Leadership to the Power of 8: Leading Self, Others, Organization, System and Supra-System

October 2012 / Feature Articles

Marilyn Hamilton


Marilyn Hamilton

This article explores the qualities of leadership to the “Power of 8”. It offers a definition of leadership that can be recalibrated across a spectrum of complexity. It proposes the integral paradigm as a source for framing, measuring, mapping and tracking leadership across four levels of complexity. The article examines evidence from three sets of leaders at three progressively more complex levels of leadership, considering their capacities related to moral influence, space and time, within the contexts of organizations, systems and supra-systems. The article concludes that the integral model is a valid model for framing and/or understanding leadership and summarizes its key advantages.

Key words: Leadership to the Power of 8, integral model, leadership context, moral influence, space, time


… leaders with increasing capacity are more equipped to engage with the complexity, paradox, non-linear stresses, ambiguity and multitude of perspectives …. The [peer teachers of integrally informed leadership who] have tested their theories through the lenses of integral frameworks using multiple methodologies and gathered data with a plurality of methods: interviews, observation, self/peer/coach evaluations, introspection, action inquiry, and inter-organizational comparisons… all conclude that the need for advanced leadership development is critical in today’s complex world and that the resources to deliver leaders with advanced capacities are not sufficient to the current demands that we face from: global, multi-scale, unsustainable, stressful, cross-sector complicities, productivity challenges, resource depletion and generational values shifts. (M. Hamilton, 2008b)

Defining Leadership

For the last twenty years, my “pracademic” inquiry into leadership has ranged from teaching and publishing a multi-construct leadership typology (Anderson, 1992, p. 115; Anderson & Ford, 1998; M. Hamilton, 2000), to doctoral research seeking to understand the relationship between leadership and learning in a self-organizing online community (M. Hamilton, 1999) to performing as a positional leader in my communities of interest and location, to serving as a professor in a School of Leadership (M. Hamilton, 2001, 2008b) . Definitions for Leadership and Communities in my leadership research and positional experience have progressed from “leader as coach” in the adult developmental and coaching frameworks of Anderson et al and Egan (Anderson, 1992; Anderson & Ford, 1998; Egan, 1990) ; to “leader as visionary or team leader” in the leadership systems models of Senge (P. Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, Ross, & Smith, 1994; P. M. Senge, 1994) and Flood (Flood, 1999) ; to “leader as anyone who wants to help at this time” in the complexity and living systems framings of leadership by Wheatley (M. Wheatley, 2006; M. Wheatley & Kellner-Rogers, 1996) ; “leader as agent of change”  in the change discourse (Eoyang & Olson, 2001); and finally to “leader as a values-based organizational change agent” in a model that seemed able to contain all of these frameworks, namely the integral model of reality developed by Ken Wilber (coined AQAL (Wilber, 2006, 2007). In the last decade I have refined my understanding of the integral leadership framework with a study of Graves’ adult development model (Graves, 1971, 1974, 2003, 2005) and Spiral Dynamics (Beck & Cowan, 1996; Beck & Linscott, 2006) .

While my original research question focused on discerning which came first, leaders or the communities they lead, my early quest was inspired by the elegant simplicity of Jaworski’s (1996) definition of leadership as: “a journey to wholeness for an individual”. That simple statement seemed to imply the kind of unfolding that had occurred with my examination of leadership across a spectrum of increasing complexity. Wilber’s AQAL model provided a template to observe, track and evaluate the performance of leaders in a wholistic frame composed of four lenses (quadrants). Table 1 illustrates them as: Upper Right (UR) exterior individual action, Upper Left (UL) interior individual reflection, Lower Left (LL) interior collective relationships and Lower Right ( LR) exterior collective systems. For the purposes of this article, an acting definition of leadership is: “the dynamic bio-psycho-cultural-systemic capacity of a person to adaptively lead human systems at multiple scales of complexity to achieve some outcome”.

Table 1: AQAL Quadrants




Individual Upper Left







Upper Right



Lower Left








Lower Right

Integral Model – An Effective Model for Researching Leadership

This definition can be applied across increasing scales of complexity that can be termed: ego-ethno-world-kosmic. Thus leadership capacity can be tracked during the lifetime of the leader through four performance lenses of wholeness or holons. Both Wilber (1995, p. 18), and Beck and Cowan (1996, p. 289) borrowing from Koestler (1976), termed the quality of this wholeness as “holonic”, meaning that systems and sub-systems are both parts of larger systems while being whole systems in themselves. Such a frame introduces the concept, dynamics and complexity of systems thinking to wholeness as a holarchy of nested holons (where an individual leader belongs simultaneously to family, teams/groups, organizations, communities, city, society/culture and finally species) .

