CONSCIOUS LEADERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABILITY: HOW LEADERS WITH A LATE-STAGE ACTION LOGIC DESIGN AND ENGAGE IN SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES A dissertation submitted by BARRETT C. BROWN, M.A. to FIELDING GRADUATE UNIVERSITY in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in HUMAN AND ORGANIZATIONAL SYSTEMS This dissertation has been accepted for the faculty of Fielding Graduate University by: ___________________ Judith Stevens-Long, Ph.D. Chair ___________________ Katrina Rogers, Ph.D. Faculty Reader
__________________ Keith Melville, Ph.D. Faculty Reader _________________ Susanne Cook-Greuter, Ph.D. External Examiner _________________ Clint Fuhs, M.A. Student Reader
ii ABSTRACT This is an empirical study of rare leaders from business, government, and civil society with a developmentally mature meaning-making system, or late-stage action logic (CookGreuter, 1999; Loevinger, 1966, 1976; Torbert, 1987). It explores how they design and engage in sustainability initiatives. Participants were assessed for their action logic using a variation of the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (Loevinger & Wessler, 1970). The sample has more leaders with documented, advanced meaning-making capacity than any other leadership study (six Strategists, five Alchemists, two Ironists). This study has significant implications for sustainability leadership theory and constructivedevelopmentalism. The results provide the most granular view to date of how such individuals may think and behave with respect to complex change initiatives. The leaders in this study appear to: (1) Design from a deep inner foundation, including grounding their work in transpersonal meaning; (2) Access non-rational ways of knowing, and use systems, complexity, and integral theories; and (3) Adaptively manage through â€œdialogueâ€? with the system, three distinct roles, and developmental practices. Additional results include: 15 leadership competencies; developmental stage distinctions for six dimensions of leadership reflection and action; and 12 practices that differentiate leaders with a unitive perspective (Alchemists, Ironists) from those with a general systems perspective (Strategists). A constructive-developmental lens is shown to provide important insight for sustainability leadership theory. Finally, it is recommended that all leadership programs work to develop meaning-making capacity because of the enhanced abilities that emerge with each new stage. Key Words: Leader, change agent, sustainability, sustainable development, constructivedevelopmental theory, adult development, action logic, leadership development, conscious leadership, conscious business, conscious capitalism
Barrett Chapman Brown
This dissertation is the product of many hearts and minds that have supported me to become who I am, to know what I know, and to engage the world in all the ways that I do. First, it would not have been possible without the years of support and encouragement from my wife, Rita. Thank you. You have given more of yourself than anyone to help me offer this to the world. I deeply look forward to continuing to journey through life with you and Sophie in this post-Ph.D. life. I have received tremendous support from my dissertation committee â€“ Judy StevensLong, Katrina Rogers, Keith Melville, Susanne-Cook-Greuter, and Clint Fuhs. Each of you have shared your unique, brilliant perspective and helped me to polish this into a powerful statement. More importantly, you have encouraged me over the years to keep progressing with these doctoral studies, despite my resistance the transformational crucible that it is. I want to offer a special thank you to Caleb Rosado. Eight years ago, on a snowy evening at the School for International Training, you first planted the seed for me to get a Ph.D. This research into sustainability leadership and the leading edge of change agency has been financially supported by Christiana Wyly, the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative, and Fielding Graduate University. I am sincerely grateful to you for believing in me and the potential of this work. Christiana, specifically, you have been a long-term advocate of the vision of integral sustainability and it is an honor to do this in collaboration with you. Since 1996 I have worked to understand integral theory and its application to leadership and sustainability. I have had the great fortune to engage with inspiring and edifying thought- and action-leaders in this field. You all have indelibly etched your insights into my mind, your compassion into my heart, and your wisdom into my soul. I am
vi privileged to consider you colleagues and friends: Ken Wilber, Don Beck, Bill Torbert, David Johnston, Cynthia McEwen, Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, Gail Hochachka, Peter Merry, John Schmidt, Fred Kofman, Diane Hamilton, Paul van Schaik, Will Varey, Marilyn Hamilton, Beena Sharma, Gil Friend, Monica Sharma, Robertson Work, Stephan Martineau, Michael McElhenie, Bert Parlee, Rand Stagen, Brett Thomas, Rick Voirin, Wes Blair, Jamie Wheal, Adam Leonard, Terri O’Fallon, Cindy Wigglesworth, Ard Hordijk, Tatiana Glad, Christian Chernock, Lawry Chickering, Alexander Laszlo, Nancy Wonders Dearing, and Joseph Riedy. Some of you have been powerful sustainability mentors for me. Much of the way that I understand the “hard” side of sustainability – the systems, finances, and structures – comes from working alongside and studying your work. Thank you Gunter Pauli, Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, Lester Brown, Paul Hawken, and Janine Benyus. I am also deeply appreciative of those who have been important teachers to me in the wild world of market transformation at the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative: Joost Oorthuizen, Jan Gilhuis, Jonas Mva Mva, Lucian Peppelenbos, Nico Roozen, Edward Millard, Peter van Grinsven, and Lucas Simons. I have substantially grown due to your insights and time. This dissertation is also a result of my own personal development. Without the new horizons that emerged as my own worldview broadened, I may never have been able to see, feel, know, and care for what I do now. The principal influences in my life have been my loving and conscious parents – Calista Diane and Paul Naughton – and my dear friends Don Jones and Terry Patten. By exploring the depths of your own minds, hearts, and Spirit, you have invited me to step into more of who I truly am.
vii TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I: THE STUDY .......................................................................................... 1 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1 Purpose ...................................................................................................................... 2 Inspiration ................................................................................................................. 3 Research Question .................................................................................................... 4 Methodology Overview ............................................................................................ 4 Conceptual Framework ............................................................................................. 5 Assumptions .............................................................................................................. 7 Significance............................................................................................................... 7 CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ...................................................... 9 Introduction ............................................................................................................... 9 Constructive-Developmental Theory ...................................................................... 10 History and Background ..................................................................................... 11 Types of Human Development ........................................................................... 13 Core Propositions and Assumptions ................................................................... 15 Constructive-Developmental Theory and Leadership ........................................ 17 Kegan .................................................................................................................. 21 Subject and Object .......................................................................................... 21 Overview of Orders of Consciousness ............................................................ 22 Fifth Order Consciousness .............................................................................. 24 Application to Leadership and Management Studies ..................................... 26 Loevinger and Torbert ........................................................................................ 31 Overview of Action Logics ............................................................................. 34 The Strategist Action Logic ............................................................................ 39 The Alchemist Action Logic ........................................................................... 44 The Ironist Action Logic ................................................................................. 48 Application to Leadership and Management Studies ..................................... 54 Conclusions ......................................................................................................... 61 Sustainability Leadership Theory ........................................................................... 62 History and Definition ........................................................................................ 62 Sustainability Leadership Theories ..................................................................... 64 Limitations Within the Literature ....................................................................... 66 Values and Worldviews ...................................................................................... 70 Competencies ...................................................................................................... 75 Behaviors ............................................................................................................ 82 Conclusions ......................................................................................................... 87 CHAPTER III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ...................................................... 90 Introduction ............................................................................................................. 90 Research Design Overview ..................................................................................... 90 Epistemological Framework ................................................................................... 91 Qualitative Methodology ........................................................................................ 92 Sample..................................................................................................................... 93 Recruitment and Selection Criteria ..................................................................... 94
viii Data Collection ....................................................................................................... 96 The Maturity Assessment Profile........................................................................ 96 Validity ........................................................................................................... 97 Deployment and Scoring............................................................................... 102 Interviews .......................................................................................................... 103 Results of a Pilot ............................................................................................... 104 Protection of Human Subjects .......................................................................... 105 Analysis................................................................................................................. 106 Internal Integrity ................................................................................................... 108 Researcher Bias ................................................................................................. 108 Reactivity .......................................................................................................... 109 Descriptive Integrity ......................................................................................... 110 Interpretive Integrity ......................................................................................... 110 Limitations of the Study........................................................................................ 110 Sample Size....................................................................................................... 111 Sample Procedure ............................................................................................. 111 Sample Population ............................................................................................ 112 Instrumentation ................................................................................................. 112 Self .................................................................................................................... 113 Summary ............................................................................................................... 115 CHAPTER IV: PARTICIPANT PROFILES AND KEY FINDINGS ..................... 116 Introduction ........................................................................................................... 116 Characteristics of the Sample Population ............................................................. 116 Profiles of 13 Leaders with Late-Stage Action Logics ......................................... 120 Key Findings ......................................................................................................... 124 Design from a Deep Inner Foundation.............................................................. 126 Sustainability Work as Spiritual Practice ..................................................... 128 Design Grounded in Transpersonal Meaning ............................................... 130 Uncertainty Embraced, with Trust in Self, Others, and the Process ............. 133 Access to Powerful Internal Resources and Theories to Design ...................... 136 Use of Intuition and Other Ways of Knowing Than Rational Analysis ....... 138 Navigation via Systems Theory, Complexity Theory, Integral Theory........ 144 Adaptive Design Management .......................................................................... 156 Dialogue with the System to Consistently Adapt the Design ....................... 158 Roles as Space Holder, Creator of Supportive Conditions, Catalyst ............ 164 Development Cultivated in Self, Others, and the Collective ........................ 171 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION ................................................................................... 188 Introduction ........................................................................................................... 188 Purpose of the Study and the Research Question ................................................. 190 Major Propositions and Summary of the Findings ............................................... 191 Design from a Deep Inner Foundation.............................................................. 192 Access to Powerful Internal Resources and Theories to Design ...................... 195 Adaptive Design Management .......................................................................... 199 Implications for Theory and Practice .................................................................... 206 Implications for Sustainability Leadership Theory........................................... 207 Constructive-Developmentalism: Significant Insight and Credibility.......... 207
ix What Got Us Here Wonâ€™t Get Us There: 15 Advanced Competencies ........ 209 Implications for Constructive-Developmental Theory ..................................... 215 Distinctions in Role, Service, Design Approach for Late Action Logics ..... 216 Late Action Logics Use Perspective-Taking to Develop Self, Others.......... 218 12 Proposed Differences in Thinking and Acting for Late Action Logics ... 222 Implications for Leaders and Those Who Help Develop Them ....................... 231 Action Logic Development Unlocks Expanded Capacities .......................... 232 Eight Essential Competencies and Three Foundational Practices ................ 233 Implications for Future Research ...................................................................... 239 Epilogue ................................................................................................................ 244 REFERENCES ......................................................................................................... 248 APPENDIXES .......................................................................................................... 273 Appendix A: 21 Sustainability Leadership Theories ............................................ 274 Appendix B: The Seven Action Logics of Environmental Leadership ................ 275 Appendix C: Summary of Sustainability Leadership Competencies Research .... 277 Appendix D: Informed Consent Form .................................................................. 281 Appendix E: Invitation Letter to Enroll Nominated Participants ......................... 284 Appendix F: Invitation Letter to Enroll Participants from My Network .............. 285 Appendix G: 36-Item SCTi-MAP Research Form ............................................... 286 Appendix H: Interview Protocol ........................................................................... 290
x LIST OF TABLES Comparison of two constructive-developmental frameworks .................................... 20 The eight most prevalent action logics of Torbert’s framework................................. 35 The three main dimensions of each action logic ......................................................... 37 Capacities proposed to be accessible to those with a Strategist action logic .............. 42 Capacities proposed to be accessible to those with an Alchemist action logic........... 47 Capacities proposed to be accessible to those with an Ironist action logic ................ 53 The Dominant Social Paradigm contrasted with the New Ecological Paradigm........ 71 Characteristics of the sample population .................................................................. 119 Theme 1 – Design from a deep inner foundation ..................................................... 127 Theme 2 – Access to powerful resources and theories to design ............................. 138 Terms used to describe sources of knowledge other than rational analysis ............. 139 Terms that suggest use of systems theory, complexity theory, integral theory ........ 146 References by participants to systems theory, complexity theory, integral theory .. 147 Theme 3 – Adaptive design management ................................................................. 158 Roles in the design process according to each action logic ...................................... 165 How participants develop themselves to improve their design capacity .................. 173 How participants support others to develop during the design process .................... 178 How participants support collective development during the design process .......... 181 15 competencies that may support development of leaders with a late action logic 212 Comparison of role, service, and design approach of late action logics ................... 217 Comparison of how late action logics use perspectives for development ................ 220 12 proposed differences in thinking, reflecting, acting across late action logics ..... 225
xi LIST OF FIGURES
Lateral or horizontal growth and vertical transformation ........................................... 14 Analysis procedure.................................................................................................... 108 Summary of themes and supporting findings ........................................................... 125 Summary of the major propositions and supporting findings ................................... 192
1 CHAPTER I: THE STUDY
We face greater social, environmental, and economic challenges than ever before, including declining global ecosystems, population growth, and unprecedented macroeconomic stress. Humanity is being called to make significant behavioral and systemic changes in order to prevent potential large-scale catastrophe this century. Some are even challenging us to mobilize to â€œsave civilizationâ€? (L. R. Brown, 2008, 2011) and avoid the potential collapse of our complex societies (Diamond, 2005; Tainter, 1993). Albeit slower than many might hope, there is a burgeoning global movement to address these complex and unprecedented sustainability issues (A. R. Edwards, 2005; Hawken, 2007). Individuals and groups in every sector and level of society are increasingly acting to make their lives, organizations, nations, and humanity more sustainable. Leaders and change agents launch major new sustainability initiatives on a daily basis. These range from publicity campaigns aimed at changing consumer behavior to multi-stakeholder platforms that drive market transformation to comprehensive educational system reform. As I look across the global landscape, the big questions seem to be threefold: With the stakes so high, what can we do to ensure that our efforts will succeed? Can we collectively shift direction before getting to a point of no return? And if so, how? This study helps answer these questions. This chapter details my research focus and purpose, my inspiration and underlying assumptions, the conceptual frameworks I use, and the overall significance of this work.
The overarching purpose of this research has been to better understand how to address our biggest social, environmental, and economic challenges. The specific area I have studied is how leaders and change agents with a complex meaning-making system design and engage with sustainability initiatives. By identifying how such leaders respond to sustainability challenges, future and existing leaders can be taught to be more effective. Why this research topic? If humanity is going to achieve important global objectives like the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and mitigating our impact upon the climate, we will need to change. Research and experience suggest that some of our change efforts toward this more sustainable world will work, while many will not (Kotter, 1995). Amongst the myriad success drivers for a change initiative, a key component is the design of the initiative itself (Doppelt, 2010; Kotter, 1996). In turn, one of the most important influences on the design of change initiatives is the worldview of the designer(s) (Doppelt, 2010; Sharma, 2000). It is this leverage point – the worldview or meaning-making system of the designer of sustainability initiatives – that I have studied. As the literature review below shows, leaders with a more complex meaning-making system have access to enhanced and new capacities that others do not. This strengthens their ability to respond to sophisticated challenges (Kegan, 1994; Rooke & Torbert, 1998; Torbert, et al., 2004). By better understanding how these individuals respond to sustainability issues, we can foster the development of more of such leaders. Little is known about the impact of a leader’s worldview on the architecture and development of sustainability initiatives. While the adult development literature (Kegan, 1994; Torbert, et al., 2004) offers some insights, there has been no empirical research in this
3 area until this study. In general, there is very little robust research on the intersection of sustainability and leadership (Cox, 2005; van Velsor, 2009). While there is a consistent call for strong and courageous leadership to drive the sustainability agenda (A. P. Kakabadse & Kakabadse, 2007; Senge, 2008), few studies describe what such leadership looks like in action. This study helps fill parts of that gap, specifically those relating to the design and engagement of sustainability initiatives.
This research arose from my commitment to developing sustainability leaders. I have studied and worked for over a decade in the fields of sustainability, leadership development, and developmental psychology. This experience has convinced me that the cultivation of increased meaning-making capacity amongst our leaders is vital if we are to achieve largescale social, environmental, and economic objectives. Through this research I have documented some of the characteristics and behaviors of sustainability leaders with complex meaning-making structures (i.e., a late-stage action logic). These insights will be shared with other sustainability change agents, in service of improving their methodology and philosophy for designing sustainability initiatives. My larger intention is to build leadership development programs that cultivate developmental shifts in participants’ ability to make meaning. Such an accomplishment would be significant. Developmental psychology research indicates that as an individual’s meaning-making structure develops, new and improved capacities emerge (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Kegan, 1994). I believe that these expanded and novel abilities can be – and may need to be – leveraged in order to optimally respond to the tremendously complex global challenges we face. In summary, this research is an expression
4 of my passion to serve and it supports a larger international initiative to prepare leaders from every sector to steward us toward a better world for all. The first step has been to answer my research question, stated below.
How do leaders with a late-stage action logic design sustainability initiatives? The term action logic refers to a particular framework that describes stages of meaning-making, specifically as related to ego-development (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Torbert, 1987; Torbert, et al., 2004). By â€œlate-stage,â€? I mean the later three stages of the action logics framework: the Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist. The action logics framework is explained in Chapter II. Essentially, though, I am studying how leaders who hold a complex meaningmaking system design sustainability initiatives.
How did I answer this question? My complete methodology is explained in Chapter III. In summary, I used a psychological instrument to assess the action logic of 32 leaders and change agents from business, government, and civil society who are engaged in sustainability work. From this sample, I identified 13 who measured at the three latest stages assessed by this instrument. I interviewed them about their experience and process regarding sustainability initiative design and engagement. Through thematic analysis of the interview data, and building upon insights from my literature review, I then compiled a set of propositions and findings about this topic.
The conceptual framework that has guided my inquiry is composed of two theoretical lenses: constructive-developmental theory and sustainability leadership theory. This section offers a preview into both of these academic domains. Constructive-developmental theory (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004; Kegan, 1982, 1994; Loevinger, 1976; Torbert, 2003; Torbert, et al., 2004), a branch of psychology, is a stage theory of adult development. Research indicates that there is a range of worldviews, meaning-making structures, or action logics through which adults have the potential to grow. Roughly, each of the stages of development involves the reorganization of meaning-making, perspective, self-identity, and the overall way of knowing. I have used the lens of constructive-developmental theory to identify and differentiate the meaning-making structures amongst the research participants. Additionally, this theory informs my framing of how change agents design and engage with sustainability initiatives. The findings of constructive-developmental theory ground my belief that holding a late-stage action logic, all other factors being equal, may grant a significant advantage to change agents who design sustainability initiatives. Later action logics offer a broader vision and deeper understanding of the territory (Cook-Greuter, 2004; Torbert, et al., 2004). Similar to scaling a mountain, the higher one climbs, the further one can see. As Cook-Greuter (2004, p. 277) notes, â€œthe more I can see, the wiser, more timely, more systematic and informed my actions and decisions are likely to be because more relevant information, connections and dynamic relationships become more visible.â€? I further discuss this issue and review the literature on constructive-developmental theory in Chapter II.
6 My second theoretical lens is sustainability leadership theory. This field goes by many different names, depending on the perspective it addresses. These titles include corporate social responsibility (CSR) leadership, environmental leadership, and ethical leadership. The most relevant dimensions of this literature for my study are those that identify the values and worldviews (Boiral, Cayer, & Baron, 2009; Shrivastava, 1994), competencies (Hind, Wilson, & Lenssen, 2009; N. K. Kakabadse, Kakabadse, & Lee-Davies, 2009), and the behaviors (Doppelt, 2010; Quinn & Dalton, 2009) that sustainability leaders need. Most of this research is exploratory, and, until this study, none of it has measured the influence of developmental maturity on sustainability leadership. Nonetheless, some studies (Boiral, et al., 2009; Doppelt, 2010; Hames, 2007; Hardman, 2009) strongly support the need for leaders that have a sophisticated worldview and have begun to document what such a perspective looks like in practice. I have used this literature to gain insight into how leaders with a late-stage action logic might design sustainability initiatives. Chapter II offers a full review of the relevant sustainability leadership literature. While the findings of both of these literatures provide insight into my research area, they also highlight critical gaps that this study has helped to fill. This is discussed further in the section on significance below. First, though, I review the core assumptions behind my study.
These are the central assumptions I held throughout this research: •
The central tenet of constructive-developmental theory is accurate: humans, in general, develop through increasingly complex stages of meaning-making and ways of being;
There is enough developmental diversity amongst leaders and change agents involved in sustainability to be a factor worth researching;
There are sufficient challenges we face on a global level that it is ethically right and possible to help cultivate leaders who will be able to address those challenges;
It is possible to accurately objectify patterns out of the complex subjective experiences of the research participants’ approach to designing sustainability initiatives.
The significance of this study is threefold. First, this is pioneering research in the field of sustainability leadership. It is the only primary, empirical research to date that describes the influence of late-stage action logics on sustainability leadership. While other researchers have used constructive-developmental theory to better explain or understand sustainability leaders and the challenges they face (Boiral, et al., 2009; Esbjörn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009; Hardman, 2009; Hargens, 2005), their research is secondary or theoretical. This research therefore breaks new empirical ground by providing granular insight into how
8 leaders with advanced meaning-making capacities may reflect and act regarding complex sustainability initiatives. This study also significantly contributes to the literature on how adults with a latestage action logic behave. Ten to 15 percent of adults have developed to this stage of meaning-making (Cook-Greuter, 2004; Hoare, 2006; Torbert, et al., 2004). Yet we have a limited concept of what this quality looks like in action. The better we understand their lived experience, the more effectively we can design learning environments that support both the stabilization within and the transition from conventional to postconventional meaningmaking. The final sample of this study has more participants with advanced meaning-making capacity than any other empirical, interview-based study in constructive-developmental literature. The findings, therefore, open up new terrain in this field. Finally, this research provides actionable knowledge that leaders and change agents can use to design better sustainability initiatives. This can help accelerate the transition to a more socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable world. If we actually are “mobilizing to save civilization” (L. R. Brown, 2008) – if even a fraction of the research indicating our current “unsustainability” turns out to be accurate – then the stakes may have never been higher for humanity to change behavior. If we can increase the likelihood that our change initiatives will accomplish their objectives by developing leaders to be more effective, then we may move humanity increasingly towards global sustainability.
9 CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Ultimately, this literature review addresses the question: How do leaders with a latestage action logic design sustainability initiatives? This chapter therefore reviews what is known – and what is not well understood – about leadership for social and environmental sustainability in the context of adult psychological development. This inquiry occurs at the intersection of three broad scholarly conversations: leadership, sustainability, and human development. The core conversation about this topic, though, is between scholars who study leadership with advanced meaning-making capacity, and those who research sustainability leadership. This chapter tracks that specific dialogue. The following literature review is broken into two sections. The first examines the developmental psychology literature, focusing on the domain of constructive-developmental theory (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004; Kegan, 1982, 1994; Torbert, 2003; Torbert, et al., 2004). This section describes the concepts of constructivism and development, and the influence of developmental stages on a leader’s worldview, or action-logic (Cook-Greuter, 2004; Torbert, et al., 2004). I have used constructive-developmental theory to generate my research sample and design the study, and employed it as the primary hermeneutic lens for data analysis. The subsequent section of this chapter concerns the sustainability leadership literature. It broadly looks at the variety of types of leadership literature related to sustainability, ranging from corporate social responsibility (CSR) leadership to complexity theory. It then reviews three dimensions of the sustainability leadership literature that offer
10 the most insight into my research question. They are: values and worldviews; competencies; and behaviors of sustainability leaders. This study explores gaps in both of these literatures. Within the constructivedevelopmental field, relatively little is known about how leaders with a late-stage action logic behave. Additionally, with the exception of the present study, nothing has been documented about how they craft interventions. This research provides much needed insight into “developed consciousness-in-action,” specifically in the area of intervention design. Within the sustainability leadership literature, no one else has applied a constructive-developmental lens to describe leadership behavior. While new capacities and paradigms are regularly called for to help us address global sustainability challenges, this is the first study to detail the way leaders with precisely those advanced abilities and expanded worldview engage such challenges.
Constructive-developmental theory is a branch of psychology. More specifically, it is a stream of work within the broad literature on life-span development, or developmental psychology. It is a stage theory that focuses on the growth and elaboration of meaning and meaning-making processes. That is, constructive-developmental theory concerns the development of how we understand ourselves and the world. What does “constructive-developmental” mean? Constructivists contend that individuals create the reality of their world. By “constructive,” the theory therefore refers to how an individual builds meaning through interpretation of experiences. Developmentalists purport that an individual evolves through times of change and stability. Therefore, by
11 “developmental,” the theory also addresses how those constructs and interpretations change and become increasingly complex over time. (Kegan, 1982, 1994; McCauley, Drath, Palus, O'Connor, & Baker, 2006).
History and Background The roots of constructive-developmental theory lie in the early research and writings on the self. The self has long been an essential feature in the fields of anthropology, literature, philosophy, psychology and sociology. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, our modern concept of the self was crafted through the psychology of James (1890a, 1890b) and Calkins (1908a, 1908b, 1908c), as well as the sociology of Cooley (1902) and Mead (1913, 1934). However, it was James Mark Baldwin (1897) who first combined these psychological and sociological perspectives and also theoretically differentiated many aspects of the self (Broughton, 1981). In his four-volume opus, Baldwin (1906, 1908, 1911, 1915) sketches the development of the self through five stages. This path includes the earliest notions of the self in the prelogical stage, its mature expression in the logical stage, and the final, hyperlogical stage, in which the self is fully transcended (Broughton, 1981). Baldwin’s work was, at the time, the most expansive modern treatment of the self. It would later influence numerous others, including Dewey, Gardner, Kohlberg, Mead, Piaget, Popper, Vygotsky, and Wilber (Broughton, 1981; Cairns, 1992; Wilber, 2000a). In the early to mid-twentieth century, Jean Piaget (1948, 1954) built upon Baldwin’s work, amongst others, to develop a rigorous, empirical understanding of a key aspect of the self. He proposed a model for stages of mental growth, which he called “genetic
12 epistemology.” Piaget studied how the capacity for rational thought develops in children (a capacity later to become known as cognition). He believed that children successively reconstruct how they see the world in order to eliminate the contradictions they encounter. Rather than development being a gradual accumulation of new knowledge, Piaget saw it as a series of stages, each increasingly complex. He was also one of the first to note that people do more than just react to environmental stimuli, but that they seek out, experiment with, and interpret experiences, thereby constructing meaning. While Piaget did not research the meaning-making of adults, his work did spawn the modern field of adult developmental research. Robert Kegan (1980) introduced the term “constructive-developmental” to the psychological literature. With it, he refers to the work of a group of neo-Piagetian stage theorists who most directly extended Piaget’s research into adult development and beyond its original focus on cognition. These early theorists (including Kegan) were: Fingarette (1963), Kohlberg (1969), Perry (1970), Selman (1974), and Loevinger (1966, 1976). In this study, I define the constructive-developmental domain narrowly, focusing only on research based upon this group’s work. There are other developmental stage theorists whose models are similar to constructive-developmental theory, yet are not explicitly part of the neo-Piagetian paradigm. These include research done on values by Graves (1974, 2005), Beck and Cowan (1996), and Hall (Hall, 1995), as well as the research by Jaques (1996) on complexity within managerial leadership systems. While there are limitations to Piagetian and neo-Piagetian ideas, such as those identified by Fischer and Bidell (2006), recent reviews (Commons, Trudeau, Stein, Richards, & Krause, 1998; Demick & Andreoletti, 2003; Manners & Durkin, 2001) document the continued usefulness and validity of this work (McCauley, et al., 2006).
13 Types of Human Development Cook-Greuter (1999, p. 29) describes development as “the gradual unfolding of people’s capacity to embrace ever-vaster mental horizons and to plumb ever-greater depths of the heart.” Human development is seen as a sequence of integrated and increasingly complex meaning-making stages or systems, each more effective in dealing with the complexities of life than its predecessors (Cook-Greuter & Soulen, 2007). This growth process is considered to be unidirectional, in that its sequence is the same for everyone and it evolves from the simple to complex. It is also a hierarchical process, as each shift to a new stage results in a transformation of the previous way of making meaning (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Just as an acorn undergoes stages of transformation while becoming an oak tree, human epistemology follows a step-wise journey from simple to complex ways of knowing, relating to, and embracing the world. It is important to differentiate between the two types of human development described by developmental psychologists: horizontal and vertical development. Both are instrumental in human growth, yet occur in different ways at varying rates. Horizontal development (Cook-Greuter, 2004) refers to the gradual accumulation of new knowledge and skills. It occurs without a fundamental change in worldview or how we make meaning. Vertical development in adults is considerably rarer. It entails the literal transformation of a person’s view of reality. In such cases, we learn to see the world with new eyes and experience novel forms of interpreting our external and internal world. As Kegan (2002, p. 148) contends, “What gradually happens is not just a linear accretion of more and more that one can look at or think about, but a qualitative shift in the very shape of the window or lens through which one looks at the world.” With vertical development comes an increase in that
14 which we can be aware of and, therefore, in that which we can integrate and influence. These shifts in worldview, the emergence of new meaning-making systems, are often far more powerful than any degree of horizontal growth (Cook-Greuter & Soulen, 2007). Figure 1 shows the relationship between horizontal and vertical development.
Figure 1 Lateral or horizontal growth and vertical transformation
Note: From â€œMaking the case for a developmental perspective,â€? by S. R. Cook-Greuter, 2004, Industrial and commercial training, 36, p. 277. Copyright 2004 by S. R. Cook-Greuter. Reprinted with permission.
Cook-Greuter and Soulen (2007, p. 183) use the metaphor of climbing a mountain to illustrate the experience of vertical transformation, which is akin to a higher vantage point from an increased altitude: At each turn of the path up the mountain, hikers can see more of the territory they have already traversed. They can see multiple turns and reversals in the path. The climbers can see further into and across the valley. The closer they get to the summit, the easier it becomes to see behind to the shadow side and uncover formerly hidden aspects of the territory. Finally, at the top, they can
15 see beyond their particular mountain to other ranges and further horizons. The more hikers can see, the wiser, more timely, more systematic and informed their actions and decisions are likely to be. This is so because more of the relevant information, connections, and dynamic relationships become visible. The stage of meaning-making from which one operates is not a static and rigid position. Human consciousness is a fluid and dynamic process (Kegan, 1982, 1994). While people may see the world from a variety of perspectives throughout the day, they tend to respond spontaneously from a preferred perspective. This is the most complex meaningmaking system, or worldview, that they have fully mastered. In developmental psychology, this preferred perspective is called one’s “center of gravity” or “central tendency” in meaning-making. Under rapidly changing, high-pressure conditions, people often exhibit behavior patterns from earlier developmental stages, yet return to their center of gravity once the situation has settled. The converse is also true. Under ideal support conditions, people may have peak experiences in which they perceive life in ways akin to stages later than their center of gravity. Again, they return to their center of gravity once the intensity of the experience has subsided (Cook-Greuter & Soulen, 2007). The instrument used in this research, the Maturity Assessment Profile, assessed the approximate center of gravity of the participants. It has therefore served as a filter for change agents who hold a meaning-making system that is considered developmentally mature.
Core Propositions and Assumptions McCauley, et al. (2006, p. 636) summarize the basic propositions and assumptions of constructive-developmental theory:
People actively construct their understanding and way of making sense of themselves and the world (rather than merely “taking in” an objective world).
There are identifiable patterns that describe how people make meaning. These are referred to as: stages, orders, or levels of development; orders of consciousness; ways of knowing; worldviews; organizing principles; or action logics.
Stages of development unfold in a logical, specific, invariant sequence from birth to adulthood. Each successive order transcends and includes the previous order. The movement is often likened to an ever-widening spiral of development.
In general, people do not regress. Once a stage of development is constructed, the previous stage loses its organizing function yet remains as a perspective that can be considered.
Later stages are more complex (they support more comprehensive understanding) than earlier stages. This is because subsequent stages include all earlier stages. Later stages are not better in any absolute sense, but may be better (i.e., more adequate) in a relative sense.
Developmental movement from one stage to the next is driven by limitations in how a person constructs meaning. This can happen when increased environmental complexity demands that a person develop a more complex way of understanding themselves and the world.
A person’s stage of development influences what he notices or can become aware of, and therefore, what he can describe, articulate, reflect on, influence and change.
17 Constructive-developmental theorists propose that individuals at later stages of development more effectively understand and can influence people at or below their own stage of development. This is because they can “inhabit”, or operate, at earlier levels and adopt the developmental perspectives of those operating at earlier stages (Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). My inquiry is fuelled by the notion that the developmental stage of a change agent influences what they can perceive and therefore change. If later stages result in more complex understanding and sophisticated capacity, then what do leaders and change agents who hold a late-stage action logic see, know, and do which others don’t? How do their more comprehensive perspectives translate into the design of sustainability initiatives? The upcoming sections address the specific frameworks within constructive-developmental theory I have used to assess and frame the insights of sustainability leaders.
Constructive-Developmental Theory and Leadership This section provides important background concerning research at the intersection of constructive-developmental theory and leadership. It explains my choice of two streams of literature in particular: the developmental frameworks of Kegan (1982, 1994) and Loevinger/Torbert (Loevinger, 1966, 1976; Torbert, 1987; Torbert, et al., 2004). The central position that constructive-developmental scholars take on leadership is encapsulated in this statement by two leading scholars (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005): Leadership effectiveness is not gained simply by piling more skills onto the same level, or by increasing the capacity to recite company leadership competencies. It is gained by fundamentally changing the way we address leadership development – it is not just what you know, but where you know it from that matters. The future of our organizations depends on successfully identifying and developing all leaders to higher [developmental levels] – to a
18 place of greater authenticity â€“ so that they can respond effectively to the increasingly complex demands of our times. (p. 383) To better understand the potential impact of mature meaning-making on leadership, it is important to put it in the context of research on leadership effectiveness. Leadership ability has been consistently and directly linked to subordinate performance, behaviors and reactions (Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). Measures have included: job satisfaction, positive mood, affective commitment to the organization, decreased turnover, diminished withdrawal behaviors, improved work performance, pursuit of increasingly challenging goals, goal attainment, perseverance, increased resistance to stress, and value of progress (Bass, 1990; Gardner & Schermerhorn, 2004; Hogan, Curphy, & Hogan, 1994; Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 1993; Luthans & Avolio, 2003; Yukl, 1989a). In service of a deeper theoretical understanding of leaders and an increased capacity to predict their effectiveness, a constructive-developmental approach to the study of leadership has emerged (L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2008; Torbert, et al., 2004). Torbert (1987) was one of the earliest to apply constructive-developmental research to leadership issues. He developed stage names that appealed more to the professional world than the scientific terms used to describe ego development by Loevinger and Wessler (1970). This paved the way for increased application to the study of leadership, management, and organizational change. Scholars who take a constructive-developmental view of leadership question the underlying assumptions of more traditional leadership theories. They contend that â€œit is not the content of a behavior or leadership style that matters, that is, what is actually done or believed, but rather how one epistemologically makes sense of the content of the behavior or leadership style that makes a differenceâ€? (Eigel, 1998, p. 27). In summary, how a leader knows is at least as important as what a leader knows. As Strang & Kuhnert (2009) note:
19 Constructive-developmental theory provides a framework for understanding the ways in which leaders construct meaning (for themselves and others), through which we might gain a more complete understanding of how these differences affect performance. (p. 422) A recent review of literature (McCauley, et al., 2006) cites 30+ studies that employ constructive-developmentalism to better understand leadership effectiveness and performance. Kegan (1982, 1994) and Loevinger/Torbert (Loevinger, 1966, 1976; Torbert, et al., 2004) are the theorists whose constructive-developmental frameworks have been most used in the management and leadership literature. Each has a different way of labeling, describing, and assessing the stages of development. Table 1 aligns these frameworks with each other (McCauley, et al., 2006; Wilber, 2000a). The following sections describe each in greater detail and review their application to leadership and management research.
20 Table 1 Comparison of two constructive-developmental frameworks 1) Kegan’s Orders of Consciousness
Interpersonal / Traditional Institutional / Modern / 4th Order / 3rd Order
Interindividual / Post-Modern / 5th Order
What is object?
Enduring needs and dispositions
The autonomous self
What is subject?
The autonomous self
The transforming self
2) Torbert’s Stages
Norms rule needs
Craft logic rules norms
System effectiveness rules craft logic
Relativism rules single system
Most valuable principles rule relativism
Deep processes and intersystemic evolution rule principles
Socially expected behavior, approval
Expertise, procedure, efficiency
Delivery of results, effectiveness, success within system
Self in relationship to system; interaction within system
Linking theory and principles with practice, dynamic systems interactions
Interplay of awareness, thought, action, and effects; transforming self and others
Note: Adapted from “The use of constructive-developmental theory to advance the understanding of leadership,” by C.D. McCauley, W.H. Drath, C.J. Palus, P.M.G. O’Connor, & B.A. Baker, 2006, Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), p. 637. Reprinted with permission. Original table abstracted from Cook-Greuter (2004) and Kegan (1994).
21 Kegan Kegan’s (1982, 1994) framework for consciousness development is a sophisticated approach that has often been used to better understand leadership dynamics and development. At the heart of the framework is the notion of subject and object. These two psychological structures are used explain the way people construct meaning and to describe how that meaning-making evolves. Kegan has differentiated five stages of development, called orders of consciousness. These concepts are essential to understanding the relevance of this field to leadership development. The following is an overview of these structures and their dynamics, with particular attention paid to Kegan’s most mature stage: fifth order. Readers are encouraged to review Kegan’s principal writings (1982, 1994) for further details.
Subject and Object The subject is the process by which we organize and interpret all experiences. It is the lens through which we view the world and the rule with which we define it (Kegan, 1982). Convictions and understandings to which we are subject are so embedded in us that we cannot see them. While we are subject, Kegan (1982, 1994) also contends that we have object. As such, “object refers to those elements of our knowing…we can reflect on, handle, look at, be responsible for, relate to each other, take control of, internalize, assimilate, or otherwise operate on…we can do something with” (Kegan, 1994, p. 32). As we evolve along a developmental spectrum, we objectify that which was subject to us. This means that what was subject to us at one stage becomes object to us at the next. With each new stage we develop the ability to take perspective on the way that we previously organized and interpreted our experiences, rather than being defined by it (Kuhnert &
22 Russell, 1990). We move beliefs from the subjective to the objective realm, and become able to question and reflect upon them. Evolution is therefore an on-going process of differentiation and disembedding, followed by reintegration and re-embedding (Kegan, 1982, 1994).As Torbert and Associates (2004, p. 189) note, this is a movement “from being controlled by something to having a peer relationship with it.” It follows, then, that sustainability leaders with a more mature meaning-making system would be able to “see” – hold as object – that which is “hidden”, or subject, for other sustainability leaders. This deeper and broader perspective may provide them with a distinct advantage when designing sustainability initiatives.
Overview of Orders of Consciousness Kegan (1982, 1994) describes six stages of meaning-making that are possible to traverse throughout life. He calls this sequence of meaning-making structures “orders of consciousness.” The Subject-Object interview (Lahey, Souvaine, Kegan, Goodman, & Felix, 1988) is used to measure an individual’s order of consciousness. It is a semi-structured interview in which participants speak about recent, important life events. Only four of Kegan’s orders are related to adult development and are relevant for the study of leadership (Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987). The following descriptions of these orders are abstracted from Kegan’s original writings (1982, 1994) and Strang & Kuhnert’s (2009) article applying Kegan’s framework to leadership studies. For a more comprehensive description of the developmental orders as related to leadership, readers should review Harris & Kuhnert’s (2008) article or Eigel’s (1998) dissertation.
23 Infants and children make meaning at Keganâ€™s earliest stages, or orders: the zero and first order. Most adults make meaning between the second and fourth order. At the second order, individuals can objectively understand their perceptions and impulses. Yet they are subject to (i.e., embedded in) their own point of view and enduring dispositions such as needs and preferences. The subject for individuals at second order is their personal goals and agendas. This means that they evaluate events, experiences, and feelings in relation to whether or not their personal goals are fulfilled. At the third order, individuals have an objective understanding of themselves as possessing needs and dispositions; they are able to take perspective on their personal goals and agendas. Their new subject is interconnectedness: the belief that the nature of their self is dependent upon the opinions of important others. Individuals at this order have learned to override their needs so as to maintain connections with others. As such, mutual support, promises, and expectations are critically important for them. With onset of the fourth order, individuals are able to more objectively see their interpersonal relationships, and thereby not fully define themselves by them. The subjective, taken-for-granted belief at this order is that the self is self-authoring, self-created, and autonomous. This personal value system becomes the underlying driver for how individuals interpret events and experiences. They become able to transcend their own needs, and those of others, in order to operate according to their value system. The fifth order is rare; it never occurs before mid-life (Kegan, et al., 2001). At this order, an individual is able to objectify, reflect upon, and control their view of the self as autonomous and self-creating. Yet their subjective, embedded belief is that the independent self develops and is created in relation to other unique identities. Individuals at fifth order
24 take perspective on their personal value system from a broader subject. This subject is a broader value system that consists less of personal values and more of values related to the well-being of greater entities, such as an organization, industry, and even an entire society. The next section provides a deeper description of fifth order consciousness.
