.1. Assessment of Cognition

A number of prominent research journals, such as the Harvard Business Review, have, for decades, called for an innovative approach to intellectual capital management in the corporate environment and/or leadership context. This is based on consistent research findings indicating the potential impact of cognitive factors on work-related functioning–especially where problem solving, reasoning, planning, decision making, and strategising in relatively complex environments are required.

However, any such findings should not be taken at face value. Since the 1950’s there has been criticism of the psychometric tools used for assessing intellectual competence–particularly IQ tests. These are characterised by content dependence, cross-cultural bias, and inadequate predictive validity in tertiary educational and work contexts, where the information dealt with is fuzzy, long-term, complex, dynamic and unstructured. This, of course, exceeds the requirements of IQ tests.

Over time, alternative techniques for cognitive assessment have emerged including questionnaires, structured interviews, assessment centres, trainability tests, knowledge and skills tests, and simulations. The history of intellectual assessment will now briefly be summarised in terms of its theoretical underpinnings. History of Intelligence Research

Intelligence research has been conducted from various perspectives and research schools over the past century, including:

  • The differential approach associated with the IQ tradition aimed at revealing the structure of the intellect;
  • The information processing approach, which capitalises on information technology to study thinking processes in order to build models of human problem solving and to develop expert systems;
  • An integration of the differential and the information processing approaches as spearheaded by Sternberg;
  • A contextualist view of intelligence appreciating cross-cultural differences and the competency requirements of different contexts;
  • Developmental approaches such as the Biological Maturation model of Piaget and Vygotsky’s emphasis on learning potential; and
  • The psycho-physiological and Neurosciences approaches dealing with mind-brain issues.

These different theoretical persuasions are primarily focused on constructs such as: intelligence, practical intelligence, information processes, competencies, problem solving, reasoning, and logic.

Criticism of the existing theoretical models indicates a need for further theory building, particularly for the development of models with practical utility. Questions on cognition that need to be addressed–especially within the leadership and work contexts–centre on, inter alia, what constitutes wisdom, a systems approach, judgement and strategic capability, and how these factors can be measured and contextualised. Traditional psychometrics fails to offer the methodology to understand and measure these aspects of cognitive functioning so crucial to an understanding of leadership.

Notwithstanding the fact that some of these issues on cognitive application are addressed by the consciousness theories–the Spiral Dynamics model in particular–these worldview perspectives do not necessarily imply cognitive capability. This is important, for whereas cognitive capability cannot be viewed as a guarantee for effectiveness, it remains an important prerequisite for effective functioning in complex domains.

In response to these perceived lacunae, this paper introduces a very brief overview of a theoretical model of cognitive processing and proposes an empirical technique, the CPP, to measure information processing preferences and capabilities and identify SST contexts that may contribute towards the optimal functioning of the individual. This perspective on cognition as well as a unique assessment methodology to measure thinking processes can be regarded as important considerations in leadership research. A Theoretical Model of Cognitive Processing

Against the background of the consciousness and motivational theories, which largely dictate the manner in which cognitive capability and preference is capitalised on, a more in-depth theoretical explanation of cognitive processing as well as cognitive assessment methodology, is required. Mental processing is highly integrated and has a multifaceted nature. Cognitive processes therefore possess an unlimited number of characteristics of which only some can be isolated for scientific investigation. The specific aspects selected for scrutiny are determined by the goals of the researcher for diagnostic and/or developmental purposes, for example.

In an effort to overcome some of the shortcomings of traditional psychometrics–IQ testing in particular–the author developed a new theoretical model of cognitive functioning for purposes of the assessment and development of adults. Model building involved an in-depth literature study followed by the specification of processing constructs; the operationalisation of each of the constructs in terms of its multiple subcomponents and potential manifestations; and the construction of 15 separate tests, each representing primarily one of the proposed processing constructs of the model in terms of one type of item content (verbal, numerical, symbolic) to inform a multitrait-multimethod research design. The data obtained via the various tests, in combination with path analysis and linear structural equation modelling techniques (Campbell and Fiske, 1959; Cole and Maxwell, 1985; Marsh, 1989, Schmitt, 1978; Widaman, 1985), resulted in empirical support for the construct validity of the model. The methodology used for the testing of the construct validity of the information processing categories of the proposed model involved a design strategy incorporating both task analysis and individual differences procedures.

An in-depth study of the literature on intelligence and cognition revealed the following processing constructs: (a) focusing and selecting, or exploration; (b) linking or analysis; (c) structuring and integration; (d) transformation, through both logical and lateral reasoning; and (e) memory, or retention and recall. These five processes are referred to as performance processes as they are applied to task content.

The application of these performance processes is guided by metacognition, self-awareness, or thinking about thinking. The application of specific metacognitive criteria determines the effectiveness by which each of the processing categories is applied. Exploration, for example, is guided by the metacognitive criteria of relevance and clarity. Analysis is guided by criteria such as level of detail, rules, causality, linear order/systematic, relationship; structuring.  Structuring and reintegration processes are mostly guided by the metacognitive criteria of coherence, meaning, core, necessity, generality. Transformational processing is guided by criteria such as purpose, application, implication/consequence, process/follow through, logic; and memory processes are guided by relevance and several of the already mentioned metacognitive criteria–depending on how memory is utilised as it supports each of the other processing activities.

The cognitive processes are represented as the overlapping fields of a matrix (a simplified version of which is graphically represented below, see table 2). The matrix is structured in terms of the complexity of the task material on the one hand and clusters of processing activities, as already identified and researched in the literature, on the other hand (only a few examples are provided here).For example, the cognitive processes referred to and investigated by a number of researchers, namely: organise, arrange, order, group, chunk, classify, categorise, systemise, and structure, can be clustered and applied to various units of information, to determine the processing activities involved.

In the simplified matrix below the E indicates the exploration process, the L, linking; the S, structuring; the I, integration; and the T, transformation. The memory and metacognitive processes have been excluded in this example, but the full model and the nature of the proposed constructs as functional categories as well as the criteria used to obtain the convergent and discriminant validity of the processing constructs, will be discussed in depth in the next publication of this series of four papers.

Complexity of task material

    Units of information


Research constructs found in the literature


Attention allocation Focus, scan, explore, disseminate, select, encode Compare Differentiate (pull apart) Relate, associate, add, link Infer, deduce Organise, arrange, categorise, classify, group, structure, represent Integrate, synthesize, Conceptualise Transform, change Apply
Separate elements


















Linear causality   




















Tangible systems   




















Dynamic, interactive, intangible systems 




















Chaos and emerging patterns 
























 Table 2: Cognitive Processes as Overlapping Fields of a Matrix

The model can be seen as a reorganisation of existing theoretical constructs and research findings from diverse paradigms. It is based on the assumption that a wide variety of tasks share underlying processing functions. The idea that performance of different tasks can be understood in terms of common processes is widely accepted. No claim is made that these processes are elementary information processes. Their means of execution is also unspecified. The nature of the constructs should be viewed as conveniences, which reflect functional categories of processing rather than psychological properties and are intended to have heuristic value only. By regarding theoretical constructs as real phenomena, tremendous burden of proof is created.

The proposed model reflects the current scientific status of cognitive psychology, which is of a descriptive nature. It makes use of a systems paradigm in identifying a small number of processing constructs on an intermediate level of analysis.

The application of the LISREL (Jöreskog, 1974), RAMONA and MUTMUM (Browne, 1983) statistical programs, that utilise linear structural equation modelling to investigate data based on a multitrait-multimethod research design (Campbell and Fiske, 1959; Cole and Maxwell, 1985; Marsh, 1989, Schmitt, 1978; Widaman, 1985), provide adequate empirical support for the construct validity of the measurements of the proposed structural model of cognitive processes.

According to Verster (1982), the statistical non-rejection of a structural equation model fitted to real data rarely occurs in cognitive psychology. Although perfect results were not obtained, the results were further supported by exploratory studies in which single problematic factors were eliminated.

The evaluation of these exploratory models yielded robust, non-trivial support for the validity of the proposed structural constructs, namely focusing and selecting, linking, transformation, structuring, retention, and recall. From the results, it is possible to conclude that the retention and recall process is of a different nature from that of the other proposed processes.

Correlations with the criteria of school performance and IQ test results provided support for the external validity of the proposed constructs. The validated constructs should not be seen as real processes but instead as relatively distinct taxonomic categories identified for practical application in cognitive and educational psychology.

The claim that the structural model was found to be valid should be qualified. There is always the possibility that the results were an artefact of the peculiarities of the experimental test or factors associated with the research design. It cannot be claimed that the proposed processes possess construct validity without independent replication of the findings. This is, in fact, a prerequisite of psychological measurement in general and one that reflects a probabilistic, inferential stage of scientific investigation.

From the results obtained, a number of possible directions for future research were suggested. The application of measurement instruments incorporating more divergent methods is one possibility. This may involve certain modifications to the item structure and method presentation. Another possibility is testing various cultural groups to investigate the universality of the identified problem solving processes. The proposed model can be used to provide a framework for process-based diagnostic testing, cognitive skills training, curriculum design, and remedial teaching. It may also provide useful guidelines for the assessment of cognition and its application within work and leadership contexts.

Even though the theoretical models in psychology, including the one proposed here, are primitive and reductionistic, they nevertheless point the way towards the formulation of improved models. The proposed theoretical model provides useful guidelines for the development of cognitive assessment tools.