Within the integral frame we encounter the quality of fractalness. Fractal patterns of human development repeat themselves at different scales in the holarchy. The fractal qualities of the four quadrants and the four evolutionary levels of development enable the application of this model not only to individual holons but to social holons (the collective of individuals in any multi-person grouping). Thus the fractal patterns offer ways of grasping individual systems that persist and/or develop along with the exponential levels of dynamic complexity of human systems. Over time my own research and writing has attempted to unpack the application and implications of the leadership definition to the collective scales of community and city, where a fractal definition of community becomes: “the dynamic bio-psycho-cultural-systemic capacity of a groups to adaptively develop human systems at multiple scales of complexity to achieve some shared outcome.”  (M. Hamilton, 1998, 1999).

In addition to Wilber (Wilber, 2001, 2006), Beck (Beck, 2000, 2001, 2002a), Cook-Greuter (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2002) and Kegan (Kegan, 1994; Kegan & Lahey, 2001, 2009)  have explicated similar waves of human development, which help explain the situational variants of leadership development .

Table 2 illustrates one version of this trajectory.

Table 2: Leadership Development Levels and Basic Motives



Developmental Level

Basic Leadership Motives



Staying alive through innate sensory equipment.



Belonging to blood relationships; conjuring mystical spirits in a magical and scary world.



Enforcing power over self, others, and nature through exploitive dependence.



Commanding absolute belief in one right way and obedience to authority.



Inventing and possibility thinking, focused on making things better for self.



Sharing equality and seeking the well-being of people;  building consensus as highest priority.



Adapting flexibly to change through connected, systemic views.



Attending to whole-Earth dynamics and macro-level actions.

Note: This is a simplified description of the eight vMEMEs; the developmental levels not only of individuals, but also the evolution of societies.  Adapted from Beck and Cowan (2006)

These developmental waves or levels situate individuals (and the groups they lead) within the four quadrants as noted above situated at a “centre of gravity” (COG ) level. This COG spans multiple levels (generally three) of development as a person or group’s capacity expands through increasingly complex layers of development, with varied weightings of quadrant development. (It must also be noted that the same map can chart the contraction to lesser levels of complexity if the environment imposes life conditions that force a contraction to earlier levels of development for the sake of survival (eg. in the face of natural disaster, famine or disease.)

Thus the developmentalists chart the map of potential human (and leadership) growth, while Graves and Beck, in particular, point to the contexting of this within an understanding of complex adaptive systems – where the environmental life conditions must always be considered a triggering factor and become the context for increasingly complex forms of organization (as identified in Table 3).

Table 3: Organizational Environments as Leadership Contexts

Level of Complexity            Structure of Organization

Level 1 (BEIGE) Hearth circle
Level 2 (PURPLE) Tribal gathering circle
Level 3 (RED) Power-based hierarchy
Level 4 (BLUE) Authority-based hierarchy
Level 5 (ORANGE) Strategic hierarchical system
Level 6 (GREEN) Social network
Level 7 (YELLOW) Self-organizing system
Level 8 (TURQUOISE) Global noetic field

Note. Adapted from Hamilton (2008) and Beck & Cowan (1996)

Leadership to the Power of x

One of the discoveries of developmental theorists is that humans develop intelligences that can increase in both quantity and quality. Quantity relates to the multiple intelligences identified by Gardner (Gardner, 1999) and quality relates those intelligences to a trajectory of development that is emerging in terms of leadership effectiveness defined as Intelligent Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient (EQ) (Goleman, 1997), Values Quotient (VQ) (McIntosh, 2007)  and Spiritual Quotient (SQ) (Wigglesworth, 2002, 2004, 2011, nd) (Gauthier & Fowler, 2008).

Graves proposed that intelligences emerge in humans in response to triggering events in their environments (Graves, 1971, 2003, 2005). His proposition was that the potential for development was inherent in the healthy human, and  the quality of intelligences emerges as the individual encounters increasingly more complex environments. Similar theories have emerged that track the levels of complexity of adults (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2002; Dawson-Tunik, 2005; Kegan, 1994; Kegan & Lahey, 2001; Torbert, Livne-Tarandach, Herdman-Barker, Nicolaides, & McCallum, 2008).

Thus the potential for leadership is released in the context of any given leader’s environment. As noted in (M. Hamilton, 2008a, p. 103) those environments can be calibrated essentially as shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Summary of Leadership Calibrations

Self aware
• Self manage
• Self learn/lead/teach

Other aware
• Other manage
• Other learn/lead/teach

Context aware
• Context manage
• Context learn/lead/teach

System aware
• System manage
• System learn/lead/teach

These calibrations (adapted from the measurement system used by Dawson et al [2005] for the tracking of leadership lines of specific expertise) effectively map the lifecycle of leadership learning stages: entry-awareness, practitioner-management and exemplar-teacher.

