Last March I found myself spending a day at a European ALIA event co-sponsored by the Progressio Foundation. I was looking forward to meeting new faces and networking with like-minded individuals. Much to my surprise and pleasure, the opening speaker turned out to be Richard Barrett. Twelve years earlier, I had invited Richard to come and present at an event hosted in my small community of Nelson in British Columbia. I had not seen him since then. To have him suddenly present was a delight.
During breaks and over lunch we had a chance to chat and catch up. Since leaving the World Bank (in the mid ‘90s I believe) and founding the values center, Richard had built up that organization to the point where two years ago he was able to step back from daily operations and “retire” to pursue his passion for soul centered leadership and presence more freely. Part of that included taking the work he had done in previous books and with the values center and going further in a new book, The New Leadership Paradigm. Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading and Organization, Leading in Society. This is organized to be more than just a book, but also an online resource center to support individuals and groups to apply the ideas presented. I will aim to give a brief overview and orientation to it.
A growing number of books attempt to take an integral approach to leadership development. Some are more comprehensive than other, taking varying approaches on how to cover the range of topics needed to be “integral.” Barrett’s approach is grounded in the evolution of consciousness. However he does not present a simple model of this, but weaves together a wide variety of research from different sources to give the reader many ways in to the topic. Reading through the book, I get the feeling of someone not merely cobbling together theories and models, but drawing on them from a meta-theoretical perspective in order to give the reader the best possible orientation to the work before them.
While not a “researcher” in a pure academic sense, Barrett clearly has done more than synthesize and integrate the models of others. His long history of applying his values model in organizations around the world is reflected in the wisdom that such application has brought. The book is full of stories to illustrate key concepts, lists relevant to each issue covered, models presented in comprehensible forms and plenty of practices to put things to use. Barrett organizes these in five main parts; fundamentals, leading self, leading others, leading an organization and leading in society. Each section (after the fundamentals) addresses consciousness, mastery, internal and external cohesion, and general practices.
What I appreciate in this book beyond the fairly comprehensive set of lenses used to provide an integral approach to leadership development, is that Barrett clearly brings the transpersonal, or soul dimension in as the core of this work. How to integrate soul with ego, to balance personal and community, all of the dynamics necessary to fully address our engagement in this world—all this is woven through his presentation of material in the book. This, along with a lively and engaging writing style, make this book a worthy addition to the library of anyone interested in growing their leadership practice.
About the Author
Jonathan Reams, Ph. D. is currently an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where he teaches and does research on leadership development and counselling. In addition, he is also Editor-in Chief of Integral Review, A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal for New Thought, Praxis and Research (http://integral-review.org ) and Scandinavian bureau chief for Integral Leadership Review (http://www.integralleadershipreview.com). A passion for understanding human nature has guided much of his experience, and eventually led to a doctorate in Leadership Studies, with a dissertation on The Consciousness of Transpersonal Leadership. In addition to this work, he has presented at international conferences on topics such as leadership, consciousness, transformative learning, spirituality, and science and religion dialogue. Jonathan has also done consulting and training for a diverse range of clients in the US, Canada and Europe.
Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, The Wise Leader: How DEOs can learn practical wisdom to help them do what’s right for their companies—and society, Harvard Business Review,89, 5 May 2011, pp. 58-67.
This is probably my favorite HBR article since Rook and Torbert’s “Seven Transformations of Leadership” in 2006—five years ago! While Nonaka and Takeuchi continue to raise the CEO of companies to hero status (and thereby Leader with a capital “L”) they also recognize the importance of distributed leadership so that companies can effectively engage the litany of challenges businesses and other organizations face in this day and age. If you wonder why raising them to hero status is a problem, I see this as an endemic behavior that leads to undermining and diminishing others (witness the discrepancy in pay between CEOs and workers in most US corporation) and promoting the welfare of wealthy classes over the rest of society. This has been so prevalent that I see it as unethical, criminal, and even damaging to the rest of society. Yet, this is precisely what the authors would argue is not the case, particularly with their many stories of CEOs of Japanese companies (where, admittedly pay discrepancies are not as great).