Challenges in cognitive assessment and the manner in which these are addressed by the Cognitve Process Profile (CPP), follows. Cognitive Process Profile (CPP)

In this paper, a unique approach to the measurement of cognitive competence is presented (Prinsloo, 1992; Prinsloo and Prinsloo, 2001, 2007). The techniques, namely the CPP, as well as the latest addition, the Learning Orientation Index (LOI), are based on the self-contained theoretical model of cognitive processing, as described. A more in-depth discussion of the LOI, however, is excluded given the scope of this paper.

Identifying the way in which people think and learn is very important. In fact, it is well recorded that intellectual functioning, more so than most other psychological constructs, significantly predicts work performance (Munro, 2011). Cognitive preferences and capabilities largely determine the optimal complexity level and job content necessary to ensure job satisfaction, self-actualisation, and work performance of the person. This is particularly the case in relatively complex work environments where unfamiliar and unstructured information is encountered, as is often the case with leadership roles in the world of work. .

Measuring the constructs of cognition and learning potential requires an in-depth understanding of the way in which people process information, understand issues, create new ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. No single score can reflect the complexity involved in intellectual functioning. Cognitive assessment should thus accommodate for far more than the linear, convergent, logical-analytical thinking measured by traditional psychometrics. Results on cognitive functioning should also be contextualised in terms of environmental and holistic psychological factors.

The constructs proposed by a theoretical model of cognitive processes were, for the purposes of the CPP, operationalised in great detail to guide the design of the tool. Besides the theoretical challenges, cognitive assessment also needs to accommodate for a number of practical considerations such as the cost of delivery and its application and added value to individuals and organisations.

Methodology. Methodologically, the CPP is an automated or computerised simulation exercise, or game that externalises and tracks a person’s thinking processes according to thousands of measuring points and feedback loops. This information is integrated interactively in terms of the algorithmic computations of a norm-based expert system. A report is automatically generated. It is recommended that all test subjects receive feedback and reports on their results. Reports can be customised according to client needs. The database and results are encrypted to ensure electronic security and confidentiality.

Although the CPP is self-administered, it is a supervised test. Initially the game takes place in a very structured and linear manner. As the person progresses, the challenges become less rule-based and more fragmented, intuitive, creative, and at times ambiguous and fuzzy, and thus more complex.

It normally takes a person around 90–120 minutes to complete the CPP, but it can be completed within as little as 45 minutes or take up to 3 hours as test subjects are allowed to work at their own pace. Although time is measured in tenths of seconds, speed and power are regarded as separate cognitive constructs not to be contaminated by one another.

The CPP Constructs. The CPP measures the cognitive skills a person is most likely to apply in his/her work environment. The information processing results inform the preferred SST level of work complexity, specialist versus generalist orientation, visionary and strategic capabilities, systems and big picture thinking, knowledge acquisition preferences, managerial and decision making skills, personal strengths and development areas, and learning potential. These aspects of cognitive functioning will now be addressed in greater depth.

The following issues will specifically be attended to:

(a)   Cross-cultural application;

(b)  Learning potential;

(c)   Complexity requirements;

(d)  Judgement and decision making;

(e)   Metacognitive awareness; and

(f)   Practical considerations and applications.

Cross-Cultural Application. The validity of assessment across languages, value orientations, learning backgrounds, and a host of other culturally related factors demand attention given the cultural diversity of the globalised context. The following characteristics of traditional psychometric tools, IQ tests in particular, seem to inhibit cross-cultural applicability, namely:

  • the reliance on only one modality (for example visual) or skill;
  • language proficiency requirements;
  • usage of a highly structured and rule-based format;
  • the measurement of convergent, right-wrong answers only;
  • specific content (knowledge based) and a reliance on educational exposure;
  • contamination of speed and power factors;
  • contamination by subtle cultural factors and content (for example decontextualised item format);
  • the impact of values underlying thinking (for example attitudes towards balance, pattern, completion/finished business, linear structure, meaning, pace, etc.); and
  • inadequate accommodation of motivational factors and worldviews.

The CPP was developed to address the challenges related to cross-cultural assessment in the following manner

  • a variety of stylistic preferences reflective of cultural background, personality, and cognitive preference, are accommodated for;
  • speed measurements do not contaminate power scores–although speed, quick insight, pace control, and quick closure are also measured;
  • auditory, visual, and kinaesthetic modalities are activated to cater for diverse modes of processing;
  • educational background influences are limited via the particular design of the methodology (for example by capitalising on levelling effects);
  • language requirements are low and grammar and vocabulary, largely irrelevant; and
  • the scoring procedure is standardised and automated.

Research findings indicate the cross-cultural validity of the CPP.

Learning potential. The measurement of learning potential, or cognitive modifiability, poses a number of theoretical and methodological challenges to psychologists. To predict future growth of cognitive capacity requires the measurement of preferences and capabilities that do not as yet exist as part of the person’s repertoire. The concept of learning potential is, however, particularly useful where assessment challenges related to the following issues occur: in populations that are culturally and educationally diverse, where the impact of motivational and emotional factors obscure cognitive results, where small clusters of highly specialised skills have been acquired in the absence of a more generalised skill set, and other reasons for current skill not indicating the possible future cognitive capability of the person.

The CPP uses a test-train-test methodology (rather than focusing on crystallised capabilities) and measures learning potential via (a) the analysis of normalised learning curves, and (b) 16 processing characteristics that indicate potential for further growth potential that the CPP methodology accesses, including:

  • the preference for relatively difficult (versus easy) task material;
  • uncertainty and inadequate reliance on own judgement, insight and intuition;
  • the application of weak problem solving strategies;
  • the emotional factor of boredom and the need for challenge;
  • emotional factors related to impulsivity, fear and superficiality; and
  • cognitive and personality rigidity.

Complexity requirements. The personal capability to deal with the complexity requirements of work forms a crucial prerequisite for leadership effectiveness. Current assessment practice in this regard primarily involves the use of structured interviews, although alternative methodologies are also applied to infer capability in this regard.

It is the author’s view that the use of structured interviews to assess the degree to which a person meets the cognitive complexity requirements of the various SST levels lack rigour and are therefore likely to be unreliable. The results of these structured interviews seem affected by the SST level of the person’s current job; the language proficiency of the test subject; personality factors such as optimism and extraversion; the self-insight and honesty of the interviewee; the process of reflection and justification of one’s personal career instead of an actual demonstration of skills and capability; the subjectivity, sophistication, and skills of the interviewer or facilitator; and the rapport between the assessee and the assessor.

The CPP involves a fundamentally different approach in assessing the level of work complexity to which a person is currently and potentially best suited. To understand the manner in which a person can be expected to deal with the cognitive complexity demands at different SST levels, the CPP externalises and tracks the person’s performance according to four information processing tendencies, namely:

  • the specific unit of information that a person is capable of and prefers to deal with, including: separate elements, linear causality, tangible structures, interactive systems, dynamic, vague and fuzzy systems, chaos and emerging patterns;
  • a number of work-related processing tendencies such as the person’s preference and capability to deal with: detail versus dynamic complexity; an operational versus strategic focus; short versus long-term time frames; and structured versus unstructured information;
  • the person’s stylistic preferences that are related to work contexts, where operational work may require a more tangible, explorative, analytical, reflective, memory-intensive and structured approach, and strategic contexts requiring a more integrative, holistic, logical reasoning, learning and intuitive approach–depending on the specific work-related content; and
  • judgement capability and the need for structure, where judgement is measured in terms of the effectiveness by which vague and fuzzy information is spotted, clarified, prioritised, and contextualised to make wise decisions in areas where sufficient information and logical-analytical guidelines are not available. This capacity presupposes well-developed metacognitive skills.

Given the potential impact of judgement on leadership effectiveness, the way in which the CPP measures this construct, warrants further attention.

Judgement and Decision Making. Judgement capability is not specifically focused on by traditional psychometric tools; however, it can be regarded as a key predictor of leadership effectiveness in the work environment. The constructs of judgement and decision making are closely associated with the individual’s capacity to deal with complexity. Judgement becomes particularly important in long-term, vague, dynamic, fuzzy, and interactive contexts. Given insufficient and unavailable information and strategies to deal with these complex environments, the decision maker has to rely on intuitive insights and metacognition.

The CPP assesses judgement by tracking the person’s responses to increasingly vague, fuzzy, and interactive information. The subcomponents of judgement measured by the CPP are the way in which metacognitive criteria of relevance and clarity are applied, optimal exploration, weighting and prioritisation of elements, contextualisation, and decision making.

Research on the predictive validity of the CPP indicates that judgement capability, as measured by the CPP, is a sound predictor of effectiveness within the more complex and strategic SST levels that are reflected by managerial and executive roles (Prinsloo and Prinsloo, 2007).

Metacognitive Awareness. Existing cognitive tools, IQ tests in particular, primarily measure the correctness of responses to well-structured problems without unpacking the concept of general ability or “g” in terms of its underlying processes. However, multiple studies on expert functioning in diverse fields such as accounting, physics, and radiology have identified self-awareness and metacognitive skill as the best predictor of expertise (Chi, Feltovich and Glaser, 1985).