As leaders learn to manage and then lead self, other, context and system, they become of necessity increasingly attentive and increasingly intentional. While becoming increasingly attentive and intentional, the leader becomes an increasingly capable contributor to the intelligence of larger and larger environments. A leader who has higher capacities of emotional, mental and interpersonal intelligences has the potential to contribute to many complex social holons, including families, groups, teams, organizations, communities, cities and nations at larger and larger scales. (M. Hamilton, 2010, p. 103)


In essence the development of leadership capacity (UL) can be measured as performance (UL) that leads effectively in contexts of ever increasing metrics of space (LR), time (LR, LL) and moral influence (LL) [i].  This means that as the leader matures through levels of complexity their spheres of influence grow from:

space measured as very near (home turf) to very far (global influence)

time measured as impact of decision horizons defined in months to decades ((Beck & Cowan, 1996, pp. 53, 169; Dutrisac, Fowke, Koplowitz, & Shepard, nd; Gray, Hunt, & McArthur, 2007, p. 108; M. Hamilton, 2008a, pp. 174-175)

moral influence measured as the number (and levels of complexity) of people (from few to many and from less developed to highly developed) who are impacted by direct and indirect decisions (UL), actions (UR), policies (LL) and systems (LR) (Beck & Cowan, 1996, pp. 62, 123).

It is this combination of leadership calibrations and reach that gives us the metrics for noticing the trajectories of Leadership to the Power of 5, 6, 7 and 8. But before we examine this span in particular, let us look at the capacity of leaderships to all the powers that we are currently examining.

Summary of All Leadership Foci

(It should be noted that each level of leadership from 2 to 8 recalibrates the preceding levels.)

Leading Self (Ego)

Leadership to the Power of 1 is only able to focus on the self. It is the root of the egocentric stage of leadership development.

Leadership to the Power of 2  focuses on leading the family or clan.

Leadership to the Power of 3 completes this egocentric wave. Leaders to the Power of 3 focus on the power of “might as right”. This is the apex of the dominator model and focus of leadership.


Leading Others (Ethno)

Leadership to the Power of 4 focuses on hierarchical order, based on merit and measurable standards, rules and authority.


Leading Context (World1)

Leadership to the Power of 5 focuses on the power of individual success, organizational results and sectoral competition.

Leadership to the Power of 6 focuses on the development of social justice, tolerance of differences and recognition of equality within social systems.


Leading System (World2)

Leadership to the Power of 7 focuses on the emergence of multiple perspectives that can value all prior levels of development. It sees the world within the context of complex systems and operates with flexibility and flow.


Leading Supra-System (Global)

Leadership to the Power of 8 focuses on the world as an integrated evolutionary whole. Through interconnection and cross-collaboration on a truly global scale, we can see that Leadership to the Power of 8 enables the global flow of people, energy, security and resources. (M. Hamilton, 2008a, p. 115). As noted elsewhere (M. Hamilton, 2007) leadership to the Power of 8 focuses an ecological, political and global perspective and presence.


In summary, Leadership to the Power of 8 operates with the infinite qualities of adaptiveness that enable human systems to thrive (and reproduce themselves) in endlessly changing life conditions as set out in Table 5.


Table 5: Summary of Leadership Maturity Qualities



Moral Influence

Space Span

Time Impact


1 Self, Manage Ego – self Here <1
2 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach Ego-family Here 1-2
3 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach Ego-clan Here 2-4
4 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach Ethno-Nation Near 4-8
5 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach Context- Sector Near 8-13
6 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach Context – Social Far 13-21
7 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach System Far 21-44
8 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach Supra-System Global 44-65


 Observing Leadership Development in Action

In order to illustrate the development of leaders from Level 5/6 to Level 8, for this article, nine leaders, three at each stage of advanced development, act as examples of applied integral leadership.

The first trio are graduates of a Leadership degree program at Royal Roads University (RRU), where the author has taught for the last 13 years. This two year program was designed using constructivist, adult learning, cohort-based, competency, problem-framed approaches (M. Hamilton, 2001). As a result the hundreds of graduates have been observed through the interactions of teaching, coaching and comparative evaluation. In particular the more than 50 students, whose theses this researcher has supervised have provided an ongoing set of living case studies to observe leadership development. Three of those students (identified by pseudonym) will provide the evidence to support observations about Leadership to the Power of Levels 5 and 6. They are called Ann, Betty and Carl.