The authors, who own and operate a knowledge creating company that includes developing leaders primarily in Japan, argue that what is needed in the world today is wise leaders. Their understanding of what constitutes wise leaders resonates with what I believe integral approaches are trying to develop and communicate, without the benefit of integral theory. For one thing, they point out that explicit and tacit knowledge are both important. To manage one relies on explicit knowledge because it can be measured and codified. But to lead and cope with change it is essential to use tacit knowledge: “…all social phenomena—including business—are context dependent, and analyzing them is meaningless unless you consider people’s goals, values, and interests along with the power relationships among them.”
Look at this though a four-quadrant lens:
- Upper Right: behavioral and biological—practices of leading
- Upper Left: wisdom, including one’s own intentions, worldview and interest
- Lower Right: social phenomena, business, context, structures
- Lower Left: ”people’s goals, values and interests”
All of these are addressed in their approach.
In developing individuals to be wise and effective leaders, the authors have designed and implemented a 15-month program for CEOs. It begins with a day of physical exercises intended to promote teamwork. The executives build empathy by sharing stories of failure and success over the months of the course. They interact with scholars from multiple disciplines, including philosophy, literature, history and political science in once a moth daylong sessions. There are very few programs in the world that demand such an investment. Aside from this one, I know of two: an MIT-based program and the Integral Stagen Leadership Program. All are different, of course, but the authors’ program shares with Stagen, at least, an intention to broaden the perspectives and understandings of CEOs.
They call wise leaders phronetic leaders from Aristotle’s use of the Greek word phronesis—taking into consideration what is good or bad for human beings as the basis for taking action. Aristotle identified two types of wisdom: esoteric and practical. Again, we find resonance with an integral worldview. Based on this the authors offer six skills and ways to develop these skills that are essential to phronetic leaders:
- Wise leaders have the ability to judge goodness. Developing this include using one’s experience and developing sets of principles based on that experience, as well as “becoming well-versed in the liberal arts.” For the latter they reference Peter Drucker: “liberal because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and leadership; art because it is also about practice and application.”
- Wise leader have the ability to grasp the essence. They advocate three mind-stretching routines: (1) asking what is the basis of things, (2) seeing the forest and the trees at the same time, and (3) developing and testing hypotheses.
- “Wise leaders create shared contexts”—places where dialogue and learning take place.
- “Wise leaders communicate the essence”—This critical ability includes the understanding of how different people understand and learn differently and having ways to frame messages that can be appreciated by such diversity, including the use of story, metaphor and other forms of “figurative language.” They point out, “Rhetoric counts, because effective communications touch people’s hearts and minds.” This is another way to saying that effective communication accounts for various worldviews and value sets.
- “Wise leaders exercise political power.” Here is the Machiavellian side of their offering. Use all means to bring people together and align them with the leader’s single-minded goals, including the use of shrewdness and stubbornness. Political judgment requires a similar understanding of various worldviews and value sets.
- “Wise leaders foster practical wisdom in others.” This is required to foster distributed leadership to deal effectively with the complexities of business and organization in the modern world. It is curious that while this means that all will learn phronesis, the authors focus on practical wisdom; it is unclear why they have excluded esoteric wisdom.
In summary, the wise CEO is many things:
• a philosopher who grasps the essence of a problem and draws general conclusions from random observations;
• a master craftsman who understand the key issues of the moment and acts on them immediately;
• an idealist who will do what he or she believes is right and good for the company and society;
• a political who can spur people to action;
• a novelist who uses metaphors, stores, and rhetoric;
• a teacher with good values and strong principles, from whom others want to learn.
Seems like moving toward an integral approach to leading to me. How much richer it would be if it were more integrally and developmentally informed.
Before getting into specifics about this book, I want to be clear that I am in sympathy with the author’s aspirations and effort. He is a man, a highly experienced psychologist working in the world of big business, with considerable experience not to be lightly discounted. He is the author of another interesting book, Executive Intelligence.
Menkes begins the book by recounting a succession planning session he was facilitating in which the CEO and Board of Directors were reflecting on a list of challenges facing their company. Here they are:
• Nationalistic movements in countries where our production is based threaten to renegotiate our contracts or annex our facilities outright, threatening 70 percent of our supply lines.
• Political leadership is proposing dramatic new taxes on our industry that could radically reduce our profitability.
• The product is being called a threat to the environment. Therefore, much of our customer base is calling for a sharp reduction of our products use or its outright replacement within the next decade.
My immediate very Green response was, “It’s about time! You guys have been getting away with murder (literally) around the globe for a long time. In the name of profits you have brought the world to the brink of disaster and it isn’t likely most of you will fix the problems you have helped to create in time to make much of a difference, even if you try.”