The CPP measures the way in which a person guides their own thinking processes in terms of various metacognitive criteria such as relevance, clarity, coherence, and purposefulness, to name but a few. Information on the metacognitive skill that a person has already mastered by internalising and automatically applying these criteria is particularly useful for predicting learning potential.

Practical Considerations and Applications. In addition to the metric requirements of being valid and reliable, cognitive assessment needs to be accessible (via web delivery, for example), the administration needs to be standardised and the scoring objective; it should be affordable in terms of costs and time; and the results need to be secure and confidential as well as practically applicable for development or career-related purposes. These and other practical aspects have been carefully considered in the development of the CPP.

In terms of its application within the leadership context, the CPP can be used to determine and predict the SST levels of work at which a person can be expected to function optimally as well as his or her cognitive strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. This information can inform selection, placement, career pathing, succession, coaching and development, (strategic) team compilation, and job structuring initiatives. When used in conjunction with the Cognitive Competency Mapping (CCM), a tool that indicates the cognitive and holistic competency requirements of a job, the CPP results allow for person-job-matching. The CPP is thus meant to anchor talent or intellectual capital management drives within organisations. A holistic assessment approach is, however, recommended.

Cognitive capability and preference as measured by the CPP may be a prerequisite for effectiveness in particular work environments, but are no guarantee. A more holistic view is proposed to incorporate consciousness, motivational, and behavioural components.

Not even such a holistic picture of a person’s psychological attributes is sufficient to optimally predict his/her performance in the work environment. The psychological profile needs to be contextualised in terms of the task and social requirements at work. For this purpose, the Stratified Systems Theory (SST) of Elliott Jaques (1994) is used to guide the matching of cognitive profiles to the complexity requirements of work environments. A job analysis tool, the CCM technique, which has also been devised by the author (Prinsloo, 2003) can be used for this purpose. It analyses the competency requirements of work, and links individual and team profiles to the job-related requirements.

The Metric Properties of the CPP. Qualitative results regarding the value of the CPP have resulted in long-term usage by a number of corporate clients across industries over the past two decades. In the case of the CPP approximately 180, 000 sets of results have been accumulated. Large descriptive studies of the holistic assessment results of managerial and executive teams in many companies are available. Although the majority of the research to date has been of a qualitative nature, a number of quantitative empirical studies have been undertaken as well. Both a summary as well as a more comprehensive write-up of approximately 60 studies on the CPP can be found at Cognadev.

To briefly summarise these findings:

  • The CPP results were compared to that of other intellectual tests: correlations of .3 to .4 were generally obtained with group IQ test results and .4 to .6 with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). The CPP also correlated around .4 with CPA (structured interview based on the SST) results–but only if the CPA was administered by very capable facilitators. The CPP also confirmed assessment centre results as well as 360 degree evaluations of cognitive potential with correlations of .34–.57.
  • CPP mostly seems to measure “g” when correlated with IQ test results, but this finding is related to the overlapping processing functions involved in complex reasoning tasks as measured by IQ tests within specific content domains (such as figural analysis, verbal comprehension, numerical problem solving, spatial skills, etc.).
  • Cognitive Style preferences to some extent reflect personality preferences and involve more than what is generally regarded as intelligence. The CPP stylistic preferences were compared to personality test results. Certain 15FQ , OPQ, and 16PF dimensions significantly correlated with CPP dimensions especially factors such as: intelligence, ego strength, shrewdness, compulsivity, and free floating anxiety, all of which were significant (r = 0.3–0.6)
  • Studies comparing the CPP and MBTI, showed interesting results: Intuition as measured by the CPP correlated with the N on the MBTI for SST level 3 and above and with the S on the MBTI for SST level 1 and 2, etc. These findings are intuitively appealing. Many other such interactive results are suggested by the data.
  • CPP results, however, seem to correlate negatively with EQ test results.
  • The investigation of predictive validity mostly involved qualitative action research. CPP assessments in hundreds of companies across all industries and individualised feedback to thousands of managers and executives provided a rich source of information. In many companies pilot studies were conducted on performers and non-performers, which often resulted in developmental initiatives.
  • Quantitative studies were also done to determine the predictive validity of the CPP, including:
    • Accounting (2 studies): CPP correlations of approximately .4–.47 with 360 degree evaluations of job-related competencies. The CPP SST level of work significantly correlated (p < .01) with performance appraisals;
    • Accounting: 752 people were tracked over 5 yrs. CPP (certain styles, processes and SST level of work) significantly correlated with job performance (p < 0.01);
    • Accounting: 86% CA exam pass rate of 752 candidates from various ethnic groups as selected by CPP: The general pass rates of the CA exam (in South Africa) usually is 51%;
    • Accounting: the reported 4% pass rate of unassessed, disadvantaged students improved to 64% for those disadvantaged groups selected by means of the CPP;
    • Retail: 740 people across all job levels were assessed with both the CPP and a 360 performance appraisal for 2 consecutive years. The CPP results significantly correlated with performance (p < 0.001);
    • Retail: in a sample of 178 employees across all job levels, performance ratings significantly correlated with CPP results (p < 0.001);
    • Insurance: 150 executives, mostly in financial and actuarial positions, were assessed using the 16PFI/15FQ, Assessment centres, 360 degree talent grid, CPP and CRB. Best predictor of both the assessment centre and 360 degree performance evaluation results were the CPP Levels of work, CPP Judgement and CPP Learning. Multiple regression results suggested significant predictive validity (p < 0.001);
    • The academic achievement of disadvantaged first year Engineering students was compared to their results on tests measuring English Language, Maths and Science knowledge tests, 16PF, Figure classification test, Neethling Brain Profile and CPP. Their first year performance was best predicted by CPP, especially their scores on the CPP dimension of strategies for complexity (r = .6 / p < .001). Science test correlated at .49 and Maths results at .39. Figure Classification test correlated at .2;
    • Consulting: (n = 50) CPP level of work significantly correlated with performance (p < .001); and
    • Many descriptive studies of managerial and executive teams across industries have also been conducted, but these are not recorded in the CPP’s research manual.

The above mentioned results and other studies provide an indication of the value of the CPP in predicting academic achievement within higher education and executive judgement and/or strategic effectiveness within the corporate environment. Current research is being conducted on the construct validity of both the LOI and CPP by means of clustering techniques. A CPP report example can be found on the Cognadev website.

4.2.2.     The Assessment of Levels of Consciousness Levels of Awareness

The assessment of levels of consciousness include the measurement of worldviews, perceptual frameworks, organising systems, value orientations or memes–all of which can be regarded as synonyms here–in terms of which people understand and respond to their worlds. It reflects the level of awareness and inclusiveness, extensiveness, and the depth and breadth by which incoming information is interpreted–aspects that are important in the leadership context. It largely determines the person’s perspectives, principles, and participation in specific contexts by adopting roles according to a personal repertoire of experiences, purposes, preferences, and capabilities.

This aspect of psychological functioning is measured by the VO, which is based on various consciousness and developmental models of theorists such as Graves, Wilber, Kohlberg, May, Myss, and others in this field. The VO report, however, describes a person’s test results according to Graves’s Spiral Dynamics theory and Myss’s Seats of power model. It should, however, be pointed out that the levels of awareness as represented by the various consciousness and awareness models, cannot be linked linearly to personality traits and IQ test scores–as is at times alluded to in practice. These value systems or worldviews, and their underlying archetypal energies do, however, determine the way in which personal characteristics and cognitive capability are implemented.

Cowan and Todorovic (2008) explain the interaction between cognition and consciousness by labelling the typical cognitive approaches that can be expected from each of the value orientations of the SD model. They refer to it as mind capacities, namely: Beige is automatic, Purple is autistic; Red is egocentric, Blue is absolutistic, Orange is multiplistic, Green is relativistic, Yellow is systemic, and Turquoise is differential. Value orientations can thus be associated with mind capacities in a way that has a profound impact on the implementation of cognitive capability. Regardless of the cognitive capability of a person, the purpose and manner in which cognition is applied will be determined by the value system active at the time

For example, those with an SD Red mindset can be expected to energetically apply their cognitive capability in order to compete, avoid failure, build a legacy, and deal with in inherent scarcity mentality. Those with an SD Orange mindset can be expected to aim at adding value by managing perceptions, strategising, reframing issues, purposefully manipulating others, and creating the future according to an abundance mentality.

Although cognitive application is calibrated by the level of consciousness of the person or group, these value orientations develop largely independently of intellectual capacity. In other words, highly intelligent individuals may perceive the world in terms of the lower level value orientations, whereas those of average intellectual ability may well develop higher level value orientations. This is because the consciousness holon transcends and includes that of cognition and only some degree of functioning at a lower level holon is required for the emergence of a higher level holon. However, the collapse of lower level holons (cognition for example) disables the functioning of a higher level holon (such as consciousness), but the collapse of a higher level holon does not destroy the functioning of lower level holons. The Value Orientations (VO)

The VO tool was developed by the author and R. Prinsloo to measure consciousness factors conceptualised as high-level organising frameworks according to which capability and personality are activated and applied. This web-delivered assessment tool measures a person’s worldview or valuing orientation, perceptual framework, and decision making orientation (Prinsloo and Prinsloo, 2001).