The second trio, comes from an engagement in the last five years with the Integral Community through collegial exchanges, presentation and attendance at two Integral Theory Conferences (ITC). Engaging with these peers has affirmed and triangulated the experience of teaching leadership at RRU. Within this community of integrally-informed peers, the researcher has reviewed three books authored by members of the Integral community. These three authors (identified by pseudonym) will provide the evidence to support observations about Leadership to the Power of Level 7. They are named Lorna, Max and Norman.

The third trio are peers to key leaders, teachers and mentors (Margaret Wheatley, Ken Wilber and Don Beck) who provided to this author, a discourse on leadership through complexity science, the integral model and human values development respectively (M. Wheatley, 1992; M. Wheatley & Kellner-Rogers, 1996; M. J. Wheatley & Kellner-Rogers, 1998; M. J. Wheatley & Nickerson, Aug-98); (Wilber, 1995, 1996, 2000a, 2000b, 2001, 2006, 2007; Wilber, Patten, Leonard, & Morelli, 2006) ;and (Beck, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002b, 2006; Beck & Cowan, 1994, 1997, 1996). Building on the wisdom of these leaders, the works of evolutionary biologists, political scientists and global journalists have inspired the conclusion that “Leaders to the Power of 8 lead through informed ecological action, massive, continuous and integral connection, continual adaptation and respect for all living systems.” (M. Hamilton, 2007)

For the purposes of this article three such Leaders (identified by pseudonym) provide the evidence to support observations about Leadership to the Power of 8. They go by the names of: Xena, Yolanda and Zoe.

Author’s Leadership Qualifications

One lesson that the Integral model offers that is relevant to the study of leadership is that the centre of gravity of the leader/evaluator must be disclosed in order to identify the filters the observer is using to evaluate other leaders. In a recent paper (M. Hamilton, 2008b), the researcher situates herself in a centre of gravity (COG) between Leadership Level 6 and Level 8. This gives her levels of confidence in her ratings of others that range from high for Level 6 and Level 7 and moderate for Level 8.


Leadership to the Power of 5 and Power of 6

Using the landscape of multiple levels of leadership as our foundation, let us look now at three actual leaders whose leadership practise was observed while they were students in the RRU Masters of Leadership program. In particular let us consider the period of six months when they were undertaking their final action research project.

The design of action research (Coghlan & Brannick, 2007; Glesne, 1999; Stringer, 1996) places the researcher into a co-researching, co-participant role where he/she becomes part of the system of interest that he/she is studying. This is a form of research that can be designed with both qualitative and/or quantitative methods and therefore integrates well with integral quadrants (where left hand quadrants reveal qualitative epistemologies and  right hand quadrants align with quantitative epistemologies).

The three candidates, Ann, Betty and Carl entered the research stage of their MA with centres of gravity in the range of Leadership to the Power of 5. The evidence for this included:

Moral Influence – they managed, consulted or lead organizations at middle manager level with spheres of influence numbers ranging from the tens to the hundreds for employees; tens to the hundreds for suppliers; and hundreds to thousands for clients/users.

Time – the impact of their decision horizons spanned from one year to five years.

Space – their range of influence spanned department within a city (Carl), culture within a province (Ann) and sustainability pillar sector within a nation (Betty).

Each was capable of self-assessing for contributions measured in various weightings related to bottom line: priorities (Betty), financial results (Ann) and employee performance (Carl).

When each embarked on their Major Project, no one had experience of this kind of research system (LR), this quantity of data collection (UR), the Masters’ quality of  participatory analysis (LL), nor the academic style of action research reporting (UL). Thus for each person their projects were a significant leadership stretch in all four quadrants. In Gravesian terms they had set themselves up for an environmental trigger that would grow their leadership capacities. In integral terms they were experiencing new capacity stretches in each of the four quadrants. In developmental terms their research design would demand that they shift from a scale of team or department impact to one of transorganizational, intersectoral and/or transcultural influence.

The research question that each person had framed was both personally interesting and also significant to their system of study. In the case of these researcher/leaders they chose integral and/or spiral dynamic framings to frame literature review; collect, organize and analyse data; and present conclusions and recommendations. The psycho-active nature of the integral/spiral models along with the participatory action research worked internally on how the researchers thought, externally on how they tabulated their results and collectively as they shared the outcomes with their client organizations.

Thus by the time they had concluded their projects they had a lived experience that they were able to frame in bio-psycho-cultural-systemic terms. Their 130+ page papers were illustrated with images, tables and themes that explicitly demonstrated their command of a new mindset that as a minimum could be defined at Level 6 (and in many cases Level 7).

At the conclusion of their projects, each of these leaders had to self-reflect their own developmental journey resulting from completion of the project. Each was able to frame it in terms of the four quadrants, providing evidence based on insight (UL), literature (LL), systemic integration of evidence and theory (LR) and commitments for future action (UR).