Menkes then sites the awful figures about the disappearance of companies, e.g., “more than two-thirds of market leaders in 1990 no longer existed in 2004.” What this does not address is how many of these have been merged or submerged under other companies as corporate America (and other regions of the world) has given us a fascinating and sometimes terrifying movie of “big fish eats little fish”! What this fails to point out also is that many (most?) of the people who held the wealth of these companies have gotten richer in the process, including the CEOs as their salaries have grown like all consuming monsters and leaving the rest of the world to experience the rising tides of poverty.
I have a politician friend, someone I have known since the early 1970s, a Democrat in a mostly Republican state. Twenty years in the minority of the state legislature has not caused him to change his view of the essentials of economy and politics. He opines that the right choices are the ones that lead to economic growth—seemingly at any price—while big fish eat little fish.
Menkes’ offer of yet another definition of leadership immediately reminded of John Latane’s comment in his 1907 work, America as a World Power, 1897-1907, “Some one (sic) has remarked that there is a latent tendency in the human mind to define a thing in order to avoid the necessity of understanding it.” I am also reminded of the many definitions of leadership (in excess of 800) identified by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in their 1985 book Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge. Then there was Joseph Rost’s Leadership for the Twenty-First Century in which he boiled down all of the definitions of leadership offered up to 1989 in one concise defintion. But I took the leap anyway to fine what this author offered:
“Leadership means realizing potential—in yourself and in the people you lead.” He indicates that this is a bidirectional process, one of co-creation. “The new paradigm for leadership becomes a fluid, virtuous cycle of exchange and growth between leaders and the people they lead.” He cites three catalysts for Realizing Potential:
• Realistic optimism: confidence without self-delusion. This includes owning the fear that accompanies risk and
• Subservience to purpose. Work and personal purpose are one.
• Finding order in chaos. Bringing the ability to deal effectively with complex situations.
The rest of the book spells out how to do these things.
All of these capabilities can be learned and include “subdrivers.” To support the reader in learning them he offers stories of individuals who have successfully demonstrated these capabilities and exercise to develop yourself accordingly. Leaders create work environments that support others in developing these capabilities.
At this point Menkes raises my hopes: He has a couple of pages outlining both successes and failures of Peter Drucker and Jack Welch. He says, “…every accomplished individual is also very flawed—and we must understand this paradox if we are to recognize what enables leaders to win their hard-earned reputations.” While our seeking for the infallible leader is very powerful, “there are no gods in business…we must truly debunk our tendencies to categorize people as heroes or losers, gods and charlatans…” There is hope! Few factors undermine our relationships in and out of organizations than idealizing others, particularly those in leader roles.
Nevertheless there are relentless leaders who perform well “under fire,” the maelstrom of globalization. In his role of helping boards select CEOs, Menkes works hard at eliminating reductionist approaches, quick fixes that boards may seek, because such approaches simply do not work. The three catalysts are symptoms of potential for success but do not tell the whole story. In his words, “they are parts of a mach larger whole—the whole of leaders who realize the potential of themselves and of their people.” Well, he almost gets it. As a psychologist it is not surprising that he focuses on people—who can master contexts. His attention to complexity theory and interactionist models involves the interactions of individuals with their environments. The quadrants must be attended to, both in developing individuals to effectively fill leader roles, as well as to engage in purposeful action.
In closing, I would like to make one observation with regard to subservience to purpose. Menkes’ focus is on the interaction between the individual leading and those following in relation to fulfilling purpose. What is missing for me is the challenging task most have in deepening and clarifying purpose as well as creating a corresponding resonance with all aspects of their lives. I see such efforts as a process. Achievement of clarity is a moment in time. If the world of business and organizations in the face of globalization is as challenging as Menkes suggests, how can the process of attending to purpose be any less so?
Leadership for Transformation was published under the auspices of the International Leadership Association. I must point out that I am a member of that organization—open kimono. The book is part of ILA’s series “Building Leadership Bridges,” an annual publication given to all members of ILA. This is the 8th in the series that I have received, each containing articles that were taken from an annual ILA conference. This volume is the same, but with a twist.