The tool is a questionnaire designed to overcome some of the common shortcomings of traditional psychometric tools. Using several thousand test subjects over time, and starting off with 1000 items, item responses were qualitatively compared to responses on a sentence completion test and, at times, structured interview results, as criteria for validity. A qualitative and action research approach was thus followed in constructing the test, which spanned seven different versions of the tool and many diverse norm groups. A comprehensive report generation facility creates narrative reports specifying the subtleties inherent in various value orientations and their combinations.

Defence mechanisms and inadequate self-insight constitute a significant challenge for self-report questionnaires. With the VO tool it was found that particular defence mechanisms inherent to specific value orientations were likely to obscure the results thereby impacting on the validity of the outcome. For example, test subjects primarily driven by power motives (as revealed by the interviews, discussion of critical incidents, and the sentence completion technique) almost consistently denied or ignored items referring to power. In subsequent discussions, test subjects seemed unaware of the reasons for their responses. Those who showed a need for certainty and structure, who were highly organised and avoided change, often rejected items referring to structure and routine. These findings highlighted the potential impact of transparent items on the validity of questionnaire-based tests.

This challenge was largely overcome by keeping the items very simple yet non-transparent, carefully controlling the social desirability of the wording, specifically catering for the defence mechanisms inherent in the various worldviews, and focusing on preferences without relying on the self-insight of the person. The impacts of response tendencies were dealt with algorithmically and item reliability was determined statistically. The final version of the VO consists of 33 items, each containing three options plus a “none of the above” option, thereby avoiding a forced choice format. A slider is used to indicate the test subject’s degree of agreement with certain options.

The VO assessment tool measures seven valuing systems (Beige was excluded) as put forward by several consciousness theorists and represented in the report in terms of the colours of the SD model. Valuing systems, reflecting levels of awareness, can be represented as a soft hierarchy, which is contextualised, flexible, but yet relatively stable. Change and development, however, can occur in response to environmental factors or fluctuations in external circumstances as well as through personal growth.

The VO results thus reflect individuals’ worldviews, their assumptions about life, and how they establish priorities. In other words, the valuing systems represent core intelligences that guide behaviour and impact on life choices by acting as decision-making frameworks or organising principles. They can also be described as complex belief structures about what is desirable (namely good, beautiful, and important) and what is not. These perceptual orientations also provide modes of adaptation to the world. The individual may or may not be conscious of his/her own value orientation.

A narrative and graphic VO report discusses the person’s active valuing systems, namely the colours that are accepted and those that are rejected, as well as their associated worldviews; behaviour tendencies; prime motivators; emotional manifestations; implications for preferred organisational setting; leadership orientation; likely personal contributions; environments that are avoided; and personal readiness for change.

Information on a person’s or group’s so-called worldviews or value orientations is particularly useful within the context of leadership assessment, prediction, and development. It is applied within the work environment for purposes of selection and placement, personal development, team compilation and building, leadership development, conflict management, organisational development, and diversity management. It also enhances self-insight, self-management, and interpersonal understanding and skill. In addition, it can shed light on the origins of one’s frustrations and/or clarify one’s ambitions and aspirations.

Most relevant is that the VO colours largely predict the manner in which cognitive capability will be applied within the leadership context. An example of the VO report can be found on the Cognadev website.

4.2.3.     The Assessment of Motivation

The assessment of motivational drive is closely associated with the cognitive and consciousness aspects of leadership functioning. Whereas consciousness factors determine the person’s perception and interpretation of life conditions, cognitive factors provide the capability and motivational factors for the impetus to respond accordingly. Motivation can loosely be described in terms of states within a person that drive behaviour toward a particular goal.

The MP, which capitalises on archetypal patterns as a starting point in unravelling the issue of motivation, has been developed by the author as part of a holistic leadership assessment approach. It is based on the work of Jung, Mindell, and Myss on archetypes; Graves, Beck, Cowan, and other consciousness theorists on levels of awareness; Myss on spiritual awareness; Shalit and Lazarus on motivation; various perspectives on consciousness; a number of models of emotional intelligence; views on integrity; Transactional Analysis; as well as wisdom from the Enneagram.

A brief description of the various theoretical perspectives that were capitalised on with the development of the MP, namely: motivation, projected values, emotional intelligence, personality and energy themes, follows. The Measurement of Perception

Shalit (1978), whose work was heavily influenced by Lazarus’s view on subjective assessment, regarded perception as a most crucial factor in motivation. He pointed out that the same situation may elicit divergent reactions from individuals who perceive it differently. The emphasis is on subjective interpretation as opposed to the objective characteristics of the situation itself. Subjectivity may be rooted in factors such as past experiences, expectations, needs, dispositions, etc.

According to Shalit’s Sequential Adjustment Model, three basic dimensions influence a person’s perception of a situation, as follows:

  • Cognition, or how the person approaches and conceptualises the situation, be that methodical, detailed and structured, adaptable and change oriented, or holistic and intuitive.
  • Emotional involvement, or the degree of energy that the person sees him/herself investing, may vary from being energetic, passionate, and demanding to being composed and relaxed, reserved, detached, and withdrawn.
  • The ability and willingness to act, or the degree of impact and control the person perceives that he/she has in practical implementation. Whilst some individuals may have a high need or sense of control and prefer to lead and show initiative, others may question their ability to get things done and may therefore prefer the role of follower.

To Shalit the appraisal of a situation involving the above-mentioned constructs (of cognition, affect/emotion, and action/control) is then followed by mobilisation (preparing resources, including the willingness to act), and finally by realisation (determining the form of behaviour). Both mobilisation and realisation involve (as is the case with the appraisal of the situation) three components: cognition, affect/emotion and control.

By using a process involving the selection, rejection and repeated ordering of archetypes (roles, or metaphors), the MP capitalises on the above mentioned constructs, referred to as head (cognition), heart (emotional involvement) and feet (action and control), within three settings, namely: the person’s life, work and interpersonal relationships. The Measurement of Projected Value Orientation

The MP also interprets the way in which a person manipulates archetypes according to the SD model. The MP’s assessment of value orientation, however, differs from that of the VO in that it merely indicates the manner in which a person currently behaves, or expresses him/herself given the circumstances, whereas the VO measures value orientation per se.

The relationship between a person’s value orientations as identified by the VO and the MP can be explained in terms of Goffman’s (1990) Symbolic Interactionism, his dramaturgical model in specific. The MP assesses a person’s projected values or front stage and those that are denied, hidden or rejected, which is referred to as back stage.

Goffman introduces the notion of projected values by pointing out that contextual requirements may cause individuals to present a value orientation different from that which actually drives their perceptions and behaviour. To Goffman, life is a stage and we are all actors trying to express ourselves in a way that will lead to a desired impression on the audience. The setting is the physical scene where the performance takes place. Within each setting, the person presents a personal front by means of a specific appearance and manner. The dramaturgical model distinguishes between an individual’s front stage and back stage. Given that people generally try to present an appropriate or acceptable image to others (front stage), they are often obliged to conceal certain discordant aspects that may be deemed less acceptable (back stage). One can safely assume that too large a discrepancy between an individual’s front and back stages may give rise to a considerable degree of stress.

Goffman argues that fronts tend to become institutionalised so that collective representations arise. When actors take on familiar roles, they merely adopt already established fronts. The result, Goffman argues, is that fronts tend to be selected rather than created. This notion of set fronts being selected ties in with the previously discussed concept of archetypes.

The manner in which the MP capitalises on archetypes to indicate how a person presents his/her value orientation under specific conditions has also been suggested by Taborga (2011), who postulates archetypes as intricately involved in defining the value systems, or levels of consciousness, as proposed by the SD model of Graves. The Measurement of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Another important factor that is measured by the MP is that of EQ. Psychometric results on EQ as obtained from transparent questionnaires that rely on the self-insight, honesty, and motivation of the assessee are widely criticised. The MP does not aim to measure EQ per se, but rather taps into those aspects of emotional intelligence that are evident from the person’s everyday behaviour. Again, archetypes and the way in which they are manipulated by a person during the MP assessment provide useful clues in this regard. For example, should the archetype of mother prominently feature in a person’s life, chances are that he/she is likely to be caring, nurturing, protective, smothering, etc. Given the scope of this paper, this issue of EQ will dealt with only briefly.

The concept of EQ was popularised by Goleman (1996) whose bestselling book Emotional Intelligence contributed to a mass awareness of, and interest in, psychology as a discipline. In addition to Goleman, the contributions of Schein, as well as Cooper and Sawaf (1997), amongst others, contributed in this regard.

The construct of EQ can be conceptualised in a variety of ways. For purposes of assessment by the MP, intra-psychic and interpersonal EQ are linked to various archetypal patterns. Although these two aspects overlap, each is described in terms of a number of subcomponents, as follows.

The intra-psychic level:

  • Self-awareness;
  • Self-motivation, energy and focus;
  • Self-management; and
  • Resilience and adaptability

The interpersonal level:

  • Empathy and an understanding of others;
  • Influencing and energising others; and
  • Managing potentially problematic relationships. The Measurement of Personality

The MP also measures the concept of personality via the use of archetypes. In practice, traditional psychometrics largely relies on the constructs of personality and EQ to infer motivational orientation. Although this approach has value, personality, like most other psychometric constructs, can probably best be explained in terms of the interaction between contextual, collective, and personal factors as opposed to an inherent quality. Although relatively stable, personality cannot be regarded as a static phenomenon.