Moreover, in all cases, subsequent to their MA graduation the three leaders moved into leadership positions with greater span in all three definable arenas:

Moral Influence – they managed, consulted or lead organizations at senior manager or director level with spheres of influence numbers ranging to the high hundreds for employees or contractors; tens to the hundreds for suppliers; and thousands to hundreds of thousands for clients/users.

Time – the impact of their decision horizons expanded to five to ten years (or longer).

Space – their range of influence caused each of them to move into new positions that included a new City in a new region (Carl), multiple cultures across a regional geography (Ann) and increased visibility of sectoral contribution to sustainability pillars on a national level (Betty).

Thus these three Leaders to the Power of 6 provide for us three stories as evidence of how to apply the integral model for measuring the development of leadership competence and capacity as a result of focused study and action research.


Leadership to the Power of 7

Let us now move on to the second trio of leaders and consider their leadership qualities.

Lorna, Max and Norman are distinguished by their shift from expert practitioners in their respective fields to producers and teachers. In other words they had mastered leadership behaviours calibrated at self management and other management, committing to extended years of study with mentors and teachers in the integral movement (including but not limited to Wilber, Beck, Kegan, Cook-Greuter and Edwards). Each of them were teaching in accredited institutions (Lorna and Norman) and/or with prestigious global peer groups (Max). Each had been recognized by peer review for published articles and/or been selected for special presentations at international conferences.

These were the defining characteristics of this Leadership Cluster at the beginning of their Leadership shift from exit Level 6  to entry Level 7. One could describe their capacities in these terms.

Moral Influence – they taught others in institutions where student impact could be measured as spheres of influence in the hundreds to thousands for graduate students over multiple years; and to teaching peers measured in the tens to hundred.

Time – the impact of their decision horizons (as defined by their course designs) ranged from five to twenty years (or longer).

Space – their range of influence was the city, province, state or country where they taught in institutions (Lorna, Norman, Max respectively); the country and region of the developed world where they presented at conferences (all three in the USA; Max in Europe); and the virtual global reach they influenced through their published articles (all three).

In the last five years, each person of this trio has elected to write a book and been successful in proposing it to a publisher. Two of the books have been released (Max and Norman) and the third is in editorial review (Lorna). In all three cases having read and/or reviewed the books, this researcher has observed evidence of these leaders’ next stage of development.

The conception, design, writing, editing and publication of a book, like the MA students who experienced action research projects, provides an environmental trigger that demands from the author a whole person response in order to complete the project. In this case the authors were not writing about trivial topics, but had set out to reframe whole discourses of interest into a new integral paradigm (aesthetics for Lorna; economics for Max; and sustainability for Norman)[ii]. Thus the authors were called to work at a meta-paradigmatic level that transcended and included the earlier versions of their chosen discourses. This demanded that they have an understanding of Traditional (Level 4), Modern (Level 5) and Post-Modern (Level 6) discourses in their respective fields and then go beyond those levels to offer a whole new framing within an Integral (Level 7) framing.

In comparison to the Leaders at Level 5 and 6, this  pattern of leadership represents a progression not only within the calibration levels (self, manage, learn/lead/teach) but across the contexting calibrations (self, others, organization, system) as set out in Table 4. The authors have shifted from leading context for organizations or sectors into leading within a systems context a whole field of discourse.

As many (if not most) authors can relate, the writing of a book is a major project because of the scope and scale of the physical and mental organization of the project. In the case of these authors, their practise as leaders in the integral movement meant the experience went much deeper than the production of copy or the delivery of a manuscript. They related (in person and in their book Introductions) how the experience was a four quadrant, bio-psycho-cultural-systemic experience that demanded more of them than they had ever had to provide in their prior career experience. What is more, as leaders in the integral movement (i.e. each produced a book that was a bellwether contribution to the discourse of focus) they accomplished this while continuing with alternative lives (eg. to support families, generate cashflow, fulfil contractual commitments). This illustrates their multi-disciplinary capabilities. Furthermore as pioneers they lacked peer support of any significant kind, because few peers were available to counsel them – either in their field of discourse or in the integral movement. Thus these Leaders to the Power of 7, were exploring systems on a mission “where no one had gone before”.

Their accomplishments are very recent, but in terms of leadership, I observe the shift in their capacities to be definable as follows.

Moral Influence – each has produced a seminal non-fiction literary work that is rigorously substantiated by references, citations and examples. Each has used an integral and/or spiral/developmental/evolutionary framing to re-define the paradigm of their field. In the case of Lorna and Norman their writing and illustrations go beyond workmanship into high aesthetic qualities in their own rights. (In the case of Norman his work has been independently reviewed by peers in his field with high praise that corroborates the extensive review that I wrote.) Max, as the youngest of these three has drawn on his multi-disciplinary background to make arguments for economic change that are unusually grounded not only in truth, but in beauty and goodness as well.