Fifth Order Consciousness Given the focus of the present study on leaders with advanced meaning-making systems, it is important to further describe Keganâ€™s fifth order. The fifth order is also called the â€œself-transforming self.â€? This stage of meaning-making seems to provide a significant set of internal resources for sustainability leaders seeking increased effectiveness. Meaningmaking at the fifth order is open to contradiction in self and others, friendly to oppositeness, and able to hold multiple systems of thinking. Rather than defend one formation of the self, fifth order individuals see the importance of the self being in transformation. That is, it moves through different forms of consciousness instead of identifying with one (Kegan, 2002). This means that when interacting with others, fifth order individuals are more likely to see the other and the relationship as continually undergoing transformation, not as a fullyconstructed, static entity. They more easily recognize the potential for transformation in self and other, and the relationship in between. As a result, a leader at this stage has more capacity than at any earlier position on the developmental continuum to engage others in a way that invites their learning rather than defending against it (Kegan, 1982, 1994). Fifth order leaders are also thought to be able to be more intimate than they were at any other order. This is due to an increased capacity to hear and seek out information that might cause them to change their behavior or share in a negative judgment of their own
25 actions. Because the self has shifted from being embedded in one system to coordinating multiple systems of thinking, the “interior life is ‘freed up’ (or ‘broken open’) within oneself, and with others…Emotional conflict seems to become both recognizable and tolerable to the self.” (Kegan, Noam, & Rogers, 1982, p. 116). Conflict at this stage is seen as an indicator of overidentification with a single system of thinking (Kegan, 1994). With this increased capacity to be intimate with oneself, leaders can be more intimate with others. While deeper emotional openness and intimacy with others is not appropriate or useful for all leadership situations, the emotional intelligence literature contends that the ability to engage with such depth is associated with increased leadership effectiveness (Goleman, 1995; Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2004). Harris & Kuhnert (2008) contend that the very best leaders occupy fifth order, yet very few ever reach it. Only 5-8 percent of the general population aged 40-60 manage to make this paradigm shift (Eigel, 1998; Kegan, 1994). At fifth order, leaders can objectify the paradigms that previously defined them and welcome the influence of others’ paradigms. While they remain grounded in their own values, they are open to others’ opinions and principles, and strive to integrate their own vision with that of others. This capacity to take on other people’s perspectives makes fifth order leaders the most effective in organizations (Eigel, 1998). A deep understanding of themselves, their followers, and their environment helps them to generate effective solutions (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005). The inherent qualities and capacities of fifth order consciousness are central to my thesis that sustainability leaders with a mature meaning-making system are doing something different – and worth identifying – when designing change initiatives. I further discuss these emergent abilities below in the review of the Loevinger/Torbert framework. First, however, I
26 review how Kegan’s framework has been utilized within the fields of leadership and management.
Application to Leadership and Management Studies Kegan’s theory has been used to explore the impact of consciousness development on leadership and management in three general areas (McCauley, et al., 2006): leadership effectiveness (L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2008; Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987; Lewis, et al., 2005; Strang & Kuhnert, 2009), leadership evaluation (Drath, 2001; Roth, 1996), and leadership development interventions (Drath & van Velsor, 2006; Laske, 1999; Palus & Drath, 1995). While I will use the Loevinger/Torbert framework to assess the meaning-making maturity (i.e., action logic) of my participants, data from studies of leaders measured at fifth order consciousness is relevant. This is because Kegan’s fifth order is approximately the same “altitude” or developmental level as those who measure at a Strategist or Alchemist action logic, using the Loevinger/Torbert scale (Commons & Richards, 2003; Wilber, 2000a). Therefore, this section focuses on the application of Kegan’s framework to leadership effectiveness studies, specifically highlighting research whose subjects measured as transitioning to, or at, fifth order. Most research that links a leader’s order of development to his or her effectiveness has focused on leaders at the third and fourth order. There is increased interest, though, in the capacities and behavior of leaders who hold fifth order (McCauley, et al., 2006). According to the constructive developmental framework, later stages of psychological complexity amplify an individual’s capacity to successfully navigate challenging circumstances (Kegan, 1982, 1994). Kegan & Lahey (1984) also propose that fifth order leaders are more effective
27 in exercising authority than leaders at earlier orders because they are more likely to facilitate the development of others in the process. Kegan (1982, 1994) and others who have applied his framework to leadership (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005) use three domains to group developmental characteristics: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive. These domains can be referred to as knowing ourselves, knowing others, and knowing our worlds, respectively. Eigel & Kuhnert (2005) describe leader development in each of these domains, using the term Leadership Development Level (LDL) to signify Keganâ€™s different orders of consciousness. As leaders move from lower to higher LDLs, there is a transition in the knowing self realm (interpersonal) from an externally defined understanding of self to an internally defined understanding of self, in the knowing others realm (interpersonal) from self-focus to other focus, and in the knowing our world realm (cognitive) from simplicity to complexity. Thus the lowest LDLs in adulthood can be described as cognitively simple or concrete, interpersonally self-centered, and intrapersonally defined by the immediacy of the moment. In contrast, the highest LDLs exhibit an ability to determine what is important in a situation and do so with an understanding that is complex, principled, inclusive and stable. It is a more authentic way to lead because high LDL leaders better know who they are and how to make a significant contribution. (p. 361) Several studies propose that later orders of development are required to be effective at higher organizational levels. Lewis & Jacobs (1992) studied military leaders with successful experience in battalion command. Ten percent were operating at the third order, 50% at fourth order, and 40% were transitioning to fifth order. These leadersâ€™ order of consciousness was strongly correlated to a measure of cognitive work capacity, meaning their capacity to effectively make decisions at increasingly advanced levels of management. Eigel (1998) compared 21 CEOs of competitive, well-established organizations with middle managers of a similar age in the same organizations. Results showed that the CEOs operated at a significantly later order, on average, than their middle manager counterparts.
28 Additionally, 4 CEOs undergoing transition to fifth order constructed meaning about a broad range of leadership themes (e.g., conflict resolution, participative management, vision, change) more effectively than those at fourth order and earlier. In a follow-up study, Eigel and Kuhnert (2005) did in-depth research on 21 top executives from public companies. They also found that as developmental level increases so does leader effectiveness. They argue that a leader's constructive-developmental stage (method of meaning-making) may be the source of transactional and/or transformational leadership behaviors and authentic leadership. This study compared two measures of leadership effectiveness to the leaders’ order of consciousness. The first was related to the executives’ position in the organization, and the other was based upon an evaluation by subject matter experts of their self-reported responses to leadership challenges (i.e., conflict management, visioning, participation). With respect to the positional study, results showed a major discrepancy between the distribution of developmental level scores of the general leadership population and this sample group. Not a single executive scored below fourth order; typical distribution would include many leaders at the transition between third and fourth order (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005; Kegan, 1994). Results of the second study showed a strong correlation between the effectiveness ratings of leaders’ responses and constructive-developmental level. Additionally, only the responses from leaders with fourth order consciousness and above were considered better than effective (i.e., very effective, exceptional). Leaders with fifth order consciousness provided the most effective responses, best “able to meet the challenges of today’s dynamic environments” (p. 379).
29 Harris & Kuhnert (2006, 2008) executed one of the first studies to empirically demonstrate a link between the constructive-developmental stage of leaders and behavioral measures of performance effectiveness (i.e., multisource ratings). The study consisted of 74 executives, ranging from General Managers up to Officers. Findings revealed that leaders with later developmental stages exhibited more effective leadership practices as evidenced by higher 360-degree ratings from superiors, subordinates, and peers. They also found that the developmental stage of leaders significantly predicted effective performance on eight leadership competencies (Personal Grounding, Contextual Grounding, Creating a Compelling Vision, Inspiring Commitment, Cultivating Talent, Catalyzing Teams, Leading Change, and Managing Performance). Due to the small sample size, the researchers divided the participants into two groups for analysis: those stable at 2/3 order and those stable at 4/5 order. Further research should allow for increased granularity as their sample increases. Strang & Kuhnert (2009) replicated the previous study (L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2006, 2008) to demonstrate “the empirical legitimacy and potential utility of constructivedevelopmental theory as a framework for understanding the nature and structure of leadership” (p. 432). In a study of 67 management executives, they showed that the developmental stage of leaders is predictive of 360-degree feedback. Consistent with the Harris & Kuhnert’s results, they found that developmental stage significantly predicted leader performance as reported by all rater sources combined, and by superior, peer, and subordinate raters separately. The researchers also inquired into the link between personality measures and developmental stage. They looked at leader scores for the “Big Five,” or five-factor model (FFM) of personality, which is an established and commonly used measure to delineate
30 personality structure (Digman, 1990). No significant correlation was found between developmental stage and the mean personality scores on the Big Five dimensions. This suggests that measures of oneâ€™s personality reflect a characteristic different than that of developmental stage, and that constructive-developmental theory offers a framework for understanding a unique dimension of leadership. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of leadership would discount neither the personality traits nor developmental stage, but include them both. The researchers note that further study is required to determine whether developmental stage or personality is a stronger determinant of leadership effectiveness. Through multiple regression analysis, using a model that included personality traits and developmental stages, their research suggests that some personality characteristics may be more influential than developmental stage. Yet they caution about drawing this conclusion due to the small sample, many variables in the model, and the discrepancies found between their personality-related research in this study and the existing literature (Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). These studies indicate that leaders who operate at third or fourth order can be effective. However, they also suggest that effectiveness at higher organizational levels, which entails increasingly complex tasks and roles, requires more complex consciousness. For leaders who face the challenge of triple-bottom-line mandates or large-scale multistakeholder engagement to advance sophisticated social and/or environmental initiatives, later stage consciousness may indeed be a discreet advantage. This hypothesis is explored further in the following review of the Loevinger/Torbert framework.
31 Loevinger and Torbert This section offers a comprehensive review of the constructive-developmental framework for ego development created by Jane Loevinger (1966, 1976) and expanded upon by William Torbert (1987; Torbert, et al., 2004), with the support of Susanne Cook-Greuter (1999, 2004). This framework is at the heart of my research. I have used it to define developmental maturity for meaning-making systems, and I administered one of its measurement instruments to assess for such maturity amongst my research participants. The following review summarizes the history, stages, and application of the ego development framework to leadership studies. It also includes an in-depth description of three of the highest stages in the framework (Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist), including a synthesis of the capacities that people gain access to upon developing into them. The history of this work begins in the 1960s when Jane Loevinger (1966) built upon the research of Piaget (1948, 1954) and others to chart human development from selfcentered infancy to, in some cases, wise and powerful maturity (Cook-Greuter & Soulen, 2007). Loevinger introduced the concept of ego development as a theory and method for studying â€œthe framework of meaning which one subjectively imposes on experienceâ€? (Hauser, 1976, p. 930, emphasis in original; Manners & Durkin, 2001). This research evolved into a constructive-developmental framework for ego development (Loevinger, 1976). It is important to point out that ego development, or the development of oneâ€™s selfidentity, is technically different than the pure cognitive development studies pioneered by Piaget. Scholars of cognitive studies (Commons & Richards, 2003) and a leading theorist (Wilber, 2000a) have suggested that cognition and self-identity are separate but linked
32 “lines” or “streams” of development. Cook-Greuter (1999) refers to self-identity as having cognitive, behavioral, and affective dimensions. Loevinger’s theory is considered an important and unique approach to understanding personality development (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Manners & Durkin, 2001). Since its formulation (Loevinger, 1966), the ego development framework has been rigorously validated, refined, and extended (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Hauser, 1976; Hy & Loevinger, 1996; Loevinger, 1979, 1998a), resulting in it being “one of the most comprehensive constructs in the field of developmental psychology” (Westenberg & Block, 1993, p. 792). Over the past four decades it has been incorporated into thousands of studies worldwide, encompassing more than 11,000 individuals, and translated into at least 11 languages (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Cook-Greuter & Soulen, 2007; Loevinger, 1979; Manners & Durkin, 2001). Central to the study of ego development is an efficient and rigorous measurement tool – the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT; Loevinger & Wessler, 1970). Loevinger created it to assess differences in meaning-making ability. The WUSCT consists of 36 sentence stems that deal with self-perceptions, social situations, and interpersonal relationships. The WUSCT focuses on how individuals “tend to reason, feel and act in response to their experience” (Cook-Greuter & Soulen, 2007, p. 185). This instrument enables participants to project their frame of reference into the incomplete sentences, while partially restricting the domain of the answers (Loevinger, 1979, 1998b). The WUSCT has been extensively refined and validated (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Hauser, 1976; Loevinger, 1979; Manners & Durkin, 2001), and has been revised several times (CookGreuter, 1999; Hy & Loevinger, 1996). Along with Rest’s Defining Issues Test (Rest,
33 Narvaez, Thoma, & Bebeau, 1999), Loevinger’s WUSCT is one of the most widely used measures of human development (Bartunek, Gordon, & Weathersby, 1983; Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Cook-Greuter, 1999). Nonetheless, it wasn’t until management sciences and action research expert William Torbert (1987) and his colleagues (Fisher, Merron, & Torbert, 1987) began using the WUSCT that it gained traction within the field of leadership and management studies. Building upon Loevinger’s research, and influenced by Kegan’s (1982, 1994) constructivedevelopmental theory, Torbert eventually created a framework that was more appropriate to organizational contexts. Researcher and developmentalist Susanne Cook-Greuter revised the WUSCT to reflect these changes, including strengthening the definition and assessment of the most advanced stages (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004; Torbert, et al., 2004). There are two versions of the WUSCT in current use: the Leadership Development Profile (LDP) and the Sentence Completion Test Integral - Maturity Assessment Profile (SCTi-MAP). I chose the latter for this research as I have worked with it since 2005. The two versions vary by a few sentence completion stems. Both instruments measure an adult’s degree of meaning-making complexity, also called their stage of self-identity, stage of ego development (Cook-Greuter, 1999), or “action logic” (Torbert, 1987; Torbert, et al., 2004). For the remainder of this document, I use the term action logic to describe the developmental stages of meaning-making in the Loevinger/Torbert framework. For further details on the SCTi-MAP and its validity and reliability, please see the description of it in Chapter III. For the actual instrument used in this study, see Appendix G.
34 Overview of Action Logics The term action logic describes the developmental stage of meaning-making that informs and drives an individual’s reasoning and behavior. Torbert created this phrase to describe the stages of ego development in a way that was more aligned with the language of organizations and leadership. The action logics framework utilized by Torbert and CookGreuter (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Torbert, et al., 2004), based upon Loevinger’s original ego development framework (Loevinger, 1966), offers a nine-stage model. Table 2 provides a brief overview of the eight most prevalent action logics. (The complete model has an earlier action logic most reflective of a child’s center of gravity). As individuals advance through the stages, they organize their experiences according to an increasingly complex logic (e.g., needs, system effectiveness, most valuable principles).
35 Table 2
Conventional Stages of Consciousness
The eight most prevalent action logics of Torbert’s framework
Strengths as org. member
Opportunist (needs rule impulses)
Own immediate needs, opportunity, self-protection
Good in Wins any way possible. emergencies and Self-oriented; manipulative; sales “might makes right” opportunities
Socially-expected behavior, approval
Avoids overt conflict. Wants to belong; obeys group norms; rarely rocks the boat
Diplomat (norms rule needs)
Source of power
% of US adult population (n = 4,510)
Coercive (unilaterally), e.g., executive authority
Good as supportive glue within an office; helps bring people together
Diplomatic, e.g., persuasive power, peer power
Expert (craft logic rules norms)
Expertise, procedure, and efficiency
Rules by logic and expertise; seeks rational efficiency
Good as an individual contributor
Logistical; e.g. knowledgebased or authoritative power
Achiever (system effectiveness rules craft logic)
Delivery of results, effectiveness, goals, success within system
Meets strategic goals. Effectively achieves goals through teams; juggles managerial duties and market demands
Well suited to managerial roles; action and goal oriented
Coordinating; (coordinating the previous 3 sources of power)
Postconventional: Unitive Stages of Consciousness
Postconventional: General Systems Stages of Consciousness
Self in relationship to system; interaction with system
Interweaves competing personal and company action logics. Creates unique structures to resolve gaps between strategy and performance
Strategist (most valuable principles rule relativism)
Confronting; used to deconstruct other’s frames or world views
Linking theory and principles with practice; dynamic systems interactions
Generates organizational and personal transformations. Effective as a Exercises the power of mutual transformational inquiry, vigilance, and leader vulnerability for both the short and long term
Integrative; (consciously transformative)
Alchemist (deep processes and intersystemic evolution rule principles)
Interplay of awareness, thought, action, and effects; transforming self and others
Generates social transformations. Integrates material, spiritual, and societal transformation
Good at leading society-wide transformations
Shamanistic (through presence)
Being; experience moment to moment arising of consciousness
[Currently under research] Institutionalizes developmental processes through “liberating disciplines.” Holds cosmic or universal perspective; visionary
[Currently under research] Catalyze the deep development of individuals and collectives
[Currently under research] Unitive
Individualist (relativism rules single-system logic)
Effective in venture and consulting roles
Note: Adapted from “The seven transformations of leadership,” by D. Rooke & W. R. Torbert, 2005, The Harvard Business Review, 83, p. 66. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review. Copyright © 2005 by the Harvard Business Publishing Corporation; all rights reserved. Original table abstracted from Cook-Greuter (2004) and Torbert (2004). Original research on percentages of the adult population for each stage from Cook-Greuter (1999, 2004). Material on the Ironist has been added to this table and is drawn from Cook-Greuter (1999, 2004, 2005) and Torbert (1987).
37 Action logics form the central focus of attention for an individual, and broaden with subsequent stages (Cook-Greuter & Soulen, 2007; McCauley, et al., 2006). The action logics system is described by Cook-Greuter (2005) as: A psycho-logical (sic) system with three interrelated components. The operative component looks at what adults see as the purpose of life, what needs they act upon, and what ends they are moving towards. The affective component deals with emotions and the experience of being in this world. The cognitive component addresses the question of how a person thinks about him or herself and the world. It is important to understand that each action logic emerges from a synthesis of doing, being, and thinking despite the term logic, which may suggest an emphasis on cognition...[This theory] provides us with one possible account of how individuals navigate the straits of human existence by using navigational lore, common sense, increasingly complex maps, algorithms, and intuition. (p. 3) Table 3 details this synthesis of doing, being and thinking that gives rise to an action logic.
Table 3 The three main dimensions of each action logic Function
A psycho-logy [sic] of human meaning-making which addresses the following essential questions.
DOING Coping Needs and ends Purpose
Behavioral dimension How do people interact? What are the needs they act upon, and what ends do they try to achieve? How do they cope and master their lives? What function do others play in an individual’s life?
BEING Awareness Experience Affect
Affective dimension How do they feel about things? How do they deal with affect? What is the range of awareness and of their selective perception? How are events experienced and processed? What are the preferred defenses?
THINKING Conceptions Knowledge Interpretation
Cognitive dimension How does a person think? How do individuals structure experience? How do they explain things? How do they make sense of their experience? What is the logic behind their perspectives on the self and the world?
Note: Adapted from “Ego development: Nine levels of increasing embrace,” by S. R. Cook-Greuter, 2005, unpublished manuscript, p. 3. Reprinted with permission.
38 The most complex action logics are theoretically available to everyone, meaning that they are a developmental potential from the moment of conception. However, most people (75-80%) in modern society function at the conventional stages, with a Diplomat, Expert, or Achiever action logic. Only 15-20% of adults operate at postconventional development, with an Individualist, Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic. Of those, the two unitive stages â€“ Alchemist and Ironist â€“ which represent ego-transcendent meaning-making systems are the rarest (1.5% and 0.5% of the total adult population respectively) (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Kegan, 1994). This study focuses only on leaders and change agents who hold a Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic, thus the least common yet most mature of all meaningmaking systems. As people mature into later action logics, new or enhanced capacities arise. Many of the capacities reflect the increased awareness of self, other, and the environment with which Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists engage. It is these strengthened capacities that undergird the increasingly effective performance of the late-stage leaders discussed in the review of the leadership literature below. My sample is comprised of experienced change agents who are addressing global sustainability issues and who hold a Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic. These leaders theoretically have access to many late stage capacities that influence how they design and engage with sustainability initiatives. A better understanding of how these rare leaders work can help other leaders to accelerate their development to postconventional stages and beyond. This research begins to close important gaps in the literature about what execution of these capacities looks like, specifically when focused on addressing complex social and environmental challenges.
39 The following sections offer more comprehensive descriptions of the Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist action logics and the capacities that emerge or are strengthened with their onset. For a thorough review of the other action logics, readers should consult the principal texts of Torbert, Cook-Greuter, and colleagues (Cook-Greuter, 2004; Rooke & Torbert, 2005; Torbert, 1987; Torbert, et al., 2004). After detailing the Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist action logics, I review the literature on the application of the Loevinger/Torbert framework to leadership studies.
The Strategist Action Logic There are six Strategists in this study. The central goal of the Strategist is to become the most one can be. Strategists focus on self-development, self-actualization, and creating a meaningful, coherent, and objective self-identity. They generally display high self esteem and a sense of empowerment (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Strategists are preoccupied with justice and development (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Three domains of social engagement fascinate them: personal relationships, organizational relations, and national and international developments (Rooke & Torbert, 2005). Related to this, they are often committed to helping others develop. This comes from a conviction that higher development is better and closer to truth (Kegan, 1982), as it provides a less distorted and more realistic view of oneself and the world. Strategists also tend to believe that higher development allows one to create more effective, sophisticated arguments, and that in an increasingly complex global theatre, higher development is needed for adequate functioning. Strategists consistently seek feedback from others and the environment as fuel for their own
40 growth and deepened understanding of the world. Aware of their own power, they may be tempted by it (Ingersoll & Cook-Greuter, 2007). Strategists have considerable insight into themselves and others. By this stage, they tend to have found relative balance between their inner and outer worlds, between body and mind, and with thoughts and feelings. They are aware of their body/mind as a system, and recognize how their interpretations of internal and external reality are context dependent. The deepened self-insight of Strategists brings increased awareness of conflicting aspects of themselves. Yet rather than despair at not knowing who they truly are, as an Individualist might do, they are able to own and then integrate these sub-identities and shadow aspects into a coherent, new core identity (Cook-Greuter, 1999). This enhanced ability to see and respond to paradox and contradiction in themselves can also be employed to work with systems in the external world: Strategists are able to respond to conflicting needs, dynamics, and duties in continually changing contexts (Ingersoll & Cook-Greuter, 2007). Strategists generally take a systems view of reality. Cognitively, they are metasystemic thinkers and can comprehend multiple interconnected systems of relationships and processes, including within themselves (Cook-Greuter, 1994, 1999). This enables them to perceive systems of systems. The time frame for their thinking tends to be within their own history and to the extent of their lifetime (Cook-Greuter, 1994, 1999). Strategists are grounded in a recognition of higher principles, beyond the relativism of Individualists (Ingersoll & Cook-Greuter, 2007). They often work to create principles and practices based in ethics that serve more than individual or organizational interests (Rooke & Torbert, 2005). They recognize the social construction of reality, but take a less relativistic view of it, recognizing its complexity and natural hierarchy. They can, as a result, make principled
41 choices and commitment in the face of relativism. Rather than believing that there is an absolute truth, or that it is all relative, Strategists believe that truth can be approximated and strive to do so. Strategists use reasoning and rational analysis, supported by some intuition, to assess, evaluate, judge, compare, measure, predict and, ultimately, to know (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Strategists account for just 4-5% of the adult population within the U.S. and Europe (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004). As leaders, they often have socially conscious business ideas that they execute collaboratively, integrating idealist visions with pragmatism, principle, and timely actions. When leading, Strategists reframe situations, consciously leveraging language to reinterpret reality such that decisions are made in service of overall principles, strategy, integrity and foresight (Cook-Greuter, 2004). They focus on organizational constraints and perceptions, discussing and striving to transform them (Rooke & Torbert, 2005). Strategists are particularly sensitive to unique market niches, the historical moment, and larger social movements. They also strive to go beyond win-lose scenarios to create â€œpositive-sumâ€? games, in which many win (Ingersoll & Cook-Greuter, 2007). Strategists are able to generate personal and organizational transformations. This arises partly from their ability to create shared visions across different action logics that inspire both individual and organizational transformation. Strategists also tend to be more comfortable with conflict than other action logics, and are better at managing peopleâ€™s natural resistance to change. All of these qualities increase their potential to be highly effective change agents. For a summary of the capacities that research suggests emerge or are strengthened at the Strategist action logic, see Table 4.
42 Table 4 Capacities proposed to be accessible to those with a Strategist action logic Capacity
Comments Cognitive Capacities
Create a new core identity (Cook-Greuter, 1999)
“Own” contradictory parts of themselves, integrate previously compartmentalized subidentities into a new whole
Be more honest with self, and open to try new thoughts, feelings, behaviors (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Willingness to experiment with new ways of being and proactive about learning from it
Engage a systems view on reality and oneself (Cook-Greuter, 2000)
See reality and self as an interconnected whole or system rather than aggregate of separate, well-defined elements
Expand from situational awareness to global scope (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Deeper recognition of the human experience everywhere, including its relatedness, and interdependence with the natural environment
Recognize mutual causality in human interactions (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Awareness that all organizational/collective processes and results are created by the simultaneous action of many elements
Explore meaning-making itself (CookGreuter, 2000)
Inquire into the dynamics and processes of how we know what we know
Increasingly access intuition (CookGreuter, 1999)
As a complement to rational analysis and reasoning
Intentionally enter “flow” states (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Even during mentally complex and emotionally charged challenges
Unite and integrate ideas (Loevinger, 1976)
Especially those that appear as incompatible alternatives to those with earlier action logics
Create visions with increasingly extended time frames and more profound purposes (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Driven by a desire for greater personal fulfillment and commitment to live life authentically, expressing deepest potentials
Affective Capacities Experience internal conflict with more awareness; less resistant to it, more courageous to face it (Loevinger, 1976)
Clarity on shadow aspects of self and the cycling of, e.g., assertive & reflective voices; Cope, transcend, or reconcile with conflict
Accept oneself more deeply (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Allows for the experience of vulnerable feelings, freeing oneself from reacting to them
43 Access a broader range of feelings in a sustained, direct way (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Allowing thoughts and feelings to consciously flow without judgment or fixation
Remain present longer with disconcerting feelings (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
In self, and with others; able to metabolize difficult emotions more easily
Hold an increased sense of purpose to express deeper talents in service of enhancing others’ lives (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Torbert, et al., 2004)
A strong commitment to generativity; creating a meaningful life often requires increased courage as well
Empathize more deeply, be more tolerant of, and show interest in, other perspectives (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Leads to a deeper capacity for understanding other cultures, subcultures, and ethnic groups
Highly tolerate ambiguity (Loevinger, 1976; Nicolaides, 2008)
Ambiguity means creative potential; see the value of being in relationship to it; learn through ambiguity
Behavioral Capacities Enter deeply into different, multiple frames of reference, perspectives; reframe & reinterpret (Cook-Greuter, 1999)
Step back from own frame and others’, and identify conflict or commonality of frames; decide which frame is best for the situation
Ground actions in principles rather than rules (Torbert, et al., 2004)
Even when such principles run counter to the rules of their superiors
Engage in timely action in service of transformative change (Torbert, et al., 2004)
Recognize that all action facilitates or inhibits transformational change in others’ action logics; ‘what action is timely now to whom?’
Better support organizational transformations (Torbert, et al., 2004)
Grow businesses in size, and improve profitability, quality, strategy, and reputation
Deal with conflicting needs and duties (Cook-Greuter, 1999)
Especially in constantly shifting contexts
Consciously allow others to make mistakes (Torbert, et al., 2004)
To serve their greater alertness and capacity for single-, double-, triple-loop self-correction
Build truly collaborative relationships (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Characterized by authentic expression and working through of real differences
Express more spontaneously (Loevinger, 1976)
Light touch, humor; vivid, convincing feelings combining genuineness and intensity
44 The Alchemist Action Logic There are five Alchemists in this study. The central goal of an Alchemist is to be aware (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Alchemists focus on the interplay of perception, thought, feeling, action and effects. They are deeply conscious of the complexity of meaning-making, systemic interactions, and dynamic processes. This enables them to consistently note the influences from and impacts on individuals, institutions, cultures, and history (Ingersoll & Cook-Greuter, 2007). Alchemists experience and struggle with a paradox of being. They understand themselves to be both “a rational, separate individual locus of consciousness [yet also feel] interconnected and part of a deeper, non-individualized, all-pervasive consciousness” (CookGreuter, 1999, p. 85). This is exemplified in their new relationship to meaning-making: Alchemists can perceive the structure of their own thinking processes and, by doing so, recognize the fundamental limitations of both rational thought and language itself. They see that many of their mental habits are “programmed” and automatic. The very acts of thinking, expecting, defending, and fearing are seen as problematic, partial defenses against knowing the impermanence of the embodied self. For Alchemists, the process of meaning-making is always inadequate. They understand meaning as constructed from increasingly complex theories that arise from the reification and segmentation of reality. Yet they perceive reality to be an ever-changing, dynamic flux of phenomena and can sense the unitive nature of it. Alchemists recognize that, ultimately, the meaning-making process can never accurately articulate reality (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005). As Cook-Greuter (2005) notes: This is the first time in development that the ego becomes transparent to itself. Final knowledge about the self or anything else is seen as illusive and unattainable through effort and reason because all conscious thought, all cognition is recognized as constructed and, therefore, split off from the
45 underlying, cohesive, non-dual truth….They realize that the pursuit of objective self-identification and rational, objective explanations of the universe are futile—artifacts of our need to make permanent and substantive that which is in flux and immaterial. (pp. 28-29) While recognizing the limitations of rational thought, Alchemists also experience an increased capacity to access and draw insight from non-rational sources of information. Intuition, bodily states, feelings, dreams, archetypal and transpersonal material become founts of knowledge that complement rational thinking and support their ability to make sense of experience and find meaning (Cook-Greuter, 2005). For them, time and events are not simply linear, digital, and literal, but symbolic, analogical, and metaphorical (Torbert, et al., 2004). Their language is usually complex, vivid, authentic, and playful. It can also be raw or direct, due to less of a perceived need to impress (Cook-Greuter, 2005). Alchemists are committed to personally and spiritually transforming themselves and support others in their life quests (Cook-Greuter, 2004). They are the first action logic to perceive all experience fully in terms of evolution and change (Cook-Greuter, 2005). They operate in a time-frame well beyond their own lifetime, a realm that transcends their own culture, and they hold a global-historical and evolutionary perspective on life (Cook-Greuter, 1999). They are even more sensitive and capable than Strategists of understanding others in developmental terms. Alchemists tend to have finely-tuned interpersonal skills and a superb ability to offer insight into others’ complex and dynamic personalities (Cook-Greuter, 2005). Part of Alchemists’ commitment to transformation of self and others may come from their sensitivity to the continuous “re-storying” of who one is (Ingersoll & Cook-Greuter, 2007). By taking a different perspective, one can tell another story, give different meaning to an event, and then change and evolve one’s stance to it. Alchemists can be deeply empathic and offer this sort of transformational, non-distorted feedback. They are also more able than
46 any other action logic to deeply access their own past ways of meaning-making. This enables them to tailor their communications and actions to others’ meaning-making system, relating to both “kings and commoners.” By optimally adjusting their style, Alchemists can support others with empathic listening, challenging ideas, reframing of experiences, new stories, and encouragement to push the boundaries of how they make meaning (Cook-Greuter, 2005). 1-2% of the adult population within the USA (the only place where large samples have been taken) are estimated to be Alchemists (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004). As leaders, they often build their own novel organizations or work alone doing what they feel is their greatest contribution to humanity (Cook-Greuter, 2005). Alchemists have an extraordinary capacity to simultaneously manage and respond to many situations, at varying levels (Rooke & Torbert, 2005). Many times they engage in multiple organizations, striving to align personal, organizational, societal, and global goods (Torbert, et al., 2004). They enjoy roles as catalysts or transformers, and may work to make organizations self-transforming and selforganizing, so that they are no longer needed (Cook-Greuter, 2005). One of their greatest strengths is their ability to renew or reinvent themselves and organizations in historically significant ways. They can seize unique moments in an organization’s history, create symbols and metaphors that touch people’s hearts and minds, and generate mythical events that reframe situations (Rooke & Torbert, 2005; Torbert, et al., 2004). For a summary of the capacities that research suggests emerge or are strengthened at the Alchemist action logic, see Table 5.
47 Table 5 Capacities proposed to be accessible to those with an Alchemist action logic Capacity
Comments Cognitive & Affective Capacities
Be more self-aware and mindful than any earlier action logic; more easily access flow states and witness consciousness (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Strong interest in and access to direct, present-moment awareness of five senses, inner sensations, thought processes, emotions
See the ego itself; see through one’s attempts at meaning-making; let go of automatic habits of mind and heart (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2000)
Recognition of ego’s clever machinations at self-preservation; recognition that all cognition is constructed and split from non-dual truth
Regularly access “next step intuitions,” archetypal, and other transpersonal material (Cook-Greuter, 2000; Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Inner promptings and insights that support alignment with one’s purpose and provide guidance
Hold an alert and relaxed, present-centered awareness from moment to moment (Joiner & Josephs, 2007; Torbert, et al., 2004)
A bare awareness, without mental description or evaluation, leading to subtle feelings of wonder
Engage an even deeper sense of purpose than previous action logics (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Palpable, genuine intention to serve; an enlivened sense of goodwill
Be in communion with and surrender to ambiguity (Nicolaides, 2008)
Recognition of an “always present” ambiguity and willingness to surrender to learning from within it
Behavioral Capacities Exhibit an enhanced “power of presence” (Joiner & Josephs, 2007; Torbert, et al., 2004)
A subtle form of stakeholder agility grounded in the present-moment; using personal spiritual energy to support collaborative action inquiry
Leverage an integrated power style (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Present-centered embrace of both assertiveness and receptiveness; allows a playful, artistic approach to wielding different types of power
More frequently and easily access “synergistic intuitions” (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
To resolve intractable mental / emotional conflicts in service of all; based on surrender to the direct experience of “not-knowing”
48 See more deeply into the human dimension of the environment/context than any earlier action logic (Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
This supports them to work with the subtle yet significant dynamics in a situation’s context
Attune profoundly to self and other, simultaneously (Cook-Greuter, 2000; Joiner & Josephs, 2007)
Ability to empathetically attend to the views and interests of another, and also maintain awareness of one’s own bodily presence
More effectively hold and manage many conflicting frames, perspectives, emotions, possibilities (Joiner & Josephs, 2007; Torbert, et al., 2004)
Work simultaneously with the local and global; hold multiple stakeholders’ positions with empathy, even under highly stressful situations
Meet each situation at the pace and in the More deeply meet and accept people “where they action-logic of the person or group with are” (Cook-Greuter, 2005; Torbert, et al., 2004) whom one is interacting Give transformational, non-distorted feedback (Cook-Greuter, 2005)
Due to seeing all experience in terms of change and evolution, finely-tuned interpersonal skills, and insight into the complex nature of the personality
The Ironist Action Logic There are two Ironists in this study. The Ironist action logic is still under research. Early studies suggest that this stage of meaning-making represents the emergence of a universal or ego-transcendent perspective. Cook-Greuter uses the term “Unitive” for this stage of ego-development. She notes (2000, p. 228) that Maslow coined the term to describe people who can “simultaneously perceive in the fact – the is – its particularity, and its universality. To see it simultaneously as here and now, and yet also as eternal” (Maslow, 1971, p. 111). 1 The Ironist represents a step-change from how earlier action logics perceive 1
Cook-Greuter has noted the difficulty of choosing labels for the stages of ego-development. She personally does not find the Ironist label “especially fruitful” for characterizing individuals at this stage after the Alchemist, and her preference is the Unitive label (Cook-Greuter, 2005, pp. 36, endnote 10). However, as this document has been using Torbert’s framework, I will use the Ironist label to avoid confusion. The use of the term “unitive” should not be confused with similar terms used by other theorists to describe the latest stages of their developmental models. Examples include Wade’s (1996) “unity” values stage, Kohlberg’s (1981) “universal spiritual” stage of moral development, and Fowler’s (1981) “universalizing commonwealth” faith stage.
49 reality. Rather than see solely through the self’s perspective and via the medium of language, Ironists hold a cosmic or universal perspective that is post-symbolic or post-representational. This means that they experience themselves and all others as aspects of a constantly evolving humanity that are embedded in a creative ground. At times, reality for Ironists is deeply experienced as an undifferentiated phenomenological continuum. Use of language, or any form of objectification, is an abstraction that filters raw, subjective experience (CookGreuter, 1999, 2005). “Every object, word, thought, feeling and sensation, every theory is understood as a human construct: separating out, creating boundaries where there are none” (Cook-Greuter, 2005, p. 34). Rather than use symbols to represent, reify, or codify reality, Ironists prefer to simply experience the moment to moment arising of consciousness. CookGreuter calls this “a post-representational, immediate apperception of reality” (Cook-Greuter, 2000, p. 238). The central goal of an Ironist is to be. Content with simply being, Ironists assume a non-controlling relationship to consciousness and are non-evaluative in their focus. They engage the moment with an integrative witnessing, noticing the flow of experience and passing of states of mind (Cook-Greuter, 1994, 1999). Ironists effortlessly hold multiple perspectives and can shift across various states of awareness with ease. Unlike any earlier action logic, they can remain consistently aware of their thoughts, feelings, behavior, perceptions, and states of alertness (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Due to the Ironist’s sense of embeddedness in nature, they perceive birth, growth, death, joy, pain and all other aspects of reality as naturally occurring patterns of change in the flux of the time-space continuum. This leads to a profound acceptance of self and others as is, in a non-controlling way. By seeing the unity of being that is the essence of all existence,
50 while also cherishing the unique humanness of every person, Ironists honor and respect others, not needing them to be different than they are (Cook-Greuter, 2005). With respect to leadership or change agency, very little is known about Ironists. The present research is the first study to offer empirical data about their leadership. Representing less than 1% of the general population, they are rarely found in formal leadership positions. 2 Torbert (1987) contends that the Ironic leader is lower profile than other leaders, more indirect and impersonal. Yet such a leader’s focus is likely to be on the institutionalization of developmental processes, creating what Torbert calls “Liberating Disciplines – structures that would simultaneously make sense to organizational members at various stages of development and invite developmental transformation” (Torbert, 1987, pp. 216-217). He continues on to explain the name Ironist: Ironies are, not surprisingly, a hallmark of the Ironic style. The distances and tensions between the ideal and the actual, between one’s inner awareness and outer performance, between self and others are accepted as an essential condition of life, to be transformed in particular instances but never obliterated…[T]he Ironic leader’s responsibility is to cultivate a quality of awareness and action that highlights the dynamic tensions of the whole enterprise – not so starkly as to engender terror and hopelessness – but rather in just the tones that can make their significance visible to other members and will challenge them to higher performance and further development. (p. 218) Ironists hold a time frame based in eternity. For them, the entirety of the earth’s history and future interpenetrate in the present moment. Because of their fluid, transcendent self-sense, they tend to be comfortable with “not-knowing,” and do not show the anxiety that the unknown can catalyze for earlier action logics. They feel “at home” in constant flux and change (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Ingersoll & Cook-Greuter, 2007).
In a large-scale study in the USA, only 0.5% of the adult population was assessed as Ironists. In studies of managers, supervisors and consultants in the USA and UK, less than 1% were found to hold this action logic (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005). Even in a highly-selective sample that leaned toward later action logics, Ironists only represented 0.55% of the population(Cook-Greuter, 2011).
51 Ironists can be perceived by others as aloof and insufficiently engaged in the concerns and goals of a common humanity. Ironically, they deeply care about the essential dilemma of the human condition and work for justice, fairness, and benevolence towards all. More than any other action logic, they feel tolerance, compassion, and an affiliation with all forms of life. Unseen to their critics, Ironists often serve as catalysts in the development of others. By knowing themselves as embedded in a creative ground, they embody and transmit a deeper security of being than is possible through a rationally-generated self-identity. They offer to others an example, or a template, of being what they are, without excuses. This challenges the conventional preconceptions of others about what it means to be a mature adult (CookGreuter, 1999, 2005). In contrast to other action logics, Ironists often have intense, yet non-demanding relationships with people, no matter the otherâ€™s action logic, age, gender, or other identifications. They see dignity in all manifestations of life and deeply honor both a personâ€™s essence and their individuality. As a result, Ironists can make others feel worthy and whole (Cook-Greuter, 2005). For Ironists, inner conflicts and competing external demands need not be resolved or denied; they are simply part of the ever-changing flux of being and need only be witnessed. As a result, Ironists are not driven to be one way or another, or accomplish a certain state. They let go of the unattainable and hold a non-attached, impersonal stance. Yet rather than leading to passivity, this stance enables a stronger, more direct, and powerful engagement when action is needed. This openness enables access to a truth that is imminent in the universe yet cannot be grasped with only rationality (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005).
52 By being completely open to an unfiltered experience of reality, Ironists can be in tune with truth and beauty and have visionary experiences. That is, they can comprehend things in a holistic way, effortlessly beholding both the whole and its constitutive variables simultaneously. This visionary quality is complemented with an ability to use the rational mind for further understanding. For Ironists, rational awareness is no longer considered a limiting constraint. Rather, it is perceived as another phenomenon of consciousness that is in the background or foreground, depending upon the focus of attention. Ironists draw upon multiple methods of knowing such as contemplation, intellect, and intuition, without overvaluing any of them. Ultimately, Ironists are able to directly know and perceive in a nonsymbolic way as they subjectively experience and witness the continuous flux of consciousness (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005). For a summary of the capacities that research suggests emerge or are strengthened at the Ironist action logic, see Table 6.
53 Table 6 Capacities proposed to be accessible to those with an Ironist action logic Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Capacities Capacity
Hold a universal, unitive, or cosmic perspective; feel embedded in nature and literally at one with other beings (CookGreuter, 1999, 2005)
They consistently experience themselves and others as embedded in the creative ground, as part of ongoing, evolving humanity; this offers a vast mental space to roam
Cross-paradigmatic and trans-rational cognitive operations; embrace unitive concepts (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005)
Represents a new way of knowing that can hierarchically supersede and integrate all previous knowledge and epistemologies
Have trans-rational, visionary experiences (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005)
Instantly comprehend things in a holistic way, yet also use the rational mind at will
Multiperspectival; effortlessly able to hold multiple points of view simultaneously (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005)
Based upon a witness perspective that is centered in the higher Self, not in the ego
Hold a stable, post-representational, immediate perception of reality (CookGreuter, 2000)
Witness the arising of each moment, without filtering it through language or discursive thinking to identify or codify it
Be highly mentally flexible and open to on-going experience; attuned to whatever enters awareness (Cook-Greuter, 2000)
Derived from being able to let go of the judgment habit; tendency to witness, rather than label and judge experience
Behold the whole simultaneously with its constitutive elements (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005)
Able to concurrently perceive the eternal and symbolic meaning of anything, as well as its concrete, limited, and temporal aspects
Embrace polar opposites on both a cognitive and affective level (CookGreuter, 2000)
For example, good and evil, joy and regret understood as ontologically the same, but epistemologically different 3
Deep empathy, tolerance, compassion for beings at all stages of development and all manifestations of life (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2000, 2005)
Profound respect for the humanness in everyone and the essence in everything, no matter who or what they are, not needing them to be different
Ken Wilber is the first person Iâ€™ve heard use the phrase â€œontologically the same, epistemologically differentâ€? (personal communication via Gail Hochachka, August 7, 2010).