As Gill Robinson Hickman of the University of Richmond explains in the Preface, this volume and two more to follow are a product not just of the ILA conference, but of a partnership with ILA’s parent institution, the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and the Fetzer Institute. The latter held a series of retreats which led to some of the material presented here. These partner
…characterized leadership for transformation as, ‘people who play a pivotal role (often called leaders) in efforts (often called leadership processes) to achieve tangible and positive results in their organizations, communities, countries or the world—in a way that is collaborative, that is fueled by a contagious, empowering spirit, and thatg serves the common good.’ (T.F. Beech)
Isn’t this wonderful? Not a definition, but a characterization—and one that includes many integral elements (but not all).
I was further delighted to find some Integral Leadership Review contributors (Carol Pearson, Michael Jones and Prasad Kaipa) represented in the book along with only one other name I recognized: Juana Bordas, author of Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age, one of those rare leadership books that seeks to understand leadership through the lens of subcultures and race in the United States (reviewed in ILR http://www.archive-ilr.com/archives-2009/2009-01/2009-01-toc.php).
I immediately turned to the last chapter to discover that it was a summary of a panel discussion on transformational leadership from the ILA conference in Prague. I was delighted to find that the reflections by Prasad Kaipa, sponsor of Integral Leadership Review and member of the Integral Leadership Council for ILR, were included. Prasad, Vedantic scholar that he is, reflected on a series of video clips with comments by Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchuy Tum, Parker Palmer and Karen Armstrong. Prasad’s comments addressed Kundalini Energy in the chakras in relation to managing and leading. In summary, the first three chakras are about managing, the heart chakra is the first related to leading and relates to resilience. The throat chakra is where we give voice to communicating our stories that attract others. I particularly liked this comment,
If you don’t become arrogant at this level and recognize that it is not about you as a leader creating followers—it’s about developing more leaders and there are many remarkable people like you in the world—then jealousy subsides and you create a leadership field with diverse leaders operating at their best and bringing about transformation in their own way.
I wish I had time and energy to review all of the material in this volume. Suffice it to say that it is an offering that is innovative and replete with offerings that inform the study of leadership. Check out Gilda Warden building on Hannah Arendt’s experience under the Nazi regime to extend the term natality to an urge to life and how she relates this to quantum leadership that draws on new energy to move forward. Or how about Caroline Fu and Richard Bereon using a Tao model to look at leadership for transformation in today’s world? It “provides a framework for leaders to continually reflect on the present, explore potentials, and anticipate both changes and decisions in a transformation.” Further, they relate energy flow an leadership to the trigrams used in the I Ching.
If all of this sounds a bit too esoteric to you, try James Mohr’s taking leadership lessons from improvisational theater or Michael Jones’ using the imagination as a powerful tool for transforming leadership (leaders!) or Rick Warm’s exploration of mythology and leadership and the stages of the hero’s journey as a metaphor for leading.
Well, there is a lot more. Go for it.
One of my sources for news is the Washington Post. It isn’t the best source for all national political news, such as what is happening in Wisconsin or Ohio with workers rights or other stories about how the political right is finding many, many ways to undermine potential political successes in the future through gerrymandering or reducing support for public education, thereby dumbing down America. I haven’t read a story there about the corporate funded think tanks that craft and draw up legislation for state legislators, thus contributing a host of similar bills in Republican controlled state legislatures. But it is an excellent source of information about what is going on in Washington, D.C. It is also a source of other useful materials, such as its video series “On Leadership.”
A recent video features Dominic Barton on debunking the CEO myth. Barton is a managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Company. In this brief presentation he is saying that the speed with which CEOs are being confronted by challenges and demands for decision making means that the day of the “heroic” CEO a la Jack Welch are numbered. No one person can cope with all of the issues. Instead, there is a need for a leadership team, a well functioning leadership team. This team must not only accelerate decision making, but also anticipate issues before they arise.
Freedom to fail applies to CEOs, too. It is not relevant just to employees, particularly in systems requiring high levels of innovation and creativity. Another point he makes is that CEOs need to have a strong instinct. It is an essential leadership muscle. A way to develop this is through a large series of small experiences.
The videos are brief, but they give insight into what some opinion leaders and individuals with influence in business and other domains say about leadership. Examples include Allen Goodman, the president of the Institute for International Education, which administers the Fulbright Program, Fashion designer Donna Karan (on feminine instinct) and Jonathan Powell, top aide to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair talking about how hubris brings leaders down; they are the new Machiavellis.