The measures of influence for this leadership trio, now span potentially thousands to hundreds of thousands of readers around the world in English speaking countries (with future potential for translation into other languages).

Time – the impact of their decision horizons (as defined by their book designs) ranges from ten to fifty years (or longer). The seminal nature of their books position the books and the authors to be classics in the integral paradigm in each of their fields.

Space – their range of influence is now the English speaking world on a global basis – with a projected propensity for those countries which have most embraced a systems-based view of the world. Max’s focus on economics may have an earlier uptake because of the world’s economic woes. Norman’s focus on sustainability may also attract an audience that is larger than the English speaking world as that discourse matures because of accelerating interest in global climate change. And Lorna’s process for aesthetic transformation, may well morph outside the English speaking world because the integral design process she describes enables transcultural participation.

Thus these three Leaders to the Power of 7, are by inner competence (UL), collegial relations (LL), outer capacity (UR) and systemic creativity (LR) on a different scale of performance, as measured by all four quadrants, than the Leaders to the Power of 6. Indeed as they season (along with the audience they serve) to the potential generated by their authorship, they will position themselves not just to speak to, but also to lead and teach at the Complexity Level 7. Given time, commitment and circumstance each seems to have the qualities that will allow them to mature into Leaders to the Power of 8. And that is now where we turn our attention.

Leadership to the Power of 8

Our last trio of leaders, Xena, Yolanda and Zoe are an unusual set of leaders – not only because they can demonstrate Leadership to the Power of 8, but because thirty years ago, as friends they conducted an inquiry that was only recently published as a book.

What is striking in this book is not only that they revealed how they were pioneers of their fields at the time it documents, but, they also recognized their pivotal role in shifting the capacity of the human species from their gender perspectives. If the Leaders to the Power of 7 are ploughing new fields with little support from peers, because they do not yet exist, these three exemplars of Leaders to the Power of 8 had even fewer systems of support.

So, in effect they filled this vacuum by creating their own cohort amongst themselves, despite the fact that their fields of interest were distinctively different from one another. Xena was an early pioneer of the human potential movement. Yolanda had the temerity to challenge the entire field of traditional economics. Zoe committed to evolutionary consciousness long before multiple sciences proved this was not merely a metaphor.

Thirty years ago these three created the conditions for developmental, evolutionary, complex adaptive framings in entirely new fields of knowledge. They were instrumental in breaking new ground where possibilities had not even seemed to exist before. In terms of our calibrations this was how their leadership playing fields were defined.

Moral Influence – each was defying the gatekeepers of the power structure that was entrenched in their field of interest. Xena sidestepped legal challenges to her research using psycho-tropic drugs and gained access to funding for research that revolutionized the integral paradigm of human consciousness. Yolanda took on the even more impervious power structure of global financial institutions and economic power brokers by challenging assumptions about capital formation and resource creation. Zoe gained unexpected entry into private foundation funding that sponsored a series of conferences, prototyped organizational formats and entry into the plenaries of political process.

The measures of influence for this three leaders, spanned thousands in America to hundreds of thousands of citizens around the world .

Time – the impact of their decision horizons (as defined by their life purpose) ranged from twenty to fifty years (or longer). The seminal reframings of their fields of interest meant short-term constraints but long term recognition (if they could stay the course).

Space – their range of influence started in the English speaking world on a regional basis with their students and followers, but slowly became global in scope as others from many different countries, cultures and languages recognized the relevance of their new paradigms to their lives, organizations and countries.

With the opportunity to observe, read, learn and co-present with each of these three leaders the author notes that she first encountered Yolanda’s work on community wellbeing fifteen years ago with her influence on the World Health Organization’s Healthy Community initiatives. About ten years ago, she encountered Xena’s impact on the human potential movement through a personal development journey, her books and participating in a new intensive she developed 2 years ago. And finally she met, studied with, and co-created a workshop with Zoe over the last five years.

First-hand observations in the last two years has revealed how each of these Leaders has come into her Leadership to the Power of 8. It seems that their insights, commitment to change and risks to pioneer new ways of being, acting, relating and creating in the world has finally matured them into a stage where each leader is being recognized, sought after and invited to ground integral practise in their chosen fields. (Interestingly even those who claimed and named the “Integral Movement” have had to back track and recognize how much earlier these three leaders had not just adopted but defined what “integral” means in their spheres of influence.)

When we fast forward to today we can see in the lived practise of these three exemplars, the qualities of Leadership to the Power of 8.