54 Operate within an expansive time frame and realm that includes all past and all future in the universe (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2000, 2005)
Grounded in eternity and the space/time continuum
Be at ease with a fluid, open-ended, selfidentity (Cook-Greuter, 2000)
Comfortable with “not knowing” who they are
Accept themselves and reality “as is” in a non-controlling way (Cook-Greuter, 2000, 2005)
Deep tolerance of the continually changing experience of moment to moment reality
Regularly experience, integrate, and make use of transcendent , peak experiences (CookGreuter, 2000)
They experience self-transcendence in the witnessing state that deepens their sense of embeddedness and belonging
Witness the efforts of the ego as it contracts and strives to be seen as important and permanent and defends against its fear of death (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005)
The sense of separation of self from others is experienced as an illusion, developed by the ego to safeguard its future
Seek out, generate, and work with ambiguity to bring forth latent potential and mutually create reality (Nicolaides, 2008)
See ambiguity as a “door in each moment,” a doorway into potential; collaborate with ambiguity to co-create out of emptiness or creative ground
This section has summarized research on the characteristics and capacities of Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists, the three most mature action logics in the Loevinger/Torbert framework. The next section reviews the literature on the application of this framework to leadership studies, looking in particular at studies that involved these postconventional action logics.
Application to Leadership and Management Studies Torbert’s framework has been used in various ways to understand management, leadership, and organizational change. This section provides a review of the most relevant studies for my research. It is divided into two broad categories that arise from propositions of the Torbert framework: (1) action logic influences how one approaches managerial tasks; (2)
55 leaders who hold later action logics are more effective at leading transformational organizational change (McCauley, et al., 2006). As with the above literature review on Keganâ€™s framework, I focus on studies that involved people at postconventional developmental stages (Individualist, Strategist, and Alchemist action logics; no empirical leadership studies besides the present one have studied Ironists).
Action logic and managerial and leadership tasks. With respect to how action logic influences oneâ€™s approach to management, the first major research was done by Merron, Fisher, and Torbert (1987). In a study of 49 MBA alumni and students, they used an inbasket test to examine how managers solve problems. 17 of the participants rated at postconventional action logics (11 Individualists and six Strategists), the other 32 held conventional action logics. Those with the earlier action logics (i.e., Experts and Achievers) tended to respond to issues with a first-order response: treat it as an isolated event, accept the problem definition as stated, and neglect underlying causes of the problem (i.e., attend to the symptom rather than identifying the disease). Individualists and Strategists were more likely to offer a second-order response: redefine the problem, question the underlying assumptions or values in the definition, or treat the problem as a symptom of a deeper, underlying issue. This reflected the theory that people with later action logics are more capable of questioning or redefining the norms, values, and assumptions of their social world. The researchers also found that Individualists and Strategists were more likely to act collaboratively in search of a solution to the problem, rather than the more common unilateral approach chosen by earlier action logics. In both areas of inquiry, Strategists scored higher than Individualists, showing
56 a higher likelihood of delivering a second-order response to problems, and of working collaboratively. In a subsequent study of 17 managers, Fisher & Torbert (1991) examined the differences in how they led subordinates, related to superiors, and proposed and implemented solutions. Their interview pool included those with conventional action logics (two Experts, five Achievers) and those with postconventional action logics (four Individualists, and six Strategists). While Strategists worked with subordinates to synthesize their way of thinking, Achievers tended to cultivate and mould subordinates to their own perspective. With respect to superiors, Achievers often try to get them to concede to the “correct” course of action, while Strategists realized the need to negotiate to create a common frame. Strategists were also more likely than Achievers to choose and adjust their actions based on principles instead of rules, even when those principles run contrary to their superior’s rules. With regard to taking action, Strategists more than Achievers saw their effectiveness based upon setting a stage – building a frame in which their own as well as others’ aims could be expressed – instead of driving for adoption of their own processes and solutions. While both Achievers and Strategists saw awareness of others’ point of view as important, for Achievers, this awareness was in service of getting them to accept the Achiever’s own goals. Strategist managers considered this awareness important so as to question and revise their own goals. Based upon this data, Torbert and colleagues (2004) contend that a Strategist action logic is needed in order to create the settings in which individuals and organizations can transform. Two studies (Gammons, 1993; Steeves, 1997) were the first to try to empirically link leader action logic with behavioral measures (i.e., multisource ratings) of leadership effectiveness. Neither found significant correlation, although new research suggests
57 otherwise and is discussed below (personal communication with Robert J. Anderson on correlations between action logics and The Leadership Circle Profile 360, March 4, 2010). Gammons (1993) studied “master teachers” who were peer leaders in schools. 67 peer leaders were administered the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT; Loevinger, 1976) and evaluated by colleagues using the Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (Stodgill, 1970). Five participants scored at the equivalent of the Strategist action logic, and another 14 at the equivalent of Individualists; the rest scored at conventional levels of ego development. Ego development level (action logic) was not found to be predictive of perceived leadership effectiveness. Steeves (1997) studied 45 branch managers from a Canadian bank, administering both the WUSCT (Loevinger, 1976) and the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ; Bass & Avolio, 1990) to subordinates, as well as collecting performance appraisal data. Two of the managers were rated as Strategists, the rest at conventional action logics (i.e., Diplomat, Expert, Achiever). Results showed that Achievers were perceived as more inspirational than Expert managers. There was no other significant correlation between the action logic of the managers and the other scores from the MLQ or with the performance appraisal data. Recently, Anderson (2006) has found a significant correlation between the action logic of leaders and their scores on a multi-rater feedback instrument (a “360”) called The Leadership Circle Profile (Anderson, 2006). While his results are yet to be published, he claims that in a study of 92 managers there is a positive correlation to the Creative dimensions of his instrument, and a negative correlation to the Reactive dimensions. 4 The
Anderson’s sample has 66 leaders with a conventional Action logic, and 26 with a postconventional action logic, including 14 Individualists, eight Strategists, and four Alchemists.
58 most highly correlated Creative dimensions were: Community Concern, Personal Learner, Purposeful Visionary, and Mentoring. The most negatively correlated Reactive dimensions were: Conservative and Ambition (personal communication March 4, 2010).
Action logic and transformational organizational change. The second area of relevant action logic research for this study concerns leaders and their ability to successfully navigate transformational organizational change. Torbert and colleagues (Fisher & Torbert, 1991; Rooke & Torbert, 1998; Torbert, et al., 2004) contend that the capacities of the Strategist action logic are especially relevant for executing whole-system organizational improvement—including changing the culture, practices, and core beliefs within an organization. Once leaders reach a Strategist action logic they become open to rethinking and changing their assumptions and core purpose. Rather than execute a pre-determined, rational sequence of steps to deliver change, Strategists will more likely engage in personal and organizational double-loop learning (Argyris & Schön, 1978). This means that they consistently reflect upon the strategy, structure, and goals of their initiative. Strategists will also approach change by collaboratively building new, shared understandings with organizational members, based upon their individual differences. They recognize that “personal and organizational transformations of structure require mutual, voluntary initiatives” (Rooke & Torbert, 1998, p. 11). This differs from the single-framed, hierarchical guidance delivered by leaders with earlier action logics. The authors conclude that unilaterally exercised power, no matter the type (coercive, referent, legitimate, or expert), cannot generate personal or organizational transformation. Wholehearted transformation arises instead from power enacted in an empowering and mutuality- and
59 awareness-enhancing way. That is, voluntary transformation results from exercising a power that makes oneself, as well as the other, potentially vulnerable to transformation. The paradoxes of engaging this “vulnerable power” are reputedly only appreciated by Strategists and beyond. Rooke and Torbert (1998) executed the first longitudinal study to correlate action logic with the ability to achieve transformational organizational change. Over the course of 10 years, the authors and two other colleagues studied 10 organizational change efforts, spending more than four years on average with each organization. Of the 10 CEOs they worked with, five were categorized as Strategists, and the rest as conventional [Achiever (2), Expert (2), Diplomat (1)]. All of the Strategists transformed their organization positively, delivering a total of 15 organizational transformations – growing their businesses in size, and improving profitability, quality, strategy, and reputation. Conversely, the group of preStrategist CEOs achieved no organizational transformations on average. While two did have some positive organizational transformation, one had a three-stage regression in their organization and two others experienced no change. The study resulted in a significant correlation between CEO action logic and the degree of transformational organizational change. However, it should be noted that the small sample size means that further research is required to validate the researcher’s initial conclusions. Developmental theory contends that Alchemist consultants would be more effective than Strategists in helping CEOs achieve organizational transformation. This is because those who develop beyond the Strategist action-logic “exercise action inquiry more and more continuously and increasingly appreciate the intersystemic complexity of acting in a timely fashion as well as the moment-to-moment paradoxes of exercising ‘vulnerable power’ in
60 order to do soâ€? (Torbert, et al., 2004, pp. 112-113). Results from the above study supported this theory. The consultant who played the lead role with the two pre-Strategist CEOs who created positive transformations measured as an Alchemist. He had the latest action logic of all four consultants. An earlier study also inquired into the relationship between change-oriented consulting competence and action logic. Bushe and Gibbs (1990) assessed 64 trainees involved in a six month course to build organizational development skills amongst corporate quality staff. These internal consultants were assessed by two peers on a consulting competence survey, as well as by their trainers on a separate rating instrument. The 11 consultants who scored as Strategists were rated as more competent by both peers and trainers. They were also perceived to play more of a change management role than 53 other consultants who scored at earlier action logics. A final study researched whether action logic is related to othersâ€™ perceptions of an individualâ€™s ability to effect change. Mehltretter (1995) studied 24 managers engaged in transformational change. Only one scored as a Strategist or above (Alchemist). No firm evidence was found to suggest that a transforming leader needed to operate at a Strategist level. However, the leader with the highest number of exemplar nominations for transformational change initiatives was also the one with an Alchemist action logic.
61 Conclusions This section reviewed the literature of constructive-developmental theory, looking closely at how it relates to leadership. The models developed by Kegan and Loevinger/Torbert offer a step-wise journey through human epistemology, tracing how we develop from simple to complex ways of knowing, relating to, and engaging the world. The central argument regarding this constructive-developmental approach to understanding leadership is that how a leader knows is at least if not more important than what a leader knows. A growing body of research, drawing upon both of these models, demonstrates that leaders who operate with more mature meaning-making systems are more likely than others to lead in ways considered effective within modern organizations. This review focused predominantly on the literature concerning the capacities and qualities that emerge at very mature stages of consciousness (Keganâ€™s fifth order, Torbertâ€™s Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist action logics). While rare amongst the general population, these stages offer a way of knowing and navigating the world that may be required to effectively respond to the large-scale, complex sustainability leadership challenges we face. The present research addresses a key gap in the constructive-developmental field. It provides some of the first granular insights into how Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists take action, specifically in the face of complex leadership challenges. There has been no empirical research to date on how Alchemists and Ironists serve as leaders and change agents, outside of this study. The next section of this literature review shifts the focus from constructivedevelopmentalism to the sustainability leadership literature. From this perspective, I seek to better understand how leaders and change agents with advanced meaning-making systems might design and engage with sustainability initiatives.
62 Sustainability Leadership Theory
What does the literature on sustainability leadership offer about how leaders with a late-stage action logic design and engage in sustainability initiatives? This section first provides the historical context of leadership within the domain of sustainability and then defines sustainability leadership by those with a late-stage action logic. An overview of sustainability leadership theories follows, as well as notes on limitations in the literature. The discussion then shifts to the core topic, a review of the three sustainability leadership domains most relevant to this research: values and worldviews; competencies; and behaviors.
History and Definition Questions about leadership in the context of environmental and social sustainability arose in parallel with the larger societal discussion on sustainability itself. Early voices in governance (Brandt, 1980; Meadows & Club of Rome, 1972), ecological economics (Costanza & Wainger, 1991; Daly, 1977), and corporate social responsibility (Hawken, 1993; Watson, 1991) called for leaders to help society advance into an era of social, environmental, and economic sustainability. The call still resounds in popular business books (Hollender & Breen, 2010; Senge, 2008), sustainability leadership guides (Blackburn, 2007; L. R. Brown, 2011; Redekop, 2010), and academic inquiry (Ferdig, 2007; Manolis, et al., 2009; Quinn & Dalton, 2009). What is sustainability leadership? Letâ€™s first look at the term sustainability, and then at the various approaches to leadership that have developed to advance it. The most frequently cited definition of sustainable development (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, p. 8) involves meeting â€œthe needs of the present without
63 compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Put another way, the goal of sustainability is to meet the basic needs of all and extend to everyone the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations for a better life, while moderating and renewing the use of finite resources (Shrivastava, 1995). The study of sustainability includes many complex issues, including human rights, environmental protection, equal opportunities for all, fair competition, and the interdependencies that occur between organizations and society (D'Amato, Henderson, & Florence, 2009). With respect to organizations, sustainability refers to (typically voluntary) activities that demonstrate the inclusion of social and environmental concerns in business operations and in stakeholder interactions (van Marrewijk & Were, 2003). For this study, I define sustainability in accordance with the definition posited by the World Commission on Environment and Development: Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Ferdig (2007, p. 32) defines a sustainability leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for understanding and acting on sustainability challenges…whether or not they hold formal leadership positions. Sustainability leaders take conscious actions, individually and collectively, leading to outcomes that nurture, support, and sustain healthy economic, environmental and social systems.” For this research, I draw upon Ferdig’s work to define sustainability leadership by those with a late-stage action logic as follows. The actions of those with a Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic that influence others and organizations to address economic, social and/or environmental needs at any scale. Throughout the discussion below, there are two sets of terms that I use interchangeably: (1) “leader” and “change agent,” and (2) “sustainability” and “sustainable
64 development.” I also use two terms that seem similar but are slightly different. “Postconventional” action logics, as noted above in Table 2, refers to the last four action logics in Torbert’s framework: Individualist, Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist. “Late-stage” action logics refers to only those action logics which I have focused on for this study, the last three in the framework: Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist.
Sustainability Leadership Theories Sustainability leadership offers new ways to respond to today’s leadership challenges. The traditional leadership orientation that developed out of an industrial paradigm is no longer sufficient. Its predominant focus on individual and corporate goals, shareholder value, and the financial bottom-line, while important, appears inadequate to address global challenges and advance the common good (K. E. Allen, Stelzner, & Wielkiewicz, 1998). This has led to regular calls for innovative forms of leadership (Berdish & Gladwin, 2010; Blowfield & Googins, 2006; N. K. Kakabadse, et al., 2009). Some claim that only a new leadership paradigm can deliver global sustainability (Lewin & Regine, 2000; Senge, 2008). Sustainability leadership – like all leadership – is fundamentally about change, as it often entails engagement of uncertainty and the unknown (Kotter, 1996). The leadership for change literature, then, serves as an important reference. Change-oriented leadership is essential if we are to develop creative, constructive solutions to complex organizational and social problems (Kotter, 1996; Senge, 1990; Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski, Flowers, & Society for Organizational Learning Inc., 2004). The leadership for change literature falls into at least four categories (McCallum, 2008), with some overlap amongst them. Each of these general categories is relevant for
65 sustainability. Transformational or vision-driven leadership connects followers with a deeper purpose, such as addressing societal problems (Bass & Avolio, 1990; Bass & Riggio, 2006; Burns, 2003). Timely and transformative leadership catalyzes the development of advanced human and organizational capacities that can accelerate progress toward sustainability (Torbert, 2003; Torbert, et al., 2004). Adaptive leadership focuses on how to engage complex problems for which there is no known resolution, an issue endemic to sustainability (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz, Grashow, & Linsky, 2009). Finally, generative leadership cultivates the creativity needed to respond to complex challenges (Senge, et al., 2004; Wilkinson, 2006). There are at least 20 leadership theories explicitly mentioned in the sustainability leadership literature (see Appendix A). Each offers a unique piece of the sustainability leadership puzzle. This field breaks down into two broad categories: (1) application of existing leadership theories and (2) new theories. Established leadership theories are often used to describe sustainability leadership. For example, the field of conservation-science leadership (Manolis, et al., 2009) is based in the principles of adaptive leadership. Yet new sustainability leadership frameworks have also been developed through grounded theory, such as organic leadership (Cox, 2005) and regenerative leadership (Hardman, 2009). Adaptive leadership, ethical leadership, and servant leadership are established leadership theories that are commonly referenced in the sustainability literature. Adaptive leadership (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz, et al., 2009) is briefly described above. Ethical leadership (Banerjea, 2010; Ciulla, 1998) considers issues of fairness and morality, both of which are inherent to pioneering conceptions of sustainable development (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). The servant leadership literature (Covey, 2006; Greenleaf & Spears, 2002), when applied to sustainability, extends the concept of serving
66 others beyond the organization to all stakeholders, including the environment and current and future generations. It emphasizes the ethical use of power in order to help others and organizations to healthily develop. This chapter does not review the many sustainability leadership theories mentioned here and in Appendix A. While I do draw from some of these frameworks, I largely focus on studies concerning the practice of sustainability leadership. There are three praxis domains in the literature that are most relevant to understanding how leaders with a late-stage action logic design interventions. First is the research on the values and worldviews of sustainability leaders. This provides insight into the psychological foundation underlying any leadership action. The second domain concerns sustainability leadership competencies, which address a leaderâ€™s knowledge, skills, abilities and personality characteristics. The final domain inquires into the behaviors necessary for sustainability leadership. Each of these domains will be addressed below. First, though, it is important to note the key limitations in the existing research.
Limitations Within the Literature In general, research in the field of sustainability leadership is still early stage, with limited quantitative results (Cox, 2005; Gustafson, 2004; Quinn & Dalton, 2009). There is considerable research on leadership as well as a large body of conceptual and empirical literature on corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. However, relatively little is known about the intersection of sustainability and individual (as opposed to organizational) leadership (van Velsor, 2009). The research which has been done is mostly qualitative, exploratory, conceptual, and/or case study based (e.g., A. P. Kakabadse &
67 Kakabadse, 2007), using grounded theory methods (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). While a qualitative, exploratory approach is appropriate given the complexity of leadership and the early stage of the field (Conger, 1998; Creswell, 2009), the lack of large-scale, empirical research makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the nature of sustainability leadership. On the specific topic of the design of sustainability initiatives, I was unable to find any robust and focused studies. Some books cover the general topic of building a sustainability program (Blackburn, 2007; Epstein, 2008) or leading change toward sustainability (Doppelt, 2010; Dunphy, Griffiths, & Benn, 2007), but no field-based studies detail what leaders actually do when they design a sustainability initiative. The present research offers the first empirical insights into this topic. Besides this clear gap regarding design, there are four general limitations to the existing literature on sustainability leadership. First, some of the literature on this topic is conceptual, solely based upon the authorâ€™s experiences (e.g., Giampalmi, 2004; Shrivastava, 1994), and its methodology does not lead to a rigorous analysis of the topic. Other research (Quinn & Baltes, 2007; TreviĂąo, Hartman, & Brown, 2000; Wilson, Lenssen, & Hind, 2006) is empirically rigorous yet limited to the mainstream business environment. Given that many sustainability leaders are based in governments or NGOs, any unique competencies, skills, or key subtleties related to their work will not emerge in business-based research. A few studies are notable exceptions, taking into account both for-profit and non-profit perspectives, and using a rigorous methodology with a robust sample size (Egri & Herman, 2000; N. K. Kakabadse, et al., 2009). The third and fourth limitations to this literature are specifically related to the constructive-developmental dimensions of research on sustainability leadership. None of the
68 studies to date have measured the action logic of its participants. This is the first study to do so. Nonetheless, it is likely that most samples are dominated by people with an Expert, or Achiever action logic, due to their preponderance in the general public. Approximately 67% of large samples of the US were assessed at one of these two stages (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004). Given that people are not able to “see” beyond their own action logic, such a research methodology may privilege the perspectives of those with earlier action logics. Those participants in the minority, who have a late-stage action logic and use a more complex meaning-making system to understand leadership, might not have been “heard” in the statistics. Additionally, the action logic of the researchers also influences the outcome of any research, as it limits their degree of meaning-making complexity and what they can “see” in the data (Cook-Greuter, 2004; Kegan, 1994). Researchers theoretically cannot perceive more complex meaning-making concerning leadership than they themselves can access. As a result, even if late-stage action logics (i.e., Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist) existed in the sample, their insights might not have been identified or categorized accurately, much less integrated into the results with any weighted significance. This limitation is likely due to the rarity of later action logics in the general population as well, which restricts the number of researchers who make meaning with that stage of complexity. 5 These issues of methodological blindness to the developmental dimensions of participants and researchers severely limit the usefulness of the literature for understanding how leaders with a late-stage action logic engage in sustainability. Any research that operates
In the case of this study, I was assessed in 2005 and again in 2010 with an Alchemist action logic (with some developmental growth between the two). I should, therefore, be able to see and report upon the subtleties of meaning-making around sustainability leadership by Strategists and Alchemists, and begin to sense into the way Ironists perceive.
69 under these limitations, could actually advocate values and worldview frameworks – and competency models – that only propagate a conventional leadership approach to complex sustainability challenges (i.e., reflective of a conventional action logic – Diplomat, Expert, or Achiever). This would ultimately be counterproductive if the types of interventions needed to address our biggest global sustainability issues actually require a more complex meaningmaking structure (i.e., a later action logic) to develop them. It should be noted that several empirical (Cox, 2005; Hames, 2007; Hardman, 2009; Neville, 2004; Wilson, et al., 2006) and theoretical (Boiral, et al., 2009) studies offer potential insights how leaders with a late-stage action logic might engage in sustainability work. While they did not measure participant action logics, their results seem to reflect a postconventional way of making meaning about sustainability. This may be due to the action logic of the participants, the researcher, or a combination of both. This present research will take a further step in understanding how leaders with a late-stage action logic engage sustainability. This is because I am assessing the action logic of participants and due to my own Alchemist action logic have a greater potential to see the subtleties of how such leaders make meaning. Nonetheless, despite these limitations in the literature, there has been initial academic inquiry into the values and worldviews, the competencies, and the behaviors of sustainability leaders – all of which are relevant to my research. The following sections review the literature – in each of these dimensions – that contributes the most to how those with a latestage action logic might engage in sustainability. My research, in turn, adds to both the scholarly and practitioner understanding of how the worldviews and competencies of such leaders are translated into action, in service of advancing sustainability.
70 Values and Worldviews This section reviews the literature on the values and worldviews of sustainability leaders. While still in early, exploratory stages, it nonetheless offers some key insights into the topic of designing and engaging with sustainability initiatives. Sustainability scholars and practitioners often note that new environmentally and socially responsible values – as well as beliefs and behaviors – are needed to support organizational sustainability (L. C. Harris & Crane, 2002). Yet the research on the values associated with this type of leadership is limited and incomplete (Boiral, et al., 2009; Quinn & Dalton, 2009). More research is needed because values are strong mechanisms, or underlying drivers, that shape actions (Triandis, 1995). The more we understand what values undergird the behaviors required to lead sustainability initiatives, the easier it is to cultivate them. Of the few studies in this area, all are associated with environmental values and leadership. Environmental values are often assumed to derive from a “new ecological paradigm” that changes both the frame of reference and practices of leaders (Boiral, et al., 2009). This new ecological paradigm (NEP) is an ecocentric worldview based on a belief that economic growth is limited by natural resources, that technology will not necessarily overcome our environmental challenges, and that humans should live in harmony with nature. It contrasts with the dominant social paradigm (DSP), an anthropocentric worldview characterized by belief in the virtues of economic growth, free enterprise, technological progress, and human domination over nature (Catton & Dunlap, 1980; Egri & Herman, 2000). The two are further described in Table 7. Research into these values is often based upon an analytical framework that measures respondents’ environmental or ecological
71 worldview (Dunlap & Van Liere, 1978; Dunlap, Van Liere, Mertig, & Jones, 2000). This measure of the “New Environmental Paradigm,” subsequently revised and renamed the “New Ecological Paradigm” is the most widely used metric for determining environmental concern (Dunlap, 2008).
Table 7 The Dominant Social Paradigm contrasted with the New Ecological Paradigm Dominant Social Paradigm (DSP)
New Ecological Paradigm (NEP)
Humans have the right to modify the natural environment to suit their needs
We are approaching the limit of the number of people the earth can support
Humans were created to rule over the rest of nature
The balance of nature is very delicate and easy to upset
Plants and animals exist primarily to be used by humans
When humans interfere with nature it often produces disastrous results
Human ingenuity will ensure that we do not make the earth unlivable
To maintain a healthy economy we will have to develop a ‘‘steady-state’’ economy where industrial growth is controlled
The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them
Humans must live in harmony with nature in order to survive
The balance of nature is strong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations
The earth is like a spaceship with only limited room and resources
The so-called ‘‘ecological crisis’’ facing humankind has been greatly exaggerated
There are limits to growth beyond which our industrial society cannot expand
Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it
Plants and animals have as much right as humans to exist
Note: Adapted from “The action logics of environmental leadership: A developmental perspective” by O. Boiral, M. Cayer, & C. M. Baron, 2009, Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 479-499. Reprinted with permission. Original table abstracted from (Dunlap & Van Liere, 1978) and (Shafer, 2006).
Measurement of the NEP is done by survey and is normally used to understand the environmental attitudes and values of a general public. A few studies have used it to research leadership and management. These include inquiry into: leadership in the North American
72 environmental sector (Egri & Herman, 2000); the relationship between leadership styles and environmental attitudes of military leaders (V. I. Stein, 2005); and attitudes toward environmental management amongst managers in Australia, China, and Indonesia (Cummings, 2008). The prevalence of NEP in individual value systems has been associated with the promotion of environmental issues in US businesses (Andersson & Bateman, 2000) and support for measures that strengthen management accountability for environmental issues (Shafer, 2006). In a parallel, more general approach, many studies (Gladwin, Kennelly, & Krause, 1995; Purser, Park, & Montuori, 1995; Shrivastava, 1994, 1995) have cited the need for managers and leaders to adopt an ecocentric worldview. Ecocentrism is characterized by an awareness and openness to addressing major environmental issues, support for ecologically and socially sustainable development, and willingness to challenge the dominance of an anthropocentric perspective (Boiral, et al., 2009). While these studies on the NEP and ecocentrism offer insight into the general values and worldviews potentially underlying sustainability leadership, they ultimately lack sufficient specificity and depth to explain how such leaders think and act. As Boiral and colleagues note (2009), all types of environmental behavior are not accounted for by the contrasts between the DSP and NEP, or between anthropocentric and ecocentric perspectives. Numerous studies (Christmann, 2000; Hawken, Lovins, & Lovins, 1999; Porter & van der Linde, 1999) have demonstrated that the commitment to profits and the pursuit of technological advancement can support managerial development of environmental initiatives; these forces do not necessarily need to thwart sustainability. However, these dynamics can coexist if the NEP were to transcend and include the profit motive of the DSP. As I argue below, this integration that occurs in practice
73 points to the developmental nature of values and worldviews – a position rarely recognized in the mainstream sustainability leadership literature. Recent exploratory research further defines the dimensions of worldviews that support sustainability leadership. In their research into what drives sustainability professionals as change agents, Visser and Crane (2010) use the literature on existential psychology, combined with field study in South Africa, to identify four types of sustainability managers. Each of their archetypes is characterized by a unique source of meaning and work satisfaction, level of concern, skill focus, breadth of knowledge, and depth of intended legacy. The authors do not explicitly state that their typology is an example of the vertical psychological growth found in constructive-developmental theory. However, they do note that the typologies are not fixed, like classical personality typologies tend to be, and can change over time. Additionally, they draw from theories of meaning that are developmental in nature, such as Frankl’s work around logotherapy (Frankl, 1962, 1965). A review of the descriptions of each typology shows a steady progression in complexity and depth for each of the dimensions defined. All of these points suggest that they have revealed a developmental trajectory of worldviews associated with sustainability leadership. This early empirical research (Visser, 2008; Visser & Crane, 2010) on the psychology of sustainability professionals supports the case for application of constructivedevelopmental frameworks to understand sustainability leadership. Other researchers (Boiral, et al., 2009; B. C. Brown & Riedy, 2006; Esbjörn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009), grounded in an understanding of developmental psychology, have approached the topic of sustainability leadership and ecological worldviews from the theoretical side. Visser and Crane’s research offers initial evidence of the viability of such an approach.
74 One of the most robust applications of constructive-developmentalism in the sustainability literature is offered by Hargens (Esbjörn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009; 2005). He proposes a model of eight “ecological selves” which represent different ecological worldviews, abstracted from constructive-developmental research. To do this, he draws upon the action-inquiry research of Cook-Greuter (1999) and Torbert (2004) on post-autonomous ego development, as well as the “value memes” of Beck and Cowan (1996), based upon primary research in values by Graves (1974, 2005). The ecological selves embody the various value systems that individuals can hold with respect to the natural world. Another study, by Boiral and colleagues (2009), describes the action logics of environmental leadership. Like Hargens (Esbjörn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009; 2005), this approach draws upon ego development research (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Loevinger, 1976; Torbert, et al., 2004). It examines how the action logics of organizational leaders influences (1) the meaning they give to corporate greening, and (2) their capacity to understand and manage the complexities, values and challenges of environmental issues. Each of the seven action logics of environmental leadership are summarized in Appendix B. The descriptions of the Strategist and Alchemist as related to sustainability are particularly relevant, as those are two of the three targeted action logics for my research (they did not write about Ironists). This research by Boiral and colleagues will be further described in the section below on competencies for sustainability leadership, where it is also pertinent. In summary, the research on values and worldviews for sustainability leaders is nascent, with promising signs of integration. The term ecocentrism is used in the literature to identify a general, emerging, and reputedly critical worldview (Shrivastava, 1994). Ecocentrism is somewhat encapsulated in the research on the new ecological paradigm
75 (NEP), a set of environmental attitudes and values that contrast with the dominant social paradigm (DSP) (Catton & Dunlap, 1980; Dunlap, et al., 2000). Some scholars apply empirical research from constructive-developmentalism to build detailed maturity models for environmental / ecological worldviews (Boiral, et al., 2009; Esbjörn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009; Hargens, 2005). When this developmental framework is overlaid on the DSP and NEP, it becomes clear that each is a separate worldview in a continuum, with the NEP reflecting aspects of the later stage of development beyond the DSP. Concurrent field research, combined with theoretical research from existential psychology, provide additional empirical support for a developmental framework of sustainability leadership values and worldviews (Visser, 2008; Visser & Crane, 2010). My research into how leaders design and engage sustainability initiatives provides some of the first empirical insights into what the values and worldviews of Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists look like in action. In the next section I explore the literature on the competencies of sustainability leadership, focusing on those studies that seem to at least partly reflect the meaning-making of late-stage action logics.
Competencies The role of a leader to guide organizations toward sustainability is complex and vast. Some contend that it requires a unique set of leadership competencies and skills (Cox, 2005; D'Amato, et al., 2009; Wilson & Holton, 2003). Others claim that both supplemental competencies – beyond just those of “effective” leadership – and a different worldview are needed (Quinn & Dalton, 2009). Still others argue that driving sustainability is more about
76 leadership with a big L, rather than sustainability with a big S, implying that core leadership competencies are what ultimately matter (Jayne, 2004). In the following pages I address this issue by reviewing the competencies of sustainability leadership. Empirical research on the competencies of sustainability leadership is just as limited and incomplete as the literature concerning values and worldviews (D'Amato, et al., 2009; Fernández, Junquera, & Ordiz, 2006). A key issue, beyond the general limitations described above, is that the research on these competencies has not converged around a common framework. This is the largest weakness in the existing literature. As Appendix C shows, there is considerable diversity amongst the research results. Where there is overlap, it tends to concern competencies that are normally considered necessary for “effective” leadership, such as integrity and communication (Yukl, 1989b). The core driver behind this variation may be that each study focused on a different dimension of sustainability leadership (see Appendix C). Researchers asked different questions, leading to different competencies identified in the data. While there is overlap amongst these dimensions, their uniqueness likely also contributes to the considerable differences in the competencies identified. A key part of this research challenge is that “competencies” is a catch-all term that includes knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics. These are separate but interlinked aspects of leadership. In service of improving the applicability of their research, some authors have created new models that go beyond traditional dimensions of competencies (Hames, 2007; Wilson, et al., 2006). These traditional dimensions and new models are captured in Appendix C. They range from skills and personal characteristics to reflexive abilities, literacies, meta-competencies, and core commitments.
77 Some researchers have begun to identify sustainability leadership competencies that seem to reflect the meaning-making of late-stage action logics. I review four such studies here. In the first, Cox (2005) researched whether leadership in for-profit green organizations is different than at other for-profit organizations. He concluded that it is, and identified five core commitments that distinguish traditional leaders from those at the forefront of the corporate â€œgreeningâ€? movement. These commitments are: (1) working from a deep sense of personal purpose; (2) redefining the purpose of business; (3) working with a broad range of stakeholders; (4) engaging in transformational interactions; and (5) embracing emergent organizing. His study relied on grounded theory derived from interviews with 18 CEOs or Founders of well known green organizations in the U.S., as well as secondary data analysis. Cox wove his research findings into an approach called organic leadership. His definition of organic leadership is worth citing because it points towards how sustainability leaders with a late-stage action logic might operate (Cox, 2005). Organic leadership is defined as a series of dynamic, open, complex relational and dialogic processes focused on facilitating the emergence of high performance environments that organize human experience around social change agendas. Through ongoing conversation, transformational interactions, and synergistic relationships inside and outside the organization, recurrent and novel organizational patterns and forms emerge that both enable and constrain future action and provide meaning and sense making to organizational members. As a result of the unpredictable, non-linear dynamics inherent in organic leadership, specific individual or organizational prescriptions are not provided; rather, inquiries into the nature of engagement, relationship, conversation, reflection, individual mindfulness, and self organization are suggested as opportunities for deep discussion. This allows the organization to better understand its own experience, which can then lead to different kinds of individual and collective enactments. (pp. ii-iii) While Cox did not assess the action logic of the leaders he studied, his findings suggest that they may have drawn upon postconventional meaning-making capacities (specifically, an Individualist or Strategist action logic). Several of the cognitive and
78 behavioral capacities available to Strategists (see Table 4) align with the core commitments and description of organic leadership Cox proposes. These Strategist capacities that Cox is pointing to include the ability to create a new core identity, engage a systems view on reality, and unite and integrate ideas. His research also suggests that organic leaders can create visions with extended time frames and profound purposes, engage in transformative change, and build truly collaborative relationships. Finally, he describes leaders who can enter deeply into multiple frames of reference and perspectives, reframe and reinterpret, and tolerate ambiguity. All of these are qualities suggested for the Strategist. Such postconventional capacities are also somewhat reflected in the “reflexive abilities” identified by Wilson and colleagues (Wilson, et al., 2006). In this second study I want to highlight, the scholars used action-research to better understand the approach of 24 senior leaders in European multinational companies. Their focus was on the competencies required for responsible leadership. The researchers propose five reflexive abilities, considered to be the key competencies required to integrate social and environmental considerations into business decision making. These reflexive abilities include: (1) systemic thinking, (2) embracing diversity and managing risk, and (3) balancing global and local perspectives. Also noted is the ability to create meaningful dialogue, to develop a new language for corporate responsibility, and to demonstrate emotional awareness. Again, these are very similar to Strategist competencies. The researchers also identified a general competency model – made up of knowledge, skills, and attitudes – for responsible business behavior (see Appendix C). I consider this generic model to be more reflective of the type of leadership demonstrated by those who hold a conventional action logic (e.g., an Expert or Achiever). Some of the reflexive abilities, such
79 as systemic thinking, developing a new language for corporate responsibility, and emotional awareness, seem to call for a later action logic, like that of an Individualist or even a Strategist. Shifting to the third study, Hames (2007) engaged in a large-scale, longitudinal project in which his team identified five â€œliteraciesâ€? of global leadership. Over the course of 10 years, the researchers worked as consultants and mentors with 362 leaders on six continents. The sample includes five heads of state, statesmen and stateswomen, CEOs and senior executives from large corporations, entrepreneurs, activists, artists, academics, and community leaders. Their methodology was based on behavioral modeling inferred from close observation, interview, modeling analysis and feedback, and confirmation, over an extended period of time. This research is not specifically focused on leaders engaged in environmental or corporate social responsibility issues. Nonetheless, the participants can be considered change agents who are advancing social and, in some cases, environmental agendas. Hames does not consider the five literacies to be simply competencies, but rather an integrated suite of meta-competencies required to better understand the future world and make wiser, more mindful business decisions in that environment. He claims that the literacies are foundational for managing the future viability of any large organization, institution, community, or nation-state. Because of its methodological depth, longitudinal design, and the seemingly complex meaning-making of the lead author, Hamesâ€™ research supports better understanding of leaders with a late-stage action logic. Although Hames did not assess for action logic, given his large sample of leaders, many of whom worked in highly complex environments, he may likely have enrolled at least some participants with a
80 postconventional action logic (i.e., Individualist, Strategist, Alchemist or Ironist). I also believe that he holds an action logic sufficiently mature to have “seen” much of the data that arose from any postconventional action logics. This is due to the sophistication of the language, logic, and message of his book, as well as impressions from my own dialogue with him. The five literacies are: (1) networked intelligence, (2) futuring, (3) strategic navigation, (4) deep design, and (5) brand resonance. Hames (2009) defines them as follows. Networked intelligence is the ability to continuously connect with and relate to others in the process of sensing and making sense of complex realities….Futuring (or strategic foresight) is the ability to imagine and express future possibilities while anticipating the intended and unforeseen consequences of any decisions taken….Strategic navigation is the ability to learn to adapt as fast as change itself….Deep design is the ability to amplify wisdom through conversation and dialogue – as long as such dialogue is informed by real-time intelligence and underpinned by profound reflection….Brand resonance is the ability to generate awareness and identity that awakens in others their unique authenticity. (p. 6) These meta-competencies are more closely aligned with the capacities of Strategists (Table 4) than any other leadership literature I encountered. Especially relevant are the abilities to continuously make sense in the face of complexity (networked intelligence), rapidly adapt to change (strategic navigation), elicit collective intelligence (deep design) and help others authentically express and align with the zeitgeist of the times (brand resonance). There are many other capacities not mentioned by Hames that become available to Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists (see Tables 4, 5, and 6). My research sheds additional light on how leaders with late-stage action logics engage with sustainability issues. A fourth, and final, competency study offers insight into the qualities of such leaders. This approach describes the action logics of environmental leaders and is part of a larger initiative to build a framework for postconventional environmental leadership (Boiral, et al.,
81 2009). The previous studies reviewed (Cox, 2005; Hames, 2007; Wilson, et al., 2006) inquired into competencies by using grounded theory. Boiralâ€™s team took a different approach. They began with the existing literature on leadership and constructivedevelopmental psychology (e.g., Cook-Greuter, 2004; Rooke & Torbert, 2005; Torbert, et al., 2004), and extrapolated it to environmental leadership. Upon review of the environmental literature, the researchers argue that the personal qualities and skills required to manage environmental issues ultimately cannot be reduced to a single model. Nonetheless, they identified four general characteristics that favor environmental leadership. Environmental leaders must be able to: (1) effectively manage the complexity of sustainability issues; (2) integrate seemingly contradictory perspectives; (3) understand and respond to the expectations of diverse stakeholders; and (4) drive deep change in organizational practices (Boiral, et al., 2009). Through the lens of constructivedevelopmental psychology, the researchers hypothesized a close relationship between how leaders address environmental issues and their action logic. Their results are summarized in Appendix B. This conceptual study supports the proposition that leaders with a late-stage action logic will act from different competencies than those who hold earlier action logics. Their proposition requires further research, though, especially empirical data on the actions of sustainability leaders with later action logics. In summary, while there has been robust research on the competencies of sustainability leaders, the literature is not conclusive or integrated. Some argue that such competencies cannot be consolidated into a single model (Boiral, et al., 2009). The accuracy of this position remains to be determined, as the current literature is not developed enough to support attempts at integration yet. Much of the competency research has focused on
82 different dimensions and sectors of sustainability leadership. Nonetheless, some researchers have begun to uncover sustainability leadership competencies that seem to reflect postconventional meaning-making. These include: the values-driven, transformational and emergent approach identified by Cox; Wilson and colleagues’ “reflexive abilities”; Hames’ meta-competencies of global leadership; and Boiral and colleagues’ constructivedevelopmental framework for sustainability leadership (Boiral, et al., 2009; Cox, 2005; Hames, 2007; Wilson, et al., 2006). At this point, I have reviewed the values, worldviews, and competencies needed for leading sustainability initiatives. In this final section, I shift to the research on specific behaviors that exemplify sustainability leadership.
Behaviors There are four relevant studies on what leadership behaviors foster effective leadership for sustainability. Only two of them seem to include postconventional elements. This section will review them in the context of how leaders with a late-stage action logic might design and engage in sustainability initiatives. Early on, Portugal and Yukl (1994) suggested three distinct behaviors as crucial for environmental leaders: (1) articulating an inspiring vision with environmental components; (2) raising awareness of environmental issues to change perceptions; and (3) taking symbolic actions to demonstrate personal commitment. Successful environmental leadership is a dynamic process, they contend. It requires influencing, consensus building, and coalition formation with many internal and external stakeholders.
