Welcome to leadership from the balcony.
My name is Shawn Griesemer with my cohost Justin Dorroh. And each week we bring you a new leadership concept to inspire your growth and effectiveness as a leader in every area of your life.
On today's episode, we're reviewing another resource, mastering leadership, an integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results by Bob Anderson and Bill Adams, cofounders of the leadership circle.
We trust you continue to enjoy this format and today's episode as you join us on the balcony and peer over the railing to gain an expanded leadership perspective.
Today we're talking about Robert Anderson and Bill Adams book mastering leadership, we wholly acknowledge will just be scratching the surface right on this one. It's too much. It's not the hardest read in the world but wow is it full.
Oh, it's a great read but there's a lot of detail. It's amazing.
Yes, and we actually found this book through their 360-assessment leadership assessment tool the leadership circle years ago. It was probably close to 8 to 10 years ago. It was the first time I ever heard about it. I ended up taking the 360 and had a great friend who took me through it. Then we found the book and as we were reading the book, I mean truly I think it was one of the books that opened us up we started reading all the notes at the end of the book and found all these other books. Who they were reading.
That's exactly right. So, this became an entry for us in a lot of ways to a lot of our approach to leadership and how you build culture. And it was tremendous. So anyway, first heard about it because of the Leadership Circle Profile, which we utilize in our business and love it. We think it's an amazing tool. But needless to say, it's a tremendous book. It helped our understanding of leadership. Specifically, the beginnings of starting to understand what's going on in the head of a leader, not just what does leadership look like, but how does the individual come to that role in that position as a leader?
That's right. And, you know, from a big picture perspective, leadership isn't just about the practices of leadership, to your point, that it's connected to what's going on inside their head. It's not just the behaviors, but there's a whole world of psychology that's going on under the surface for every leader. And this book, Mastering Leadership, it really does go into the psychological development of a leader and the outcomes that correspond with those levels of development. In a lot of ways, I think for us, it gave us language and it gave us examples of what does it look like to really understand what's happening inside of a leader that causes them to do what they do on the outside. The way they talk about it is it's learning how to run the inner game of leadership because that inner game impacts the outer game.
Yeah, and it was so funny. I don't know that ever in my life have I thought about or been concerned about psychology until we started reading this stuff. And it just became fascinating.
Well, so the book starts, if you were to really outline what's going on, they're looking at leadership, associated expectations, and, you know, a couple of the quotes that are great in the book, how can leaders discover the explicit and the implicit expectations that people have of them? And what they do in that work is they really bring out you have to ask. And can I just say, though that sounds so elementary, it rarely happens.
Rarely. It is remarkable.
In all of the coaching work I've done, I would say the most common, I won't say it happens with everybody, but one of the most common questions I ask is, well, have you asked them?
Right. And the answer usually is, no.
Exactly. And the conclusions that somebody has drawn are their own. And it really gets into the importance of that, realizing that you have your own thoughts and perspectives, and they usually are only your own.
They also talk about how leaders can accelerate their process and their progress toward being more effective by a learning cycle. You know, and we've talked about this with Peter Senge's work, in fact, Personal Mastery, which I think we recently put a podcast out on. And they're really going into what is that learning cycle like and what is the organizational learning? Well, that's what this book does from a leadership perspective. And then managing expectations and allowing there to be clarified expectations. So, they really go through what does that look like.
Then the book moves into one of our favorite approaches to leadership, which is leading in a collective way. And they help to really unpack that concept and what it looks like to have collective leadership, collective intelligence, collective effectiveness, utilizing your whole team to be effective, not a hero mentality of leadership. And it's really what culminates in the whole is truly greater than just the sum of its parts. They look at the realities of the world and culture around us and how the complexities that are going on and the volatility. And it's more intense than ever. It's only increasing. Hero leadership is no longer an option for companies to succeed in the culture around us. And because of that complexity and that volatility and that intensity that's increasing, in the book they start to make the shift of stages of development for a leader and being able to identify the different competencies and capacities that a leader has to be able to function well and to be effective in that volatile and complex context. Because a leader has to grow themselves in order to be able to handle an ever-increasing complex environment.
The growth that you're talking about or the development you're talking about is psychological.