Moral Influence – each of the leaders is now a published author multiple times over. Moreover they have sophisticated websites; sponsored, produced and/or directed video and multi-media productions. They have travelled the world presenting at conferences, framing policy initiatives and teaching Leaders to the Power of 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Thus their measures of influence have grown beyond casual encounters to thousands of well qualified experts on the most complex end of the spectrum to hundreds of thousands to millions of citizens, and multiple languages around the world on the less complex end of the spectrum.

Moreover these three leaders have redefined the meaning of “moral impact” in creating whole new categories of ethical investments (Yolanda); ways of learning (Xena); and transdisciplinary collaborations (Zoe).

Time – the impact of their decision horizons (as defined by their multiple callings) ranges from fifty to 100 years. In their respective fields each is an ambassador for sustainable living and resilient systems, so they think in deep evolutionary time and regularly access the wisdom of history and the energetic fields of the future, breaking all the traditional framings even related to time. Their legacies already transcend “normal” lifetimes and reach far into future generations, because each of these leaders is directly influencing at least four generations while their collected authorship will reach many more. In addition, because of their access to and use of electronic media, they meet with people both synchronously and asynchronously, while also being adept practitioners of being deeply present.

Space – their range of influence, which started in the English speaking world, now spans the physical globe and also infiltrates the energetic airwaves of all forms of electronic media. This means that like the expansion of time, they have transnational, transcultural and pan-global spheres of influence that reach inside the highest elected offices and into the youngest minds in classrooms[iii]. Their influence on space can be defined in truly integral terms – you could say that they have co-created the conditions to occupy mind space (UL), brain space (UR), cultural space (LL) and structural space (LR).

Effectively these Leaders to the Power of 8 are leading not simple systems – but have created a new calibration at the Supra-System Level (a category defined by Miller (Miller, 1978, p. 903) in his transdisciplinary research of living systems). Thus to Table 4 we must add another calibration level as set out in Table 6.

Table 6: Supra-System Calibration for Leadership to the Power of 8

Supra-System aware

• Supra-system manage

• Supra-system learn/lead/teach


These Leaders to the Power of 8 are not inappropriately immodest about their accomplishments (for each has paid a heavy price for her achievements); at the same time each of them is humble about her understanding of how much more exists to discover. As pioneers of Supra-System leadership they are constantly experimenting with managing (is that an oxymoron for Supra-Systems?), learning, leading and teaching in this global context. Yet, their continued output, itineraries and schedules bespeak amazing energy, contagious humour and inspiring joy. Together and severally they are exemplars of Leaders to the Power of 8 and work tirelessly to remove barriers and enable the flow of people, energy, security and resources for wellbeing on a global level.


Summary of the Path to Leadership to the Power of 8

In summary then we can recapitulate the leadership journeys of the three sets of leaders. In overviewing the real stories of real leaders (and not just the theory that predicts such performance) we can see that there are levels of maturity that one can correlate to age: our Leaders to the Power of 5 and 6 were in the age range of 30-40 years old; our Leaders to the Power of 6 were in the range of 40-60 years old; and our Leaders to the Power of 8 were in the range of 70-80 years old. However, we know from both theory and practise that it is not age alone that enables leadership power to progress, but the life conditions that trigger expanded moral, time and space capacity and hence influence. Each power is exponentially greater than the one before it and transcends and includes the earlier powers.

Table 7 sets out the trajectory of leadership as it develops across the levels of complexity that we have called the Power of 5, 6, 7, 8.

Table 7: Summary of Leadership to Powers 5, 6, 7, 8



Moral Influence




5 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead:Organization organizations at middle manager level10-1000’s
  • · City department
  • · Province culture
  • · National pillar
1-5 years
6 Self, Manage, Learn/Lead:Sector organizations at senior manager or director10 – 100,000+
  • · Whole city
  • · Regional & multiple cultures
  • · National sustainability
5-10 years+
7 – entry Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach:System Teach in institutions100 – 1000
  • · City, province, state or country
  • · +articles
  • · Country, region
  • · Virtual globe
5-20 years
7 – maturing Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach:System Book1000’s – 100,000’s
  • · Global English world
10-50 years
8 – entry Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach:System Books influencing Sectoral Pioneer1000’s – 100,000’s
  • · Global English and non-English
20-50+ years
8 – maturing Self, Manage, Learn/Lead/Teach:Supra-System 1000 Experts1mm citizensNew categories of ethics
  • · Multiple languages around the world
  • · Transnational, transcultural and pan-global
  • · Mind space (UL), brain space (UR), cultural space (LL) and structural space (LR)
50-100 years+ history & future timeSynchronous & asynchronous time


In reviewing this table one can notice that as the Powers of Leadership increase the spheres of moral influence not only increase in numbers but they intensify in complexity. Thus the measure of influence is not only expanded by the total span or number of people reached, but by the depth of quality or level of leadership that it influences.