83 In a study published 15 years later, Quinn and Dalton (2009) offer a more comprehensive perspective. They apply the “Tasks of Leadership” framework (van Velsor & McCauley, 2004) to data generated from interviews with 17 leaders in the sustainability movement from U.S. based organizations. The three overarching tasks from this framework are: (1) setting direction, (2) creating alignment, and (3) maintaining commitment. Setting direction includes the actions and behaviors required to clarify the goals, vision, or objectives associated with a sustainability initiative. Four themes concerning setting direction emerged from the data: (a) framing and delivery of the message; (b) initiating, implementing and advising; (c) attending to timing and readiness for implementation; and (d) focusing effort. The second task, creating alignment, represents the work of building structures and operations that enable focused organizational efforts towards an intended sustainability vision. Three themes appeared with respect to creating alignment: (a) putting internal business practices into place; (b) stakeholder engagement; and (c) incorporation into the physical building, products, and services. Finally, maintaining commitment concerns the execution of processes that ensure understanding and buy-in – over time – amongst employees and stakeholders for a sustainability initiative. The respective themes were: (a) treating employees as assets; (b) reputation building; and (c) building networks through sharing. The next two studies offer additional insight into the potential behaviors of sustainability leaders who hold a postconventional action logic, as their findings are grounded in systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972), triple-loop learning (Starr & Torbert, 2005), and the use of consciousness itself as a core tool for change (Senge, et al.,
84 2004). These elements are indicative of the general systems view of Individualists and Strategists (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005). The most comprehensive and well researched framework is offered by Doppelt (2003, 2010). He interviewed 57 senior leaders in business and government from North America and Europe about their change strategies for sustainability. Doppelt looked closely at private and public organizations that have launched and sustained significant sustainability initiatives, focusing on how their leaders designed and approached them. Using this data, he built a framework for leading change toward sustainability, drawing heavily on fundamentals in systems thinking (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972) and change leadership models (Kotter, 1996; O'Toole, 1996). In contrast with the research summarized above by Quinn and Dalton (2009), Doppelt interviewed executives from organizations that were represented in sustainability indices or deemed as leaders by forward-thinking sustainability institutions. This sampling strategy, combined with the systems-based lens he used, increases the chance that his results reflect leadership who hold a postconventional action logic. Doppelt argues that too much attention is placed on new technologies and policy instruments for sustainability. There has been insufficient focus on how to change the internal thought processes, assumptions, and behaviors required to adopt such tools and techniques. Therefore, organizational and cultural change is instrumental to ensuring the â€œsustainabilityâ€? of sustainable development initiatives; otherwise they stall or eventually fail. To change organizational culture, Doppelt recommends addressing two key areas: (1) the organizationâ€™s governance system and, (2) its leadership. To transform governance systems,
85 he identifies seven leverage points that, together, form a system of change. Strong leadership, he contends, executes this system of change. The seven interventions are (Doppelt, 2010): •
Change the dominant mind-set that created the system through the imperative of achieving sustainability;
Rearrange the parts of the system by organizing deep, wide and powerful transition teams;
Alter the goals of the system by crafting an ideal vision and guiding principles of sustainability;
Restructure the rules of engagement of the system by adopting source-based operational and governance-change strategies;
Shift the information flows of the system by tirelessly communicating the need, vision, and strategies for achieving sustainability;
Correct the feedback loops of the system by encouraging and rewarding learning and innovation;
Adjust the parameters of the system by aligning systems, structures, policies and procedures with sustainability.
In summary, Doppelt provides an overarching framework and a systems-based, behavioral approach to lead organizations toward sustainability. A final study from Hardman (2009) is relevant here. Through a grounded theory study of 24 sustainability leaders from business, academia, and community development, Hardman identified an approach he calls “regenerative leadership.” Regenerative leadership cultivates higher levels of awareness in groups around sustainability issues. This expanded awareness results in behaviors that preserve natural and social resources while ensuring
86 healthy profitability. However, they also restore and create new resources that have become depleted through overuse or misuse. A four-step change process is at the heart of the approach: (1) Facilitate access to the source of personal purpose and emerging self through triple-loop learning; (2) connect with others through keen observation and deep listening; (3) elicit collective purpose through generative conversation; and (4) engage in collective action to strategize and prototype the best possible solutions to emerging futures through third-order change and backcasting. This commitment to personal purpose, triple-loop learning (Starr & Torbert, 2005), deep listening, generative dialogue, and prototyping in service of emerging futures (Senge, et al., 2004) is emblematic of how someone with a postconventional action logic might approach sustainability. Indeed, he states that â€œregenerative leaders have undertaken systematic inner work to develop their mindset to the highest level of consciousness of which they are capableâ€? (Hardman, 2009, p. 277). Hardman proposes an equation of S = 1/e, where sustainability (S) is inversely proportional to ego (e). This suggests that regenerative practice is the result of highly developed personal ethics, or a late-stage action logic. In summary, the literature on the behaviors of sustainability leadership is still exploratory and tends to reflect a conventional approach since most study participants hold a conventional action logic. Yet some researchers have brought forth a deeper understanding of leadership behaviors, due to their own late action logic and/or those of their participants.
87 Conclusions This section explored literature that offers initial insights into the qualities of sustainability leaders with a late-stage action logic. I have defined leadership by such individuals as follows: the actions of those with a Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic that influence others and organizations to address social and/or environmental needs at any scale. Many leadership theories have been uniquely developed or adapted from the traditional literature in the effort to understand sustainability leadership (see Appendix A). I focused on the literature regarding the characteristics (e.g., values, worldviews, and competencies) and behaviors of sustainability leaders. I paid particular attention to studies that seemed to indicate leadership characteristics and behaviors that arose from postconventional meaning-making. While this body of literature is young and results are limited, it does offer promising insights for understanding the focus of my research. The literature on values and worldviews suggests that a new, more complex, and postconventional worldview is both needed and is already emerging amongst sustainability leaders. Two theoretical models based in constructive-developmentalism have begun to map the developmental territory of sustainability leadership, including the postconventional domains (Boiral, et al., 2009; Esbjรถrn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009). Concurrently, some field studies provide initial empirical support for the use of psychological development as a basis for sustainability leadership development (Visser, 2008; Visser & Crane, 2010). Studies by Cox (2005), Wilson (2006), and Hames (2007) suggest capacities and competencies that may be intrinsic to those who hold a postconventional action logic, specifically that of a Strategist. Finally, two other studies offer a way to operationalize sustainability in
88 organizations that may arise from postconventional meaning-making, as they are based in a sophisticated, systems-based framework and approach (Doppelt, 2003, 2010; Hardman, 2009). Yet there are considerable gaps in the sustainability leadership literature, some of which my research helps to fill. The principal issue is that there is very little research that contributes specifically to understanding how leaders with a late-stage action logic engage in sustainability. No empirical study on sustainability leaders before this one has ever assessed the meaning-making system of its participants and integrated this dimension into the analysis. As I detailed in the first section of this literature review, there are leadership studies that have drawn upon constructive-developmental assessments, but none were done on sustainability leaders specifically. As a result, the results from research on the characteristics and behaviors of sustainability leaders cannot be viewed, except theoretically, through a constructive-developmental lens. The only research that describes the values or worldviews of sustainability leaders with postconventional meaning-making is theoretical (Boiral, et al., 2009; Esbjรถrn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009; Hargens, 2005). With respect to competencies and behaviors based in a late-stage action logic, not even theoretical research is available. My research, therefore, offers the first empirical insights into that domain. There is also no literature I was able to find that specifically inquired into how sustainability leaders design their interventions. Some books cover the general topic of building a sustainability program (Blackburn, 2007; Epstein, 2008) or leading change toward sustainability (Doppelt, 2010; Dunphy, et al., 2007), but no field-based studies detail what leaders actually do when they design a sustainability initiative.
89 There are other major gaps in the sustainability leadership literature (e.g., no common framework to the research, diverse interpretations of what a competency is, and mostly exploratory studies). I detail these in the sections above on values, competencies and behaviors. This study does not address those gaps. The main contribution of this research, with respect to the sustainability leadership literature, is to provide the first insights into the experiences and actions of leaders who have been assessed with a late-stage action logic. A related contribution is the data on how such leaders design and engage in sustainability interventions to address complex situations. As the previous section on constructive-developmentalism demonstrated, there is also a need for additional research on what postconventional meaning-making looks like in the context of leadership. Thus, in summary, this study is on how leaders with a late-stage action logic design and engage in sustainability initiatives. It provides the first data in its specific area, as well as addresses gaps in the literatures of constructive-developmental psychology, general leadership, and sustainability leadership. The next chapter details the methodology for this research.
90 CHAPTER III: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This chapter details my research methodology. The general research design and epistemological framework are reviewed first. I then describe the rationale for a qualitative methodology and delineate the processes of participant selection, data collection, and analysis. Finally, I discuss possible internal integrity threats and limitations to the study.
Research Design Overview
This study explored how the developmental maturity of a leader’s meaning-making system – or action logic – influences the design of and engagement in sustainability initiatives. This is exploratory research; it has generated a series of propositions and resulted in more precise research questions for future studies. My epistemological framework, or philosophical worldview, is postpositivist – specifically based in critical realism. My qualitative research methodology employed semistructured, open-ended interviews and was based upon Lincoln and Guba’s (1985) naturalistic inquiry. Study participants were enrolled through a nomination process and took a developmental psychology assessment to determine their action logic. I used thematic analysis to systematically classify and interpret the data (Boyatzis, 1998).
91 Epistemological Framework
This section offers an overview of postpositivism and critical realism â€“ the philosophical foundation for this research. Postpositivism is an epistemological framework that generally rejects positivism and its philosophical position that only empirical scientific knowledge is valid. It encompasses both relativism and realism (Van de Ven, 2007). Relativism is a general set of philosophical worldviews that frames all knowledge and truth as contingent, or relative, to certain conditions. It relies on the doctrine that no absolutes exist. The spectrum of relativistic philosophies, in general, view reality as socially constructed, based upon the interests, values, and viewpoints of the observer. Realism also represents a spectrum of philosophies with three common presumptions. They are: (1) the mind exists independent of reality; (2) we can partially know reality; and (3), the way the world is â€“ at least somewhat â€“ determines the validity of our knowledge. Realism contends that theory can partially capture aspects of reality. However, realism also accepts the relativistic claim that social factors condition knowledge. Therefore, any theory developed is subject to such epistemological filters (Reese, 1996; Van de Ven, 2007). Critical realism (Bhaskar, 1979, 1998) recognizes and attempts to reconcile the limitations of both logical positivism and relativism. It has a number of key elements. It contends that a real world exists, yet we have limited capacity to fully know it. Our understanding of reality is made fallible by the theories and concepts that filter it. There are, therefore, no absolute, error-free truths in the social sciences. Truth and reality, however, can be increasingly understood through successive approximation, leading to an evolutionary
92 growth of knowledge. Finally, to understand complex reality, multiple perspectives are required, and some methods of inquiry are more appropriate than others (Van de Ven, 2007). Thus, I took a postpositivist and critical realist perspective on the knowledge domains that underlie this research â€“ adult development theory and sustainability leadership; that is, I assumed throughout the research that, as theoretical disciplines, they gradually uncover truth. While I recognized that the whole or absolute truth of this research domain is unknowable, I assumed that application of these theories would reveal a partial aspect of the reality I was studying, beyond that of my own subjective experience. I acknowledge that my worldview filters and influences my vision and choices, and strived to limit its impact. However, I have been working with a reality that exists beyond my mind and is not influenced by my worldview. Therefore I have learned something about reality beyond my subjective interpretation of it. I also believe that by using naturalistic inquiry I accessed valid knowledge from the phenomenological domain that would not be revealed through traditional, positivist empirical research.
A qualitative methodology best suited this study. It met the following four key criteria for qualitative research (Creswell, 2003). (1) Limited information is available about leadership for sustainability (Quinn & Dalton, 2009). This field is in an exploratory phase and therefore a quantitative approach would be premature. (2) Previous researchers have yet to develop solid claims in this research area. (3) My participant sample of 13 is small. (4) I strove for a more subjective, interpretative position from the interviewees.
93 Another reason for a qualitative approach is that the field of sustainability leadership has not developed a single, strict methodology (Quinn & Dalton, 2009). This is likely due to not only the relative youth of the field, but also the many dimensions of sustainability leadership, each of which may require a different research methodology to reveal its data. As such, an interpretative method was appropriate (Carroll, 1994). Finally, a qualitative approach better revealed the subtleties and dynamics of the extremely complex nature of leadership. Quantitative studies have traditionally been used to study leadership. However, qualitative approaches are increasingly used, especially to better understand the processes of leadership (Bryman, 1995; Parry, 1998). Conger (1998) contends that qualitative research is “the methodology of choice for topics as contextually rich as leadership” (p. 107). He claims that the complexity of leadership – given its nature as a multi-level, dynamic and symbolic phenomenon – calls for an approach beyond quantitative research in order to reveal the deeper structures of leadership. Given my inquiry into the meaning-making structures and design processes of my participants, a qualitative approach has been most appropriate.
Purposive sampling is central to naturalistic research (Erlandson, Harris, Skipper, & Allen, 1993) and was used in this study. Often employed for exploratory research, purposive sampling enables access to participants from difficult-to-reach, specialized populations (Miles & Huberman, 1994b). It is also used to examine specific instances for detailed investigation (Neuman, 2006). A purposive sample is explicitly not typical or representative. Ideally, it highlights its claim so saliently that there are implications for other cases (Quinn &
94 Dalton, 2009). Results of this study will inform and feed into leadership development programs for change agents.
Recruitment and Selection Criteria My sample consists of leaders and change agents who design economic, social, and/or environmental sustainability initiatives. Participants came from the private, public, and civil society sectors. Some worked within an organization and others are external consultants (see Table 8 in the summary of findings for the complete characteristics of the sample). Representatives from my network nominated some candidates for this study; for the rest, I drew directly from my network. My professional network consists of over 500 practitioners and scholars involved with sustainability with whom I have interacted over the last decade. These are organizational leaders, consultants, and students who have attended leadership development programs I offered, who submitted academic articles and case studies for an online library of integral sustainability articles I built, or who corresponded with me about sustainability topics. Participants needed to hold, or have held, mid- or senior-level positions in their respective organizations. They also needed to have been working at least half-time on economic, social, and/or environmental sustainability issues for at least the last three years. They must have designed or co-designed a â€œmajorâ€? social and/or environmental sustainability initiative within the past two years. This was defined as a program, intervention, or strategic project that aimed to improve social, economic, and/or environmental metrics for at least 1000 people.
95 I originally built a list of 37 potential participants from my network. I subsequently received nominations for 10 more potential participants from people that I had enrolled in the study, bringing my total initial sample to 47. I strove to achieve a sample that was diverse in nationality, gender, age, socio-economic status, race, physical capability, religion, educational background, and culture. I managed the participant enrollment process by e-mail. Potential participants received an invitation to enroll in a study on sustainability leadership (Appendix E if they were nominated, Appendix F if they came from my network). Their first step was to take the SCTi-MAP assessment (Appendix G). This is a measurement tool from the field of developmental psychology which assessed the maturity of their meaning-making system, also called their action logic. It is described below, in the section on Data Collection. Over two-thirds of potential participants accepted my invitation; some people (14) were not able to participate due to time constraints or lack of interest in the research. At this point, my sample size was 33. I asked all of these participants to take the SCTi-MAP. Due to the time required to receive the results of this assessment, I also scheduled interviews with all 33 participants. My original intention was to only interview participants who were assessed with a Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic. This did not turn out to be feasible given the time restraints. I did not have sufficient time to wait to get their results before inviting them for an interview. As a result, I ultimately interviewed 32 of the participants. When the assessment results returned, I had a sample of nine Achievers, ten Individualists, seven Strategists, five Alchemists, and two Ironists. I chose to limit my sample at that point to only participants who had been assessed as Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists. 6 I also removed one of the participants from the sample who had been assessed as a Strategist due to insufficient experience in sustainability. That person had been 6
Throughout this document I define â€œlate-stage action logicsâ€? as consisting of these three action logics.
96 inappropriately nominated for my study by a colleague, and I did not learn about his full experience until the interview. This left me with a final sample size of 13 sustainability leaders and change agents with a late-stage action logic. There are no specific rules for sample size (Baum, 2000; Patton, 2001). Nonetheless, qualitative research is typically based upon small sample sizes in service of more deeply studying the topic (Miles & Huberman, 1994a; Patton, 2001). All 33 participants will be provided a summary of the study results once it is completed. This will be delivered via e-mail.
Two primary data collection methods were used in this study. (1) The Maturity Assessment Profile (SCTi-MAP), a sentence completion form used to assess the way each participant makes meaning. (2) One round of semi-structured, 90-minute, in-depth interviews concerning how participants design sustainability initiatives. I also drew upon my written notes from a critical review of the literature and post-interview reflections. This section describes each primary data source and its respective collection process.
The Maturity Assessment Profile Once participants agreed to be in the study they received a digital version of the Sentence Completion Test Integral - Maturity Assessment Profile (SCTi-MAP) (Appendix G). As described in Chapter II, this instrument measures an adultâ€™s action logic, or their way of making meaning (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Torbert, et al., 2004). The assessment is a projective technique, consisting of 36 sentence stems that deal with self-perceptions, social situations, and interpersonal relationships. The sentence stems enable participants to project
97 their frame of reference into the incomplete sentences, while partially restricting the domain of the answers (Loevinger, 1979, 1998b). The SCTi-MAP is one of the latest versions of the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT; Loevinger & Wessler, 1970). Over four decades, the WUSCT has been extensively refined and validated (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Hauser, 1976; Loevinger, 1979; Manners & Durkin, 2001), and has been revised several times (CookGreuter, 1999; Hy & Loevinger, 1996). It is one of the most frequently used measures of human development (Bartunek, et al., 1983; Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Cook-Greuter, 1999). The following sections discuss the validity of the WUSCT, followed by an explanation of how the instrument was deployed and scored in this study.
Validity Construct validity refers to “the extent to which an operationalization measures the concept it is supposed to measure” (Bagozzi, Yi, & Phillips, 1991, p. 421; Cook & Campbell, 1979). The WUSCT is a structural developmental measure, meaning that it is assessing the developmental stage of a psychological structure. The validity of such measures are typically difficult to assess using classic principles (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955) because of the complex relationship between behavior and the underlying psychological structures (Loevinger, 1993). Despite this challenge, the WUSCT “has demonstrated impressive construct validity… [and] is arguably the most extensively validated projective technique” (Lilienfeld, Wood, & Garb, 2000, p. 56). The WUSCT is considered a well validated projective technique because it aggregates scores across multiple items, contains ambiguous stimuli relevant to the construct being assessed, and employs an iterative approach to progressively
98 improving the test (Lilienfeld, et al., 2000). The subsequent sections discuss the reliability and various dimensions of validity (substantive, convergent, discriminant, predictive and incremental) of the WUSCT (for comprehensive reviews see Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Hauser, 1976; Loevinger, 1979; Manners & Durkin, 2001). 7 Reliability. An instrument is considered reliable if repeated measurements produce consistent results (Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 1991). For projective techniques like the WUSCT, reliability is based upon interrater agreement and participant response (Redmore & Waldman, 1975). In multiple studies across diverse populations, the WUSCT has consistently demonstrated high interrater reliability (Loevinger, 1979; Manners & Durkin, 2001). Significant correlations were also found in studies of test-retest, equivalent forms, internal consistency, split-half, and pretest-posttest scores (Novy, Blumentritt, Nelson, & Gaa, 1997; Novy & Francis, 1992; Redmore & Waldman, 1975; Weiss, Zilberg, & Genevro, 1989). The WUSCT was found to be vulnerable to lower retest scores over short intervals due to decreased motivation (Redmore & Waldman, 1975). Substantive validity. A measurement instrument has substantive or content validity when it includes items that accurately reflect the conceptual definition of the construct domain (Schwab, 1999). The WUSCT has had to overcome two key challenges in demonstrating this, but has done so successfully. First, Loevingerâ€™s concept of the self that progresses through ego development (the framework upon which the WUSCT is based) needed to be demonstrated to be theoretically coherent and of a unitary nature. Multiple studies (Broughton & Zahaykevich, 1988; Labouvie-Vief, 1993; Noam, 1993) which challenged these qualities were not successful in demonstrating otherwise (Loevinger, 1984;
Joel Gehman was particularly helpful in articulating the various validity dimensions of the WUSCT. I drew upon much of the research he had done for a working paper (Gehman, 2008).
99 Loevinger, Wessler, & Redmore, 1970). Other studies took a different tack and tried to identify subsets of factors to Loevingerâ€™s concept of the self (e.g., moral or responsibility items); yet these, too, were unsuccessful. Thus, ego development has been determined to be a single construct. The second challenge for ego development as related to substantive validity was the issue of sequentiality. Establishing sequentiality for a developmental theory is critical to establishing substantive validity (Loevinger, 1993, 1998b). Multiple longitudinal studies â€“ ranging from adolescents to young adults to adults â€“ have delivered sufficient support for the sequentiality of ego development stages (Adams & Fitch, 1982; Loevinger, et al., 1985; Manners & Durkin, 2001; Martin & Redmore, 1978; Redmore & Loevinger, 1979; Westenberg & Gjerde, 1999). Other studies have demonstrated that ego development has asymmetry of comprehension, meaning that people can understand a stage earlier than their own, but not stages much later than their own (Loevinger, 1993, 1998b; Redmore, 1976). This also supports the case for sequentiality. Convergent validity. An instrument has convergent validity when there is high correspondence among multiple approaches to measuring the same construct (Schwab, 1999). It is challenging to examine threats to the convergent validity of the WUSCT because of its unique nature. Nonetheless, five studies have provided significant support for the convergent validity of ego development (Manners & Durkin, 2001). These studies examined correlations between the WUSCT and alternate measures for ego development. The studies included unstructured interviews (Lucas, 1971; Sutton & Swensen, 1983), the Thematic Apperception Test (Sutton & Swensen, 1983), a California Q-sort of personality descriptors derived from ego stage milestones (Rozsnafszky, 1981), a California Q-sort of personality
100 variables expected to be related to ego stage (Westenberg & Block, 1993), and longitudinal comparisons with the revised California Psychological Inventory (Helson & Wink, 1987). Discriminant validity. An assessment instrument successfully demonstrates discriminant validity when it is shown that its results are not highly correlated with the results of other assessments that measure theoretically different concepts (Campell & Fiske, 1959). The three variables that have been used to challenge the discriminant validity of ego development are verbal fluency, intelligence, and socioeconomic status (Hauser, 1976; Loevinger, 1979; Manners & Durkin, 2001). On the issue of verbal fluency, multiple studies and a meta-analysis have inquired into the issue (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Loevinger & Wessler, 1970; McCrae & Costa, 2003). It was determined that the word count for responses to the sentence stems are related, however the correlations indicate that the WUSCT measures more than mere verbal fluency (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004; Manners & Durkin, 2001). With respect to the potential correlation between the WUSCT and an intelligence test, a meta-analysis was conducted. Cohn and Westenbergâ€™s (2004) findings, based upon 25 samples of 2,307 participants, unequivocally demonstrated the conceptual distinction between ego development and intelligence. Multiple studies (Browning, 1987; Redmore & Loevinger, 1979; Snarey & Lydens, 1990) inquired into the potential relationship between ego development and socioeconomic status. It was ultimately determined that there are many pathways for ego development, and that the relationship between attainment of a developmental stage and socioeconomic status varies, depending on the indicators used, the populations sampled, and other sociopolitical factors (Manners & Durkin, 2001; Snarey & Lydens, 1990). Thus, the WUSCT has been
101 demonstrated to have discriminant validity when compared to these three variables â€“ verbal fluency, intelligence, and socioeconomic status â€“ most likely to be confounded with ego development. Predictive validity. Predictive or criterion related validity reflects the degree to which an assessment instrument is empirically associated with some criterion (DeVellis, 2003). It is not expected that there would be a one-to-one correspondence between ego stage and behavior, as ego development is an underlying frame of reference for interpreting the self and the world (Loevinger, 1976; Manners & Durkin, 2001). Nonetheless, a large variety of outcomes have been correlated with specific stages, or groups of stages of ego development. For example, ego stages demonstrate a curvilinear relationship to conformity. People at preconventional and postconventional stages are significantly more likely to exhibit nonconformist behavior than those within the three conventional stages (Hoppe & Loevinger, 1977; Westenberg & Block, 1993). Among adolescents, Hauser and colleagues (J. P. Allen, Hauser, Bell, & O'Connor, 1994; Hauser, et al., 1984; Hennighausen, Hauser, Billings, Schultz, & Allen, 2004; Noam, et al., 1984) found significant correlation between self stages and impulsiveness, empathy, responsibility, problem solving, conflict resolution, hostility, and inner control. Higher self stages in adult women have been associated with personal adjustment, nurturance, responsibility, tolerance, inner control, capacity for status (White, 1985), and differential personality change (Helson & Roberts, 1994). As a final example, in studies of phenomenological self awareness, later stages of ego development significantly correlated with greater identification of variability in the phenomenal experience of the self, increased valuing of the quality of variability, more contextual variation, and additional polarization in the self (Pazy, 1985).
102 Incremental validity. Finally, incremental validity refers to the degree to which the inclusion of a given measure increases prediction accuracy above that of predictions from other measures (Beutler & Groth-Marnat, 2003). In a meta-analysis, Cohn and Westenberg (2004) identified 16 studies that examined the incremental validity of ego stage after statistically controlling for the influence of intelligence. Within those studies, 29 out of 31 statistical tests (94%) demonstrated significant correlations, with ego stage explaining between 4% and 36% of the variability, depending on the criterion variable (Cohn & Westenberg, 2004). In summary, the WUSCT has been extensively validated over the past four decades. The subject of dozens of studies, the WUSCT has demonstrated high reliability and strong performance across five dimensions of validity.
Deployment and Scoring All participants who agree to be in the study received a digital version of the SCTiMAP. They were given 60 minutes to complete it. This is longer than the customary 45 minute time limit for this assessment. I was attempting to identify and study people who hold a postconventional action logic. Given this objective, Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter â€“ who developed this latest version of the WUSCT â€“ recommended that I extend the assessment time to 60 minutes (S. Cook Greuter, personal communication, May 27, 2010). The total time expected of them for this step was one hour and fifteen minutes, which includes reading the instructions and returning the finished assessment. Once participants submitted the completed SCTi-MAP, I sent it to Cook-Greuter & Associates to be scored. The cost for scoring was $100 per protocol which I paid.
103 Participants agreed to release their scores to me by initialing a consent statement on the assessment form. In general, participants did not receive their scores. If requested, I did release an individualâ€™s score with instructions on how to interpret it and a contact for further coaching.
Interviews As described above, I interviewed 32 participants, but only ended up analyzing the data from those 13 that were assessed at the Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic. Interviews were telephone-based or face-to-face if possible. In my request for interviews, participants were informed of the research intent (to study sustainability leadership), briefed on what to expect, and given the interview protocol (Appendix H) to support their preparation. All conversations were held in confidentiality and recorded with participant permission. The interviews lasted 90-120 minutes usually, with some extending to nearly three hours. Lincoln and Gubaâ€™s naturalistic inquiry (1985) guided my interviewing methodology. I conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews. This interview style required me to balance directed and free-flowing conversation (Lee, 1999). Such interviews are often framed with an overarching topic and progress through general themes and specific questions. Yet they also allow the researcher to explore new ideas and directions as they arise (Lee, 1999). Participants were asked a common set of open-ended, grand tour questions (Quinn & Dalton, 2009; Spradley, 1979). I also probed with emergent questions beyond my protocol as I saw the interviews as a co-exploration of the participantâ€™s experience. This approach allowed the
104 participants to speak in depth about salient, relevant topics while ensuring commonality across the interviews. I strived to insulate my observations from my own biases and worldview. By writing down my observations and interpretations, I was able to reflect upon them and look for potential distortion from my worldview. I recognized that I could not be completely objective, however, and that my methodology could not be fully differentiated from who I am. Rather than ensuring completely pure observations, I trusted that the data was â€œconfirmable.â€? This means that it could be tracked to its sources and that I used explicit and implicit logic to build my interpretations from it (Erlandson, et al., 1993). After each interview I documented salient issues and questions that arose for me. All interviews were professionally transcribed for further analysis. The interviews took place over ten months (including the pilot), during which I both collected and analyzed data concurrently.
Results of a Pilot My pilot study provided insight into the effectiveness of the research design. I tested this design with two participants and followed the complete data collection and analysis procedure. I intended to identify any process glitches or bottlenecks and determine whether my approach enabled me to answer my research question. Would one interview provide rich enough data to identify themes and patterns? Did my interview protocol (Appendix H) and approach elicit deep reflection by participants? Was the process cumbersome, did it need to be streamlined? What other opportunities were there to improve the design? My answers to these questions, after consultation with my committee, were then incorporated into the final
105 research design. One of two participants that were in my pilot was assessed as an Alchemist and therefore included in my final sample. The second participant was assessed as an Individualist and not included in this study.
Protection of Human Subjects Each participant was informed of the study purpose, approach, and what to expect. This included how their data would be collected, stored, used, with whom it might be shared, and overall confidentiality. They had a right to know this without ambiguity (Seidman, 1991). All participants electronically signed an informed consent form (Appendix D). The collected data was not and will not be available to any member of the public; only those involved in my scholarship at Fielding Graduate University know details about the study. I used and will use pseudonyms in all files and subsequent writings to protect participant identity and data. Their affiliated organizations will remain confidential. No comments, examples, or other information indicative of identity will be published without explicit participant approval. Participants had the right to remove themselves from the study at any time, without repercussions. No participants did. In such a case, I would have culled and destroyed all related data. Participants were able to ask questions at any time or discuss reservations until any issues were resolved. No participants expressed any reservations. Data was collected via audio recordings and transcribed by an external transcription service that signed a confidentiality form. All data was kept within password-protected computer files.
This section covers the background and general procedure of my data analysis method: thematic analysis. Thematic analysis is used to identify, analyze, and report qualitative data patterns; the aim is to accurately describe participants’ experiences (Boyatzis, 1998). It is defined (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) as “a research method for the subjective interpretation of the content of text data through the systematic classification process of coding and identifying themes or patterns” (p. 1277). I utilized conventional content analysis – a type of thematic analysis – due to the limited literature available for the study area (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). This means that I inquired without preconceived categories, immersed myself in the data, and allowed category names and insights to emerge (Kondracki, Wellman, & Amundson, 2002). This is otherwise called inductive category development (Mayring, 2000). My analysis was a cyclical process with concurrent transcription, coding, and conceptualization (Lindlof, 1995). The following describes my general procedure. Throughout the analytic process I wrote memos to capture insights on the methodology, theory, and analysis (Schatzman & Strauss, 1973). These consistently fed new data into my analysis as I repeatedly strove to identify patterns. I initially reviewed the transcripts and interview memos to check the accuracy of the transcriptions and familiarize myself with the participants and the most interesting aspects of their interviews (Lindlof, 1995). This resulted in identification of key quotations that need to be coded. I then began coding the data into manageable categories, using Marshall and Rossman’s (1989) data reduction process and coding software (NVivo 8). Each quotation was coded into two or three words, and linked to the original text. Via a systematic review of
107 the codes I began looking for potential themes (Creswell, 2009). This was an integration stage, making linkages across participants and different phenomena. For the first pass, I gathered coded responses from different people into groups, using Patton’s (2001) cross-case process of analysis. I used Owen’s (1982), Krueger’s (1998) and Morgan’s (1998) criteria for determining a theme (Murnane, 2008). My analysis proceeded with Marshall and Rossman’s (1989) interpretation step, to cultivate increased meaning and insight from the data. In this step I identified lessons learned from the data, based upon my personal understanding and the literature (Creswell, 2009; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). I did a final round of analysis to identify major themes and prominent examples of each (Atkinson, 1990). Each theme was named and tagged with exemplars. Through an iterative process of returning to the raw data, I refined these themes to ensure they accurately represented the research. These salient themes and exemplar quotations are described in the results section of this study. This overall procedure is shown in Figure 2.
108 Figure 2 Analysis procedure
This research was an exploratory study of leaders with a late-stage action logic who engage in sustainability initiatives. It revealed innovative practices that I believe could help advance global sustainability initiatives. As such, I have made every effort to ensure credibility. This section details the potential internal integrity threats to this study and my strategies to counteract or minimize them. I first address my biases and assumptions, followed by discussion about reactive, descriptive, and interpretive threats.
Researcher Bias I am very familiar with the theoretical constructs of adult development (CookGreuter, 1999; Kegan, 1982; Torbert, et al., 2004). I also have a shared professional identity with the study participants and the potential for common career experiences as change agents
109 engaged in sustainability. Therefore, I needed to not allow my assumptions or hopes to inappropriately color or reinterpret participantsâ€™ statements. As much as I strove to be neutral and objective, my subjectivity could not be removed from this epistemological equation. My strategy to counteract this was threefold. (1) Be transparent about this threat to myself and my dissertation committee. I asked for feedback and expected them to challenge me on this issue as needed. I stayed aware of this threat, especially noticing if I momentarily linked my identity to the participants or their design approach. (2) Write memos to identify and objectify the emotional, mental, or other internally-sourced influences that arose. Such objectification of my subjective assumptions was central to transforming them (Kegan, 1994). (3) Monitor the change in these assumptions throughout the study. These notes that documented my relationship with these biases were useful data for my own growth. These strategies seemed to keep me aware of my bias, thereby limiting its impact on the study.
Reactivity Reactivity refers to the potential impact I could have had on a participantâ€™s behavior because of the awareness of being studied (Neuman, 2006). I intended to use reactivity productively rather than attempt to minimize or eliminate it. This began with recognizing that I would always influence the participant during the interview. The questions I asked direct their attention and inquiry. They likely picked up on my conscious or unconscious responses and presence, and adjusted according to their worldview. I might have generated reactivity by the very fact of being a well-educated, American white male. I therefore strove to be mindful of when I was potentially influencing them, and modulated accordingly. Before each interview I intended to create an environment in which they felt comfortable to express
110 themselves fully. I wanted their experience to take precedence over mine (Maxwell, 2005). Then, throughout our interaction, I worked to maintain this welcoming, non-judgmental inter-subjective state. I felt that I was successful at doing so and this strategy worked.
Descriptive Integrity My description of the data needed to be accurate. I was therefore rigorous in my attention to the details and process of data collection. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. I listened to each, while reading the transcription, to verify its accuracy.
Interpretive Integrity I needed to ensure that another researcher might have similar interpretations of the data. As Maxwell (2005) recommends, I consistently looked for ways that my interpretations and conclusions may not accurately express the data, or might be better explained from another perspective. Additionally, I strove to strengthen the interpretive integrity by integrating data from the SCTi-MAP scores, the literature review, the interviews, my reflective notes, and discussions with my committee members.
Limitations of the Study
This section identifies the limitations and delimitations of this research. It addresses aspects of the research design, including sample size, sampling procedure, instrumentation, and the impact of my personality and subjectivity.
111 Sample Size This study was exploratory, qualitative in nature, and focused on a specific context. As such it had a small sample size of 13 participants. This sample is not sufficient to make generalizations about other change agents or sustainability leaders. It is sufficient, though, to create initial propositions about how leaders with a late-stage action logic define and engage in sustainability initiatives, as well as to define future research questions.
Sample Procedure My sampling procedure also created limitations. I strove for diversity in nationality, gender, age, socio-economic status, race, physical capability, religion, educational background, and culture. Nonetheless, my sample group was not representative of the general population. Those with socio-economic advantages and advanced educational degrees were overrepresented. Sustainability leaders and change agents tend to have privileged social and/or educational backgrounds. Additionally, Baumeister (1986) contends that only some cultures produce an autonomous self that experiences a need for fulfillment and selfrealization (Pfaffenberger, 2006). This drive for self-realization is one of the theorized factors in the development of postconventional action logics (Pfaffenberger, 2006). This may also be a reason why my sample was not culturally representative of the general population. Ultimately, the diversity amongst participants in this sample was not the most important factor. I studied â€œoutliersâ€? â€“ people who are at the high end of a scale of meaningmaking maturity. I created a stratified sample of participants who are only in three particular strata: Strategists, Alchemists, or Ironists. In this case they were mostly highly-educated,
112 North-American males from the private sector. Due to this focus, I have used a legitimate sampling procedure.
Sample Population Despite significant efforts to diversify my sample population in a variety of ways, I learned that 12 of the 13 participants consider themselves practitioners of an â€œintegral approachâ€? to sustainability (B. C. Brown, 2006a, 2006b; B. C. Brown & Riedy, 2006; M. G. Edwards, 2009; EsbjĂśrn-Hargens & Zimmerman, 2009; Hochachka, 2005, 2006; Wilber, 1995, 2000b). These leaders and change agents are therefore not necessarily representative of the general population of sustainability practitioners. They have a common theoretical background in integral theory (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000a, 2000b). Ten of them came from my direct network. Another two were referred from participants in the study, yet were also familiar with integral theory and use it in their practice. I strove to include people from beyond this integral sustainability network, inviting another 17 leaders whom I did not believe to be familiar with integral theory. However, either they declined (six) or were assessed at an earlier action logic than I required for the study (11). This fact has potential implications for one part of the findings and I further address it in the discussion below.
Instrumentation The SCTi-MAP assessment, while rigorously validated (Cook-Greuter, 1999), also presents limitations. It is one lens on a human. It does not indicate the degree of mental health, social adjustment, or subjective well-being of an individual (Hy & Loevinger, 1996).
113 I believe all of these can affect how change agents design sustainability initiatives. Other assessments also strive to measure meaning-making structure such as the subject-object interview (Kegan, 1982, 1994; Lahey, et al., 1988). The subject-object interview and the corresponding developmental framework developed by Kegan (1982, 1994) therefore provides an alternative perspective on maturity. Finally, there are aspects of other developmental lines, psychological states, and personality typologies that indicate developmental maturity (Wilber, 2000a). Therefore, this study only offers a small slice of insight into the psychological complexity of leaders and change agents. Beyond this, psychological dynamics are only one subset of myriad other influences upon sustainability initiatives (B. C. Brown, 2005; Riedy, 2007).
Self My meaning-making structure, personality type, and interests all presented possible limitations. Yet, they could also be great assets. These lenses that shape my worldview influenced the focus of my attention throughout data collection and analysis. It was not possible to completely filter out their impact, nor would I have wanted to completely. What is possible was to be as aware and alert as possible to the feedback that came from them throughout all phases of my research. I had two strategies in regard to use of my self as an instrument in this research. One of these strategies focused on limiting the impact of my self, specifically my shadow. The other involved drawing upon the deeper potential of my self to generate insights about the research. I engaged in both of these strategies to my advantage. In order to offset the potential distortions caused by my unique lens on the world, I wrote memos throughout the process of gathering and engaging with the data. In particular, I
114 looked out for moments where I was inordinately drawn toward or repelled from a comment or other data. These were indications for me that I was possibly attached to a concept, in the case of those phenomena I was drawn to, or that I may have had a shadow issue (Jung & Campbell, 1976) with those ideas that were unattractive to me. In either case, when I noticed that impulse in myself toward or away from some of the data, I made a memo and took the time to reflect and see if those perturbations in my mental model were inadvertently impacting my interpretation and analysis of the data. Yet I also strove to harness my unique perspective and consciousness in service of better understanding my data and generating conclusions. As intuitive insights arose, such as in making a new connection across concepts, I took note of them and looked to see if they had support within the data. My intuition was a powerful ally in helping me to work through the labyrinth of data. Yet it did not supplant use of my intellect to do the rigorous analysis required. By using both my intellect and intuition to develop my understanding of the patterns and emergent properties of the data – and keeping my shadow in check – I believe that I effectively used my self in service of this research. My own meaning-making structure, or action logic, is both an asset and liability for this study. I was assessed in 2005 and 2010 with an Alchemist action logic. Theoretically, this implies that I am able to “see” how Strategists and Alchemists make meaning, but may not be able to completely grasp the perspective of Ironists (which is a later action logic). As compared with a similarly experienced researcher looking at the same data who held an earlier action logic, I may have been able to pick up more subtleties and nuances than that person. My action logic may have enabled me to make more and different connections in the data, and through my own intuition, as well. However, without being deeply embedded in
115 unity consciousness â€“ like Ironists reputedly are â€“ I also likely missed important subtleties and dynamics occurring within the data from my Ironist participants. I did periodically attempt to counteract this issue by putting myself into a meditative state before and while looking at the data. My hope was that by dropping into a deeper state of consciousness I would access a later action logic. I also wrote about the data and the findings often in my journal. Journaling is a perspective-taking exercise that I have often found facilitates my accessing a transpersonal state. Beyond these two interventions, I have simply accepted this as a limitation to my analysis.
In this chapter I detailed the major steps and dimensions of my research methodology. In summary, a qualitative methodology was most appropriate for this exploratory study on sustainability leadership. The specialized population I have been working with calls for a purposive sample, and I took a multi-phase approach to recruitment and selection. For data collection, I used an assessment of participantsâ€™ meaning-making structure and semistructured interviews. Thematic analysis guided my interpretation of the data. Finally, I identified the internal integrity threats to this study, detailed my strategies to address them, and concluded with an overview of limitations. In the next chapter, I profile the study participants and discuss key qualitative results. Chapter V includes an interpretation of the findings and a discussion of their implications.
116 CHAPTER IV: PARTICIPANT PROFILES AND KEY FINDINGS
The objective of this study was to explore how leaders with a late stage action logic design sustainability initiatives. This chapter begins with an overview of the characteristics of the sample population I worked with, as well as a profile of each participant. These profiles are followed by a review of the results of the study, including three overarching themes and eight key findings. Although my research question focused on the design of sustainability initiatives, I uncovered considerable data about how these leaders engage in them as well. This is because the act of design – for these leaders – is not a one-time event, but rather an on-going, iterative activity. As a result, I have expanded the discussion of my findings to include data related to how my participants engage in sustainability initiatives as well.