The topic of developing and assessing self-authoriship has particular interest for the development, practice and study of leadership, particularly integral leadership. The idea of individual and cultural development, constructive developmental theory, is as important to integral theory as are the idea of quadrants or perspectives or states of consciousness. This edited volume looks at constructive developmental theory in a number of cultural contexts from Latinos and adolescents in the United States to Bedouins and Jews in Israel, and a comparison between Japan and the United States with regard to personal learning.
Assessment is also central to the integral interest. There have been a variety of assessment tools developed from Kegan’s subject-object interview (which is discussed in this volume) to Cook-Greuter’s SCT (or whatever the title is these days) and Rooke and Torbert’s variation on Cook-Greuter’s work in the Leadership Development Profile. There has been at least one meeting of people interest in assessment at Torbert’s home. Cindy Wigglesworth has development an spirtual assessment. Ron Cacioppe has an assessment he uses in his consulting firm in Perth, Australia (and in his work in other countries, including Canada). Theo Dawson and Zak Stein have been working with integrally informed assessments for years. Who did I leave out?
I think it is important to appreciate how assessments can be used? Two ways:
- To predict, and
- To support development.
Prediction is about the science of development, constructive developmental theory, adult development theory. For example, if we can give an individual an assessment, might we predict the quality of their performance? If the answer is yes, then we can use the assessment in hiring, selection, educational placement, and so on. In a sense, wasn’t that the point of Rooke and Torbert’s Harvard Business Review article? They were saying that if CEOs (and consultants) were at a higher developmental level, then they could effectively lead the transformation of their organizations. And they used an assessment too, the Leadership Development Profile, to determine who was at which stage of development. They could use this data to relate stage of development to success in organizational transformation.
To support development involves using an assessment to provide feedback to an individual who is then challenged to decide what the feedback really means, how important it is and what to do about it. An assumption can be made here that the meaning and sense making processes of the individual, the designer of the assessment, and others (in the case of 360 feedback instruments like The Hay Groups Emotional Competency Inventory) count for something. We don’t know what. But we can come close to figuring it out—AND the individual being assessed is the authority on the meaning of the data. Don’t see much of that around, do we? More often it is the trainer, coach, the consultant, the counselor, the therapist or other “helping professional” who is the authority.
This sets the context for talking a bit more about the book.The idea of self-authorship builds on the work of Piaget and follows the work of Kegan, Perry and others. Self-authorship is a phase of development in a lifelong evolutionary process. It is “characterized by internally generating and coordinating one’s beliefs, values, and internal loyalties, rather than depending one external values, beliefs, and interpersonal loyalties.”
This approach rests on a pair of assumptions: constructivism and developmentalism. The former indicates that we create knowledge by making meaning out of our experience, rather than knowledge being something that is independent of the individual. In this sense it relates to notions of dialogism and less on monologism. Developmentalism suggests that there are patterns in changes that occur in one’s lifetime. These patterns are usually represented in clusters as stages in development, as in Kegan’s, Perry’s, Cook-Gretuer’s and Clare Grave’s (a la Beck and Cowan, Spiral Dynamics) models. They key is the level of complexity and patterns of our meaning making.
Going further into depth on this material is beyond the scope of this review. I would hope that anyone who has a strong background in assessment might like to do a more in depth of this book. The chapters in the book at the product of a working conference. As may be the case in such endeavors, further research is encouraged into questions like the following:
• What is the role of culture in the evolution of self-authoring? Here is where an integral perspective can be helpful in relating self-authoring to the collective dynamics of develop, the life conditions, including cultural diversity.
• When and how do individuals take culture (and systems) into consideration in the self-authoring process?
• What is the role of dissonance, risk, support, and resilience in development. The latter is a key concern in leadership studies, as well as individual development for leading. Support deserves a great deal more attention than it has received. Risk (and failure) are increasingly being addressed as conditions that executives in leader roles experience. And dissonance, particularly cultural dissonance, but dissonance within the individual as well, need to be considered in integral contexts. Shadow work may be a good place to start, but that doesn’t deal with the cultural complexity of our life conditions.
• What is the role of dimensions in development? Here they are talking about cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions. But we could also consider such concepts as lines of development and how they are all related.
For most of us these are probably the most interesting questions. It is great to see scholars and researchers exploring these questions. And, as they point out, questions of how they do such explorations (method) are equally important.