Although the Jungian view of motivation as espoused here does to some extent overlap with the psychometric view of personality, the construct of motivation as opposed to personality is proposed for purposes of leadership assessment in that it accommodates a wide spectrum of possible individual intentions. It is not affected by the traditional psychometric assumptions regarding personality (traits and typologies as well as its assessment methodology), nor has it not been subjected to the limiting statistical analysis associated with the study of personality. The manifestation of personality largely depends on motivational factors. An emphasis on the concept of motivation allows for the interaction of contextual, collective and personal factors whereas personality results are often interpreted in a decontextualised manner. Motivation as a construct is amenable to measurement in terms of archetypal themes, which has the added advantage of predicting resonance with collective awareness; and motivation as a construct encompasses most existing personality constructs.

The measurement of personality by means of the MP capitalises on the Enneagram model. The Enneagram dates back to 2500 BC. “Ennea” means nine in Greek and refers to nine patterns reflecting the links between the psyche and the spirit. Although the exact origins of the Enneagram model is unknown, it is thought to have been devised by the Cathars (an ancient spiritual tradition) whose worldview centred around love as the core driver of behaviour. Their philosophy was later adopted by the Sufis around the 14th century. The Sufi’s designed the numbers and categories of the Enneagram as we know it.

The Enneagram endorses a dynamic view of personality by regarding it as an adaptive response or a defence mechanism. This philosophy fundamentally differs from that espoused by traditional psychometrics and personality psychology. According to the Enneagram, personality as a defence mechanism is shaped by three conditions of feeling unloved, namely: (a) lack of control, (b) insecurity and (c) disapproval. In an effort to obtain love and approval, adaptive responses to these conditions become entrenched as personality patterns with potentially harmful effects. Nine of these typical patterns are identified, each of which needs to be resolved by developing a matching contrasting pattern. For example, should the various self-protective tendencies (for example the fear motive of the “I control” number six on the Enneagram) not be transcended but reinforced, it may result in the development of psychopathology (such as paranoia in the case of the Enneagram number six). The Enneagram nine pattern, which involves trust and acceptance, needs to be developed to overcome the limitations of the Enneagram number six pattern.

For personal growth to take place, an awareness of these defence mechanisms needs to be cultivated so that they can be transcended and integrated. The Enneagram is meant to provide a structure by which a person can optimise self-insight and understanding. It provides guidelines for harnessing and transforming self-defeating behaviours and indicates therapeutic paths to happiness. It is also aimed at sustaining meaningful relationships.

The Enneagram does not just indicate nine defence strategies. There are a number of sources of variance. A person’s Enneagram profile also identifies his/her soul child linked to life purpose, different types (the self-preservation, intimacy and social types); routes of growth and enhanced integration of self; wings or related themes, etc.

The various Enneagram types as reported on by the MP can be summarised as follows in table 3.

Table 3: Enneagram types reported on by the MP The Measurement of Energy Themes

The MP also measures and links archetypal patterns to Myss’s (1996, 2000, 2001, 2004) work on energy themes. Myss has described the psychological themes associated with the various energy points in the body, as portrayed by the Hindu Chakras, in several publications. She also proposed a model by which the themes inherent to various spiritual traditions are integrated.

These energy themes include psychological factors related to:

  • groundedness;
  • performance;
  • identity;
  • compassion;
  • self-expression;
  • wisdom; and
  • connection.

These categories overlap with and enrich those proposed by a number of consciousness and developmental theorists.  Myss’s work will be discussed in a next article in this journal, on consciousness in leadership. The Motivational Profile (MP)

The MP was constructed to measure various aspects of motivation as already researched and reported on in the literature. An action research approach was followed, which incorporated theoretical descriptions; a large database of holistic test results; and a qualitative evaluation of the interrelationships between various test constructs; as well as individualised feedback to thousands of individuals on their holistic test results, all of which were integrated by the author and linked to an assessment technique involving the manipulation of archetypal themes.

The MP aims to provide information on the following aspects of motivation, namely:

  • The driving states: values, attitudes, life themes, energy patterns, disequilibrium, shadows;
  • The goals: environmental adaptation, personal growth, maintaining equilibrium, optimising life themes, creating personal purpose; and
  • The behaviours aroused as reflected by: the selection of life roles, energy levels, attitudes, cognitive appraisal, emotional involvement, and action orientation.

The outcome of the MP assessment does not rely on self-insight in that it does not pose transparent questions that can be manipulated, denied, or misinterpreted. In fact, self-insight and an adapted version of the Jungian shadow are specific factors being measured.

The archetypes or roles used tend to have a universal footprint and can be applied in cross-cultural environments. The results of the MP are situational, and a number of the constructs that are measured can be expected to change over time. The constructs reported on in the MP report include:

  • Life scripts in terms of virtuous and vicious behavioural cycles;
  • Motivational patterns described in terms of the person’s head (cognitive differentiation and integration), heart (emotional involvement) and feet (action and control) within the contexts of life, work and relationships;
  • A shadow index, or the degree of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and psychological integration;
  • Personality, defence mechanisms, and developmental options in this regard according to the Enneagram;
  • The way in which aspects of the person’s value orientation manifests as a front stage and a back stage;
  • Aspects of emotional intelligence that are reflected by the person’s everyday behaviour;
  • Energy themes and the person’s current life focus, be that on belonging, performance, identity, compassion, self-expression, wisdom, or spiritual connection; and
  • The MP results are also linked to various existing personality constructs as measured by the MBTI; team roles as based on the Belbin; and integrity as measured by the Giotto (

An example of the MP report can be found on the Cognadev website.

4.3. Implementation of Leadership Assessment

Contextual analysis is ideally required to ensure the appropriateness of assessment initiatives. This is often conducted in terms of the competency requirements of work.

4.3.1. Competency Assessment

Competencies can be defined and measured in many different ways and at various levels. The levels of analysis may reflect a focus on (a) core organisational competence (for example, micro-chip technology); (b) a generalised sets of organisation-specific people competencies (for example, commercial orientation); (c) more specific job-related competencies (for example, IT project management); or (d) psychometric competency constructs (for example, persuasion).

Given the complicated and dynamic nature of human functioning, holistic assessment practice is generally recommended to capture various aspects of a person’s functioning. Not only diverse tests, but also diverse methodologies contribute to the comprehensiveness of the assessment. This may, amongst others, include questionnaires, simulation exercises, 360-degree evaluations, assessment centres, interviews, references, and probation. It should, however, be kept in mind that psychometric constructs cannot be linked linearly to competency constructs as the latter normally encompass various combinations of psychological, knowledge, and skill aspects. A mistake commonly made in practice involves the design of competency matrices populated by various test results that are weighted and averaged. This static and linear approach, however, fails to recognise individual strengths and weaknesses that are relied on and combined in unique ways to optimise personal performance. The technique also fails to adequately differentiate between test subjects.

The CCM technique provides functionality to identify job-related competencies and link these to individual assessment profiles.

4.3.2. Contextualised Competency Mapping (CCM)

This paper on the integrated assessment of leadership potential proposes the use of a job analysis technique, the CCM, to assess the work context in terms of its requirements for worldview; cognition; inter- and intrapersonal preferences; functional aspects; knowledge and skills; and the potential derailers of job performance. Once the requirements of work have been established, the person’s cognitive capability and preference are measured via the CPP simulation exercise. The VO questionnaire is used to measure worldview, and the MP game based on archetypes is administered to identify motivational drivers. The assessed constructs of levels of consciousness or worldview, cognitive capability and preference, and motivational patterns are regarded as crucial determinants of leadership effectiveness in particular contexts. These outputs can be integrated with job requirements using the CCM, which also provides a 360-degree facility for the evaluation of job performance.

Information from a person’s Curriculum Vitae, references, and job history can, in addition to the assessment results, be evaluated during an individualised feedback session or interview. On the basis of these insights an integrative report can be compiled that informs developmental initiatives. Team reports can also be compiled.

The results obtained from the various assessment tools interact with one another. In this section, the manner in which levels of consciousness as specified by the SD model and measured by the VO interact with cognitive tendencies as indicated by the CPP, are briefly discussed.

4.3.3. Application and Interpretation of Leadership Assessment Results

The following observations reflect qualitative and quantitative research in the corporate environment involving several thousand individuals across companies and industries. Guidelines are provided for the understanding and practical implementation of the proposed approach to leadership by focusing on:

  • The SD value orientations, which shed light on the leadership requirements of various contexts given factors such as the life conditions and collective consciousness;
  • The organising/perceptual frameworks associated with the various SD value systems, also referred to here as levels of consciousness are, however, not sufficient to predict the effectiveness of leadership, especially not in complex environments. In addition to the SD results, indication of cognitive capability is therefore required. This is measured by the CPP. A condensed explanation of the critical cognitive characteristics associated with effective functioning in various SST environments is also explained very briefly below; and
  • The relationship between consciousness and cognitive factors within SST contexts will be elucidated and potential archetypal catalysts for leadership functioning, specified. Levels of Consciousness and Cognition in Leadership Contexts

The various colours of the SD model are organised in a soft and dynamic hierarchy. Most people have some understanding of each of these orientations although they may not appreciate it or buy into certain worldviews. Contextual factors may also cause them to hide or repress their actual belief systems or not develop certain orientations. Others may not yet have been exposed to particular worldviews. Even though a person has observed or can describe the different SD categories, their decisions and life choices are bound to reflect a specific orientation.