Characteristics of the Sample Population
The participants (n = 13) in this study were people who design social and/or environmental sustainability initiatives. Eleven of them held senior-level positions in their organizations, two had mid-level roles. Each had been working at least half-time on social and/or environmental sustainability issues for at least the last three years, and each had designed or co-designed a “major” sustainability initiative within the past two years. A major sustainability initiative was defined as a program, intervention, or strategic project that aimed to improve social, economic, and/or environmental metrics for at least 1000 people.
117 To complete this research, I needed to find a sufficient sample (n = 12-20) of sustainability practitioners who met the work related requirements and were also assessed at one of the three latest action logics: Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist. A total of 33 leaders were assessed for their action logic. 19 of them were assessed at an earlier action logic than required for the study (nine Achievers and 10 Individualists). One Strategist was later determined to have insufficient sustainability experience. I was unable to draw upon these 20 people for this particular study (although I plan to for future research). Thus, my final sample consisted of 13 participants, six of whom were assessed as Strategists (46%), five as Alchemists (38%), and two as Ironists (15%). These sample percentages are considerably higher than the adult population in the United States, which averages 4.9% Strategists, 1.5% Alchemists, and 0.5% Ironists (n = 4,510; Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004). The participants came from geographically diverse areas, with representation from the European Union, North America, Oceania, and South America. There were five women and eight men in the sample, with an average age of 43.6. The youngest was 33, and the oldest 66. Regarding their profession, eight were from the private sector (including consultancies), one from the public sector, and four from civil society. Eight were independent consultants or working for a consultancy. For one participant, the highest level of formal education achieved was high school, with three holding a bachelor’s degree, eight a master’s degree, and one a doctoral degree. Four of the participants were engaged in a doctoral program. Ten of the final 13 participants came out of my own network of “integral sustainability” professionals. This means that I knew at the time that they were familiar with the integral framework (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b)
118 and that they actively apply it to their sustainability work. Two of the other final participants were referred to me from one of the existing participants, and a third was recommended through a colleague. This is significant because ultimately 12 out of the 13 final participants consider themselves practitioners of an â€œintegral approachâ€? to sustainability. As such, they are not necessarily representative of the general population of sustainability practitioners. I did attempt to incorporate people from beyond this integral sustainability network. I reached out to another 17 leaders who were not from this network and were not familiar with integral theory as far as I knew. However, either they declined to be in the study (six) or were assessed as an Achiever or Individualist and therefore could not be included in it (11). Ultimately, 27 of the 33 leaders I assessed and interviewed were familiar with integral theory. Of these 27 leaders, 15 were assessed as Achievers or Individualists and not included in the final study. Thus, over half of the leaders who stated familiarity with integral theory were not assessed with a late stage action logic. All participants were given a pseudonym for this study and in some cases both their gender and geographical location were changed to protect their anonymity. The characteristics of the sample are summarized in Table 8. A short profile of each participant follows the table.
119 Table 8 Characteristics of the sample population (n = 13) Characteristic
% of USA adult pop. (n = 4,510) 4.9 1.5 0.5
6 5 2
46 38 15
6 5 0 2
46 38 0 15
Private Sector (including consultants) Public Sector Civil Society Sector
8 1 4
62 8 31
Consultants (independent consultants or work for a consultancy or advisory group) Non-Consultants (work for an organization that is not a consultancy)
1 3 8 1
8 23 62 8
Action Logic Strategist Alchemist Ironist Gender Female Male Age 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+ Average
Education (highest level achieved) High school graduate Bachelor’s degree Master’s degree Doctoral degree (completed – 1; currently in doctoral program - 4)
Note: Research on percentages of adult population for each action logic from Cook-Greuter (1999, 2004). Percentages do not add to exactly 100% in each section due to rounding to a whole number.
120 Profiles of 13 Leaders with Late-Stage Action Logics
The participant profiles are grouped according to the action logic at which they were assessed: Strategists (Roger, Chris, Sampson, Charlotte, Edward, Matthew); Alchemists (Vivianna, Giselle, Roberta, Arthur, John); and Ironists (Rick, Luz).
Participants Assessed with a Strategist Action Logic
Roger – Male, 39, UK, MSc. M.Eng., Sustainability Manager in Multinational Company Roger, who is based in the UK, serves as the European Sustainability Manager for a large multinational company (250,000+ employees, $60B+ annual revenue). The project he focused on for this study concerned the development of his organization’s sustainability strategy. His educational background is in chemical engineering and geology, and he is also dedicated to educational system reform.
Chris – Male, 39, Netherlands, B.A., Programs Manager for an NGO Chris serves as Programs Manager for an environmental non-profit in the Netherlands. The initiative he co-designed and discussed for this study is a €189M energy efficiency program for his province. He has helped develop an eco-village, serving as a board member, and is co-founder of an initiative to make his city more sustainable.
Sampson – Male, 45, Fiji, B.Sc. & Ph.Dc, Director of a Sustainability Consultancy Sampson serves as Owner and Director of a sustainability-focused consultancy in Australia. The initiative he focused on for this study was his work to help design a residential
121 development with 250+ homes. His educational background is in physics and business sustainability, and he has worked in and led both NGOs and companies in the environmental sector.
Charlotte â€“ Female, 35, Ireland, BSW & M.A., Community Developer Charlotte serves as Coordinator of an Irish multistakeholder community development initiative and works part-time for an international development NGO. She has also served as faculty for a leadership institute focused on social change. For this study, she discussed her experience as co-designer of a leadership development program in a less developed country (LDC). Her formal education is in social work, as well as gender and development.
Edward â€“ Male, 66, Switzerland, B.A., Retired Departmental Director within an Intergovernmental Institution Edward has had an extensive international development career that took him to 55 countries. He first held various leadership roles within an international NGO, followed by director-level roles within an intergovernmental institution. He is currently an adjunct university professor and founder/director of a leadership consultancy. For this study, he focused on a large-scale leadership development program he co-designed and executed for his organization, which was rolled out in five countries to hundreds of leaders. His educational background is in literature, sociology, and theology.
Matthew â€“ Male, 43, Canada, B.A., Owner of Sustainability Consultancy
122 Matthew serves as owner and principal consultant of a sustainability consultancy focusing on rural development, environmental land planning, and forestry management. He is also founder and managing director of a non-profit sustainability education center. For this study, he focused on a technology he co-created to support sustainability designers.
Participants Assessed with an Alchemist Action Logic
Vivianna â€“ Female, 42, Italy, M.Sc., Sustainability Consultant and University Lecturer Vivianna works as a business and sustainability consultant, based in Western Europe. She also designs university courses and lectures throughout Europe on Corporate Social Responsibility, business ethics, governance, and sustainability. For this study, she focused on a sustainability leadership development initiative she has co-designed. Her educational background is in nature conservation and environmental planning.
Giselle â€“ Female, 62, Netherlands, Ph.D., Founder Sustainability Consultancy & Professor Giselle works as a leader, coach, researcher and author, focusing on urban sustainable development. She is also a graduate studies professor at multiple universities. For this study, she discussed an initiative she co-designed and executed over three years to develop a longterm vision for a Dutch city. Her educational background includes a Ph.D. in administration and management.
123 Roberta â€“ Female, 37, Australia, B.Sc. & M.A., Program Director, Consultant & Ph.D. student Roberta develops leadership training and capacity-building programs for non-profit organizations and serves as a strategic consultant for environmental campaigns. Her educational background is in geography, environmental studies, philosophy and religion, and she is currently in a Ph.D. program. For this study, she discussed an initiative she codesigned to help a large-scale public sector initiative to advance sustainability issues through regional partners.
Arthur â€“ Male, 46, Mexico, H.S., Executive Director of International Development NGO Arthur leads an NGO that promotes sustainable living globally, supports leadership development in Latin America and Africa, and applies social change theory to practical problems. For this study, he discussed an initiative his organization co-designed and executed to develop the capacity of African leaders.
John â€“ Male, 44, USA, M.A. & Ph.D. student, Owner of Management Consultancy John leads a consulting group that focuses on sustainability and offers social strategic planning and advisory services. He also leads a research initiative concerning large-scale social system development. His educational background is in law, strategic management, and leadership, and he is currently in a Ph.D. program. For this study, he discussed a design he led to develop a waste management strategy for his state.
124 Participants Assessed with an Ironist Action Logic
Rick â€“ Male, 33, Norway, M.Sc. Ph.Dc,, Engineer & Community Development Planner Rick serves as a community development analyst and planner. His educational background is in natural resources management, and engineering, and he is completing a Ph.D. For this study, Rick discussed an initiative he co-designed and co-managed to develop a comprehensive sustainability plan for a large community.
Luz â€“ Female, 36, France, B.Sc. M.A., NGO Founder and Director & Adjunct Professor Luz leads an NGO that focuses on transformational environmental and social change. Her educational background is in environmental science and interdisciplinary environmental studies. She also teaches graduate students in international development and business. For this study, she discussed an initiative she co-designed to develop the leadership capacity of civil society groups in Africa.
The results of this research offer the first empirically-based insights into the specific characteristics and behaviors of sustainability leaders who have a late-stage action logic. Such practitioners are rare, as the action logics they hold are found in only 5-7% of the general population (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004). As outlined in Chapter II, postconventional meaning-making has been correlated with increased leadership effectiveness. The insights from this study may help to strengthen leadership development programs for change agents and leaders who engage complex social and environmental issues.
125 I identified three themes, each of which is made up of major findings from the data. The three themes are: (1) Design from a deep inner foundation; (2) Access to powerful internal resources and theories to distill and evolve the design; and (3) Adaptive design management. These themes, respectively, relate to three different aspects of change agents: Being, Reflecting, and Engaging. “Being” refers to fundamental qualities of the change agents. “Reflecting” concerns how they think about and gain insight into the design. “Engaging” has to do with the actions they take to develop and manage the design. Each of the three themes are supported by two or three major findings. These themes and findings are summarized in Figure 3 and detailed in the subsequent sections.
Figure 3 Summary of themes and supporting findings
The themes were derived via a multi-step qualitative analysis described in Chapter 3. I reviewed 27 hours of interviews. After reviewing the transcripts, I manually coded them into 325 codes. Codes that were populated with evidence from at least 50% of the
126 participants became the basis for the three themes and eight key findings. I then identified exemplary quotations for each finding that support the story of the overall theme. There are findings which I am not reporting for this study. In general, I did not choose to report on findings for which there was less than 50% representation amongst the participants. The exceptions to this included a few interesting sub-findings that supported a major finding. I also chose not to report findings which did have over 50% representation, but which I did not consider unique to these participants. These were “commonsense” findings such as: “do a needs analysis,” “respect other participants,” “collaborate,” “ensure the right people are involved,” and “enjoy the process.” The following sections describe each of the three themes and their constitutive findings.
Theme 1: Design from a Deep Inner Foundation
The first theme is reflects how my participants design sustainability initiatives from a deep inner foundation. All participants, in some form or another, stated the deep meaning, purpose, and commitments that underlie their sustainability work. There are three findings that constitute this theme: 1) Sustainability work as a spiritual practice. For most, the work of sustainability is not separate from their chosen spiritual practice or life’s calling.
127 2) Design grounded in transpersonal meaning. They are committed to being of service, helping to develop consciousness, and alleviating suffering. This commitment comes from a transpersonal source for most participants. 3) Uncertainty embraced, with trust in self, others and the process. They demonstrate a willingness to not know and engage uncertainty. This is grounded in a deep self-trust and belief in others and the process to effectively respond to whatever situations arise throughout the design and its execution. These three findings that make up Theme 1 are summarized in Table 9 and discussed in further detail below, using quotations from participants to support each proposition.
Table 9 Theme 1 â€“ Design from a deep inner foundation BEING: Design from a deep inner foundation
Sustainability work as spiritual practice
Design grounded in transpersonal meaning
Uncertainty embraced, with trust in self, others, and the process
(1) The work is not separate from their chosen spiritual practice (2) The work is a way of following their lifeâ€™s calling, following their heart (1) Be of service to others and the development of consciousness, alleviate suffering (1) Openness to not knowing and a commitment to engage with uncertainty (2) Trust in self, other actors, and the process to navigate through ambiguity
128 Sustainability Work as Spiritual Practice The first finding of this theme is that my participants consider their sustainability efforts to be a type of spiritual practice. All of them described some form of deep meaning that they bring to their work as sustainability practitioners. Well over three-quarters (11/13) of the participants said they see their design and/or sustainability work as a spiritual practice unto itself, or not separate from their chosen spiritual practice. For them, to be a sustainability practitioner is to be spiritually engaged with the world. For example, with Luz, sustainability work is one way that she practices yoga, and her yoga practice has shaped how she engages in sustainability: Luz: What could be more generative than setting oneself to engage with the complexity of life and support flourishing and consciousness to develop?...I think I mentioned last day karma yoga and that most definitely is one way I hold [sustainability work]. So karma yoga is defined in numerous sorts of ways but the way that I hold it is that basically...the three moves of the karma yoga [are] surrender to the divine, release attachment to fruits of your labor, and work as hard as you can; and that there’s a quality to that that I bring to [my sustainability work]. ...There was a time nine years ago when there was a right and there was a wrong and I could characterize sustainability based on that. And at a certain point, my spiritual practice and my engagement with the world through sustainability work couldn’t be held together because in my sustainability work, I was stuck in dualism. I was stuck in chasing after one thing and avoiding the other, which is not yoga. That is… yoga is beyond the pairs....So then bringing karma yoga to this is that you’re carrying out acts; you’re carrying out action. But as much as you can, doing so in a recognition of non-duality, in a recognition of the one in the many. Similarly, John developed his sustainability practice based upon his Buddhist practice. His earlier work as a corporate lawyer shifted toward sustainability because of how he chose to act upon his Buddhist principles. John: And to be honest, my Buddhist practice started at that stage and one of the principles is right livelihood. And having a sort of a systems mind, I couldn’t reconcile earning an income from activities that helped organizations do work in a world that caused harm to others directly or indirectly, visibly or invisibly. So I ended up just selecting clients that were contributive to society and so I ended up being more and more towards the sustainability area. And
129 over time my practice has diversified and then deepened. ...So I don’t organize my life so as to be able to do this sustainability practice. I’m doing the sustainability practice so as to be able to live the life that I am required to live. Barrett: So the sustainability work you do is just simply a manifestation of living your life’s purpose? John: Yeah. The only participants who did not relate their sustainability work to their spiritual practice were two Strategists. However, four other Strategists did, as well as all Alchemists and Ironists. Sustainability work as one’s calling in life. Some participants framed the practice of sustainability work in a more secular way, such as part of their “life’s calling,” or as a way of “following their heart.” Five of the participants used this type of language (with some also using language that is specific to their spiritual path). Chris gives an example of this perspective: Chris: For me, part of there having been both the joy and the fear around working on this [sustainability] project has been that this project has allowed me to tap what is really at the core heart of my life’s calling; that there’s an alignment of a variety of different things that all come together in this one project to tackle. Community engagement for creating not only shorter term practical change, but longer term transformational change for how community understands itself, towards sustainable efforts that will benefit not only that community, but will benefit the larger community that that neighborhood is nestled within. Everything there taps what is the core interest that drives my life and that lights a deep fire in me. While the language is different for each of the 11 participants who related sustainability to their personal spiritual practice, the common element is that sustainability work is not merely a job, but a sacred expression. This leads to the second finding of this theme, that participants used their personal spiritual foundation as the basis for the sustainability design.
130 Design Grounded in Transpersonal Meaning In addition to seeing sustainability work as a spiritual practice or as part of their life’s calling, All of the participants also ground the design in profound meaning. For over threequarters of them, this meaning appears to be transpersonal in nature, as it is a meaning that participants report comes from a source that transcends the personal or individual. To uncover this data, I asked them, “What is the essence of your work, what are you really doing at the deepest level of meaning to you?” I subsequently inquired, “How do you bring that essence to the process of design itself?” Across the 70 statements participants made on these topics, one concept was regularly repeated: be of service to others and/or the development of consciousness or spirit, and work to alleviate suffering. All 13 participants reported a variation of this perspective, with all but three citing a transpersonal source as the origin of their motivation to serve. For Roger, the essence of his sustainability work is bringing “humanity to the world of business,” helping others to appreciate the moment and where they are, and feel part of, or “one with it.” While he does not cite a transpersonal motivation for this, he does work to help people feel “one with” the moment, which suggests a transpersonal orientation. Barrett: Can you distill for me what you really feel is the heart of what you do, at the deepest level of meaning to you? Roger: It seems to work at many different levels. There’s definitely this thing about being kind to ourselves within a society, a community, and realizing … that there is a society that helps us. Perhaps it’s about helping us realize we are part of society, that mutuality really does exist, and that giving your heart to someone else or giving your trust to someone else is a great thing to do….And that then if I find myself in a corporation I have to help those people act that out somehow. But then it’s beyond that as well. There’s a linkage with the stars and the cosmos and the trees and non-human society, the ecology. Barrett: Tell me a little bit about that and how that relates to what you’re doing.
131 Roger: I guess I’m sitting here talking to you at the moment, looking out the window across the way. I’m very lucky. It’s a man-made environment but there are trees out there and there's water out there. And I guess I’m looking at those trees and they have a certain quality and they have a certain place as do I. And I think at my best moments I really appreciate the place I have and the trees have and I feel part of it. I’m one with it. And I guess I wish that more of us had more of that feeling more often. I have the sense that we’d be a more joyful, more productive bunch….So perhaps it’s just being alive in that way. Roberta describes the source of her commitment to service in a way that I consider transpersonal. For her, she is tuning into a calling from something that is “greater than all of us.” Roberta: The overarching call has really been around supporting the life of all creatures, all of us as humans and all of life, and then in whatever different ways that I tune into the ways that I’m called to that. And it does feel like service, and it does feel like a prayer and an offering to something that’s greater than me and greater than all of us and deeper and fuller. And so it is that call to depth and fullness and the call to support life that my work is a response to. Other ways of communicating this transpersonal element include Charlotte, who experiences herself as a “vehicle” through which the sustainability work is being done, “supporting the unfolding of consciousness” and alleviating suffering. Edward also, feels that he is “acting on behalf of the whole…to fashion something that will be of use to individuals, communities, organizations, institutions, systems, the planet, to consciousness evolving.” Giselle sees the core of her work as “evolving Gaia’s reflective organ.” The two participants who hold an Ironist action logic – Luz and Rick – offered transpersonal responses different than all others. For Rick, the commitment to service comes out of powerful grief he feels, a grief he claims is beyond his individual self. Yet rather than work to actively alleviate the suffering, the essence of his work is to sit with the suffering that arises both within and outside of the space-time continuum. Rick: I think at my deepest level, I’m grieving. I’m grieving the earth. I’m grieving… with that question I become very emotional. ...I’m grieving that
132 there’s so much suffering and… the essence of my work is to be able to sit in [that] incredibly painful place....There’s a space that has space…that has the suffering of a child, has the suffering of what is going on in nature, has that suffering. …There is something that is beyond me that is almost archetypical, that is something that serves humanity, is for me to be able as an individual to sit with the suffering that arises both in a space and with history and time and at the same time is beyond space and history. Luz’s response is unique in that rather than being of service to or acting on behalf of a greater other (e.g., consciousness, spirit), she experiences herself being in service as spirit. She seems to anchor herself in a state of being without boundaries, where no “other” has been objectified and contrasted against her subject. Luz: What I do [to design a sustainability initiative] is follow the evolutionary arc. Right from the outset, “What is the first emanation of spirit and how can I align to that?” This might sound really weird but it just helps me really to anchor [in the One], first and foremost. And then from there, looking at, “Okay, what exactly is arising here?” So kind of like setting my anchor in that first arc of evolution and then really reckoning with or regarding the full unfolding of evolution. “So where am I? Where is this community? Where is this situation?” And just attuning to that. “Okay, so where in the cosmos are we?” What this mainly is as a design process is attuning to the fabric of consciousness as it’s evolving itself and going, “Okay, so where are we here?”... So anyway, point being is that at the deepest essence, it feels like a quality of yoga, of seeing the One in whatever Many that’s arising and attuning to that. And then if there is suffering or there is pain, work to alleviate it. If there is a limitation of perspective, invite more perspectives to be taken. But as much as I can, anchoring from that One, that seems to be the essence. In sum, all the participants talked about how they ground their sustainability design work in deep meaning. When they were asked to consider they essence of their work, they consistently referred to their work as service to alleviate the suffering of others and/or help develop consciousness or spirit. However, for most participants (10/13), there is also a transpersonal element to the source and objective of this service. There appears to be an evolution in the perspective on service from earlier to later action logics. Some of the early-
133 stage Strategists described themselves as being of service to others and the world. Yet this service was engaged in by themselves, as an individual. Some of the later-stage Strategists and all of the Alchemists said that they were also being of service to others, yet they also mentioned the development of consciousness or Spirit as part of their work. Interestingly, though, they indicated that they were doing so on behalf of a greater other – such as Spirit or consciousness – rather than only as an individual. This is the transpersonal element. They seemed to feel that this greater other was acting through them, that they were a vehicle for such service. The Ironists offered another shift in perspective on this. They described their work not as service to others by a single individual, and not on behalf of a greater other. Rather, the Ironists described the service of their sustainability work from a unitive perspective, that they were doing so as consciousness or Spirit itself. Thus, the evolution of perspective on service for these leaders seems to shift from an individual serving others, to an individual serving others on behalf of a greater self (i.e., consciousness, spirit), to one of that greater self serving itself. Alongside these dimensions of service, many participants also expressed a core commitment to work with uncertainty and deeply trust both the people involved and the design process. This is the third finding of Theme 1 and is discussed below.
Uncertainty Embraced, with Trust in Self, Others, and the Process The third finding of this theme – design from a deep inner foundation – concerns how the participants relate to uncertainty and constant change. I asked participants to describe complex sustainability initiatives in which they had led or co-led the design. As they
134 discussed both the initial design and the on-going, iterative design of their initiative, I encountered a consistent sub-theme around uncertainty and trust. My findings suggest that these leaders are willing to “not know,” and will work with the uncertainties of the design process, trusting themselves, other actors, and the process to navigate through the ambiguity. This internal position seems to help the participants manage the design of complex initiatives in environments replete with unforeseen changes and influences. The participants spoke of dynamic and sometimes rapidly changing environments in which they needed to support the development of groups or large systems. In the face of considerable uncertainty, the vast majority (11/13) spoke of being willing to “not know,” to simply be with the ambiguity, and to work with the unknown as part of the process. Roberta, for example, cites respect for uncertainty as a major principle for her, and offers both a phenomenological and complexity sciences perspective on it: Roberta: A really huge principle [I hold is] around respect for uncertainty and how powerful that is across the scales. Like, uncertainty that I can’t possibly know what the right way is; uncertainty as it operates between individuals around, “Are we even communicating?” I’m always just humbled by the [notion that] nobody really knows what is the right path...what this intervention might do. So I spend time submitting to the mystery of that. And then at the systems level, it’s just absolutely vital. Anyone who’s working with systems has to understand uncertainty and non-equilibrium dynamics and how everything could change. Rick also speaks about “not knowing” and his relationship to it. He warns of the danger he perceives in reliance upon knowing that is based upon an external construct and which does not honor one´s experience in the moment. Rick: There is an aspect of not knowing...that is incredibly important for not being dogmatic, for not being of service to an idea that is constructed outside of oneself. I feel that the vast majority of sustainability practitioners have an idea what sustainability means. And it’s a construct, and each time that we’ve constructed an idea, it has normally done more harm than good when we try to build it, bring it into being, because I would say it overrides individuals. So once something is bigger than I, if you look at history, it has created incredible
135 pain and suffering. So I think the ability to always be of wonder...of sitting in a space of not knowing and always letting what is needed to emerge from that space, and not from a construct that is outside of oneself. So using all the theories, all the models, all that we’ve learned but at the same time not being of service to that, but being of service to wonder, to not knowing, to see what emerges in the moment. ...I’m just trying to go from the practical to the space of being of service of what wants to emerge, but I don’t know what it is.
Trust in self, others, and the process. Eight of these same eleven participants who are committed to consciously working with uncertainty, also communicated a deep trust in themselves, the other people involved in the design, and/or the process. This conviction seems to provide support amidst the consistent ambiguity of the design work. Vivianna speaks about her experience with this: Vivianna: I spent one year...holding unknowns. It was a bit excruciating. Now I can see where really not only did [all the elements] fit in but the design is perfect when I look back. But in the design process, some small bits and pieces didn’t seem to make sense and just…you had to get going and I said, okay, it feels [like] the right way. …[T]hat was really a design process emerging. Edward’s interview also illustrates his trust in the face of uncertainty and unknown. His response to ambiguity is based upon a belief that the group has the wisdom needed for any given situation, and that the process for uncovering it simply needs to be trusted. Edward: When I’m facilitating with a group, my deep belief – and I behave accordingly – is that the answer is present in the room. And I treat people with that respect…they are pregnant with solutions, with answers, with wisdom, with understanding, with strategy. And I do believe that, that people can realize their greatest mind and intention. They may need a good question to provoke it or they may need a good story to shake it loose or they may need to be invited to meditate or to engage in a cultural dance to bring their body/mind to another state. ...I design the initiative...based on the assumption that the people involved are the right people [and have] the power, the knowledge, the insight, the wisdom, and the capacity [to do this]. ...[F]undamentally, the future is present...these are the right people, this is the right place, the right time, and the right process. You have to trust the process and not panic.
136 Thus, eleven of my participants expressed a willingness to embrace uncertainty and work through and with ambiguity as it arises. For some, like Roberta, it is “vital” to hold this perspective as part of the design process. Most (8/13) also referred to the trust they have in themselves, the people they are engaging with, and/or the process itself. It seems that these two qualities are linked. If leaders are willing to “not know” in the face of an ambiguous design context, they may support that conviction with a trust that they can guide the design through the uncertainty. These results combine with the findings that nearly all (11/13) of the participants see their sustainability work as a form of spiritual practice, and all of them base their designs in their own deep meaning. Together, these three findings make up the theme of design from a deep inner foundation. This theme focuses on the “being” element of leadership – the qualities of the practitioner that is designing a sustainability initiative. The next two themes of this study describe how these practitioners reflect about the design, as well as how they engage with the design process to generate the initial design and adapt it as needed.
Theme 2: Access to Powerful Internal Resources and Theories to Design
The second theme of this study concerns the process my participants used in their design of a sustainability initiative. The change agents in this study accessed a wide variety of resources in order to create the first iteration of a design, adapt an existing design, or “course-correct” the design mid-stream. These resources included what I consider to be traditional sources of knowledge, such as technical or content knowledge (cited by 10/13
137 participants), other members of the design team (9), oneâ€™s own experience with sustainability work (8), and external experts and research (7). However, I identified two other types of resources that they drew upon to distill and evolve the design. These two findings constitute Theme 2. (1) Use of intuition and ways of knowing other than rational analysis. This includes what the participants referred to as spirit, god, and collective intelligence. These leaders accessed these resources alone and collectively, and some developed specific techniques to foster such access. (2) Navigation via systems theory, complexity theory and/or integral theory. The participants of this study use two to three lenses, or theoretical perspectives, to better understand complexity and guide development. These theories seem to influence what they see needs to be done and how they choose to do it. Each of these findings of Theme 2 are discussed below and summarized in Table 10.
138 Table 10 Theme 2 – Access to powerful resources and theories to design REFLECTING: Access to powerful internal resources and theories to develop the design (1) Accessing alone: Connecting with spirit, higher self, intuition, collective intelligence Intuition and ways of knowing other than rational analysis
(2) Accessing with others: Joining with peers to collectively engage a deep, creative space (3) Techniques to access design capacity beyond the use of rational analysis (1) Core design lens 1: Systems theory
Navigation via systems theory, complexity theory, integral theory
(2) Core design lens 2: Complexity theory (3) Core design lens 3: Integral theory
Use of Intuition and Other Ways of Knowing Than Rational Analysis The first finding of Theme 2 is that, in order to design sustainability initiatives, my participants use intuition and other ways of knowing that are different than rational, logical analysis. One hundred percent of them use an objective, rational, “intellectual” way of understanding to gain insight into the design. However, all of them also draw upon a subjective, intuitive and/or “other” (non-rational) type of knowledge for the design process. As I discuss below, some change agents indicated that by including these types of insights their designs produced “superior” work that led to a better outcome, and were “easier” to build because the process was “incredibly generative” and opened up an “inspired, integrated design capacity.”
139 All participants talked about how they used intuition to support the design process. Over three-quarters (10/13) also used other terms to describe the sources from which these insights come, including “collective intelligence,” “consciousness,” and “spirit.” It is worth noting that the only participants who did not use terminology other than intuition – three of them – all hold a Strategist action logic. This implies that Alchemists and Ironists are more likely to associate this process of accessing these insights with a source other than their intuition, or that they at least use different names for the same process. Equally diverse are the phrases used to explain the process of receiving this information, such as: “download,” “come out of thin air,” and “tapping into.” The language used by participants to describe the source of this knowledge and process for accessing it is summarized in Table 11.
Names used for sources of knowledge
Terms used for process of accessing knowledge
Intuition; spirit; god; source; collective intelligence; consciousness; heart; everything in the universe; causal space; cosmic intelligence
Tapping into; put body and mind into a particular state; put the intention out and let it come; it all comes at once
Intuition; higher self or power; unique self; source; collective consciousness; collective unconscious; co-intelligence; shared intelligence; a field of knowing, of all that is; Akashic record; spiritual world; unnamable mystery; gut; inside somewhere; consciousness; transrational; emptiness
Get rid of the ego stuff and then download it; download; tapping into; the design designs me; pulled into resonance with a deep knowing; emergence; pluck ideas out of the ether; out of thin air; just get out of the way and it appears
Terms used to describe sources of knowledge other than rational analysis
Intuition; consciousness; spirit; inner essence
It just comes
140 There are three aspects to this finding. First of all, usually these leaders engaged their intuition – or other sources of knowing – alone. At times, though, they also join with others to collectively create a creative space and generate these types of insights. Finally, some sustainability practitioners have developed specific practices that they believe support their ability to access such sources. Each of these is discussed in the sections that follow. Accessing alone. All participants described accessing insights from beyond the rational mind as something that happened to them alone. As I will discuss next, some participants also talked about how they experienced it with others. Five of the participants explicitly stated that they receive the initial “kernel” of their design by accessing this “field,” or “space.” For example, Giselle explains her process of consciously engaging with a “field of knowing” to develop the design of the sustainability initiative. She notes that she seems to get a superior outcome when she engages the design in this way. Giselle: [T]he design designs me. It’s a shift in believing that I’m in control and the originator of the design, to experiencing that the design comes through me and that I am its mind, heart, voice, eyes, ears, hands, feet, you know, embodying it. And it’s a much more powerful relationship to the outcome, or perhaps the outcome is so much more than I could produce if I simply believed that I was producing the design. It’s a paradoxical process whereby releasing to the process, therefore giving up control, one gains a much superior emergence. ... I think it’s coming from a field and that I have been able to learn how to access it. Sometimes I’m much more able than others. Barrett: A field of what? What is that field? Giselle: A field of knowing, a field of all that is. I mean, I would name it as an Akashic record, a collective unconscious. ... There are many different names for it. And it depends on even your perspective as to how you name it or discover it or approach it, and I think it’s all of those things. ... [W]hen I was younger, [I was always] a very good project manager. ...As I’ve matured, I’ve realized that I don’t need to design to the ultimate end, that I can create the field, the capacity, the space, and what wants to happen will happen, which is very different from what I want to happen will happen. ... And that is a recurrent experience for me; that shift point with delight and surprise and deep certainty that, “Yes, that's exactly it!” That’s emergence.
141 Matthew reported a powerful time when the “complete design” of a complex sustainability initiative rapidly came to him. This occurred during a “heightened state of awareness” in which he wrote straight for 12 hours. Matthew: But [this project] really was designed at a completely different level through a completely different mode. And it was the first time I’ve been able to access that mode as a designer, to use it as a capacity of my being. ...[I had] the notion, the intuition of [this project]. I went to [a sustainability seminar] and…the level of consciousness at that seminar and the resonance and where it brought me in terms of my level of consciousness and being, allowed me to just relax and open up to what would come. I didn’t work through the normal design processes that I normally work through. I usually give myself a brief and then I’ll do some analysis, ...work through the conceptual aspects of it, and then come up with a design I like, and then iterate back through those processes and do a lot of mental work, do a lot of intuitive work, do a lot of sketching, drawing, you know, a lot of resting. This was completely different. It had that aspect to it but really I put the intention out there and the idea. I think I got in the right frame of being or space, level of consciousness, and just wrote it down. Within the space of 12 hours just sitting… just sort of in a heightened state of awareness, it all just kind of came out. And that design, that core, that kernel design, I've been unpacking it and trying to understand it and make conscious the theory behind it for four years. I’m only just beginning to, on a kind of intellectual level, understand what came in that design. Barrett: So just to clarify, you’re saying that you went into this seminar...and you had some ideas, you were starting to think in this area anyway, and it was a project that was of interest to you. And you went through the workshop over the course of that week and dropped into a whole variety of different states and ways of being. And then the day after...you basically just sat down and downloaded the whole, the major components of what has since become [your project]. Matthew: Yeah, yeah. It all came at once. It just came as a complete design.
Matthew has since spent the last four years understanding those initial insights and executing the design. While not everyone reported such intense “downloading” experiences, every participant did note that they draw upon insights that come from sources other than their rational mind for the design process.
Accessing with others. This experience of accessing design-specific knowledge from a “space” other than the rational mind does not seem to be limited to individuals in solitude; it was also reported to occur in groups. All of the female participants (5/13) – Charlotte, Vivianna, Roberta, Giselle, and Luz – spoke of accessing this “field” or “consciousness” collectively. They did so with close (male and female) colleagues. The male participants in this study did not mention such collective experiences (although that does not mean they have not had them). Consider Roberta’s report, for example, in which she talks how “easy” it was to design a sustainability initiative when she was in that space with her colleague. Roberta: Rita and I had this very, very flowing process with each other and we sort of would pluck ideas out of the ether….We were both thinking the same thing and she already had a piece that went here, and I had a piece that went there. And it was just like this curriculum came through us. And it was so easy to do; it was one of the easiest contracts in terms of actually manifesting something. ...There is a real personal dimension to that where I trust things that emerge from the depths of individuals as ideas or senses. And usually when I’m facilitating groups, those insights have a potency when they’re named that people resonate with, and good ideas tend to rise when the space is created for generating ideas where people can share. Barrett: What would you call that when it comes out of you? Roberta: It’s very hard to name… it’s this continual iteration between intuitive sense, knowledge, previous history, the unnamable mystery like, you know, your gut. Charlotte offers a similar story of how she and colleagues tapped into a collective space during the design process that opened up her creativity, causing an “incredibly generative” flow of ideas. Charlotte: I guess what it feels like is there’s that internal resonance. But then what it looks like is that if I’m designing with other people, it’s almost like we’re answering… we’re not one step ahead of each other, but we’re kind of completing each other’s sentences in that way. An idea comes from another person and then it opens up...the creativity within me and then all these other ideas come. ...So I’m thinking of a planning session that I had with
143 [colleagues]. We had big flip charts out, and we were recording the ideas as they came, and it was an incredibly generative process because...we’d have one idea and we’d capture that on paper. And then it created a flow within the others, so that there was a real sense that we were working out of the same space or tapping into some sort of space and out of that ideas which were built on each other were really flowing so that it was a really a collective process...a real flow. Thus, access to this intuitive, non-rational way of knowing appears to be available via group experiences, as well as in solitude.
Techniques to access non-rational sources of knowing. How do participants access this non-rational space to get design insights? Four of the participants articulated the process they go through to do so. Vivianna notes that she has to “get rid of the ego stuff...the angst, the fears from small self, separated self” in order to “download” the design. Vivianna: I go into a space of complete enthusiasm and sometimes I know there’s stuff that I can do and I can contribute, and that’s a flow experience. Sometimes I have to work till I get there. ...When I’m… out of the way, I can design a thing in no time. It’s not a problem anymore. I can download it or I can just write it. Matthew has worked with a coach to develop a structured approach that he believes increases the chances of accessing such “Kosmic” intelligence: Matthew: In terms of the behavior, I often just sit in a meditative state. Not meditative as in disengaged, it's a very enactive... I do things with my physical body and my mind that put me in a very particular state. …Posture is a part of it. Set and setting is a part of it. Intention is a part of it, and just being aware, or conscious of being conscious. Then it helps me activate a way of being that [has] a whole lot of energy around it. There’s a whole lot of subtle, causal, real physical energy around it that’s manifest through my [gross, subtle, and causal] bodies. In large part, it facilitates through breath. …A lot of it has to do with energy manifesting. …For me, it’s a very embodied thing. It has a physical aspect even though it’s rarified. …The interior kind of perception and feeling is definitely a Kosmocentric [sic] orientation…there’s this subtle luminosity and then there’s this causal big stillness. And basically, I just sit in that and put intention out and let it come. The design at that level happens. The source is just… it’s not the little me doing the design. It’s access to a universal kind of Kosmic [sic] intelligence. Me as a little brain crunching
144 through all these variables and trying to organize them just cannot do that. I can try and figure it out after, which is what I’ve done. But the design process is really about being in that full blown causal space and setting intention and letting that happen. He also points out that the need for such “important insights” is limited in the everyday work of design. Matthew reserves such techniques for moments that require “really inspired, integrated design capacity.” Matthew: The need for that really high level design capacity is really quite limited. You create the kernels that way, the most important insights or cores of different aspects of it. But then after that, it’s grunt work. It’s good old everyday design work and it’s very embodied. You got to go through the very ordinary analytical, logistical, conceptual, enactive kinds of processes and then every once in a while a requirement comes up for that, really inspired, integrated design capacity. I think if I used that all the time, there wouldn’t be enough room for really grounded activity, or at least, I don’t have that capacity yet. The way I use it is very much for specialized little bits and I think the really essential, you know, the essence of things. In sum, all participants in this study claimed to engage with a resource different than their rational mind to support the design of their sustainability initiatives. Some explicitly stated that this process accelerates and strengthens their design work, and leads to a superior outcome. The next sections detail three theoretical perspectives – or core design lenses –that guide these leaders’ designs.
Navigation via Systems Theory, Complexity Theory, Integral Theory My participants tend to draw upon several lenses – or theoretical perspectives – that support and guide their overall approach. These theories seem to help them understand complexity. They are: (1) systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972); (2) complexity theory (Kauffman, 1995; Stacey, 1996); and (3) integral theory (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b). The discovery that the leaders in this study
145 navigate the design process with some combination – if not all – of these theories is the second finding of Theme 2. To generate this data, I identified all of the terminology used by participants that I consider related to each of these theories (I have closely studied all three theories). I then analyzed how many participants in the sample used at least some of that terminology. The important sub-findings here are that all of my participants referenced at least one of these theories, and over three-quarters referenced all three theories. Table 12 summarizes the terminology indicating the presence of these lenses and relates it to the different action logics of participants. Table 13 details the percentage that each theory – and combination of theories – was referenced. Integral theory was the most commonly referenced theory, with all but one of the sample citing it. This is likely due to the sampling strategy that was discussed above. Both systems theory and complexity theory terminology were used by eleven of the participants. Two referenced only one theory, and one referenced just two theories. The vast majority (11/13) referenced at least two theories. None of the participants referenced complexity theory only.
146 Table 12 Terms that suggest use of systems theory, complexity theory, integral theory Terminology Used by Participants that Relates to Systems Theory, Complexity Theory, and Integral Theory Systems Theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972; Senge, 1990): Systems thinking; systemic and systems view; see the whole dynamic rather than just bits and pieces; parts of the system; system health; whole system shift; transform the whole system; change the system; moving stuck patterns; move the system from subject to object; self-organizing dynamics; non-equilibrium dynamics; pulses; flows; feedback loops; learning; mental models; Peter Senge; Fifth Discipline Sources: (11/13 participants) Action Logic of those who referenced it: Strategist (4 of 6), Alchemist (5 of 5), Ironist (2 of 2) Action Logic of those who did not reference it: Strategist (2 of 6) Complexity Theory (Kauffman, 1995; Stacey, 1996): Complexity; dynamic complexity; complex systems approach; see complexity and engage with it; emerging; emergence; emergent process; emergent systems; lay emergent or fertile ground; adaptive; adaptive process; adaptive mechanisms; adaptive management; respect for uncertainty; initial conditions; creating emergent conditions; create conditions that allow for development; create formative conditions that allow for system selfdefinition Sources: (11/13 participants) Action Logic of those who referenced it: Strategist (4 of 6), Alchemist (5 of 5), Ironist (2 of 2) Action Logic of those who did not reference it: Strategist (2 of 6) Integral Theory (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b): Integral; integral model; integral framework; integrally-informed; integral lens; integral tools; integral analysis; quadrants; quadrant analysis; I-We-It; We-space; Upper-Left, Upper-Right, Lower-Left, LowerRight; developmental psychology; developmental levels and stages; action logics; developmental lines; intuitive developmental inquiry; states of consciousness; personality types; masculine-feminine; holons; social holons; holarchic arrangement; interior-exterior; individual-collective; Eros; Agape; transcend and include; agentic drive; perspectives; inhabiting different perspectives; multiperspectival; lens; subject-object; transrational; postconventional; shadow work; value systems; value memes; Kosmos; kosmic address; integral methodological pluralism; integral sustainability; integral coaching; integral leadership; integral spirituality; Ken Wilber; AQAL; Bill Torbert; Spiral Dynamics; Spiral Dynamics equations Sources: (12/13 participants) Action Logic of those who referenced it: Strategist (5 of 6), Alchemist (5 of 5), Ironist (2 of 2) Action Logic of those who did not reference it: Strategist (1 of 6)
147 Table 13 References by participants to systems theory, complexity theory, integral theory Percentages of sample (N = 13) who reference different theories Reference at least one theory Reference at least two theories Reference all three theories Reference systems theory Reference complexity theory Reference integral theory Systems theory only Complexity theory only Integral theory only Systems theory and complexity theory only Systems theory and integral theory only Complexity theory and integral theory only Reference only one theory Reference two theories only
13 (100%) 11 (85%) 10 (77%) 11 (85%) 11 (85%) 12 (92%) 1 (8%) 0 (0%) 1 (8%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (8%) 2 (15%) 1 (8%)
An interesting linkage emerges in the data when the use of terminology is crossreferenced with the action logic of participants. Both participants who reference only one theory were Strategists. Two out of six Strategists did not mention systems theory, two did not mention complexity theory, and one made no reference to integral theory. These findings do not necessarily mean that these specific participants are unaware of or do not use these theories. It does suggest, though, that the usage of systems theory, complexity theory, and integral theory terminology is more common amongst those who hold a later action logic than that of Strategist. Use of the languages of these three theories offers insight into how my participants frame the change process and what design approaches they might use. The remainder of this section explains how these leaders refer to, use, and relate to these theories as they design sustainability initiatives.