Insights Gained from the Application of Integral Models to the Study of Leadership Development

Returning to the questions which engendered this article we can now offer some conclusions about the value of using the integral model to study the development of leadership. The four quadrants and eight levels of the integral model offer observational and methodological dimensions that transcend and include leadership frames from traditional, modern, post-modern and even post-post modern discourses. While each of those frames are useful within their respective contexts, the integral model gives us a framework to align the capacities they reflect within quadrants of reality, holarchies of influence and levels of complexity. In this way integral allows us to appreciate leadership to each Power of emergence and the apparently natural path of unfolding from one to the other, caused by triggers in the life conditions, that demand complex adaptive leadership response(s).

The Integral model appears to be useful for framing the journey of Leadership because:

  1. It integrates four perspectives of bio-psycho-cultural-systems views of leadership.
  2. It is developmental in multiple ways:
  3.  across discreet stages (8 levels),
  4. waves (4 – ego, ethno, world, kosmic) and
  5. within stages (entry, intermediate, exit)
  6. It is evolutionary enabling the contexting of leadership development within historical and social contexts and discourses.
  7. It is holonic, allowing one to track individuals as holons and collectives as social holons.
  8. It is quasi-fractal which means that one can note the self-same patterns of development at different scales of leadership influence (while taking into consideration the dynamics of social holons versus individual holons).
  9. It is systemic, meaning that leadership can be viewed within the context of changes in the cultural and social (and natural) environments as a complex adaptive system.
  10. It is transcultural. This means that the deep patterns of leadership development can be noticed regardless of cultures because they are based on the hierarchy of complexity (which means surface differences might exist but underlying patterns will apply across cultures.)
  11. It allows for the study of leadership in trans-disciplinary contexts. Although the individual practices of leadership will vary from discipline to discipline (and even between specialized areas within disciplines) the general hierarchy of complexity is transferable.

The article concludes that the theory of the integral model offers a useful framework to measure, map and track observable leadership performance. As a pracademic, charged with grading and/or supervising evidence for leadership competency, the integral model has even permitted the translation of competencies across frameworks (eg. grading assignment marks for the modern university; assessing academic research quality for the post-modern School of study; coaching individual leadership performance for post-post modern competency review; and supporting high quality teamwork as collective outcomes in an integral context).   The analysis in this article of three sets of leaders, at different “Powers of Leadership” has illustrated the value of using an integral model to track the emergence of Leadership from the Power of 5/6 to the Power of 8. Moreover the theory appears to provide a resilient framework to continue to map emergent leadership capacities that it predicts will emerge beyond the Power of 8.


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[i] Elsewhere I have written about how leadership can also be calibrated in terms of the qualities of beauty, goodness and truth (Marilyn Hamilton, 2011) . However for the purposes of this article I wanted to select metrics that could be quantified.

[ii] Note that I have masked the exact field for these authors in order to preserve anonymity.

[iii] This is not speculative. Records exist of their coaching in the USA White House; running for Vice Presidential office; and influencing World Economic Forum as just three examples.

About the Author

Marilyn Hamilton PhD, CGA, CSP:  is founder of Integral City Meshworks Inc. and TDG Global Learning Connections www.integralcity.com . She is a charter member of Integral Institute, Globe Sustainable City Awards, Centre for Human Emergence: Canada, Canadian Professional Sustainability Institute and Training Trainers for Spiral Dynamics integral. Author of Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive (2008, New Society Publishers) Marilyn hosts, applies and teaches Integral City intelligences for designing change in the city that is ecologically informed and operationally integrated with a community of practise in Canada, USA, Mexico, Scandinavia, Europe, Russia, Asia and Australia. Gender, generations and evolution have been themes on which she has recently published.

Contact: marilyn@integralcity.com ; www.integralcity.com ; blog marilyn.integralcity.com; twitter integralcity  Integral City Meshworks Inc. Unit 24-4001 Old Clayburn Rd., Abbotsford, BC, Canada V3G1C5; Royal Roads University marilyn.hamilton@royalroads.ca

One thought on “Leadership to the Power of 8: Leading Self, Others, Organization, System and Supra-System

  1. Helen Rawlinson

    A great deal of thought and analysis has gone into producing this new way of viewing leadership capability and attribute development as well as defining their impact. It provides a complex integration of several different frameworks to make new sense and give clear directions for the development of leaders. It gives me a bit of a fright though about the limited number of leaders in my environment that I would guess to be at Power 6 and above yet we really need these higher operating leaders as many public sectors around the world are going through transformational change.

    I will be using Marilyn’s work to inform the ongoing development of managers but therein lies an enormous challenge, how to fast track managers through the levels but ensure that each level is embraced authentically so that the foundation is there to transition up to the next level.

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