That's right. It's not just growing your information base in your head. It's how do you make sense of that information. How do you develop your thinking, not just do you have new information in there. And I think, you know, we talk about this a lot even within our own team. How do we realize any one person isn't enough. Therefore, I need others perspectives. Those around the table. I need the experiences and that's part of what we're talking about with that psychological development. Recognizing that the sum of our intelligence is going to be greater than any one individual person contributing.
So, Adams and Anderson get into these five stages of what they call the universal model of leadership as a model for understanding a leader's development and specifically in their psychological development. Can you run us through what are those five stages?
So, for those of you that love childhood development, you have multiple stages that people like Jean Piaget would have done in his work that lead you up until you're about the age of 18. And they would say you're in that ego stage when you're in those teenage years. So, they start with that egocentric, which again is kind of coming out of that those teenage years where you're answering all the questions What benefits me? What's a pro/con? And then you move into this reactive stage where it's really this self-protection state. That's the next level. And then you get into a creative stage. How am I working in my life toward a creative, a generative type of mentality that works towards something and not just trying to mitigate? You're not in the reactive stage, playing not to lose. The creative stage is more, I have a vision, desire, and purpose that I'm gearing everything toward. And then when you go to the next level above that, you move into what they call integral. And it's the ability to not just have my perspective, but can I take in other people's perspectives and be able to live in the tension of more perspectives. And that's that collective when you can really get there. And then there's a level that's beyond that, that they would say very few people really develop to this point, which is the unitive. And it is just a whole other level.
But what I love is there are a couple of different people who've done work, some very specific to leaders Robert Keegan, who we've talked about a lot with Immunity to Change and you get their whole psychological development cycle. And you have Bill Torbert, that's in leadership. You have Susannne Cook-Greuter, who also has a model of leadership growth. These aren't just Adams and Anderson's views on leadership. You can find these in a lot of people. They just do a great job of unpacking what does that look like specifically in leadership and your psychological development in it.
So just for a moment, breaking down that creative, we'll look at that. But the thing that has stuck with me specifically to the integral is the concept that as a leader, you are integrated with the system that you are a part of. So, if you want the system to change, whether you acknowledge it or not, but if you want this system to change, you must change. And I just remember thinking like, wow, that puts a lot more responsibility on someone to recognize they are a part of the system that they want to see changed. And not just I want it to change versus and I don't want to change. So, I thought that was a really powerful and clear distinction of that particular stage.
Like we were just talking about a second ago, the creative reactive, the playing not to lose versus that really going after vision, calling, purpose. And one of the main things they bring all of this together in is this concept that you can take the perspective you have and they call it the subject to object move. It's actually Robert Keegan, I think he was the one who kind of coined this. Can you take the perspective that is in you, one that you may not even recognize. You're adhered to it almost. And at times it's even a part of your identity. Can you take that which you are subjected to and move it to a place of being able to name it, to being able to voice it, to be able to put it in your hand in front of you and look at it now as an object and not just operate out of it? And when you can do that, that's really what enables you to go through many of these levels of change in your psychological development.
We talked about the complexity of the world around you. If you can't mentally also grow in your ability to handle complexity, you won't be able to lead at the level you need to for what's going on around you anymore. That's why this psychological development matters in leadership. So, the ability to move that subject, being subjected to your perspective and moving it to an objective place, it actually is vital and it is not easy to start in doing. But if you can't do it or you won't do it, you will get outpaced by the world around you as a leader.
If we're honest, what makes it hard is it usually includes pain to make that move from something you're subjected to, to something that you can look at objectively. And as humans, we usually engineer life to avoid pain. So that's part of what makes it a difficult journey is it's a willingness to go through that process.
So, we loved this book because it helped to really outline in the leadership space why this was so important, what these concepts were, why they were important, how you actually start to work with them. And we love that the tool that we had been exposed to and now we're using actually gives people a place. It's a very systematic way to find out where they're starting from.
Really, it was what got us started in giving us language for leadership in the modern era, especially as it relates to complexity and all the things we've talked about of why complexity impacts your journey as a leader. We would say that understanding psychological development is no longer a luxury. It's not just something that would be nice to have in terms of an area of study or it's really fascinating or interesting. It's actually essential for every leader, no matter the size and scale of the organization. And to understand leadership and grow as a leader, you've got to begin to build some language and some mastery around these concepts. And Mastering Leadership is a great place to start.
So, grab a copy, check it out. Again, it's not a fast read, but it is deep and it's very impacting. And if you read it, send us an email. Let us know. Let us know your thoughts on it. We'd love to hear from you.
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