148 Core design lens 1: Systems theory. The large majority (11/13) of the participants used language that I consider – given the context of our discussion – related to systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972; Senge, 1990). Many of the comments concerned transforming or shifting the systems they were working with, or removing blockages to enable those systems to be healthier. Participants used terms and phrases such as: “system health,” “transform the whole system,” “feedback loops,” and “move the system from subject to object.” Matthew provides his perspective on being a systems thinker, relating his design work to the approach taken by Chinese medicine: Matthew: This whole thing really comes down to this perspective that Nature – the sort of divine enacted consciousness of the universe, if you like – has its own self-organizing dynamics and they can be healthy or they can be sick. It’s kind of like the Chinese medicine approach. Usually, if you’re looking at a system (it doesn’t matter whether it’s an agricultural system or a banking system, an ant colony, a cell in your body), if you look at it from a systemic perspective (a whole bunch of parts in a dynamic arrangement, a dynamic pattern we call a whole), they have a self-organizing tendency to try and seek health. Occasionally, there can be blocks and...you can remove the blocks...you can find that acupuncture point and remove the block or increase the flow. When you become a systems thinker...you apply [this approach] across many domains, not just the physical systems but to cultural, personal, and developmental systems. Edward also speaks of working to transform systems, individuals and cultures. In this quotation, he references Ken Wilber’s integral theory as well, which is the third major lens I discuss below. Edward: So what I felt I was doing [for this design] was overlaying Jean Houston’s [Social Artistry] framework on Wilber’s [integral] framework, and then using participatory methods as the how, in terms of the strategic elements. ...So I was using Wilber more for the whole systems; Jean for more of the individual transformation and cultural transformation, and then the ToP [Technology of Participation] more for the strategic, organizational, institutional transformation. So Wilber provided the complete master framework.
149 Although most (11/13) of the participants use systems theory terminology, few of them cited formal tools or frameworks they use from systems theory in the process of design. The theory seems to be predominantly utilized as a way of seeing the landscape in which they are designing. That is, as they look to understand the whole system, they see multiple causation for a phenomenon, and identify flows of inputs and outputs. They find constraints, work to unblock them, and continuously learn. Yet this process appears to be quite informal. These leaders consistently cited learning as instrumental to their design. Eight participants referenced it specifically. Roberta explains the importance of learning when engaging in the rolling design of sustainability initiatives: Roberta: I think that going through a learning process [as part of the design] generally is necessary, whether that is something as simple as a SWOT analysis but often as complex as long arcs of iterative learning and discussion around the issues of concern; because with sustainability, there are always so many perspectives. Thereâ€™s so much emergent science on particular things. And so I would say that knowledge aspect and that learning aspectâ€Ś is ubiquitous in the process that Iâ€™ve been involved. ...Try to bypass that, then there are all kinds of assumptions that get rolled over. Beyond the general concept of learning, none of the participants referenced a specific systems thinking methodology they use for design. However, three participants mentioned models and frameworks directly or indirectly related to systems theory that have influenced their design approach. These include a network-based approach to stakeholder engagement (Svendsen & Laberge, 2005), mental models (Senge, 1990), adaptive management (Holling, 1978), and the U-Process (Scharmer, 2009). One participant, John, did provide details on how he works with very complex systems as part of his design process. He asks representatives from each part of the system to report what he or she sees, and then feeds those reports back to all other participants in the
150 system to generate insight. This approach is a key element of his design process, as it helps clarify what the system sees that it needs next, which he then feeds into his design. John: [There is] a process methodology that I use where the assumption is that in very complex systems, the only way to see the system is to ask all parts of the system for what they see. So to do the analysis, you have an empty question and you inquire of all the parts of the system that you can identify. So obviously, the design process involves gaining a historic description of the situation at the present time based on its history, like, “How did we get to here?” And then, making inquiry of those people who can see parts of the system and...of those people who represent those parts of the system. So it would be to build a rough structural outline of what the complexity might look like and then identifying people within those areas to ask them what it is that they see. ...I’ve been using that methodology for a while and...usually there’s an emergent insight that comes out of that. My test for that is when you reveal that back to the system, it will either affirm it or disclaim it. And if it affirms it, then you know you’ve put together a valid idea. But you start with no preconception, no model, no description of how something is. While John has used this process for years, he was an exception. In general, systems theory concepts appear to be used by my participants to understand the broad context of the sustainability initiative they are designing and inform the quality of their interventions. This is evidenced through phrases like “see the whole dynamic rather than just bits and pieces” and “move stuck patterns.” Systems theory seems overall to offer a useful language and general tools for explaining and responding to the complexity they face.
Core design lens 2: Complexity theory. The language of the complexity sciences (Kauffman, 1995; Stacey, 1996) also permeated my interviews. The large majority of participants (11/13) used terminology that, given the discussion, I associate with complexity theory. This includes words and phrases such as: “complex systems approach,” “emergent process,” and “initial conditions.” The complexity theory concepts that occur most frequently in the data are: emergence (36 occurrences amongst the eleven participants), engagement with uncertainty or the unknown (as discussed in Finding 1) (24 occurrences) and creating
151 the initial conditions for emergence or novelty (11 occurrences). See Table 11 for the full list of terminology identified in the participant interviews. Two of the participants specifically framed the description of their work using language from complexity theory. For example, John notes: “all of my work is in emergent systems.” Similarly, Giselle talks about her usage of the complexity (and integral) lenses and how that has shifted how she labels her sustainability work. Giselle: And so the reason that I have not necessarily labeled my work as around sustainability is because I fairly early on started to use the lenses of complexity, and I asked the question, “So what are we trying to sustain?” And so I’m more inclined to describe my work as emergence. But as the integral paradigm has emerged, then it’s much easier for me to see that sustainability has a way of defining itself at each level of complexity. The rest of the participants (9) who referenced complexity theory did not explicitly describe it as at the heart of their work – as John and Giselle do – but do use the terminology when discussing what they do. An example is Charlotte, who uses the notion of creating initial conditions to support the emergence of novelty (a concept central to complexity theory) in her description of a project in West Africa: Charlotte: We’re really trying to create opportunities and space for selfdevelopment. And this is something in particular in [a particular African country] that there’s just not a lot of space for that to happen. So we’re trying to create conditions that allow self-development to transpire both for us as coordinators but also as well for the participants. Luz offers a spiritual framing when she refers to the complexity concept of “lay the ground for emergence.” Luz: I’ve come to realize as important in the design [to hold] a deep regard for how the nature of consciousness is integrative...it’s seeking to integrate at whatever place it is. So a piece of my approach is to really honor that and to realize that wherever someone’s at, they will be experiencing their own “glass ceiling.” …So just sort of lay emerging ground for whatever that person is experiencing at their action logic and trust that that glass ceiling, once it lifts…the sustainability initiative will take off on its own, to its own tune, to its own developmental banks. So our job as sustainability practitioners is to
152 simply lay that emergent ground and trust that glass ceiling will lift off and just let the integrative nature just do its thing. So there’s a deep regard to that. This quote above exemplifies how the language of complexity theory can be used to voice an underlying philosophy or intuition about how to design sustainability initiatives. Luz continues with a concrete example of being “emergently engaged,” in which her design team redesigned an event on a moment’s notice. Luz: So, for example, we hold these four-day retreats. We usually have an agenda set out. ...But we might finish day two and we have all of day three completely done and all the handouts printed and everything finished and at 10 at night after dinner just go, “Oh, my goodness. This isn’t going to land.” And on the spot redesign the entire day and reprint everything and just, you know, start afresh, and just do it like it’s on a spin of a dime and then as day three proceeds realize, “Goodness...this would not have worked had we done our initial process.” So our team’s ability to be emergently engaged is really important. None of the participants cited specific processes, tools, or models that they use from complexity theory to design sustainability initiatives. In sum, the terminology and concepts of complexity theory are used by most (11/13) of these leaders to at least articulate – and possibly serve as a theoretical guide – in their approach to design.
Core design lens 3: Integral theory. The third theoretical lens that participants consistently referred to is integral theory (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, 2000; Wilber, 1995). Almost all (12/13) of the participants mentioned at least some aspects of integral theory that informed their design process. Commonly used terms included “integral model,” “quadrant analysis,” and “perspectives.” The most frequently referenced elements of the AQAL integral framework (Wilber, 2000b, 2005) were quadrants (30 occurrences amongst 10 participants); and developmental levels or stages (25 occurrences amongst 9 participants).
153 See Table 11 for the full list of language related to integral theory that was used by the participants. There are four principal ways these leaders described using integral theory to design sustainability initiatives. 1) Assess, analyze, and “map” the context of the situation; such as when doing a needs assessment (10/13 participants); 2) Support the personal and professional development of the designer and others involved in the initiative (7); 3) Choose an appropriate intervention after completing a needs assessment (6); 4) Tailor communications to more effectively reach a specific audience (4). For nearly all (12/13) of my participants, integral theory is an important element of their design process. Of the 68 design tools identified by interviewees, the integral framework was the most commonly cited (12/13). Second in popularity was intuition (11), followed by perspective taking (6). The latter of these is typically associated with integral theory. Thus, for this group, integral theory and the framework associated with it are frequently utilized. Chris, for example, speaks about his use of integral theory to design: Chris: I’ve been drawing on the AQAL Wilber model for integral theory [to support] understanding where we need to have different pieces in place [for this sustainability initiative design]. And both the quadrant model and clearly, the developmental value systems...are going into our design of how we start to understand what we’re doing in each neighborhood…and what sort of leadership we need to find within the existing neighborhood to move something forward. Similarly, Luz talks about how integral theory is core not only to the design, but also to the methodology and personal development practices of her organization’s design team.
154 Luz: While there’s been an integral model in terms of designing aspects of the [sustainability leadership development] course, there’s also really been an integral methodology in terms of that design and...a real personal engagement. It feels like the [spiritual] practices that all of the team members have in that project have really provided a strong foundation for...the design. …It feels to me that the community that we have within [our organization], the “we” space, provides the foundation out of which the design happens. So, it seems to me that the kind of project that would come out of three people that were working together, that understood integral, that were working separately, is much different than the kind of… collective energy and the collective kind of inspiration that [would have occurred]. ...We use integral in an all inclusive way...it feels like it's been there in every aspect of it. It’s been an integral process as well as integral content and bringing a really strong practice to that process. Similarly, Vivianna considers integral theory to possibly be “the main bridge” between the essence of who she is and her design of sustainability initiatives. Matthew notes that integral theory is not just a theoretical construct, but “a living practice that informs my life.” For Luz, one of only two Ironists in the sample, integral theory is a “rigorous” “philosophical container” that she can feel confident in. Yet also, it “sure as hell…has emancipatory potential or a liberation quality.” She feels, “it’s like Spirit experimenting with yourself.” 8 Edward, a long-time international development practitioner within the United Nations, recounted how he and colleagues built large-scale, multi-country development programs based upon the integral framework. In this excerpt, he cites how they used the quadrants element of the framework to identify the forces that would obstruct or support a country from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Edward: We asked the question [of participants designing local MDG initiatives], what could block achieving the MDGs here in your country, at the local level? What are the belief systems that could block it? What are the behaviors that could block it? What are the cultural patterns that could block it? What are the systems that could block it? So we were walking people 8
Technically, integral methodological pluralism is the praxis – or injunctive – element of an integral approach, with integral theory itself serving as a map of the territory (Wilber, 2006).
155 through the quadrants asking what could block but also what could enhance. What are the strengths of your tribal culture that could help achieve the MDGs? What are the strengths of your tribal behavior, your tribal beliefs, your tribal organizational patterns? … So in decentralizing the MDGs through innovative leadership, we were using the quadrants, Wilber’s quadrants, we were using ICA’s technology of participation, and we were using social artistry. We were also using appreciative inquiry and emotional intelligence. We blended all these into an incredible training construct. We did one-week trainings for hundreds of people in Albania, Kenya, Barbados, Philippines, Nepal. …And then out of that training, there were initiatives borne and …funded. …And, again, that was one of my favorites because then we were using a more integral leadership approach and focusing on the MDGs at local levels to catalyze initiatives – sustainable human development – initiatives in these pilot countries. Developmental levels or stages – such as the action logics model used in this research – are also cited by nine participants as useful to better understand stakeholders and communicate to diverse audiences. Sampson discussed his experience with engaging this aspect of integral theory: Sampson: I do actively think about the stages of development of the individuals or the organizations I’m engaging with. When I hit problems, I actively think about it….usually [trying to see the issue through] an expert action logic…thinking about how can I approach and overcome that problem and…engage people at that level. …Action logics in development for organizations and sustainability initiatives…can be very useful because they can align people to see ways of working with individuals and problems… rather than seeing somebody you’ve got to convince is wrong and find somebody [to overrule them]. In summary, all but one of my participants use integral theory to design sustainability initiatives. They claim to use the integral framework extensively for a wide variety of applications, ranging from assessment of the context to developmentally tailored communication. For some, integral theory is more than a theoretical construct; it is actively used to support their own personal and professional development. All of my participants use at least one of these three theoretical lenses – systems theory, complexity theory, and integral theory – to design sustainability initiatives. These lenses seem to shape how these change
156 agents experience and respond to the complexity of social, environmental, and economic challenges. This finding, combined with the finding that these leaders access ways of knowing other than rational analysis, constitute Theme 2. Theme 2 can be summarized as: When these leaders reflect upon the design of a sustainability initiative – in order to develop it initially and evolve it – they are supported in their thinking by (1) non-rational ways of knowing such as intuition, and (2) systems theory, complexity theory and/or integral theory. The first two themes of this study have focused on the inner qualities of my participants (Theme 1) and the internal resources and key theoretical perspectives they draw upon to design (Theme 2). The next theme concerns how they engage with the initial design, inquiring into aspects such as the roles they play, specific qualities of the design itself, and on-going management of the design.
Theme 3: Adaptive Design Management
The third theme identified in the data concerns the actions my participants took to develop and manage their designs. While Theme 1 focused on the “being” dimension of these leaders, and Theme 2 on how they “reflect” on the design, Theme 3 shifts to how they “engage” with the design. Theme 3 is adaptive design management. This means that the participants consistently adapted the design as the context shifts, adopted one of three important roles needed to help advance the design, and regularly cultivated development amongst individuals and collectives engaged in the design.
157 These leaders do more than attend to the concrete design of a sustainability initiative (such as executing a needs analysis, identifying practical elements of the design, building a project plan and timeline, etc.). They appear to constantly work to iterate and adjust the design based upon new information they gather from the design environment (i.e., the context of fluctuating systemic, cultural, and stakeholder dynamics). There are three findings from the data that, together, illustrate this theme. 1) “Dialogue” with the system to consistently adapt the design. They sense into what is needed to make the system they are working with more sustainable, try different interventions, and change the design according to feedback. They also “go where the energy is,” to build momentum, address obstacles, and take advantage of new opportunities. 2) Roles adopted as space holder, creator of supportive conditions, and catalyst. They adjust to whatever supporting role is needed at the time, with the most common being to hold space, create conditions that support development of the design, and to catalyze change. 3) Development cultivated in self, others, and the collective. They consistently work to develop themselves and support development of individuals who are part of the design team or community, and the collective itself. The main practice they utilize to support development in themselves and others is perspective-taking. These findings of Theme 3 are summarized in table 14 and described separately below.
158 Table 14 Theme 3 – Adaptive design management ENGAGING: Adaptive design management (1) Three ways to dialogue with the system Dialogue with the system to consistently adapt the design
(2) Go where the energy is, to take advantage of opportunities and build momentum (1) Space holder
Roles adopted as space holder, creator of supportive conditions, and catalyst
(2) Creator of supportive conditions (3) Catalyst, facilitator to release potential (1) Self-development
Development cultivated in self, others, and the collective
(2) Challenge and support others to develop (3) Challenge and support the collective to develop, including by deepening trust and mutual understanding
Dialogue with the System to Consistently Adapt the Design The first way that my participants seem to adaptively manage the design is by “listening” for what they perceive the system needs and responding accordingly. I’ve called this “dialoguing with the system.” This practice was reported by a large majority (9/13) of these leaders. By staying present to changes in the system they are working with – such as shifts in the opinions of key stakeholders or key technological breakthroughs – they appear to be able to adapt the sustainability design as needed. These change agents seem to regularly sense into the status of the system. They appear committed to probe and test it, to experiment with different interventions, and then alter the design according to the feedback they get.
159 This practice can take the form of listening to different stakeholders and then building an initial design based upon their comments. Chris offers an example. Chris: And what we’ve been trying to really get people to understand is that when we’re talking about outreach, it’s not an issue of us coming in and imposing what we want people to do, but rather coming in and facilitating conversation, listening, engaging through dialogue, and making sure that we are tapping key people in the community who can carry it forward. However, for many of these leaders, this is a “cyclical process,” or “constant looping,” of continual probing followed by fine-tuning or full redesign if needed. To probe the system regularly, Roberta often attempted to adopt the perspectives of key stakeholders as she came to key decision points. In other cases she would engage in direct dialogue or “seed” an idea and see what response comes from it. Roberta: In my design, it was just this constant looping, looping, looping of, “Okay, if we do that, what are they going to think and what are they going to say?” And so I became quite familiar, I could inhabit [the client organization’s] perspective and I could inhabit Andrea’s perspective, and I could inhabit the various perspectives easily of the environmental organizations. And so I did a lot of kind of testing and anticipating and imagining what things would work and what things wouldn’t. And then I would [do a lot of] back channel work with individuals in advance to kind of seed that as an initiative. ...So again, much of the design was this interstitial political listening – looping multiple times – and then offering back potential trajectories of movement to the various stakeholders, and then allowing things to coalesce. Rick calls this work of probe-sense-design (Kurtz & Snowden, 2003; Snowden & Boone, 2007) a way of “mirroring” the system. Rick: We sit down and we just see how we try to map out how all these parts and components play and then how they can support each other. At the same time, we work with three people very closely in the [national government]. And so we’re all the time running back and forth and just trying to see what we’ve heard, what is needed, and how it can then become concrete. So trying to distill strategies out of what we’ve heard. So moving from what is important, what is needed, to how can those needs be met. And how we do that is very organic. …So we’re always moving, mirroring each other, and playing ideas back and forth.
160 In order to do this mirroring, Rick notes the importance of being able to “sit in a space of not knowing” and sense into it. This is an example of probing for information about the system by going inside oneself, rather than just asking external stakeholders for data or doing research. For him, it is important to not allow past, external constructs to get in the way of the communication he accesses from beyond his rational mind. To exemplify this, I cite again some of his comments on not knowing (previously cited in Finding 1). Rick: There is an aspect of not knowing I’m trying to get at that is incredibly important for not being dogmatic, for...not being in service of an idea that is constructed outside of oneself. ... it’s the ability...of sitting in a space of not knowing and always letting what is needed to emerge from that space, and not from a construct that is outside of oneself. So using all the theories, all the models, all that we’ve learned, but at the same time not being of service to that, but being of service to wonder, to not knowing, to see what emerges in the moment. When viewed through the lens of action logics, it appears that Alchemists and Ironists are more likely to dialogue with the system than Strategists. All of the participants who did not mention this practice were Strategists, while all of those that did were Alchemists or Ironists. Rick’s approach indicates a specific way of dialoguing with the system. This is one of three ways to do so that were identified by my participants.
Three ways to dialogue with the system. There are three ways these leaders dialogue with the system and identify changes needed in their design. One way is to look at the system, another is to look through the system, the final approach is to look as the system. By engaging in objective research – such as reviewing a quarterly market analysis or survey results – one can look at a system for needed data. Nine participants stated that they do this sort of research to inform their design process. To look through the system involves seeing
161 through the worldview of key stakeholders across the system. Most of the time this is done through directly talking with them, and all participants reported doing so. A variation of this is to – in one’s own mind – consciously adopt the perspectives of different people, organizations, or other elements in the system. Eight participants reported that they regularly take on the perspectives of others as a way of fine-tuning their design. These leaders also probe for information as the system. One way they do this is by accessing intuitive insight about the system. Others take a unitive or “source” perspective whereby they hold the perspective that they are the entire system (and beyond) and then sense for information as it. All of them reported using intuition as part of their design process, and over two-thirds (9/13) claimed to access a unitive, or collective consciousness dimension when designing.
Go where the energy is. Another aspect of dialoguing with the system is to “go where the energy is.” Over half (7/13) of the participants referenced this approach when describing how they design sustainability initiatives. My findings suggest that after these change agents sense into the system with which they are working, they (1) identify what they believe the system needs, and (2) develop responses likely to be accepted by the system. This process seems to include looking for the openings and opportunities for intervention that will be well received by stakeholders. This is “going where the energy is.” In the following example by Roberta, she discusses how she “dialogued” with the system – through learning and engagement – to identify intervention points, and then went with the energy of what the stakeholders would invest in. Roberta: So from a design perspective, that was really about identification of what the key issues were through this process of learning and engagement,...
162 and then responding in a strategic way to those issues that seemed like they had leverage, ...were timely, and all the groups involved were interested in. ...We just followed where the energy was leading us in terms of who was interested and what were high leverage opportunities that the people on all sides were going to invest in. My participants, as cited in Finding 1, seem to draw upon self-trust as part of identifying the on-going changes needed in a design. Yet, also, it’s about seeing where there are external opportunities for those interventions. In Roger’s example, he draws upon both this internal trust and an external awareness of potential opportunities: “And then a load of opportunism, go where the energy is, you know, take advantage of things when they appear...go for it. Trust your judgment. Trust who you are. Trust the training.” In a similar vein, Giselle advises, “Be open to what life has to whisper to you and is also yelling at you.” The practice of “going with the energy,” as in Roberta’s example, can be a planned process based upon considerable inquiry and analysis. Yet in the face of rapid change, the practice can also be a dynamic, in-the-moment decision making process that draws upon internal resources like intuition. This is where the “training” is important, as Roger noted. Luz, also, likens the action of design to a martial art, where you practice to develop specific moves, but then have to skillfully react in the face of the unknown. When I asked her about how she identifies the leverage points for her design, she discussed “reacting to the next moment” as part of going with the energy. Luz: So what I tend to do is just follow the energy. This could point to my style that I mentioned [already], emergent feminine, or it could be a limit in my own capacity here, but I don’t actually see it necessarily matters where the best or the most influential intervention points necessarily are. The question is really, “How am I aligning to the fabric of consciousness in our emancipation as a species?” And if I can align to that, I see that all of us, if we’re all doing that, we will be hitting some points of influence. I can have a tendency to explain the way I design as being responsive and relational to what is arising, but there is also a good dose of reactivity. That is, much of this is not rehearsed or designed! There is so very much complexity
163 with the issues and contexts we are working in, that often...I am just moving with what flies at me, just reacting to this next moment. At first I was a little struck by that—humbled by it. On further reflection, I realized that it is a form of practicing dynamism. How to be in the moment in my response. Like practicing a martial art. It is fantastic to have the time and space to learn the foundational pieces and to intentionally choreograph a perfect move, but more often than not we’ll do all that and then find ourselves reacting / responding to an unforeseen situation that takes us down a totally unforeseen path, not necessarily at all like the choreographed and designed plan. It is like a crash course in dynamism, working in the places and on the issues we work with. And it made me see that our ‘design process’ is present, but also non-existent as well. The design process is the dynamism. I want to point out that the leaders interviewed do not only go where there is flow, ease, and consensus amongst stakeholders. They also go where the energy is blocked (e.g., limiting beliefs amongst key decision-makers, lack of alignment across groups, or tension within themselves) and work to remove the blockages. Five of the participants noted that they do this and also go with the energy. Over two-thirds (9/13) noted that they proactively work to question or challenge assumptions, shift perspectives, and/or work with people’s resistance to change. For example, in the strategic planning process Edward uses to help communities develop, he has participants objectify the “underlying contradictions [and] blockages” that would hinder the community from achieving their five year vision, and then they work on those stuck points. Regarding energetic blockages within oneself, Vivianna has a specific technique from her spiritual training she uses to move through her limiting beliefs. Vivianna: I do a lot of my [own self-development] work...just align myself with the goals, ...get rid of limiting beliefs, get rid of projections, get rid of shadows, get rid of resistances, and that’s just excellent for [sustainability initiative design] work. I will further discuss this concept of working with blockages in the self and the system in the section below on my participants’ commitment to fostering development where needed.
164 Roles as Space Holder, Creator of Supportive Conditions, Catalyst The second way that my participants adaptively manage the design is by shifting roles as needed. All of these leaders referenced a variety of roles they engage in during the design process. Most of these roles fall into one of three categories: holding space; creating supportive conditions; and acting as a catalyst. Some roles that were mentioned didn’t fit any of these categories. However, all of the roles – in some way or another – are oriented toward helping the design, and those involved with it, to develop. The terminology used by participants to describe these roles is summarized in Table 15 and categorized by action logic. Space holder. The first role most commonly cited is that of being a space holder. Over half (7/13) of the participants “hold the space” as part of their work, regarding issues such as dialogue, inquiry, or growth. This seems to mean that they create a safe environment while they facilitate that allows for other members of the design group to explore key issues. Giselle called this facilitation environment a “vessel.” She describes space holding as “visceral” and an “experience of great tension,” but fundamentally considers it an important element of her design process. Giselle: I guess for me one of the things that’s very visceral is...holding space. I always felt like that’s what I was designing for, that I was creating the conditions for others to co-design a space, a vessel where we could hear one another. And that has always been an experience of great tension for me; I was aware of this at every steering committee meeting, at every preparation session, and every actual dialogue. Similarly, John contends that the “real work” of design is to “hold the space open for the question” that the design group is considering. By doing so, the designer seems to be supporting the emergence of the answers and outcomes that the group needs to discover.
165 Table 15 Roles in the design process according to each action logic Action Logic
Roles in the Design Process (quotations from participants)
Strategists Roger; Chris; Matthew; Charlotte; Edward; Sampson
Roles as a space holder: Facilitating conversation; helping create community dialogue to create a shared community vision Roles as a creator of supportive conditions: Holding forward of the torch to draw people toward a farther vision and higher calling; assist in removing problems and barriers; create opportunities and space for self-development; helping people become very fluid at inhabiting or seeing different perspectives on complex systems Roles as a catalyst: Expose leaders to outside views; pushing people’s edges, supporting their fullest growth, while not turning them off; push and shift boundaries; servant of the group to enable them to reach their greatest potential Other roles: Filter for reframing and integrating how the different pieces of collective information fit together
Alchemists Roberta; Giselle; John; Arthur; Vivianna
Roles as a space holder: Holding space; space holding for dialogue; creating space for the whole person to show up; creating space for people to know and trust each other more deeply; hold the tension or space around a question or process of inquiry; energetic holding; holding energetic potential of what is needed in the space; allowing the fullness of what wants to be present Roles as a creator of supportive conditions: Creating the formative conditions around system self-definition; change the nature of the formative conditions that allow the formation of the space; creating processes for people to learn to change; enable the potential for system health; creating conditions for others to co-design a space, a vessel where we could hear each other; create the creative space for a unified vision Roles as a catalyst: A catalyst to shift systems; seeding positive relationships, meaningful connections, and innovative spaces; moving stuck patterns that are causing ill health; helping create flow and unstuckness; identify out-of-the box, emergent opportunities Other roles: Track, report, keep things moving forward, and coordinate; look into the future; identify synergies; embody the desired result
Ironists Rick; Luz
Roles as a space holder and creator: Design how space is held; hold a space where a community can self-reflect, seeing itself, making the individuals move a system from subject to object; hold a partnership of beyond us and them; hold a unified frame with the other as One Roles as a creator of supportive conditions: Sitting in a space of not knowing and letting what is needed emerge; lay the emergent ground so that the integrative nature of consciousness can do its thing; attuning to the fabric of consciousness as it is evolving and asking “where are we here?” Roles as a catalyst: [None identified] Other roles: Wondering – wondering into the space for what is needed and wondering into the solutions that arise; mirroring others; map out how components integrate and can support each other; distill strategies out of what is said
166 John: What I do is I’d hold the tension of the open question for the duration of the project; so it’s quite energetically draining. [For example,] we’ve got a series of people saying, “Oh, it’s hopeless. You won’t get an answer. The scheme is being cancelled. It’s not possible for the branch to continue. We tried this before for many decades and none of the strategies have worked.” You have to keep holding...the open space around the question, and that requires a certain energetic holding. So while there's the complexity in gathering the information, it’s also quite difficult to hold the space open for the question....“Holding of space opening” is how I experience that work.... For me, that’s what I considered the real work. The rest is just process.... There will always be an outcome and it will be the outcome that is the naturally satisfying one to the system that you’re assisting. So it’s always there. It’s just that it has an emergent quality about it, so it has to be discovered. But the real work is holding the tension of the process of inquiry. Rick offers a final perspective on space holding. While he did hold space as part of facilitating the design process, he also discussed how he “designed a way that the space was going to be held.” This suggests that at least some of these leaders design not only the sustainability initiative, but also how to create an environment for the design group to develop the design. With over half of the participants referring to some form of space holding that they do, my findings suggest that this is an important role that they play. Yet they also shift to other roles when needed, as the next two sections demonstrate.
Creator of supportive conditions. The second role my participants tend to take on is as a creator of supportive conditions for the growth of individuals, the system in which they work, and/or the overall sustainability initiative. Six of the participants mention this role in various forms. For Chris, the way he created a supportive condition was by a “holding of the torch.” By metaphorically lighting the way toward a powerful vision, he invited people into a “higher calling” for the potential of the sustainability initiative they were designing. Chris: [One of the] primary roles I see myself filling...is a holding forward of the torch, being able to help carry forward a farther vision for what can
167 happen...and help people recognize a higher calling for what any particular project could achieve....That’s what the work is about: how do we define the bigger goal of where we’re going and then how can I step in and help...address problem areas to help transform them into something that’s going to actually continue towards that torch. There are other facets of this role. When I asked John how he identifies the leverage points in a system in order to develop a design, he reframed the discussion. Rather than using the concept of leverage points, he talked about creating the “formative conditions” for the system he was working with to define itself. John: I’ve been thinking about this answer in anticipation of this interview and I think I’ve moved away from the concept of leverage points. Barrett: Into what? John: I’d say into creating the formative conditions around the system selfdefinition. Barrett: What does that mean? John: Rather than find a leverage point and push on it...what I do as create a space around it. So a masseuse might find tension and then push on it and try and break up the tension. An acupuncturist might intervene and change the nature of the flow by stimulating...with a needle. And then some practitioners...use mostly energy work. I mean, it looks like facilitation or IT rollout or something, but what they’re actually doing is energetic management of large scale social systems. They might change the energetic quality around the space that occurs. I don’t do that. I change the nature of the formative conditions that allow the formation of the space in which...the tension is [occurring] around the unanswered question they are looking at. At times, these roles can overlap or be held concurrently. Consider this example from Roberta in which she plays both the role of space holder and that of creating supportive conditions for the development of individuals and relationships. Roberta: All the work that I have done has been enriched in the presence of creating trustful relationships and creating space for the whole person to show up. And I take that seriously as an invitation in my own work. I try to invite others to do that through my own presence. And then I also pay attention to designing for that purpose and it’s never just an add-on. Always a central part of any process is: "how are we deepening relationships, where are we creating
168 space for people to come to know each other more deeply and to trust each other more deeply if we’re engaged in a long term collaborative effort together?" ...Sometimes it is the fun and the playful part of a process design, like parties and food and all those kinds of explicitly social aspects. And sometimes it’s the much more nitty-gritty parts of finding ways through conflict...and creating process just for people to actually learn to change when relationships have been created. It is interesting that Roberta uses her own presence to invite the “whole person” to show up. This demonstrates another way of holding space and supporting others to grow through the conditions created around them. This phrase suggests that she embodies the form that she invites people to take on for themselves.
Catalyst. Nearly one-half (6/13) of the participants also described a role that I have categorized as being a catalyst of change and/or growth. They focused on catalyzing the development of individuals, groups, and the systems related their sustainability initiative. This third role seems to be more active and directly engaging than holding space or creating supportive conditions for development. This is evidenced by the language participants used, included terms like “pushing,” “exposing,” “shifting,” and “moving.” Giselle referred to herself as a catalyst while describing her project to help an entire city create a long-term vision. Giselle: I’m a catalyst, I think. I think that’s what I’ve come to recognize a long time ago; a catalyst that shifts systems. ...[In this sustainability initiative,] I became the catalyst...in a three-year process that involved an extraordinarily large portion of the community. ...My role was to catalyze the internal system by bringing the required capacities together and help them to see the purpose, why bother to do this, why give up all these Saturdays, why write another master’s thesis or the equivalent of it. She also connected being a catalyst to setting the initial, supportive conditions for the group to develop a design.
169 Giselle: I really love the design process...because it’s creative. If you’re going to be a catalyst in the world, it’s not very satisfying if you can’t see some outcome of being a catalyst. So design is creative. And with so many participants in the process, it’s definitely emergent. You can only set your initial conditions and then have to be prepared for natural variations, surprises, work-arounds. This suggests that these roles, too, can be concurrent and may overlap. This is similar to the relationship discussed above between being a space holder and creating supporting conditions. For one participant, the catalytic process involves a delicate balance between pushing individuals too far and getting them into just the right zone for personal growth. Charlotte, for example, recounted how part of the design process involved “pushing people’s edges, supporting their fullest growth, while not turning them off from the program.” While Charlotte focused on catalyzing the development of individuals, others, like Roberta, discussed how they work to catalyze growth in a system. In this example, she focuses on “moving stuck patterns that are causing ill health” in a macro environment. I…feel that it’s about…moving stuck patterns that are causing ill health and kind of allowing the fullness of what wants to be present at that very macro level. And so whether that is love or spirit or whether that is mutual honoring or whether that’s like functional systems of doing things or whether that’s like any place that the system gets stuck, like all those… I definitely feel myself attracted to where stuck points are and helping to create flow and unstuckness. These examples from Giselle, Charlotte, and Roberta all suggest that at least one of the roles my participants adopt is that of being a catalyst. However, the expression of that role may also vary with different action logics. An action logic perspective on the language of roles. With each subsequent and more complex action logic, the language used by these leaders and change agents – with respect to their roles – seems to soften. It appears to me to become more subtle, and arise from a deeper, broader perspective. The Strategists, for example, were more likely to indicate
170 boundaries between self and other, such as describing individuals as a separate other to be influenced (e.g., “expose leaders to outside views”). They also focused discussion about their roles more on individuals than on systems. Ironists, and some of the Alchemists, appeared to experience a loosening of the “self-other” boundaries and focus more on a unified whole that includes both self and other (e.g., Luz’s statement about “attuning to the fabric of consciousness”). Rather than actively creating supportive conditions – as most of the Strategists (4/6) and some of the Alchemists (2/5) recount – the Ironists seem to rest more in the present moment, “letting what is needed emerge.” The Ironists claim to question, wonder, and listen into what is arising. Both Ironists and Alchemists also described their roles more as influencing the systems, or as interacting with consciousness itself, rather than focusing on individuals, as the Strategists seemed to do more often. The “softening” of language, as I interpret it, is also visible in descriptions of the catalyst role. Most Strategists (4/6), and some Alchemists (2/5), used terminology and examples that I categorized in the catalyst role. Ironists did not, although there were fewer of them in the sample (only two). Alchemists, who are developmentally between Strategists and Ironists, seem to show a softening over the language of Strategists. While Strategists used phrases such as “expose” and “push,” Alchemists used subtler terminology, like “seed,” “move,” and “create flow.” The Ironists did not use any terminology that I could categorize in this active, catalytic role. That does not mean that they do not engage in that way; they just did not describe it in the interviews. It should also be noted that Strategists and Alchemists did discuss taking a softer approach, as is evidenced by their description of holding space and creating supportive
171 conditions. However, this initial data suggests that an approach which involves active â€œproddingâ€? of individuals, groups and systems to change may be more indicative of Strategists and early-stage Alchemists than Ironists.
Development Cultivated in Self, Others, and the Collective The third way that my participants adaptively manage the design is by supporting growth of the individuals and collectives engaged in the design. As discussed above, the environmental context for sustainability initiatives often shifts. This changing ground requires the designer to adopt different roles as well as adapt the design regularly. However, my participants also respond to these dynamic environments by consistently developing themselves and supporting the growth of others and the group involved in the design. For example, they work to strengthen their own abilities, broaden othersâ€™ knowledge, or increase trust amongst stakeholders. These leaders seem to believe that these efforts will help the design to be increasingly effective. Tables 16, 17, and 18 detail how my participants work with each of these parties to expand their knowledge and capacities. These tables are differentiated by action logic; this leads to some overlap in the data, but also highlights differences and similarities that are discussed below. Self-development. All participants said that they engage in some form of selfdevelopment throughout the design process. These activities range from learning more about content issues (e.g., carbon market) and stakeholder political dynamics to psychological shadow work (Jung & Campbell, 1976) and various forms of meditation. In general, their practices fall into one of three categories: intrapersonal (better understanding of themselves),
172 interpersonal (better understanding of others, relationship, and communication), or cognitive (better understanding the world, or more specifically, the sustainability initiative context). 9 Some practices, such as yoga and meditation could not be easily categorized into any of these areas and seem to serve multiple purposes. The most commonly used tools for selfdevelopment are perspective-taking and meditation, cited by every participant. Table 16 lists all of the practices suggested by participants, using their own terminology. 10 The large majority of self-development activities relate to deepening their understanding of themselves. Specifically, the participants discussed working through their own psychological dynamics. Vivianna notes that doing the inner work of “cleaning up” her psychological “crap” (limiting beliefs, projections, etc.), supports her ability to design. “If we take our projections back and our anger back and [do the] integration work, then of course we can design more effectively.” She has a series of practices she engages in on a daily basis – like a “daily shower” – to align internally. For Roberta, she also turns inward as the first place to start addressing any “stuck” areas that arise in a sustainability initiative design. She cites this as a core principle to how she designs: “It’s a principle that if I feel stuck, if I feel like something’s stuck, it’s more fruitful to look within than it is to look without. And then that will inevitably give me insights into what’s happening without.”
I have not included in this review the learning which DMCAs likely engage in as part of the needs analysis for the sustainability initiative design. This is because I did not collect sufficient data on the topic. 10 This table should not be considered fully representative of all of the practices these participants do for their own self-development. Rather, these are the self-development practices that participants related to improving their design capacity. Other practices may also support the development of one’s design capacity, but such research was beyond the scope of this study.