The SD perspective adopted by an individual may reflect a unique combination of influences, such as personality, culture, experiences, life conditions, physical and neurological factors, and personal purpose. These factors impact differently on different people. For some, the key defining factor in the development of a sense of self may, for example, may be physical system limits; for others, they may be coping habits or particular role models.


There are, however, usually one or two value systems that determine an individual’s everyday behaviour, perspectives, and decisions–especially under ambiguous circumstances. Individuals may also adopt different value systems in different contexts and therefore have more than one active colour in their value system profile. In addition, the most prominent value system inherent in individual behaviour, may be supported or protected by another system. Examples include the manner in which those showing Green openness and compassion may invite exploitation, which is tolerated up to a point at which they resort to Red self-protection; or the manner in which the inadequate sense of security that those with a Yellow orientation tend to create in others, is often intentionally complemented by Blue commitment and depth. The highest level of consciousness active in a person’s profile, however, usually prevails under normal circumstances and overshadows lower-level systems. Under prolonged traumatic circumstances, most individuals first move down the spiral before transcending the previously ineffective value system. Not only trauma, but also opportunity, may result in the emergence of new value systems. Those that fail to transcend their previous, inadequate belief system or value orientation often get trapped at a lower level defensive system. Transcendence from this dilemma may require external assistance.

The various SD levels of consciousness affect the way in which cognition is applied. The lower levels of Purple, Red and Blue tend to be motivated by fear. Under threatening conditions, defensive behaviour can thus be expected. This may overrule rational cognitive responses. Each of the colours, however, is characterised by its own Achilles heel.

Those with Purple worldviews, known for us-versus-them thinking, tend to show an external locus of control. Cognitively they may respond randomly; show groupthink; rely on magical thinking; may become superstitious; tend to form closed social systems; blame the out group; be prepared to sacrifice themselves for the in-group; and rely on strong leadership, which is supported uncritically and emotionally. Purple groups prefer strong Red or Purple-Red leadership from within the group. People with Red worldviews are characterised by fear of failure and thus loss of face and tend to be vulnerable and needy of recognition.

Those with a Red orientation respond defensively by retreating into egocentric behaviour, may become aggressive, respond to difficulties by working harder and faster (as opposed to smarter) to create a sense of achievement and identity, find an outlet in immediate sensory gratification, and compete as a way to deal with their scarcity mentality.

Those driven by Blue normally seek stability, pursue quality and depth of technical expertise, create structure and mature environments, avoid and oppose change, may react rigidly, and tend to over-conform by being rule-bound. A combination of these systems provides interesting additional information.

Under circumstances that are less threatening for those espousing Purple, Red or Blue, the impact of emotion on cognition is reduced. Purple values, however, do not encourage a reliance on intellectual competence and often manifest in quite an unanalytical yet rule-bound manner. Red and Blue orientations may be highly intellectual, especially the Blue values of rational rigour and depth.

In reality the SST levels associated with the SD orientations of Red and Blue normally involve the operational focus of the first three levels of the SST. Here intellect is harnessed to achieve the respective purposes of Red and Blue, which, in the case of Red, entails control, power and achievement; and in the case of Blue involves quality, service, depth of knowledge, the truth, technicality, a dogged commitment to their ideals, and the status quo. Those with Purple, Red, and Blue value systems tend to provide for others that are close to them, such as family, close friends, immediate teams, their ethnic group, and the club or community they belong to. Nepotism and mob behaviour remain strong possibilities in the case of Purple. The majority of the global population show these Purple, Red, and Blue levels of consciousness, including many prominent leaders in the business and political arenas.

Those with Orange and Green value orientations are still motivated by emotional and interpersonal factors, but their world is bigger than that of the previous three levels as is their sphere of influence and concern. No longer is it only people close to them who are important, but also employees, markets, group interests, stakeholders and, in the case of Green, humanity as a whole. The impact of defensiveness and egocentrism diminishes, although Orange still is associated with some degree of egocentrism–less so than Red, however. An internal locus of control emerges in Orange and Green, and the world becomes a place of abundance.

In the case of Orange, a strong cognitive orientation is applied in pursuing goals related to value creation, strategic manipulation, professional application, politics, people, or market perceptions. Orange normally manifests as flexible and resilient. Orange cognitive capability is applied to innovate, reframe, conceptualise, and persuade others. Success is defined in terms of personal performance and self-expression according to self-selected criteria. Important aims for those that accept Orange are to create a future for themselves in the first instance, but in a win-win manner to also benefit others. The materialistic orientation of Orange may, however, result in clever schemes and even unethical practices. Red and Orange value orientations may well lie at the root of the recent global economic meltdown and uncontrolled consumerism and development.

In the case of Green, egocentrism is largely overcome and replaced by an open-minded and accepting approach. Cognitively those with Green values love and proliferate complexity, enjoy the world of ideas, try to understand the viewpoints of others, are relativistic, and often theoretical. This causes difficulties in making decisions, especially where others are involved. Should those accepting Green not be intellectually sophisticated, they will still be open to ideas, compassionate, relativistic, and interested. It should be pointed out that the development of a Green value orientation (or any other orientation, for that matter) is not dependent on educational sophistication. Up to a point, educational sophistication may, however, stimulate development of higher levels of awareness. The SST level as measured by the CPP that is usually associated with Orange and Green SD systems is that of tactical strategy and parallel processing.

Once consciousness moves to an integrated level as represented by the Yellow and Turquoise value orientations, the picture changes completely. At this level the person is no longer driven by emotional considerations, the need to perform, criteria of success and status, the need for security, or any of the purposes pursued by the preceding first-tier orientations. Yellow is associated with an eagerness to learn and experience. Those who have adopted this orientation apply a systems view and see the world as a holistic unity in which everything is connected. Cognitively their purposes centre on the understanding of principles, paradoxes, and processes. This understanding enables them to identify leverage in complex, dynamic, and chaotic systems, which they have the skill to formulate in simple terms for others to understand.

They do, however, deal with simplicity after complexity and can be expected to formulate simple, clear, and wise messages and ideas. Yellow is also very flexible and adaptable and normally contextualises behaviour and solutions to meet specific requirements. In order to effectively implement a Yellow mindset in the leadership context, a fairly high degree of cognitive capability is, however, required. In SST terms this may mean future potential for a parallel processing level. This does not mean that a high level of formal education is necessarily required to achieve this level of awareness, as fairly uneducated individuals who show cognitive capability are able to access the Yellow mindset. The integrity that manifests in Yellow value systems is anchored in consequential and systems thinking as well as in the transcendence of egocentric needs.

Turquoise rises above the tyranny of intellect and logic through an integrated philosophical, existential, and spiritual approach. Those with a Turquoise worldview tend to focus on human experience as well as the proliferation of life and experience in the now. They also become increasingly aware of their own responses and the depth of interconnectedness of the world. Given the predominantly commercial orientation currently characterising the world of work, Turquoise leaders will seldom be found in the corporate environment. These individuals generally prefer to focus in a committed and humble/understated manner on their own big picture ideas with potentially pervasive impact on human life and the environment. A good example of the mindset reflected by Turquoise value systems can be found in the work of Eckhart Tolle (2005). Cognition and the SST in Leadership Contexts

The cognitive requirements of the various SST levels, as described here, primarily reflect the author’s observations and research with the CPP. The first three levels as specified by the SST have a strong operational focus whereas the fourth and further levels show a more strategic orientation. The levels differ both quantitatively and qualitatively in terms of their requirements. The CPP measures a person’s SST level as well as other cognitive factors.

Given the current CPP database of 180, 000 profiles representing subjects across educational, job, and organisational levels, languages, nationalities, ethnic groups, genders, fields of interest, and industries, in combination with their personality, EQ, motivational, team role preferences, and their job description data–which are available in a large proportion of cases – some interesting observations have emerged, of which the cognitive aspects will briefly be summarised as follows.

Those best suited to the SST pure operational level (1) are normally people who show little interest in complexity, vagueness, and intellectual challenge. They prefer a structured context where they can experience certainty and not risk error. This may be a reflection of the importance of other factors in their lives, such as family, community, or sport. It may also indicate other factors and circumstances related to educational and socio-economic background and learning experiences. These individuals may prefer to rely on the guidance of others and to work as a team. At times they can be expected to apply their cognitive capability in a random, inconsistent, and even impulsive manner. A strong memory and intuitive approach is often indicated by their CPP profiles. They also seem to doubt their own judgement capability in complex, unfamiliar, or vague environments. Some rely on auditory modes of processing and may show well developed verbal skill. This is particularly the case in auditory cultures but is not necessarily the case. The metacognitive awareness by which their thinking skills are monitored may be underdeveloped.

A majority of people within the world of work–almost 80%–seems to prefer cognitive functioning in pure operational and diagnostic levels. Those at a diagnostic level (2), however, become more analytical, but still show a need for structure–in the form of technical guidelines and previous experience. Although detailed, they do not necessarily follow their reasoning processes through but prefer categorising information in order to come to a conclusion. In a trouble-shooting role, they develop a more consequential cognitive approach. They tend to accept technical assumptions in a non-critical manner and readily apply these. They enjoy variety in problem solving in linear-causal contexts and investigate problematic situations in terms of a tree structure of either-or questions, applying rule-of-thumb principles. At this level there is also a reluctance to use judgement in cases where most of the information is not accessible. It is interesting that those involved in practical diagnostic work often develop very effective metacognitive awareness to evaluate the effectiveness of their own approach in identifying causes of problems. Their problem-solving style is normally explorative, analytical, reflective, memory-based, and structured. At times they show a learning style as well.