173 Table 16 How participants develop themselves to improve their design capacity Self-Development Cognitive: Practices for understanding the world
Other, crosspurpose practices
Work through own psychological issues (e.g., perfectionism, fear of failure); become aware of own limitations
Learn about the stakeholders (e.g., deeply listen to their goals, objectives, and vision; identify what motivates them)
Study specific content issues; research different approaches to handling challenges in the initiative
Yoga; meditation; selfcare (e.g., get sufficient sleep, food, exercise)
Work through the “ego stuff” so it doesn’t “sabotage” the process (e.g., internal resistances, limiting beliefs, shadow issues, projections); acknowledge one’s own limitations; consistently check to ensure actions are aligned with integrity; construct personal and professional boundaries to do the work effectively; self-reflection to ensure “right relationship” with the initiative; evaluate own design approach; sessions with a personal coach
Study the arguments and perspectives of different stakeholder positions; learn about the stakeholders in general (e.g., read their public communication, observe in meetings, talk directly with them)
Study content related to the specific initiative (e.g., carbon market); learn about the political dynamics present; use a systems framework to take as many perspectives as possible on the initiative
Yoga; aikido; meditation; holosync; integral life practice; Nia; journaling; mind-mapping; put intentions out and observe the response
Journaling to move subject to object; self-inquiry to know oneself more deeply and inquire into “stuck” areas
[None described that were specific to understanding others]
Thought experiments to work through different scenarios for intervention
Yoga (karma); variety of different meditations, depending on the context (e.g., meditate on emptiness, loving kindness, or the fusion of subject with Nature)
Interpersonal: Practices for understanding others
Intrapersonal: Practices for selfunderstanding
Engage with mentors and groups that stimulate deep personal development; interface with as many worldviews as possible to see new perspectives; let go of all perspectives in service of being more present; let go of the constructs around sustainability and oneself; sense where the energy is – both openings and resistances – and work with it; pay close attention to what is arising in the moment; step out of the system and objectively analyze it, then embed in the system and subjectively sense what emerges
174 One of John’s top three pieces of advice to sustainability leaders is to learn how to become “energetically clean” so that one can “get out of the way” of what needs to occur. To him, this requires not allowing one’s own forced agendas to dominate the decision making. As an example, John describes high profile sustainability leaders that were seemingly unable to clean up their projections and caused considerable damage to sustainability systems. John: The second thing would be if you get out of the way, whatever you want to have occur will occur, or whatever needs to occur, will occur. You’ve got to get out of the way…of our own forced agendas ...I’ve worked with [people] who are really energetically clean, they have very strong presence,...they can hold space or create space around a particular thing in quite dramatic ways, but there’s no part of themselves projecting into that. And people who bring this personal projection into...one of these [sustainability initiatives], it’s like knocking a gyroscope. They end up creating this serious wobble. I’ve watched a couple of [sustainability] practitioners here run for [government office] and made themselves president of associations and [done] things that have really destroyed whole systems of sustainability in the name of sustainability work...and they teach sustainability leadership. ...So it’s quite clear to me what that opposite looks like. So the trick is to make less of yourself. If you want to lead sustainability initiatives, you have to make less of yourself apparent. The solution [is to] use your skills to ‘get yourself out of the way’ of what is there and coming through. Then there is engagement with that authentic unmediated (only facilitatively enacted) expression. Obviously, there are gross, subtle, very subtle, causal and non-dual layers of this as practice (as there is with everything). In another type of self-development work, Chris talks about the need for physical self-care and how it directly relates to his ability to design sustainability initiatives. He regularly needs to hone the “vessel” he has for “enacting anything in the world,” otherwise he struggles with the design process. Chris: [Important for me] is to constantly be tapping the need for self-care. How do I actually nurture my own self so that I’m honing myself as a tool to achieve this bigger goal? ...How do I continue to try to open myself up for the flow to be available? And sometimes just very simple practical things of realizing like when I’m struggling with the design process, trying to just step back and say, okay, I need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep, that I’m eating well, that I’m getting enough exercise and these very basic physical things. ...Part of my ability to fulfill a responsibility to the wider world is
175 really making sure that I remember to be responsible to myself and taking care of myself as the vessel that I have for enacting anything in the world. There were several salient similarities across the three action logics with respect to self-development practices. Meditation, yoga and journaling, for example, were mentioned by Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists alike. All engage in some form of meditation, over one-third (5/13) consider themselves yoga practitioners, and nearly half (6/13) explicitly mentioned journaling (others may do it as well). Representatives from each action logic also indicated that they work on internal resistances, such as areas where they feel “stuck,” notice projections, or sense potential shadow issues. Over three-quarters (10/13) of the participants reported paying attention to and addressing these internal psychological dynamics as part of the design process. There are also notable differences between the action logics regarding how they develop themselves during the design process. The Alchemists and Ironists used the terminology of “perspectives” more often. Developing their own perspective by looking through other perspectives seems to be central to the practices of both of these action logics. However, all participants engaged in some sort of perspective-taking practice as part of designing sustainability initiatives. These varied from bringing in external experts (Roger) to subjectively embedding oneself in the system and sensing what emerges (Rick). This frequency of citation makes perspective-taking, along with meditation, the tools most used by these leaders for self-development. The Alchemists and Ironists mentioned more types of self-development practices than the Strategists, and their practices appear to cover more “territory.” For example, they address issues of integrity, political dynamics, intentionality, and thought experiments. Additionally, only two out of six Strategists mentioned that they work with their own internal
176 resistances or psychological dynamics as part of the design process, whereas all of the Alchemists and Ironists did. This suggests that there is a deepening and broadening of internal development work as people develop through action logics, from Strategist to Alchemist to Ironist. Most striking for me was that many of the practices mentioned by the Ironists were not easily categorized into focusing on self, other, or the context. In many cases, it seems like a given practice could provide insight into two or three of those areas. An example is “pay close attention to what is arising in the moment;” another is, “sense where the energy is – both openings and resistances – and work with it.” A third is: “step out of the system and objectively analyze it, then embed in the system and subjectively sense what emerges.”
Challenge and support others to develop. Nine of my participants mentioned that, as part of the design process for a sustainability initiative, they actively support the development of members of the design team. These participants identified a variety of ways that they create the conditions for development amongst their colleagues and/or the broader community engaged in the design. The most common approach is to expose them to many different viewpoints and perspectives. Over three-quarters of the participants (10/13) stated that they brought a wide variety of people to provide insight in the design process. From technical experts to local leaders who would drive implementation, they tried to challenge the status quo. The practice of introducing people to different perspectives can be as simple as inviting them to listen to a speaker or as profound as modeling how to drop all perspectives. Table 17 details the different ways these leaders support the development of others, broken down by action logic.
177 In Roger’s case, he was working within a large multinational to develop its sustainability strategy. He went through extensive measures (involving almost 200 decision makers and influencers, globally) to engage broad perspectives and educate decision-makers on both the content needed for the strategy design and how to do large-scale design. Roger: What I wanted which was to get as many outside views into our business as possible so that our business heard views from people externally that they would not ever be exposed internally, because they just wouldn't want to listen. ...This was the first time we, as an organization, had done a cross-geography, cross-seniority, …and cross-functional series of workshops around such a broad aim [with many external voices being heard]. So we involved directly…over 150 people in [our company]. No one had ever done anything like that before…in terms of strategy setting. And then we involved 40 external people as well. So we got Greenpeace in the room. We got people in the room who are advocating deep ecology. We got health campaigners in the room. And we got the [company] people to hear and to be part of the dialogue. And the way we did the workshops was very different as well. We wanted to make sure that we had workshops based in dialogue between adults who had their own critical reasoning and who were able to make their own minds up. ...It was about dialogue. ...And that involvement of two hundred-odd people in a project which we started in June and finished in March the following year. We went to China, India, Mexico, Europe, the States, and Africa. We went to pretty much all of our established or developing markets because we wanted to go and test out these ideas with people in the field. We wanted to show through business how you can do a project differently, by involving people in the field. Edward also built a large-scale initiative as part of his work within a large intergovernmental institution. In the process, just to do the pilots, he drew upon hundreds of experts and local resources in each of the six different regions of the world. The initiative was subsequently rolled out globally.
178 Table 17 How participants support others to develop during the design process Supporting the Development of Others
Practices Perspective-related practices: Expose people to many different views and new concepts; support people to inhabit or see different perspectives on complex systems; engage in perspective-taking exercises in which the viewpoints of different stakeholders are embodied and debated; identify competing commitments that keep one from fully engaging in the sustainability initiative; Social Artistry practices to enhance sensory perception, listening skills.
Other practices: Social Artistry practices to strengthen brain functioning; help others to take ownership of the initiative. Perspective-related practices: Invite or challenge people to question assumptions and truths they hold, or shift an identification they have with something; coach others to be more aware of their own “programming,” so they stop projecting, create more deliberately, and take greater responsibility for how they talk; create the space/opportunity for people to identify and state a new perspective.
Other practices: Invite people to “show up as a whole person” by modeling it with one’s own presence.
Perspective-related practices: Invite people to hold more perspectives, yet also challenge them to let go of all perspectives and constructs so as to be more available in the moment to others and to “what is.” Other practices: None identified
Focus and Purpose of Perspectiverelated Practices
Focus: The contrast between perspectives and the existence and validity of multiple perspectives. Purpose: Aid others to better understand the external and internal context of the design, learn how to inhabit multiple perspectives, and not be limited by one’s perspectives.
Focus: The psychological mechanisms that generate perspectives (e.g., assumptions, limiting beliefs, ego needs, selfidentity). Purpose: Aid others to better understand the psychological dynamics that create perspectives, learn how to consciously work with them, and therefore be less limited by the processes that create their perspectives. Focus: The subjective, creative ground that exists before perspectives and constructs are generated. Purpose: Aid others to more fully attune to the moment by being free of any perspective or construct that would filter or shape it.
179 Edward: And so then with this consultant, Jean, and myself, we began to brainstorm a curriculum. ...[The agency I was working with] has advisers and project leaders all over the world working in decentralized governance and local development. So I brought them into the brainstorming as well. ...So then we developed the curriculum for the five-day training. And then I would invite the [agency] office to identify around a hundred people from the local government, national government, NGOs, community-based organizations, the donors, bilateral donors, UN, private sector, who we would be able to try out this approach in a five-day construct. Participants also used more structured perspective taking practices to support development of others involved in the design process. Charlotte describes an exercise she used that involved debating between different perspectives: Charlotte: We did a lot of work on perspective-taking...[we developed an] embodied exercise where they had to take the perspectives of different groups in the community and actually engage it in a debate...they had to actually do a role play around that. Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists seem to relate to and use this tool of perspectivetaking in different ways. My data suggests that Strategists focus on the contrast between different perspectives and the practice of inhabiting multiple perspectives so as not to be limited by any single viewpoint. They do this by “exposing” people to the various viewpoints, “debating” them, and helping people to identify the perspectives that enable better “engagement” with the sustainability initiative. Alchemists, however, seem to focus less on the differences between perspectives and more on understanding the internal mechanisms that create perspectives. Vivianna, for example, invites people to inquire into the “programming” that underlies their assumptions, beliefs, and self-identity. She claims that this practice enables people to engage in less projection of their perspective onto situations and to “create more deliberately.” The Ironists also invited others to take on more perspectives in service of their development. Yet they also worked with individuals to let go of all perspectives in order to
180 not be limited by them. For example, Luz considers perspective-taking as central to how she supports the development of others. However, she also encourages people to “cast away” all perspectives and constructs so as “to be more available” to others and to “what is.” Luz: So, it’s like everything I do...is asking people, “Can you hold more perspectives? Hey, would you like to try more world perspectives?” That’s like my mantra. At the same time...I try...and let it all go. So, take more perspectives and let it all go.... [I] invite people to...‘sweep the mandala’ and just completely cast it away.... At a certain point in sustainability work I realized that if I don’t [cast away the perspectives], then I’m just less available. [It is a practice of] getting over myself and letting go of all the constructs. It actually lets me be more available to others and just more available to what is. Thus, when these leaders design sustainability initiatives, they often use perspective-taking exercises as a way to support the development of their design team members and key stakeholders who are also involved in the design. The structure, focus, and purpose of these exercises seems to vary with each action logic.
Challenge and support the collective to develop. In addition to working to develop themselves and others involved in the design, my participants also focus on developing the inter-subjective and inter-objective quality of the design process. That is, they strive to strengthen elements like the communication, relationships, shared vision, and structures within the group that is designing a sustainability initiative. Over three-quarters (10/13) of the participants indicated at least one approach they use to support development of the collective they are working with; these are documented in Table 18.
181 Table 18 How participants support collective development during the design process
Purpose of the Practices
Identify the strengths and capacities of different team/group members; establish a shared leadership structure; discuss expectations and assumptions; create shared guiding principles for the design and/or a shared vision for the initiative; jointly identify the underlying contradictions, blockages, and supporting factors for the design (including belief systems and cultural patterns); reframe cultural or national myths to be supportive of sustainability; explore various scenarios; reflect on the quality of the team and how people work together; regularly review methodology, results, experiences and make changes; build customized models or tools to explain and engage; facilitate group dialogue
Develop practical structures for teamwork; surface expectations and assumptions; create a shared understanding of the direction and dynamics of the design and the initiative; learn about the team and the results of previous efforts
Work to develop trust amongst members; consistently check to ensure actions and process are aligned with the integrity of each member of the group; create artifacts of meaning (e.g., tools, models, frameworks) that help the group move to greater clarity and hope about the initiative; create safe spaces and opportunities for members to know each other more deeply and change in relation to what they might have said before; surface and discuss peopleâ€™s covert and ego-based motivations and agendas; explore various scenarios; build customized models or tools to explain and engage; facilitate group dialogue
Develop trust, ensure integrity, strengthen meaning, and deepen relationships; create shared understanding; surface hidden motivations
Supporting Development of the Design Team or Stakeholder Group
Create a space for the community to self-reflect, a container where it can see itself; embed learning communities in the group; expose the group to maturity models for group development in relation to sustainability, to see where they are, where they have been, where they are going; explicitly discuss how to design in partnership; build customized models or tools to explain and engage; facilitate group dialogue
Develop structures for collective selfreflection and learning; frame group development within an evolutionary perspective; create shared understanding
Some of the most common ways these leaders support the development of their team is by deepening the trust and mutual understanding of its members. Over half (7/13) talked about the importance of cultivating trust and/or understanding amongst the core design
182 team. 11 For Roberta, trust and relationship development amongst the design team is central to her process. She notes that throughout the design and execution of a sustainability initiative, she regularly asks: “How are we deepening relationships? Where are we creating space for people to come to know each other more deeply and to trust each other more deeply if we’re engaged in a long term collaborative effort together?” Charlotte, as well, echoes this commitment to both trust and mutual understanding on the design team. Charlotte: Because that sort of [trusting and aligned] group space has been such a key, I think part of the design process...is setting up a really strong space of trust. [Also important is to develop] a deep understanding of who we all are as individuals and what we all bring in terms of our own experience, so really finding a way to deepen that experience of team and of that lead space. Arthur spoke about the process he uses to (1) build a “unified vision” across the design team, and (2) build mutual understanding on the design team by surfacing the reasons – both profound and egocentric – why each member is engaged in the initiative. For him, this early and deep work with the design team is one of the key initial conditions for a good outcome. Arthur: If I was to design a sustainability initiative [today], I would choose good people or find a methodology to choose some good people. And I would create the creative space for a unified vision amongst those good people to emerge. And that would require a set of very good orientation questions around all the reasons why they’re involved and...honoring the highest, most unified vision. …[Also], having a conversation at the beginning so that people can get their covert reasoning out is really critical. …Why do you need this project? Everybody will hide behind all the obvious good reasons why they want to do the project. “Oh, I want to save the world, I want to do this and I want to do that.” But I really feel that once everybody’s covert reasons get out on the table, which is also “I need a job,” “I need some money,” or “I really want to go to Africa,” or “I’m single and I don’t have a love life and I’m hoping that if I go off to into somewhere exotic, in Africa, and meet my lover for the rest of my…” You know, all those covert things. …It’s the egocentric self speaking out, saying, “I have some egocentric drives and by God, they need to be put on the table.” 11
A core design team for this sample was often a small group that integrated all the perspectives and research throughout the design consultation process and articulated the final design.
183 But if you can be honest…about what it is that’s driving you, and you can put that on the table, and everybody else in the We space can accept that…you then have a group that fully understands each other and is able to actually foster and make those things happen. …It’s this level of honesty about what it is to be a social change agent. It’s not just the Bodhisattva vow. …So people ask me why do I want to do a project in [a South American country]? Because the surfing is good and I’ll put that on the table. I like to kite surf. [That country] is a good country. The food is good. All those reasons can go on the table as well. Then we understand each other. If you can get that kind of cohesion going, after that you just trust that… [the design team is] going to come up with something good. And it really doesn’t matter what it is. And because the intention is in the drive…and the honesty and the understanding is all there, the outcome isn’t going to matter; the outcome is going to be good. And I don’t think you worry about that. One of the practices Edward used to develop his team involved tapping into their collective identity. He helped country-level teams reinterpret some of their national stories and cultural myths so as to support progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Edward: At the mythic level, we dealt with national stories, national myths. This was always very fascinating… we would take a national myth, a cultural myth of the country, and turn it transparent to development … Like in Albania, we took the story of the seven brothers. Each brother had a different capacity and they were all trying to help the princes that had been captured by the demon to escape. People began to see that each brother’s capacity was also a development capacity that could help their country realize the MDGs. In this case, Edward’s team created a shared understanding that would enable them to build upon an established national cultural identity to design a sustainability initiative. In another case, John worked with his team to construct new elements that held collective meaning. With these, he helped his team gradually reframe their understanding and emotional relationship to a large-scale sustainability initiative. He began working with a group of leaders that he soon discovered were struggling with hopelessness. Their task was to create a zero waste program for a large geographical area, and for years they had failed to do so, despite considerable efforts and millions of dollars spent. His approach, as he explains,
184 was to patiently work together with them to build “artifacts of meaning” that brought them closer to their vision, one step at a time. Barrett: What was the biggest challenge of the design process and how did you overcome it? John: Well, in this one mostly it’s the sheer complexity. But that wasn’t so much the challenge as the sense of hopelessness around the inquiry. And how I overcame it was, yeah, we just kept creating these artifacts of meaning. So each time we would complete one part of the process, there would be this artifact, another tool or another process. So people began to understand that whatever it was we did, something would result from it. And that process of capture gradually engaged people more and more. John’s case exemplifies a small but important finding of this study: these leaders will build new tools, practices, frameworks, and processes as needed to advance their design. Over half (7/13) stated that rather than using “off-the-shelf” tools, they will create the elements they need for the design. This seems to be done in order to more effectively customize the design to the stakeholders and context. John, for example, claims that he built or co-constructed 55 discrete documents, models and frameworks for the design of the aforementioned waste project. Roberta talks of building “an array of processes” for her initiative, while Luz says that she and her team developed or tailored “a bunch of tools…that co-arise with what the context is.” Rick, too, notes that “We’re always creating our own models,” both qualitative and quantitative. Such efforts appear to help the group engaged in the design to develop and maintain a shared understanding of the initiative. Thus, this practice is another way to foster development of the group. The Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists in this study cited a wide variety of practices they use to support growth of the team, or collective itself. What they had in common was the creation and customization of new tools, models, and practices to strengthen shared understanding. They also all facilitated group dialogue as a regular practice. What appears to
185 differ is the underlying purpose to their practices. The Strategists mentioned practices that seem more practical in nature and related to creating an aligned and effective team. This included clarifying the strengths and expectations of team members, documenting a leadership structure, drafting a shared vision, and learning from previous joint efforts. The Alchemists cited practices that strongly focus on developing relationships, by addressing issues such as trust, integrity and shared meaning. They also seemed to go beyond the Strategist inquiry into assumptions, and probed into hidden motivations and ego drives. It is also worth noting that the three participants who did not discuss the development of their team or stakeholder group were Strategists, although two Strategists did explicitly mention it. All of the Alchemists and Ironists discussed this topic. This suggests that Strategists are less likely than Alchemists and Ironists to attend to the development of the collective engaged in a sustainability design. Finally, the Ironists supported development of the group by creating structures within which the team could self-reflect, and consistently learn. They also brought an evolutionary perspective to their reflections on group development. Rick’s case exemplifies both of these elements. An essential component to Rick’s design process was to hold a self-reflective space for the community of stakeholders with whom he was working. Yet the existence of that space was also understood as a vehicle for development of the system, or community itself. Rick: First of all, how I engage with sustainability and the type of work I do is more engaging with communities. ...One of the crucial [elements] is the participatory nature to the design component. …The complexity of the design is how to basically hold a space where a community can self-reflect. ...It’s like trying to create the container for the community or even the system to be able to be seen by itself. So almost making the individuals move the system from subject to object, so being able to self-reflect on what is going on for them. The other Ironist, Luz, demonstrated equal commitment to creating these types of evolutionary-focused structures for group development. One of her practices is to use a
186 maturity model for group development as related to sustainability. This provides a map of development that the group can reflect upon to identify where it has been, where it is, and where it is going.
In summary, my findings suggest that my participants cultivated the development of themselves, others, and the collective as part of the process of designing sustainability initiatives. Each action logic appears to have a different purpose, focus, and set of practices concerning each of these types of development. Meditation and various forms of perspectivetaking are the practices most commonly used for self-development, while the latter is also predominantly used for supporting the development of others. This section also explored two other findings related to Theme 3: adaptive design management. The first is that these leaders dialogue with the system. This is a cyclical, consistent process of probing for information from the stakeholders and environment and adjusting the design. Most participants reported this practice, and they identified three broad approaches to this dialogue. An important element of this finding is that a majority of the participants seem to engage in the practice of â€œgoing with the energyâ€? as a way to adapt their design to a changing context. This can be done through a planned exercise, intuitively in the moment, and as a combination of both. The final finding of Theme 3 refers to the variety of roles that my participants adopted during the design process. The most commonly indicated were to hold space, create supportive conditions, and be a catalyst. All of these roles were aimed at fostering the development of individuals, the group, and systems in service of improving the overall
187 design. As with the other two findings of this theme, the various action logics seem to approach and perceive these roles in different ways.
This chapter has reviewed the key findings concerning how thirteen leaders with a late-stage action logic design and engage in sustainability initiatives. Three themes emerged, each supported by two to three main findings (summarized in Figure 3). The themes are as follows: (1) design from a deep inner foundation; (2) access to powerful internal resources and theories to distill and evolve the design; and (3) adaptive design management. The next and final chapter discusses the implications of these findings, draws an initial set of conclusions about the research question, and makes recommendations for leaders and those who support their development.
188 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION
This is an empirical study of leaders from business, government, and civil society with a meaning-making system that reflects late-stage action logic (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Loevinger, 1966, 1976; Torbert, 1987). It explores how they design and engage in sustainability initiatives. Participants were assessed for their stage using a variation of the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (Loevinger & Wessler, 1970). This participant sample has more leaders with advanced meaning-making capacity than any other leadership study in the constructive-developmental literature (six Strategists, five Alchemists, two Ironists) (Torbert, 1987). It is also the first to use a constructive-developmental lens to understand sustainability leaders. This research has significant implications for sustainability leadership theory and constructive-developmentalism. The results provide the most granular view to date of how such leaders may think and behave with respect to complex change initiatives. These leaders appear to: (1) Design from a deep inner foundation, including grounding their work in transpersonal meaning; (2) Access non-rational ways of knowing, and use systems, complexity, and integral theories; and (3) Adaptively manage through â€œdialogueâ€? with the system, three distinct roles, and developmental practices. My findings suggest 15 leadership competencies, most of which are new to the literature. I believe that practicing these will support the development of an individualâ€™s action logic and will discuss this below. Additionally, I have articulated developmental stage distinctions for six dimensions of leadership. These offer discrete differences in how leaders
189 with the three later action logics (Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist) reflect and act. Finally, the findings suggest 12 qualities and practices that differentiate leaders with a unitive perspective (Alchemists, Ironists) from those with a general systems perspective (Strategists) (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005). 12 This chapter begins by reviewing the purpose of the study and the specific research question. It continues with a summary of the findings and the major propositions based upon them. The implications of these findings are then discussed with respect to sustainability leadership theory and constructive-developmental theory. An important recognition is that a constructive-developmental lens offers considerable insight for sustainability leadership theory. The chapter continues with an inquiry into the implications of this study for leaders and leadership development professionals. It is suggested that all leadership programs include the development of meaning-making capacity, in view of the enhanced abilities that may emerge with each postconventional stage. These new and strengthened capacities are likely to support more effective leadership during times of complexity and rapid change. Based upon this research, I prioritize eight competencies and three practices for sustainability leaders and for those who develop them. The subsequent section reviews the implications for future research in this domain. I offer seven suggestions and argue that this type of research is likely to be increasingly
The term “unitive” refers to the two stages (Alchemist and Ironist) Cook-Greuter identified to replace Loevinger’s (1976) vague stage called “integrated.” At these levels, reality is understood as an “undifferentiated phenomenological continuum” (Cook-Greuter, 2005, p. 28). Other theorists use similar terms to describe the latest stages of their developmental models, but they should not be confused with this technical term. Wade (1996), for example, uses “unity” when discussing values. Kohlberg (1981) uses the phrase “universal spiritual” with respect to morals; and Fowler (1981) uses “universalizing commonwealth” with regard to the development of faith. For more details on the qualities of unitive consciousness, read the descriptions of the Alchemist and Ironist above.
190 needed and should be rigorously pursued. The chapter ends with an Epilogue that closes this research on a personal note.
Purpose of the Study and the Research Question
The specific purpose of this study has been to better understand how leaders who hold a late-stage action logic design and engage with sustainability initiatives. By better understanding these individuals â€“ what they do, why they do it, how they think, and essential personal qualities â€“ we gain insight into how to develop other sustainability leaders. The reason it is important to understand the characteristics and actions of such leaders is because leadership effectiveness has been correlated with the development in meaning-making capacity (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005; Fisher & Torbert, 1991; L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2006, 2008; McCauley, et al., 2006; Rooke & Torbert, 1998; Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). 13 I contend that in order to address tomorrowâ€™s complex sustainability challenges, we will need leaders and change agents who have complex meaning-making systems (i.e., with a late-stage action logic). Given the significant complexity of the economic, social, and environmental challenges we face globally, we will likely need increasingly capable leadership to help guide humanity into a sustainable future. Considerable work needs to be done, therefore, to build leadership development programs that can appropriately prepare leaders for tomorrow. I believe that this research provides important insights into how to do so. My research question has been: How do leaders with a late-stage action logic design sustainability initiatives? This question focused on the planning and architecture of sustainability initiatives. However, throughout the research, I encountered considerable data 13
This correlation is discussed in depth in Chapter II.
191 about how my participants engaged in sustainability initiatives as well. For these leaders, the process of design is not a one-time event, but rather an iterative, continual type of engagement. They have a “rolling design” that regularly shifts with the context. As a result, I have expanded the discussion of my findings to include data related to how leaders with a late-stage action logic engage in – not just design – sustainability initiatives. The results from this study contribute to the literature in the fields of constructivedevelopmentalism and leadership for sustainability. With respect to both fields, there has been no research to date on how leaders with a late-stage action logic take action in the face of complex sustainability challenges. In general, little is known about how such leaders act. Regarding the sustainability leadership literature, there is also no research to date on how leaders and change agents design sustainability initiatives. In sum, these results provide the first empirically-based insights into the qualities and behaviors of leaders who have complex meaning-making systems and engage in sustainability initiatives. These findings can be used to help develop increasingly effective leaders to respond to our global economic, social, and ecological challenges.
Major Propositions and Summary of the Findings
There are three major propositions I make based upon the findings of this study. They are: (1) These leaders design from a deep inner foundation; (2) they access powerful internal resources and theories to distill and evolve the design; and (3) they adaptively manage the design. These propositions, respectively, relate to three different aspects of change agency: Being, Reflecting, and Engaging. “Being” refers to fundamental or essential qualities of these individuals; that is, it has to do with characteristics of who they are. “Reflecting” concerns
192 how they think about and gain insight into the design. â€œEngagingâ€? addresses the actions they take to develop and manage the design. Each of the three propositions are supported by two or three major findings, and all are summarized in Figure 4.
Figure 4 Summary of the major propositions and supporting findings
Proposition 1: Design from a Deep Inner Foundation
The first proposition revealed by this research is that leaders with a late-stage action logic design sustainability initiatives from a deep inner foundation. Their sustainability practice appears to be based in profound connection, meaning, and commitments. There are three findings that support this proposition, each of which is discussed below:
193 1) Sustainability work as spiritual practice; 2) Design grounded in transpersonal meaning; and 3) Uncertainty embraced, with trust in self, others and the process. My findings suggest that these leaders honor their sustainability work as a spiritual practice or “calling” in life. Most of the participants in this study described the practice of sustainability as a way to observe their own spiritual beliefs. There seems to be little or no separation between the personal and professional for them. To engage in sustainability is to serve and act in the ways that they feel most deeply moved. Thus, one of the principal ways that they practice their spirituality is by addressing the “unsustainability” they see – whether it be socio-economic or ecological. For them, practice is to engage spiritually with the world. The participants described various religious or secular paths that their work expresses – such as Buddhism, Karma Yoga, or following one’s heart. However, the common element is that for these leaders, sustainability work is not merely a job, it is a sacred expression. Closely connected to this first finding is that the leaders in this study also appear to ground their sustainability designs in transpersonal meaning. That is, for most participants, the principal meaning behind why they do the design work relates to a source that transcends the personal or individual. The majority do not consider themselves to be doing this work only for individual reasons, but rather on behalf of – or as the vehicle for the expression of – a greater self. My participants consistently reported that the core reason they engaged the design – and their sustainability work in general – is a variation of the following: to be of service to others and/or the development of consciousness or spirit, and work to alleviate suffering.
194 Participants with a later action logic appear to hold a different perspective on service than those with an earlier action logic. Some of the early-stage Strategists described themselves as being of service to others and the world. Yet this service was engaged in by themselves, as individuals. In that sense, it was grounded in personal meaning, and not transpersonal meaning. The later-stage Strategists and all of the Alchemists said that they were in service to others, yet they also mentioned the development of consciousness or Spirit as a reason for their work. They indicated that they were doing so on behalf of a greater other – such as Spirit or consciousness – not only as an individual. This is the transpersonal element. They felt that this greater other was acting through them, that they were a vehicle for such service. As a final contrast, the Ironists described the service of their sustainability work from a unitive perspective. They spoke of serving consciousness as consciousness or Spirit itself. Thus, the evolution of perspective on service may evolve from an individual serving others, to an individual serving others on behalf of a greater self (i.e., consciousness, spirit), to one of that greater self serving itself. The third finding of this theme is that my participants embrace uncertainty, with trust in themselves, others and the process. Participants showed an openness to “not knowing” and a willingness to step forward in the face of uncertainty. They did not seem to need to have an answer or solution if one was not present. Rather, they demonstrated patience and a commitment to engage in the next step of the design even if the way forward was unclear. This commitment is coupled with strong self-trust and belief in those they were working with, as well as faith in the design process itself. It seems that by trusting the individuals
195 involved and the process of engagement, they believe that they can navigate through the ambiguity and create an effective design. These three findings support my proposition that my participants design from a deep inner foundation. A profoundly spiritual and transpersonal perspective guides their sustainability work. This supports them to confidently step into complex and ambiguous terrain and trust that, together with their colleagues, they will create a positive outcome.
Proposition 2: Access to Powerful Internal Resources and Theories to Design
The second proposition revealed by the data is that these participants access powerful internal resources and theories to design. These change agents appear to draw upon sources of knowledge that are beyond their rational mind in order to gain rapid and comprehensive insight into the design of sustainability initiatives. They also use at least one of three theoretical perspectives to help guide development of the design. There are two major findings that support this proposition: (1) Use of intuition and ways of knowing other than rational analysis; (2) Navigation via systems theory, complexity theory and/or integral theory. Both of these findings are summarized below. My findings show that these leaders design sustainability initiatives through the use of intuition and other ways of knowing that are different than rational, logical analysis. In addition to using objective, rational, and “intellectual” analysis throughout the design, all my participants drew upon subjective, intuitive or “other” ways of non-rational knowing. The
196 “other” sources they cited included: spirit, consciousness, God, and collective intelligence. Many of them claimed that this process inspires, accelerates, facilitates, or strengthens their design work, leading to a superior outcome. Over one-third said that their initial kernel for a design comes from this “space” or “field.” It therefore seems that my participants are able to consistently harvest information from a “field of knowing” that provides powerful ideas, insightful connections – and in some cases – complete designs for sustainability initiatives. This is largely an effortless and instantaneous process, able to be done alone or collectively, at any time. Some of these leaders spoke of the specific techniques they use to open up these channels of information. Alchemists and Ironists were more likely than Strategists to describe this source of knowledge with terms such as collective consciousness, spirit, or higher self. While some Strategists used similar terms, half of them only used the term intuition. Everyone else used the term intuition, as well as using names that were transpersonal. Participants did not differentiate between what they considered an intuitive source and what they considered transpersonal in nature; these seem to be different names for the same phenomenon. Women were more likely than men to talk about accessing this “field” collectively, although they claimed to do so with both men and women. Not only do all of my participants engage in this process, but many cited how influential and integral it is to their design approach.
The second finding is that my participants navigate with systems theory, complexity theory and/or integral theory. All the change agents in this study use at least one of three theoretical lenses to design sustainability initiatives. These are: systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972); complexity theory (Kauffman, 1995; Stacey, 1996); and integral theory
197 (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b), although the later is most probably a product of sampling. These lenses seem to shape how they experience, frame, and respond to the complexity of social, environmental, and economic challenges. My participants use these theoretical perspectives to better understand the complex landscape of their sustainability initiative, and to guide development of the systems they are working with. The theories appear to influence what they see needs to be done and how they choose to do it. Table 12 details the terminology used that suggest their use of these theories. While all of my participants indicated use of at least one of these theories, over threequarters referenced all three. Few of the participants indicated that they design with formal tools, models, or processes from either systems or complexity theory. More than anything, these two theories seem to offer a language to articulate essential elements of the design, describe types of interventions, and to recognize its holistic nature. Integral theory was the most commonly referenced theory, with 12 out of 13 participants citing it. This is to be expected given that those 12 participants are part of a broader community that uses integral theory to work with sustainability. These participants use integral theory in four principal ways to design sustainability initiatives: 1) Assess, analyze, and â€œmapâ€? the context of the situation; such as when doing a needs assessment; 2) Support the personal and professional development of the designer and others involved in the initiative; 3) Choose an appropriate intervention after completing a needs assessment; 4) Tailor communications to more effectively reach a specific audience.
198 With respect to action logics, Alchemists and Ironists were more likely than Strategists to reference all three of these theories. The only participants who did not mention concepts related to complexity theory and integral theory were two of the Strategists, although the other three Strategists did. It is important to note that the presence of language amongst the participants that is related to systems theory, complexity theory, or integral theory does not necessarily mean that they have studied these theories and use the tools associated with them. They could have a cursory understanding of them and just be able to cite the main concepts. In a related vein, systems theory is an element of integral theory (Wilber, 1995). As a result, some participants may be theoretically grounded in integral theory and they simply picked up systems theory terminology from their exposure to integral theory. I did not gather sufficient data to distinguish the depth at which people actually know and use these theories. Proposition 2 can be summarized as: When these leaders reflect upon the design of a sustainability initiative â€“ in order to initially develop it and later evolve it â€“ they are supported in their thinking by (1) non-rational ways of knowing such as intuition, and (2) systems theory, complexity theory, and integral theory.
199 Proposition 3: Adaptive Design Management
The third major proposition I make about these leaders is that they adaptively manage the design. This means that – in the face of a shifting context – they regularly adjust not only the design, but also their role and the design environment. There are three findings that support this proposition: 1) Dialogue with the system to consistently adapt the design; 2) Roles adopted as space holder, creator of supportive conditions, and catalyst; 3) Development cultivated in self, others, and the collective. Each of these is summarized below. The first finding is that my participants dialogue with the system to consistently adapt the design. My research indicates that these leaders listen closely and sense into the needs of the system they are working with, and then respond accordingly. That is, as they are working to make a system more sustainable (e.g., an organization, city, food system), they design and execute different interventions, observe the response, and then change the design based upon feedback from that system. I’ve called this “dialoging” with the system and over two-thirds of them cited doing it. By remaining present to changes in the system – such as shifting stakeholder opinions or technological breakthroughs – they adapt the sustainability design to strengthen its chances of success. This dialogue tends to be a cyclical, looping process of regular probing followed by fine-tuning or full redesign if needed. From an action logics perspective, Alchemists and Ironists are more likely to dialogue with the system than
200 Strategists. All of the participants who did not mention this practice were Strategists, while those that did were Alchemists or Ironists. These leaders dialogue with the system and probe it for information in three discrete ways. The first is to look at the system through objective research (e.g., reviewing a market analysis or survey data). The second approach is to look through the system by directly talking with stakeholders or adopting the perspectives of different system members. The final approach is to look as the system by going inside oneself rather than looking outside for new information. One way to do this is to access intuitive knowledge about the system; all participants claimed to do this. The other approach (that over two-thirds of them use) is to take a high-level perspective to harvest insight about the design. Some of the leaders do this in a three step process. They (1) hold a perspective in which they are the system (and beyond), (2) attempt to drop their mental constructs and simply be present to what is arising, and finally, (3) sense for new data to support the design. My participants also “go where the energy is” when they design. This is related to dialoging with the system and has two elements. The first is that they take advantage of openings and opportunities for intervention that will be well received by the system (e.g., areas of agreement where all parties are willing to invest). This seems to minimize the potential for the system to reject or obstruct the intervention, and allows the leader to build upon existing momentum. Secondly, these leaders also go where the energy is blocked – such as with limiting beliefs amongst key decision-makers, lack of alignment across groups, or tension within themselves. They then work to remove the blockages and free up the system to more easily change. “Going with the energy” can be a thoroughly planned process as well as a dynamic, intuitively-driven decision-making process.
Throughout the design, these leaders also adopt the roles of space holder, creator of supportive conditions, and catalyst. This is the second finding that supports my proposition that my participants adaptively manage the design. My data suggests that these change agents adjust to whatever supporting role is needed at the time. The most common roles they take on are to hold space, to create conditions that support development of the design and those involved with it, and to catalyze change. All of the participants mentioned playing one or more of these roles throughout the design process. As space holders, they create an environment during facilitation that allows for other members of the design group to safely explore key issues. It also may include holding the space open for the central question that the group is struggling with, so as to support the emergence of answers and outcomes. As a creator of supportive conditions, they work to support the development of individuals involved in the design, the system in which they are working, and/or the overall sustainability initiative. Examples include: inspiring others to see a broader vision for the potential of a sustainability initiative; creating events that give stakeholders the opportunity to deepen relationships; and reframing a divisive issue so as to broaden the debate. About half of the participants noted that they play a catalyst role at times, during which they attempt to trigger growth and change amongst individuals and systems. This is a more active and directly engaging role than the other two, and requires a sensitivity so as not to push people too far that they withdraw. Strategists are more likely than Alchemists and Ironists to take on a catalyst role in which they actively “prod” individuals and systems to grow. The Alchemists and Ironists tended to use what I consider to be a “softer” approach. That is, rather than prod, push and
202 catalyze, they seem to create supporting initial conditions for emergence, hold, wonder and invite individuals and systems into their next evolutionary step. Also, Alchemists and Ironists focused more on helping systems to develop, while the Strategists tended to focus on individuals. Overall, the language used by my participants to describe what they do seems to soften (i.e., be less assertive in directing change) and become more subtle as the action logic shifts from Strategist to Alchemist to Ironist. For further information, see the description of roles in the findings section above. Table 15 in Chapter IV details the roles these leaders take during the design process, broken down by action logic.
My research also demonstrates that these leaders cultivate development in themselves, others, and the collective. This is the third finding that supports the proposition that my participants adaptively manage the design. This finding does not concern the specific design per se, but rather is about improving the capacities of the designers. These leaders seem to believe that they, and the others involved, may need to learn and develop during the design process in order to strengthen the design. As I will discuss below, perspective-taking is the principal practice they utilize to support development in themselves and others. All of my participants engage in self-development throughout the design. Their practices fall into three general areas: (1) intrapersonal development (better understanding of themselves, e.g., shadow work); (2) interpersonal development (better understanding of others, relationship, and communication; e.g., the key political issues for different stakeholders); and (3) cognitive development (better understanding of the sustainability initiative context, e.g., learning about the carbon market). The most commonly used practices by these leaders for self-development are perspective-taking and meditation, with all
203 participants citing them. Journaling was also mentioned by nearly half the change agents. Most of the self-development activities they engage in are focused on better selfunderstanding. For over three-quarters of the participants, it was a priority to work through psychological issues, limiting beliefs, and unsupportive mental constructs in order to stay open while designing. Table 16 in Chapter IV details the variety of practices the participants use to develop their own design capacity. These leaders also challenge and support others to develop. Over two-thirds stated that they actively work to help their design team members to develop. The predominant way they did so was through perspective-taking, in which they exposed their design colleagues to myriad viewpoints (e.g., by bringing in technical experts or people who challenge the status quo). Other practices included: inviting people to question their core assumptions, coaching them to see their own mental programming, and showing people how to let go of all their constructs and be present to the moment. Table 17 in Chapter IV lists all the practices they mentioned for supporting others to develop. Finally, my participants focused on supporting development of the collective. Specifically, they attended to the inter-subjective and inter-objective qualities of the design process. For example, they worked to strengthen aspects of the collective such as communication, relationships, shared vision, and the systems and structures the group is using. A common approach they used was to deepen the trust and mutual understanding of design team members. For some, this profound work with the design team was vital for a good outcome. Other practices included: building a unified vision, strengthening collective identity, and creating collective meaning.
204 An important sub-finding is that these leaders will build new tools, practices, frameworks, and processes as needed to advance their design. Rather than use off-the-shelf tools or models, these change agents helped the collective to develop by creating new meaning-making structures (e.g., models, frameworks) as needed. For a full list of practices used by my participants to support collective development, see Table 18 in Chapter IV. There seem to be significant differences between the Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists in this study with respect to this third finding. Regarding self-development, Alchemists and Ironists mentioned more types of practices than Strategists, and their practices appear to cover more dimensions of development. Alchemists and Ironists are also more likely than Strategists to claim that they attend to their own psychological dynamics during the design process. In general, there appears to be a deepening and broadening of internal development work as these leaders develop through the action logics, from Strategist to Alchemist to Ironist. The Ironists stood out for their integration of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive development. There were also notable differences between the action logics regarding the development of others. While all three action logics used the tool of perspective-taking, they related to it and engaged with it in different ways. Strategists appear to focus on the contrast between different perspectives and the practice of inhabiting multiple perspectives so as not to be limited by any single viewpoint. Alchemists focus less on the differences between perspectives and more on understanding the internal mechanisms that create perspectives. The Ironists, like the Strategists and Alchemists, invited others to take on more perspectives in service of their development. Yet they also worked with some individuals to let go of all perspectives â€“ including all mental constructs â€“ in order to not be limited by them.
205 With respect to supporting development of the collective, there were similarities and disparities across the action logics. They all claimed to create and customize new tools, models, and frameworks to strengthen shared understanding. They also all facilitated group dialogue as a regular practice. What appears to differ is the purpose behind their practices. Strategists described very concrete practices that focused on creating an aligned and effective team. Alchemists cited practices that principally develop relationships, such as building trust, integrity, and shared meaning. They also probed into the unseen motivations and ego-based drivers within the group, which was beyond Strategistsâ€™ inquiry into shared assumptions. In general, Alchemists and Ironists were more likely to actively support development of the collective engaged in a sustainability design. Some Strategists did not mention this dimension at all. Finally, the Ironists (and some of the late-stage Alchemists) stood out in their commitment to create structures within which the team could self-reflect, and consistently learn. Instead of just working on the group, they built systems whereupon the group could regularly engage its own development.
My third proposition about the participants in this study is summarized as follows. These leaders adaptively manage the design of a sustainability initiative through continual dialogue with the system, adoption of the roles required to advance the design, and consistent development of themselves, others, and the collective.