IQ tests measure Diagnostic capability but fail to access the systems applications of the strategic SST levels (3+). It should also be pointed out that those with a diagnostic orientation can be most effective in higher education; and their cognitive approach, in combination with study skills, motivation, and work ethic may enable academic achievement at the highest levels. This is because many academic contexts, other than everyday life, tend to be structured and technical.

At a tactical strategy level (3), the capacity to extract principles that can be applied to the complex manifestations of everyday life emerges. Those with a tactical orientation no longer rely on linear processing but prefer viewing issues in terms of tangible systems and the interaction between observable system elements. They also tend to rely more on a logical process orientation based on rules than on already structured information (for example, diagnostic level). However, they do not yet show readiness to cope with the highly interactive and dynamic considerations required for parallel processing functioning. Tactical strategy environments require the capacity to question assumptions, formulate hypotheses, and to systematically structure information. Planning and monitoring skills become important. Exploration is also important but seems a general weakness across all age groups except Generation Y (Prinsloo, 2011). The cognitive styles that are most appropriate in tactical strategy environments include structured, logical, analytical, quick insight or intuitive and, at times, also learning styles. Judgement is relied on where there are broad theoretical guidelines available but highly fuzzy and unfamiliar contexts are avoided[1].

Parallel processing functioning (level 4), however, is associated with seeking novelty, vagueness, dissonance, and fragmentation, all of which require the cognitive skills of integration and innovation. The level of complexity involved here is exceedingly high, and only a small percentage of people in the corporate context feel comfortable at this level. Those showing a tactical strategy preference (or lower) without potential to develop a parallel processing orientation experience much stress in parallel processing environments. They also tend to reduce the job complexity by focusing on tangible and operational issues, thereby impacting on the long-term viability of their strategies. Parallel processing contexts are highly changeable, dynamic, and interactive. The reliance on a detailed analytical and structured cognitive approach, as required by operational work, is replaced here by a stronger emphasis of a process approach–looking for long-term implications and consequences. Logical skills in the form of both convergent and divergent reasoning are applied for transformational purposes.

Individuals who prefer, and are effective in, these environments tend to focus on dynamic and interactive systems. They also enjoy the conceptualisation of ideas, which supports broad strategy formulation in the business context. Whereas diagnostic thinking involves the acceptance of technical assumptions and tactical work the formulation of hypotheses, parallel processing work involves the critical re-evaluation and possible transformation of assumptions from which new paradigms are likely to grow. At this level new approaches are also designed and modelled. The typical stylistic preferences associated with parallel processing functioning are logical, integrative, holistic and quick insight. As in tactical and diagnostic contexts, learning styles may also be relevant here. Another prominent characteristic of the CPP profiles of parallel processing individuals is their relatively high score on judgement.

Pure strategic level functioning (as well as Jaques’ SST levels 6 and 7) shows a strong intuitive and holistic inclination. Although detail is often sacrificed in favour of the big picture, effective cognitive application involves the identification of a few detail elements by which change within the whole dynamic system could be leveraged. The unit of information used is chaos and emerging pattern. The minute percentage of people in the corporate context whose cognitive functioning supports effectiveness in pure strategic environments do not necessarily look for what makes sense, but they show awareness of what does not make sense and store this at a subconscious level where more complex links can be made. They also transcend the detail complexity of diagnostic and tactical contexts and the dynamic complexity of parallel processing environments to come up with seemingly simple solutions.

These are not blue sky thinkers, but they need to consider the complexity of practical applications in terms of potential derailers. They also have to design the architecture of flexible approaches around a core intent that could ensure viability in the long term. Individuals that could effectively play leadership roles in these environments need to be able to capitalise on a broad knowledge and experience base. Cognitively they also need to accommodate emerging philosophical trends and soft, fuzzy issues related to socio-political and environmental considerations, in addition to being highly inquisitive and showing an interest in a wide range of macro-economic issues. Cognitively this orientation is tracked by the CPP in terms of the unit of information used, stylistic preferences, judgement capability, reliance on intuition, response to fuzziness, and other job-related preferences as described in the CPP report.

In terms of cognition, the explanation above only refers to the SST level outcomes of a person’s CPP report. There are, however, other cognitive characteristics related to cognitive styles; work-related preferences (such as specialist versus generalist orientation); specific combinations of processing strengths and weaknesses; judgement capability; and learning potential that are also measured by the CPP. These dimensions provide additional information on the manner in which a person is likely to apply cognitive capability and preference. The link to the CPP report can be found under Archetypal Patterns Inherent in Leadership Behaviour

In this paper the concept of leadership is addressed in terms of consciousness and cognitive factors. Both consciousness (the SD categories) and cognition (as represented here in terms of the SST categories) can be linked to archetypes where archetypal energies are regarded as operational mechanisms guiding role-assuming behaviour. The concept of archetypes is used in a somewhat informal manner to further demonstrate and populate the consciousness-cognition interface in leadership assessment and development.

As indicated, archetypes underlying individual functioning are measured by the MP. The way in which archetypes determine leadership effectiveness in particular contexts is addressed by linking archetypes to the SD and SST models. It should be pointed out that the manner in which the concept of archetypes is applied here, hardly scratches the surface of the complexity proposed by Jungian theory. Given that Jung’s theories are not always accessible to practitioners within the leadership context, a more pragmatic and somewhat structured approach is followed here; but the dynamic way in which the human psyche adapts and evolves, should not be ignored.

For practical purposes, a general and comparatively superficial presentation of a manageable number of archetypes is proposed here. Similar approaches are those of Corlette and Pearson (2003) and Taborga (2011), who identify 12 organisational archetypes related to specific themes or life forces, namely:

  • People: every person/orphan, jester, lover;
  • Learning: sage, innocent, explorer;
  • Results: magician, revolutionary, hero; and
  • Stabilising: creator, caregiver, and ruler.

Myss (2001), however, has expanded on these basic archetypes to identify a large number of roles or metaphors that also have archetypal characteristics in terms of which behaviour is organised. Myss’s version of archetypal roles is capitalised on here to illustrate the relationship between levels of consciousness and leadership in increasingly complex SST environments.

The SD and SST categories cannot be linked linearly as there is some degree of overlap in terms of the underlying archetypal patterns involved (see table 4). Archetypes representing the SD categories can more clearly be differentiated than in the case of the SST, where work-related purposes permeate all levels. The view espoused here is that:

  • The greater the degree to which the archetypes inherent in an individual’s behaviour overlap with those of a particular SD category, the more entrenched that specific SD value orientation of the person will be and the more clearly it will predict the person’s worldviews and behaviour.
  • Resonance between a person’s SD orientation and the collective SD orientation will contribute towards effective and appropriate behaviour and thus the person’s leadership potential.
  • At a pure operational SST level, and to some extent at a diagnostic SST level, as well as at the first-tier SD levels, archetypal patterns are more important than cognitive capability as criteria for effective functioning. However, at tactical, parallel and pure strategic SST levels, as well as at second-tier SD levels, cognitive capability becomes an increasingly important prerequisite for effective functioning. However, there is interdependence between cognition and worldview.
  • Should a person show the necessary cognitive capability for effective functioning at the strategic SST levels but lack the matching archetypes to guide leadership behaviour at those SST levels, the effectiveness of the leadership behaviour will either be compromised, will not emerge, or will eventually become destructive. It may also impact on the SD level of followers. This may well have played a role in the recent global economic meltdown.
  • Should a person’s archetypal patterns perfectly match that of a specific SST level but his/her cognitive capability not meet the requirements of that SST level, effective leadership will, especially at the strategic levels, be seriously affected. This is due to judgement capability and a systems thinking approach, which both become critical prerequisites for leadership effectiveness at strategic levels.
  • Broadly speaking, archetypes are more relevant as predictors of effectiveness within the first two SD levels and the two most operational SST levels, whereas cognitive capability as measured by the CPP is the most relevant prerequisite at the second-tier SD level and the strategic SST levels. At the mid-level SD categories, the specific contextual requirements may dictate the importance and potential contribution of capability and/or archetypal contents.
  • Cognitive capacity remains only a prerequisite and not a guarantee of effectiveness. Cognitive capability needs to be applied according to SD criteria to unlock its full value.
  • Certain SD orientations and their associated archetypal patterns can easily derail cognitive competence–especially at strategic SST levels. Such orientations may also prevent leadership effectiveness in environments characterised by SD levels higher than themselves. For example, a Purple mindset is insufficient to lead effectively at strategic SST and higher SD levels, as followers may not buy into the archetypes and understanding reflected by a lower-level leadership vision; in addition the context may require a bigger picture view.
  • Those that are cognitively best suited to operational SST levels but show medium SD level orientations are bound to be effective as leaders at those lower SST levels. The humanistic and relativistic orientation of Green leaders is, however, often exploited and misunderstood by lower SD levels.
  • Where an individual’s SD orientation and its underlying archetypes match that which is represented collectively, and the collective SD orientation matches the requirements of the particular life conditions involved, chances for effective leadership improve.
  • Where an individual’s SD orientation and its associated archetypes exceed, or meet and exceed, the collective SD orientation, it can contribute to potential leadership effectiveness. Given the hierarchical nature of the SD model, lower-level worldviews are understood and transcended by those that have developed higher-level SD orientations. It should, however, be pointed out that the impact of the gap between the value orientations of leaders and those of their potential followers depends on the manner in which leaders intentionally connect with followers by capitalising on archetypes.
  • Leadership driven by archetypes, which largely overlap or match those of the collective mindset but that shows a higher level SD orientation than that which is collectively held, is required to resolve impasses in situations where the collectively held SD orientations and SST solutions have previously been ineffective.
  • Where the potential leader’s SD level and its associated archetypes do not match the collective mindset, effective leadership is still possible if the leader shows a second tier SD orientation and is flexible and informed enough to align his/her approach with that of potential followers. Leaders with a Yellow SD orientation normally have the capacity to transcend the boundaries between the various value orientations.
  • Where a leader’s SD orientation represents the first SD tier, even if it is higher than the collective SD level of potential followers but his/her archetypes are not in any way aligned with those of the collective mindset, there is a significant chance of leadership failure–unless the leader with a higher SD level than that which is collectively held carefully manages his/her interaction with followers. The risk is that a forced approach may be seen as insincere and can easily be distrusted.
  • Where there is a mismatch in the archetypes of a leader and that of the collective mindsets, leaders who try to impose either lower or higher level SD values on followers than that which the followers collectively embrace run the risk of alienating followers, irrespective of the quality of the cognitive strategies that are proposed by the leader.
  • Archetypes and value systems determine the way in which cognitive capability is utilised. Specific archetypes can therefore derail cognitive capability, especially where Mindell’s concept of secondary process remains repressed (as discussed in 3.3).
  • Cognitive capability may also impact on the person’s internalisation of certain archetypes.
  • Given a match between the archetypes underlying the person’s orientation and that required by the SST context, leaders with higher levels of cognitive capability than that required by the SST context stand a good chance of being effective, but cognitive capability alone does not guarantee an effective outcome.
  • Given a match between the archetypes underlying the person’s orientation and that required by the SST context, leaders with lower levels of cognitive capability than that required by the SST environment are highly unlikely to be effective. They may, however, cope for an interim period by relying of the advice of others; by relationship building; image management; or other such strategies.
  • Although some archetypes may appear purely negative (for example bully, miser, victim, etc.), all archetypes hold positive and negative value and can be applied to benefit or destroy systems.

The manner in which the archetypes inherent in the SD value orientations overlap with those that can be associated (as indicated by a cross) with SST effectiveness can be represented in table 3 below in matrix format.

SD levels

SST levels

Pure Operational


Tactical Strategy

Parallel Processing

Pure Strategic

























Table 3: The Overlap Between Typical SD and SST Archetypes (The brackets indicate a-typical matches.)

Examples of archetypes that can be linked to the SST and SD hierarchy appear below. Please note that the archetypes mentioned here reflect Myss’s (2001) specification of roles, which carry archetypal value. A fair degree of overlap between the archetypal patterns associated with the various SST levels can be explained in terms of the aligned work-related purposes that apply across all five SST categories. Examples of archetypes / roles associated with the SST levels:

  • The diagnostic accumulation level: athlete, detective/explorer, engineer, father, knight, warrior, watchman; and
  • The tactical strategy or alternative paths level: engineer, father, hero, judge, mediator, miser, networker, rescuer, thief, trickster, warrior, watchman.

Examples of archetypes / roles associated with the SD levels:

  • Red: rebel, warrior, hero, athlete, queen/king, avenger, bully, seductress;
  • Blue: watchman, warrior, judge, knight, father, detective, advocate, athlete; and
  • Orange: Midas, magician, mediator, networker, pioneer, gambler, athlete, trickster

4.3.    The Future of Leadership Assessment

Given the dynamic complexity as well as the integrated and contextualised nature of human functioning, not to mention the role of collective consciousness, the evolution of consciousness, ethical considerations, and societal needs, there is much room for the further improvement of assessment methodologies. The challenges in this regard will briefly be discussed.

Dynamic complexity: Human beings and groups can be seen as dynamic systems, the characteristics of which cannot be effectively captured by static and structured models. Dynamic modelling is required to provide clues as to processing trends and tendencies. In the field of cognitive assessment, the CPP provides an example of a technique aimed at externalising and tracking thinking processes in terms of detailed operationalised functions; identifying cognitive preferences and capabilities; analysing the results algorithmically; and linking personal profiles to the requirements of certain work contexts. Further research in this regard may prove useful.

Integration: Human functioning is an integrated affair that reflects many physiological, emotional, motivational, psychological, spiritual, and collective factors. Holistic assessment capitalising on various methodologies, each measuring different aspects, may be a useful first step towards an integrated understanding in this regard. With time, this additive approach may be replaced by the emergence of integrated techniques of psychological assessment. Movement can already be detected towards an integration of disciplines, of which the psychological and physiological aspects of cognition and mind-brain functioning is an example. Such initiatives may gain momentum over time. This is bound to elevate the predominant SST diagnostic nature of psychometric practice to a more appropriate level. It would also require of psychometric practice to further widen its perspective to access offerings from related disciplines–including the biological or neurosciences approaches, transpersonal psychology, sociological theory and even metaphysics.

Contextualised nature: Human functioning involves individual, collective and contextual components. Many theorists in the Jungian tradition have emphasised the impact of collective consciousness on individual functioning and have specified archetypes as operational mechanisms in this regard. There also are the dynamics of the person-context interaction. The identification of the catalysts involved here may demand research attention in future.

Ethical consideration and pragmatic value: From an ethical perspective, assessment needs to benefit the individual, the organisation, and society as a whole. Useful applications may include self-insight, enhancing personal and team growth, validly predicting behaviour to enhance the effectiveness of people-job matching, developing awareness for improved adaptability, improving cognitive confidence and intuitive awareness, career guidance, assisting those with learning disabilities, and informing educational practices.

Given possibilities created by the Internet, the benefits of assessment can be spread to a wide audience. This may require more practical approaches such as the individual’s taking charge of his/her own growth and evolvement,  vast improvements over current reporting practices, interactive and life-long tracking of participants–for predictive purposes as well, and the integration of the world of work with the educational context and with individual ambitions.

Evolution of human consciousness: With time, the current focus on cognitive capacity and personality may well make way for a stronger emphasis on wisdom, intuition, integrity, and related yet transcendent concepts in line with the evolutionary emergence of consciousness–where the latter can be regarded as a core evolutionary intent.

Evaluating assessment benefits: A challenge is posed in evaluating the effectiveness of measurement techniques within business and educational contexts. This is, however, necessary to guide investment in research. Organisations seem as complex as humans in that multiple variables contaminate and obscure the research results. Evaluating the impact of assessment initiatives may thus require a systems modelling approach as is suggested for individual assessment.

5. Conclusion

The approach presented here is aimed at providing a broad framework and specific techniques for the assessment of leadership potential. Levels of consciousness, cognitive capacity, and preference, as well as motivational patterns, are proposed as critical factors. The manner in which these techniques are applied in practice, as well as the interaction between the assessed constructs, are discussed. This is followed by speculations on future trends in the assessment of cognition. In addition, techniques for the assessment of levels of consciousness and motivation are also proposed.

The above approach differs somewhat from the popular trait theory view of leadership and its associated assessment techniques. The latter primarily address constructs such as personality, emotional intelligence, intelligence, and behaviour in what is often criticised as a fragmented and decontextualised manner.

The unique methodologies for the assessment of cognition, motivation, and consciousness can be regarded as a step towards creating an integrated, contextualised, process-based and systems modelling research approach in psychometrics


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[1] It should be pointed out that the particular combination of stylistic preferences on the CPP provide more richness than the styles themselves.

 About the Author

Maretha Prinsloo is a registered psychologist who has worked extensively in the fields of:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychometric test development
  • People assessment and development
  • Project management
  • Research and Development
  • Organisational Transformation
  • Community Development

She worked in the fields of clinical and counseling psychotherapy from 1984 -1988 after which she turned her attention to research on personality and cognitive assessment. Completing her doctorate in Cognitive Psychology in 1992 (titled: “A theoretical model and empirical technique for the study of problem solving processes”) she went on to found the company Magellan Consulting (pty) Ltd. which she has lead since 1994. The business is currently serving approximately 1000 corporate clients and supports many independent consulting groups in the fields of people assessment and development. Magellan has expanded to the UK where it is registered as Cognadev UK Ltd and where it operates in association with a number of consulting groups that provide training, support as well as assessment and development products to clients globally.

Projects that Maretha is currently involved in include: support of organisational transformation initiatives; identification of bursary candidates; succession planning in leadership; selection and placement; executive coaching; compiling strategic teams; career guidance; development of strategic thinking; development of analytical skills; development of EQ; competency assessment; cross-cultural research; development of assessment products and managing and marketing her business. Clients include corporates representing most industries as well as independent consultants.

Maretha is particularly interested in research and development which involves project management, programming, and the provision of assistance to Masters and Doctoral students. She has developed several assessment and development products.