206 Implications for Theory and Practice
This section reviews the implications of my research findings for theory and practice. First, I discuss the importance of using a constructive-developmental lens for future research in sustainability leadership. I then detail 15 competencies identified in the findings. I contend that these, when practiced, will help individuals to develop their action logic. I follow this discussion with a review of the implications for constructivedevelopmental theory. Due to the rare nature of the participant sample â€“ with more late action logics than any other study in the leadership literature â€“ there are important implications and insights from these empirical findings. I first detail the variations in: (1) the predominant roles that Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists take on as change agents; (2) their perspective on service; and (3) their general approach to designing change initiatives. I then review the different ways that leaders at each action logic uses perspectives to develop themselves, others, and collectives. Finally, I offer 12 differences in thinking and acting between leaders who hold a unitive meaning-making stage (Alchemists and Ironists) and those with a general systems stage (Strategists). The section closes by discussing the implications of this study for leaders engaged in sustainability and leadership development professionals. I finish by prioritizing eight competencies and three practices for leaders, asserting that they are key to the cultivation of developmental maturity.
207 Implications for Sustainability Leadership Theory
There are significant implications for sustainability leadership theory as a result of this study. This is the first empirical research that describes leadership at the intersection of sustainability and constructive-developmentalism. The findings suggest that future research and theory in sustainability leadership theory should: 1) Incorporate constructive-developmentalism; 2) Include new competencies for sustainability leaders that will support their development into more complex meaning-making capacity – and therefore offer a greater chance of increased effectiveness (Fisher, et al., 1987; Fisher & Torbert, 1991; L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2008; Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987; Lewis, et al., 2005; McCauley, et al., 2006; Rooke & Torbert, 1998; Strang & Kuhnert, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004). I address each of these issues below.
Constructive-Developmentalism: Significant Insight and Credibility Sustainability leadership theory today faces a potential serious challenge to its academic credibility. It is clear that how a leader knows – how they epistemologically make sense of their environment – is at least as important as what a leader knows (Eigel, 1998; Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005). Yet with few exceptions, sustainability leadership researchers are building frameworks, competency models, and studying exemplars without taking into account the vast differences in meaning-making systems amongst their sample and target populations. Research from constructive-developmentalism should be considered for
208 sustainability leadership studies and practice. Sustainability leadership theory is being developed under a variety of names, ranging from Adaptive Leadership to Environmental Leadership to Social Entrepreneurship (see Appendix A for an extensive list). None of these approaches – with the exception of two theoretical studies (Boiral, et al., 2009; EsbjörnHargens & Zimmerman, 2009) – have adopted findings or frameworks from constructivedevelopmentalism. In fact, only one empirical study uses any type of psychological development as a basis for understanding this kind of leadership (Visser, 2008; Visser & Crane, 2010). Constructive-developmental theory offers constructs that are significantly different than personality (Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). Additionally, the development of a leader’s meaning-making system (i.e., action logic) – has been identified as a key determinant of leadership effectiveness (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005; Fisher & Torbert, 1991; L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2006, 2008; McCauley, et al., 2006; Rooke & Torbert, 1998; Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). 14 The existing sustainability leadership literature (and most of the general leadership literature) takes a “flatland” approach to understanding the psychological differences between leaders. While typological variations are acknowledged (providing a horizontal or “flat” view of psychological differences), developmental depth remains unrecognized. There are at least eight different – and increasingly complex – meaning-making systems held by
It is important to note the difference here between increased leadership effectiveness and the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives. No research has been done yet regarding the latter as associated with the action logics of leaders involved. Technically, one could be perceived as a very effective leader and still not be effective in guiding a sustainability initiative due to other factors beyond their control. Also, while later-stage action logics seem to potentiate greater leadership effectiveness, it should not be assumed that the most appropriate leader is the one who has the latest action logic. As discussed below, leaders are theorized to be best positioned when they hold an action logic that is ½ to one full action logic later than those whom they are leading (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005).
209 sustainability change agents, leaders, and managers (Boiral, et al., 2009; Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005; Rooke & Torbert, 2005). My own research with this study has demonstrated striking differences in how various meaning-making systems reflect and engage with sustainability initiatives. Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists bring a unique worldview that shapes how they respond to complex sustainability challenges. The other five action logics held by sustainability leaders are also likely to influence their thinking and actions considerably. In sum, a key implication of this study for sustainability leadership theory is the demonstration of how various meaning-making systems express sustainability leadership differently. These findings call into question the credibility of existing sustainability leadership theory that has not incorporated a constructive-developmental perspective. More importantly, they open up the opportunity to strengthen the efficacy of future research in this area.
What Got Us Here Wonâ€™t Get Us There: 15 Advanced Competencies The second important implication of this study for sustainability leadership theory is that the existing suite of leadership competencies identified in the literature may be insufficient for addressing many sustainability challenges. (See Appendix C for a summary of the research on sustainability leadership competencies.) New leadership competencies are likely needed to help cultivate leaders who can handle complex global issues. If more complex meaning-making systems are correlated with greater leadership effectiveness (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005; Fisher & Torbert, 1991; L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2006, 2008; McCauley, et al., 2006; Rooke & Torbert, 1998; Strang & Kuhnert, 2009), then
210 sustainability leadership development should focus on building the meaning-making capacity (i.e., action logic) of leaders and change agents. An often-used strategy for leadership development is to develop the competencies leaders will need to succeed in their roles. However, leaders who act from different action logics are likely to bring different competencies (Boiral, et al., 2009). Given that existing competency models for sustainability leadership have been developed without a constructive-developmental lens, they likely only represent the competencies of the most common action logics in leadership and management [Experts and Achievers make up 65-70% of the adult population (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004)]. As a result, they are likely not fully representative of the competencies that leaders with a late-stage action logic will use. Competencies that correspond to these logics must therefore be identified where appropriate. What is needed in the literature on sustainability is a competency model informed by constructive-developmental research. This would identify competencies that are appropriate for different action logics. Those with an Expert action logic would therefore be working on competencies that support them to develop to an Achiever. Achievers would have a competency model that facilitated movement to an Individualist action logic; and so on, for each action logic in the journey from Opportunist to Ironist. Such a model would be a type of conveyor belt for the development of meaning-making in the specific domain of sustainability leadership. The findings of this study suggest competencies for late-stage leaders (those with a Strategist or Alchemist action logic). 15 These competencies differ from most of the
To articulate competencies for those with an Ironist action logic is complicated for a variety of reasons. First of all, I have a small sample of only two Ironists to study. Secondly, my own action logic (late-Alchemist) has been assessed as earlier than that of an Ironist, so I am not confident that I can objectify what they are doing as they are potentially making meaning in a more complex way than I do most of the time.
211 sustainability leadership competencies in the literature. 16 By inquiring into the knowledge, skills, attitude, and personal characteristics (the traditional elements that make up competencies) of the participants, it is possible to describe competencies that will help leaders with a postconventional action logic to develop their meaning-making capacity. Such a strategy is likely insufficient alone to cultivate complex meaning-making. There are a number of other important factors that appear to – or are theorized to – support action logic development. These include, among other elements, regular immersion in complex environments (e.g., interpersonal, work, educational), conscious engagement in life’s problems (e.g., inquiry, therapy, deep dialogue), awareness of and exploration of inner states, and consistent interaction with others committed to self-development (Pfaffenberger, 2006). Thus, any approach to develop a leader’s action logic may be well served to take into account these factors, and I believe that a focus on the competencies identified in this research may also support such development. Based upon the results of this study, I propose 15 such competencies (see Table 19). These are likely appropriate for change agents and sustainability leaders who hold a lateIndividualist, Strategist, or early-Alchemist action logic. Development of these competencies may help facilitate their growth into the later action logics of the Strategist and Alchemist. These competencies are related to all of the major findings of this study. This should not be considered a definitive list, but rather a first step toward a competency model for leaders with a late-stage action logic.
The exceptions in the empirical research on competencies are those suggested by Cox (2005), Wilson et al. (2006), and Hames (2007, 2009). These seem to be more appropriate to sustainability leaders with an Individualist or Strategist action logic. See the discussion about competencies in Chapter II.
212 Table 19
15 competencies that may support development of leaders with a late action logic Sustainability Leadership Competency
Description and Notes
Ground sustainability practice in deep meaning
Honor the work of sustainability as a spiritual practice, as a sacred expression. See sustainability work as a vehicle for transformation of self, others, and the world. Act in service of others and on behalf of a greater Other (e.g., universe; spirit; consciousness; god; collective intelligence; emptiness; nature).
Intuitive decisionmaking and harvesting
Use ways of knowing other than rational analysis to harvest profound insights and make rapid decisions. Be able to easily access this type of information alone or collectively, and facilitate individuals and groups to do so.
Embrace uncertainty with profound trust
Willingness to not know, to wonder into the mystery of what will emerge next. Able to humbly rest in the face of the unknown, ambiguity, and unpredictable change, and not need to “push” for an immediate answer or resolution. Deeply trust oneself, co-designers, and the process to navigate through uncertainty.
Scan and engage the internal environment
Able to quickly become aware of and aptly respond to psychological dynamics in oneself so that they do not inappropriately influence one’s sustainability work. Deep attunement to emotional, shadow, and personality-driven forces; able to “get out of the way” and be “energetically clean” when engaging with others.
Inhabit multiple perspectives
Able to intellectually and emotionally hold many different perspectives related to a sustainability issue, without being overly attached to any of them. Able to argue the position of and communicate directly from different viewpoints. Be open, curious, and inviting of new perspectives, especially those that challenge or counter one’s own.
Dialogue with the system
Able to repeatedly sense into what is needed to help a system develop (e.g., make it more sustainable), try different interventions (e.g., prototype; experiment; seed ideas), observe the system response, and adapt accordingly (c.f., Snowden & Boone, 2007). Able to look at the system, through the system, and as the system as part of the dialogue.
Go with the energy
Able to identify and take advantage of openings and opportunities for system changes that are well received by members of the system, thereby building on momentum and moving around obstacles. Also, able to identify blockages or tensions (in individuals, groups, or systems) that hinder progress, and inquire into them.
Navigate with Sophisticated Theories, Frameworks
Able to consistently develop oneself or create the environment for selfdevelopment in the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive domains, as well as other areas. Based upon deep self-knowledge, including personality dynamics and shadow issues. Able to create communities and engage mentors that consistently invite/challenge a deeper self to come forth.
Create developmental conditions
Able to create the initial conditions (e.g., environment) that support and/or challenge development of individuals, groups, cultures, and systems. Able to sense what the next developmental step might be for others or a system, and create fertile ground or an intervention that increases the likelihood of development or the emergence of novelty. Requires a general understanding of how individuals, groups, and systems develop.
Able to effectively create the appropriate (e.g., safe; challenging) space to help a group progress (e.g., work through an inquiry; build trust; self-reflect), holding the tension of the important questions. Able to hold the energetic potential of what is needed in the space, creating the environment for the emergence of answers/outcomes.
Able to support others to see and appropriately respond to their psychological shadow issues and their “programming” (e.g., assumptions; limiting beliefs; projections; stories). This is not psychotherapy work, but the use of basic “maintenance” tools like the 3-2-1 process (Wilber, Patten, Leonard, & Morelli, 2008) to address shadow issues.
Systems theory and systems thinking
Understand the fundamental concepts and language of systems theory. Be able to apply systems thinking to better understand sustainability issues and support the development of systems. (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972; Senge, 1990)
Complexity theory and complexity thinking
Understand the fundamental concepts and language of complexity theory, especially as it relates to leadership. Be able to apply complexity thinking to better understand sustainability issues and support the development of complex adaptive systems. (Kauffman, 1995; Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Stacey, 1996; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008)
Integral theory and integral reflection
Understand the fundamental concepts and language of integral theory. Be able to use integral theory to: assess or diagnose a sustainability issue and design an intervention; tailor communications to different worldviews; support the development of oneself, others, groups, cultures, and systems. (Beck & Cowan, 1996; M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, 2000; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b)
Understand the fundamental concepts and language of polarity management. Be able to recognize and effectively engage important polarities such as: subjectiveobjective; individual-collective; rational-intuitive; masculine-feminine; structureddynamic; challenge-support; and big picture-details (Johnson, 1992, 1993)
It is important to note that the preponderance of participants (12 out of 13) who are familiar with integral theory (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b, 2005) may have skewed this initial competency model. Specifically, these six
214 competencies represent, in my opinion, key practices that arise out of integral theory: Scan and engage the internal environment; inhabit multiple perspectives; self-transformation; create developmental conditions; shadow mentoring; integral theory and integral reflection. As noted above in my discussion about the sample, I invited another 17 participants to this study that I believed were not familiar with integral theory. Six of them declined and all 11 of the others were assessed at an action logic too early to be included in this study (i.e., Achiever or Individualist). Further research on leaders with a late-stage action logic is required, but it may be that those who have developed their action logic to Strategist or beyond may simply be attracted to learning about integral theory. Long before integral theory had been popularized by Wilber (Wilber, 1995, 2000a, 2000b), Torbert (Torbert, 2000, 2003; Torbert, et al., 2004), and others, Loevinger (1976) called her highest stage of self-identity or ego-development (the model upon which action logics are based) â€œIntegrated.â€? Thus, the very nature of these late-stage action logics (i.e., Strategist, Alchemist, Ironist) may embody what integral theory is attempting to articulate. In a similar vein, many of the participants also seemed to be familiar with systems and complexity theories, and it may be that those with a late-stage action logic are drawn to those theories as well to help explain the reality they experience. 17 The next section describes the implications of the findings on constructivedevelopmental theory and its application to leadership.
Integral theory incorporates and discusses systems theory, so familiarity with it may have led people to a familiarity with systems theory. Complexity theory is not commonly referenced in integral theory.
215 Implications for Constructive-Developmental Theory
The findings of this study have important implications for constructivedevelopmental theory, especially as it relates to the study of leadership. My participants are â€œoutliersâ€? from a constructive-developmental perspective, who are also leaders active in sustainability issues. With a sample composed of six Strategists, five Alchemists, and two Ironists, it offers a rare glimpse into the qualities, thinking, and actions of individuals with complex meaning-making systems. 18 This is the only leadership study in the constructivedevelopmental leadership literature that has more than one Alchemist in it, and it is the only one with any Ironists. 19 My findings offer new insights into how Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists perceive, reflect, and behave as leaders and change agents. Specifically, developmental distinctions are made for 18 dimensions. For six of these, I was able to estimate discrete differences between the three latest action logics. For the other 12, I am able to offer some orienting generalizations for their developmental direction. These insights are significant for constructive-developmental theory because they give a more granular view into the psychological and behavioral landscape of leadership based in a late-stage action logic. Relatively little empirical research has been done in how such leaders reflect and act. This research sketches some important lines in that emerging picture.
Strategists represent approximately 4.9% of the US adult population. Alchemists and Ironists represent 1.5% and 0.5% respectively (n = 4510; Cook-Greuter, 2004, 2005). Even in highly-selective samples that are notrepresentative of the general population, these are rare individuals. For example, of 3397 people assessed for their action logic from 2000-2007, Cook-Greuter notes (2011) that 305 were assessed as Strategists (~9%), 99 as Alchemists (~3%), and only 19 (~0.6%) as Ironists. 19 The two leadership studies in the constructive-developmental literature that have any Alchemists in their sample population are those by Mehltretter (1995) and Rooke and Torbert (1998). Each has one Alchemist.
216 Distinctions in Role, Service, Design Approach for Late Action Logics This study revealed, for the first time, empirically identified variations in how individuals with late action logics perceive and act in three important dimensions. These are: (1) the principal role they take as a change agent; (2) their perspective on service; and (3) the general approach they use when designing change initiatives. None of these dimensions have been articulated in the constructive-developmental literature before. These findings are synthesized in Table 20. In this study, action logic and role appear to be related. As Strategists, my participants catalyze, actively working to trigger development in individuals, rally toward a long-term vision, and synthesize many disparate parts into an integrated picture. As Alchemists, they create supportive conditions, architecting the space and processes that cultivate growth amongst individuals and collectives, seeding new ideas, and opening up the flow of energy through systems by addressing blockages. As Ironists, they hold and wonder. They ground in a unitive perspective and inquire into what the next evolutionary step is for the individuals, collectives, and systems with whom they are engaged. By letting go of their own constructs and holding the potential and tension for growth, they claim to support consciousness to integrate and evolve.
217 Table 20 Comparison of role, service, and design approach of late action logics
Principal Design Approach for Change Initiatives
Catalyze. Point toward a greater vision; expose people to new perspectives; push their edges; support and enable their fullest growth and greatest potential; remove problems and barriers; reframe, integrate information for others.
As an individual, be of service to others and the world. Service is grounded largely in personal meaning.
Operate on systems by actively influencing those with authority, power, and influence to make the perceived changes needed in the system.
Perspective on Service
Create Supportive Conditions. Create space and processes for vital dialogue and development of individuals and collectives; seed new ideas and meaningful connections; address blockages in systems to improve flow; create an energetic field and the spaces for innovation to emerge and group meaning-making to develop.
As an individual, be of service to others, the world, and the development of a greater Other (e.g., spirit, consciousness). Serve on behalf of that greater Other, acting as a vehicle or vessel for its will. Work to alleviate suffering. Service is grounded in transpersonal meaning.
“Dialogue” with systems via experimentation and probing, while concurrently creating conditions that help systems and the individuals that constitute them to develop themselves.
Principal Role as a Leader or Change Agent
Hold and Wonder. Hold a unified perspective with the other as One; hold a partnership of beyond us and them; hold and rest in the tension of not knowing and wonder into the moment – without predefined constructs and perspectives – to allow what is needed to emerge; each time a solution arises, wonder and inquire into it; hold the space for the integrative nature of consciousness to express; hold a mirror up to individuals and groups so that they may see themselves, self-reflect, and wonder; attune to evolving nature of consciousness and wonder “where are we?” “what are we becoming?” and “what is needed and wanted next?”
Serve spirit as spirit itself. Sit with all suffering that is arising from a position “outside” of the space-time continuum. Rest in it as an expression of what is arising. Take action as deemed appropriate. Service is grounded in unitive meaning.
Anchor in Oneness and design as the system. That is, wonder into what the system needs and wants to become next, listen closely, and principally hold the energetic tension for that next stage of maturity to emerge. Support the individuals and the system to bring forth that new way of being, in whatever ways needed.
218 As meaning-making evolves, these leaders’ perspective on service also develops. Strategists ground service in personal meaning. They serve other individuals for their own personal reasons. Alchemists ground service in transpersonal meaning. They serve other individuals and a greater other (e.g., consciousness, spirit) on behalf of that greater other. Ironists are grounded in a unitive meaning for their service. They understand that their actions are simply unitive consciousness serving itself. Finally, each new action logic seems to offer a different overall design approach to change initiatives. Strategists operate on systems, focusing on influencing individuals with power to effect systemic change. Alchemists “dialogue” with systems, regularly experimenting and probing so as to adaptively manage the design. They also work to develop the designers – themselves, others, and the collectives – along the way. Ironists design as the system, engaging a unitive perspective to sense what the system needs for its development and then holding the space for that next stage of development to emerge. Taken collectively, these findings offer the first empirical insights into the overarching role and approach that Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists adopt as leaders.
Late Action Logics Use Perspective-Taking to Develop Self, Others The next finding that has implications for constructive-developmentalism concerns the use of perspective as a stimulant for growth. My research suggests that perspective-taking practice is an important tool for self-development and in supporting the development of others and collectives. Additionally, it seems that each action logic is related to a different set of perspective-taking practices, each with a different purpose. There has been little to no
219 empirical research in the constructive-developmental field in this area. These findings are synthesized in Table 21. There is research that indicates people who hold post-conventional meaning-making systems use meditation (S. Brown, 2008; Chandler, 1990; Pfaffenberger, 2005, 2006; Scott, 2009) and journaling (Pfaffenberger, 2005, 2006; Scott, 2009) as personal development practices. However, I was unable to find any constructive-developmental research that discussed how individuals use other perspective-taking tools to develop themselves. Additionally, there seems to be no research on how developmentally mature individuals use perspective-taking practices to support the development of others or collectives. These findings not only shed new light on the actions and practices of people who hold late stage action logics, but they also suggest a new dimension of constructive-developmental theory: perspective-taking as a developmental tool. With respect to developing their own design capacity (self-development), Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists all mentioned the use of meditation and journaling. They also all referenced psychological dynamics that they were aware of and responded to as part of the design process. However, the approach and depth varied with each subsequent action logic. Strategists tended to work on more general psychological issues (e.g., perfectionism, fear of failure, awareness of limitations). Alchemists did this as well, but also specifically targeted ego-related issues (e.g., shadow, projections) and focused on integrity. Ironists expressed a hunger for new perspectives, yet practiced letting all their perspectives and constructs drop away, thereby allowing unfiltered consciousness to arise in the moment.
220 Table 21 Comparison of how late action logics use perspectives for development
Perspective Practices for Self-Development (to Improve Design Capacity)
Perspective Practices to Develop Others
Perspective Practices to Develop Collectives
Purpose: To become the most one can be (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Examples: Meditation; journaling; self-work to address general psychological issues (e.g., perfectionism, fear of failure); be aware of own limitations.
Purpose: Aid others to: better understand the contrast between, and validity of, multiple perspectives; inhabit various perspectives, and not be limited by their own. Examples: Expose people to many different views; debate the viewpoints of different stakeholders; identify competing commitments that may keep one from fully engaging.
Purpose: Create mutual understanding of the direction and strengthen teamwork. Examples: Build customized tools, models to understand the situation; identify and clarify strengths, capacities, expectations, assumptions of team members; create a shared vision and/or guiding principles.
Purpose: To be aware (CookGreuter, 1999). Examples: Meditation; journaling; selfapplied tools to address psychological issues, specifically focusing on the ego (e.g., shadow issues; projections; internal resistances) as well as more general areas (e.g., limiting beliefs); acknowledge own limitations; ensure actions are aligned with integrity; selfreflection to ensure “right relationship” with the work.
Purpose: Aid others to better understand and work with the psychological mechanisms that generate perspectives (e.g., ego needs; assumptions; limiting beliefs). Examples: Inquire into assumptions, “truths,” and identifications; coach for awareness of “programming” to stop projections and selflimitations; create space for public statement of a new position.
Purpose: Deepen mutual understanding of each other, build trust and relationships, and strengthen joint meaning-making capacity. Examples: Surface and discuss people’s covert and egobased motivations; check that the group’s actions are aligned with the integrity of each member; create safe spaces for members to dialogue and change their positions; build customized tools, models to develop meaning-making capacity.
Purpose: To be (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Examples: Meditation; journaling; interface with many worldviews, mentors to see new perspectives; let go of all perspectives, constructs to be more present; sense where the energy is (openings and resistances) and work with it.
Purpose: Aid others to: attune to the subjective, creative ground that exists before perspectives are generated; free themselves of any perspectives, constructs that might filter their experience of the moment. Examples: Invite people to let go of all perspectives and constructs to be more aware of “what is;” model this practice for them.
Purpose: Aid the collective to develop itself. Examples: Create space for the community to selfreflect, a container to see itself; embed learning communities in the group; expose group to maturity models for group development; encourage the letting go of any models, frameworks that are being used to understand and jointly sense into what is arising.
Note: Later action logics transcend and include the actions of earlier action logics (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Wilber, 1995, 2000a). So an Ironist might draw upon practices used by any other action logic to develop others.
221 The way that these individuals developed themselves seems to be related to how they support the development of others. Strategists used perspective-taking to aid others to understand the contrast between and validity of multiple perspectives. They also encouraged others to inhabit multiple perspectives so as not to be limited by their own. Yet Alchemists coach others to uncover the psychological mechanisms that generate perspectives (e.g., ego needs, assumptions), so as not to be limited by those mechanisms. Ironists, in turn, encouraged others to let go of all perspectives so as not to be limited by the constructs of any perspectives. This pattern again plays out in how developmentally mature individuals work to develop collectives (e.g., their design team). Strategists seem to take a more concrete approach and work to get the team to be aligned in the direction of the initiative. They predominantly invite the group to look outward toward the same vision. Alchemists may do this, yet they also increase the inward focus by working to strengthen trust, relationships, and the capacity to jointly make meaning (e.g., by building customized frameworks or models). This is similar to working on the meaning-making mechanisms cited above. The Ironists may also do all of the above, and they also set up structures that enable the group to develop itself. Finally, they encourage the dropping away of any models or frameworks that are used to jointly make meaning. That is, they invite groups they are working with to let go of the shared constructs they hold about sustainability, the specific initiative, or any other topic, and just be present to what is arising in the moment. It should be noted that perspective-taking is a central element or practice of integral theory (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000a, 2000b). Given that so many of my participants were familiar with integral theory (12 out of 13), there is surely
222 an influence of that common theoretical framework on these results. However, an increasing capacity to take perspectives is foundational to the descriptions by Cook-Greuter (1999, 2004, 2005) of the Strategist, Alchemist, and Ironist action logics. Thus, as people become able to see more perspectives, it is logical that they would use perspective-taking as a developmental tool.
12 Proposed Differences in Thinking and Acting for Late Action Logics The previous two sections described leadership qualities that I was able to specifically link to Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists. However, my findings indicated a dozen other qualities that also seemed to shift with the progression of action logics. While I have described each of these in Chapter IV and in the summary of findings above, I consolidate and synthesize them in Table 22. These 12 qualities all concern the theoretical demarcation noted by Cook-Greuter (Cook-Greuter, 2000, 2005) between the general systems stages (Individualist and Strategist) and the postautonomous or unitive stages (Alchemist and Ironist). That is, my findings indicate that Alchemists and Ironists are more likely than Strategists (and presumably Individualists) to engage in the ways indicated in Table 22. This study offers the first empirical research to date on how Alchemists and Ironists perceive, reflect, and act differently than Strategists as well as the psychological and behavioral characteristics of latestage action logics. Together, these data offer the first view of the general leadership and management approach of those who hold unitive action logics (Alchemists and Ironists). Rather than individually discuss each of these characteristics, I have chosen to discuss their
223 implications for constructive-developmental theory in three broad categories. These are: (1) Use of theory, (2) Engaging unitive consciousness, and (3) Management and development. Use of systems, complexity, and integral theory. Alchemists and Ironists seem to be more likely than Strategists to use systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972; Senge, 1990), complexity theory (Kauffman, 1995; Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Stacey, 1996; UhlBien & Marion, 2008) and integral theory (M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b). While representatives from all three action logics cited each of these theories, the only individuals who did not were Strategists. This was an unexpected finding, but as I reflect upon it, it makes sense to me. When I saw this data, the first question that occurred to me was, “Why would these individuals with a late-stage action logic gravitate toward these theories?” I’ve come to hypothesize that each of these theories offers a language (e.g., terminology and concepts) that helps Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists to articulate their experience of reality. As consciousness is filtered to varying degrees by latestage meaning-making, it may “need” a language to express itself. These theories offer one way of doing so. Cook-Greuter (1995, 1999) touches on this idea with respect to action logics. Other researchers and philosophers have explored the general concept of language and consciousness (Habermas & McCarthy, 1989; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Maturana & Varela, 1987) and a related concept concerning the development of cognitive maps due to socio-cultural evolution (Laszlo, 1993). Further exploration of this theoretical direction is beyond the scope of this research. However, it does seem to me that these three theories provide a “linguistic medium” for consciousness to express in a complex way. My second hypothesis is that these three theories also provide the conceptual toolkit for better understanding the complexity and dynamics of the terrain in which change agents
224 and leaders work. If one is challenged to work with systems that are learning, adapting, and populated by individuals and collectives also in continual transformation, then these three theories provide useful frameworks and tools to do so. My sense is that usage of these three theories is not necessarily related to developmental maturity, though. In the process of this research I interviewed 32 people, 19 of whom were assessed at either the Achiever or Individualist action logic (which are earlier action logics than those in this final study). Many of them used terminology that also referred to systems, complexity, or integral theory. Thus, while it may be true that many leaders with a late-stage action logic use these theories, I do not believe that usage alone implies that one holds a Strategist, Alchemist, or Ironist action logic. The fact that most (12 out of 13) of my sample came from a community of practitioners who use integral theory for sustainability is a clear influence in this part of the data. However, it is unclear to me whether late-stage action logics are drawn toward learning about integral theory â€“ and that is why I found so many late-stage action logics in that population â€“ or whether it was simply the specific population that led to the focus on integral theory. This is an area for further research.
225 Table 22 12 proposed differences in thinking, reflecting, acting across late action logics Alchemists and Ironists are more likely than Strategists to...
Management and Development
Engaging Unitive Consciousness
1. Use systems theory
All referred to it except some Strategists
2. Use complexity theory
All referred to it except some Strategists
3. Use integral theory
All referred to it except some Strategists
4. Consider their sustainability work as spiritual practice
Strategists use more secular terminology, like “life’s calling,” while Alchemists and Ironists cite it as form of spiritual practice.
5. Ground the design in transpersonal meaning
Strategists tend to use a more individual, personal frame for their meaning; Alchemists, Ironists cite transpersonal, unitive meaning.
6. Actively take a unitive perspective to access information and insights
Alchemists and Ironists cited dropping into meditative states of unity or oneness, from which they harvested insights.
7. Associate insights that are not rationally- or emotionally-based with a source other than intuition
Alchemists and Ironists used the term intuition, but also called the source of their insights terms such as: higher self, consciousness, emptiness.
8. Adaptively manage an initiative
Alchemists and Ironists indicated that they “dialogue” (i.e., probe → reflect → adapt) with the system they are working to influence; most Strategists did not.
9. Notice and actively manage psychological dynamics
Most Strategists did not refer to doing this, whereas Alchemists and Ironists indicated specific practices for doing so – within themselves and with others.
10. Support the collective to develop
Most Strategists focused on developing themselves, and others, while Alchemists and Ironists also supported growth of the “We space” (i.e., team, collective).
11. Focus on influencing systems
Strategists mostly focused on influencing individuals, Alchemists mostly focused on influencing systems, and Ironists on interacting with unitive consciousness itself.
12. Take a softer, less assertive approach to changing individuals and systems
Strategists prod and push for development more often. Alchemists and Ironists seed new ideas, create supportive conditions, and support the natural emergence of the next developmental shift for individuals, groups, and systems.
226 Regarding the specific finding that Alchemists and Ironists are more likely to refer to (and presumably use) these theories than Strategists, I believe this has to do with the increased meaning-making complexity of Alchemists and Ironists. People with one of these unitive action logics are, theoretically, cognitively more able to operate on systems than Strategists (Commons & Richards, 2003; Cook-Greuter, 1999). These theories objectify systems and offer frameworks and models for operating on them, thus they would be more easily wielded by individuals with greater cognitive capacity. Technically, cognition is a separate developmental line than the self-identity line upon which action logics are based (Wilber, 2000a). These lines may develop at different rates, thus it is difficult to make any conclusions here. However, if there is indeed an increase in cognitive ability from Strategists to Alchemists and Ironists, as is theorized (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2004, 2005), then that additional capacity may be the reason why systems, complexity, and integral theories are used more frequently. Engaging unitive consciousness. Four of the differences in late action logics identified by this research have to do with how they engage unitive consciousness (see Table 22). The four areas grouped into this category are: (1) Consider sustainability work as a spiritual practice; (2) Ground the design in transpersonal meaning; (3) Take a unitive perspective to access insights; and, (4) Associate the source of non-rational knowledge as something other than intuition. My findings suggest that Alchemists and Ironists are more likely to do these things than Strategists. These specific findings validate descriptions in the constructive-developmental literature about Alchemists and Ironists having a relationship to, or as, unitive consciousness. The Alchemist is described as sometimes feeling part of a â€œdeeper, non-individualized, all pervasive consciousnessâ€? (Cook-Greuter, 1999, p. 85).
227 Similarly, the technical term for Ironist is “unitive,” referring to the unitive nature of reality that Ironists experience. That is, instead of viewing reality uniquely from the self’s perspective, they take on a universal or cosmic perspective and feel embedded in nature, grounded in the higher Self (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2005). These findings also validate claims in the literature that Alchemists and Ironists access and draw insight from non-rational sources of information to complement their rational thinking (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2000). This research provides empirical evidence of three ways in which Alchemists and Ironists seem to engage with and are influenced by unitive consciousness. The first way is that Alchemists and Ironists appear to reframe their sustainability work as a spiritual practice. Thus, their spiritual relationship to consciousness is no longer separate from what they do, but rather an integral element of their vocation. I hypothesize that this unification of spiritual practice with work can be extrapolated to any vocation or avocation that Alchemists and Ironists do. However, this research only inquired into their sustainability practice. When Alchemists and Ironists ground their sustainability design in transpersonal or unitive meaning, they exemplify a second way of engaging with unitive consciousness. By drawing upon a source of meaning that is greater than their individual selves, and acting on behalf of – or literally, as – that greater Other, they appear to be demonstrating unitive consciousness-in-action. This seems to be one way that unitive consciousness – with its blending of the distinction between subject and object (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2000, 2005; Kegan, 1994) – is actually expressed in the reflective actions of Alchemists and Ironists. Again, this practice might apply to any vocation or meaningful avocation that Alchemists and Ironists choose to do.
228 The third way late action logics may be influenced by unitive consciousness is through access to information and insights that are not rationally- or emotionally-based. While they do seem use the gross, physical body and their mind as founts of information (e.g., for instinctual, “gut” feelings and rational analysis, respectively), they also appear to access knowledge from what Wilber (1995) calls the causal body. The causal body is described by many of the great wisdom traditions (H. Smith, 1992, 2009). Wilber (2005, p. 19) refers to it as “a great formlessness out of which creative possibilities can arise.” It is an energy or body associated with a vast expanse of consciousness that seems almost infinite. This vast, formless expanse is a dimension of consciousness beyond any individual ego or “I” (Wilber, 2005). Integral theory is based upon research in constructivedevelopmental theory (Chandler, 1990; Cook-Greuter, 1999) and the world’s wisdom traditions (H. Smith, 2009; Wilber, 1995). Wilber contends that as individuals develop their self-identity into unitive action logics and beyond, they are increasingly able to consciously access the causal body (1995, 2006). The participants in this study used a variety of names to describe the source of their insights – such as their higher self, consciousness, or emptiness. No matter the name, Alchemists and Ironists claim to draw profound insights from this source. In sum, this is the first empirical leadership research based in constructivedevelopmentalism that offers evidence of how leaders and change agents engage with and are influenced by unitive consciousness. This research therefore contributes considerably to an emerging branch of constructive-developmental theory that concerns the behavioral implications of postconventional meaning-making, specifically as regards unitive action logics.
229 Management and development. The third and final group of proposed differences in late action logics has to do with their approach to management and development. My findings indicate that, in this area, there are five actions that Alchemists and Ironists seem more likely to do than Strategists (see Table 22). These are: (1) Adaptively manage an initiative; (2) Notice and actively manage psychological dynamics; (3) Support the collective to develop; (4) Focus on influencing systems; and (5) Take a softer, less assertive approach to changing individuals and systems. Out of all 12 findings discussed in this section, these last five offer some of the most specific behavioral insights into the management and leadership approach of those who hold unitive action logics (i.e., Alchemists and Ironists). The first three findings indicated the theories that Alchemists and Ironists are likely to use. The next four described their relationship to and engagement with unitive consciousness, including their use of it as a source of information. These findings, in turn, show where they tend to focus (e.g., systems, collectives, interior psychological dynamics), and highlight the adaptive approach they use for engaging an initiative. I believe that the way Alchemists and Ironists engage with leadership initiatives – as suggested by these findings – reflects how they engage with themselves. Alchemists and Ironists may manage the exterior world adaptively because they manage their own interior world that way. Alchemists and Ironists report complex and profound interior dialogues as well as consistent engagement with their own psychological dynamics (Cook-Greuter, 1999). They also seem to be less assertive in “driving” their own development than those at earlier action logics (e.g., Achiever, Individualist, Strategist) (Cook-Greuter, 1999). Thus, if they regularly dialogue with their own inner world – probing, testing for better understanding,
230 rather than pushing themselves to be a certain way – then they likely do the same when they engage with their outer world. With unitive consciousness, the boundaries between “inner” and “outer” are reported to soften and even dissolve (Cook-Greuter, 1999, 2000). Thus, there may ultimately be no difference in how Alchemists and Ironists engage with their interior or exterior worlds, since they experience their worlds as one seamless reality. This notion that how people act in the world is reflective of their psychological constitution is not new. It is at the heart of psychology, psychotherapy, and other disciplines. These results, though, offer the first empirical data of how the inner experience of those with unitive action logics translates into leadership behaviors. With regard to the findings that Alchemists and Ironists – more than Strategists – focus on influencing systems and support the development of collectives, I believe that the same logic as above applies. A more transpersonal perspective may lead those with unitive action logics to actively work with systems and groups and foster their growth. Combined with their greater cognitive ability to operate on systems than Strategists, Alchemists and Ironists may have a unique advantage (Cook-Greuter, 1999). The theoretical implication here is that if system and collective development is needed to advance sustainability or any other leadership initiative, then Alchemists and Ironists may be the most qualified and capable of doing so (everything else being equal). This theoretical advantage of Alchemists to work on large-scale, systemic issues has been postulated in the leadership literature previously (Boiral, et al., 2009; Rooke & Torbert, 2005; Torbert, et al., 2004). However, this study offers the first empirical findings concerning leadership behaviors that support that hypothesis.
In summary, this research offers the only empirical data to date on the leadership and management approach of Alchemists and Ironists, and it adds considerably to the literature on Strategists. It corroborates some of the theoretical propositions of constructivedevelopmental theory as related to how these rare action logics lead, while also articulating new directions for the theory. The findings cover 18 dimensions of how leaders with a latestage action logic reflect and act. These findings describe the overall role, design approach, and perspective on service adopted by Strategists, Alchemists, and Ironists. This work also illuminates how people who hold different action logics use perspectives to develop themselves, others, and collectives. Finally, a series of 12 findings delineates differences between the general systems stages (e.g., Strategists) and the unitive stages (Alchemists and Ironists). These show that leaders who hold an Alchemist or Ironist action logic are more likely than Strategists to use certain theories, engage unitive consciousness as part of their work, and manage leadership initiatives with particular actions and qualities. The following section concerns the implications of this research for practice.
Implications for Leaders and Those Who Help Develop Them
This section is written for three audiences: (1) individuals who are leaders and change agents in sustainability; (2) those who are in more general leadership roles and want to develop their capacity to manage complex initiatives; and (3) leadership development practitioners (e.g., coaches and designers of leadership development program). In the
232 following pages I distill the key implications from this research for the practice of sustainability leadership. I first discuss the importance of focusing on the development of action logic for any leadership development program. This is followed by a review of eight essential competencies and three practices that I believe offer the greatest potential for developing leaders that can effectively handle the large-scale, highly complex challenges we may face.
Action Logic Development Unlocks Expanded Capacities Upon developing one’s action logic – or meaning-making system – new leadership capacities and approaches appear to emerge (see Tables 4, 5, 6, 20, 21, 22). These capabilities seem to be better suited to handle complex leadership terrain, as later action logics have been correlated with increased leadership effectiveness (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005; Fisher & Torbert, 1991; L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2006, 2008; McCauley, et al., 2006; Rooke & Torbert, 1998; Strang & Kuhnert, 2009). Leaders and change agents can potentiate a shift in their leadership capacity, by developing their action logic. To address the extremely complex sustainability issues of this century and beyond, many sustainability leaders and change agents will require more preparation. I contend that the most powerful way that those practitioners can prepare is by developing their action logic. There are a number of resources that discuss how to support the development of an individual’s meaning-making system. The most comprehensive approaches address development of the body, mind, shadow, and spirit (Leonard & Murphy, 1995; Wilber, et al., 2008). Concurrent development in these areas is theorized to accelerate the development of one’s meaning-making capacity (Wilber, 2000b; Wilber, et al., 2008), although there have
233 been no empirical studies on this. Writings by Kegan and colleagues provide very practical techniques for releasing blockages to deep psychological change (Kegan & Lahey, 2001, 2009; Wagner & Kegan, 2006). A number of articles and dissertations have inquired into how to develop oneâ€™s action logic or consciousness, and are worth reviewing (Chandler, 1990; Eigel, 1998; Gauthier & Fowler, 2008; L. S. Harris & Kuhnert, 2008; Pfaffenberger, 2005, 2006; Pfaffenberger, Marko, & Combs, 2011; Reams, 2002, 2010; Rooke & Torbert, 1998, 2005; Scott, 2009; Ziebarth, 2008). An important part of self-development, and a potential catalyst for it, is to understand the path of development itself (Pfaffenberger, 2005, 2006). That is, to make such a journey, it helps to have a map of the terrain. Several books effectively detail the individual and collective stages of development with respect to meaning-making, values, and leadership (Beck & Cowan, 1996; Joiner & Josephs, 2007; Kegan, 1994; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000a, 2000b). There are also broad overviews of adult development that provide important insights into this topic (Hoare, 2006; M. C. Smith & DeFrates-Densch, 2009). It is useful when entering this developmental path to understand the action logic one currently holds. The assessment of an individualâ€™s current meaning-making system allows developmental practices to be tailored, as well as offering a way to track progress. Assessments are available through the internet, including the one I used in this study to assess the action logic of 32 sustainability leaders and change agents (see Appendix G).
Eight Essential Competencies and Three Foundational Practices This research has identified 15 competencies of leaders who hold a late-stage action logic (See Table 19 above in this chapter). The competencies are divided into five categories:
234 (1) Deeply connect; (2) Know oneself; (3) Adaptively manage; (4) Cultivate transformation; and, (5) Navigate with sophisticated theories and frameworks. These competencies represent the core practices of the leaders I interviewed for this study. They are appropriate for individuals who hold a late-Individualist, Strategist, or early-Alchemist action logic (see Table 2 and the section on Loevinger and Torbert in Chapter II for details on each action logic). I believe that at least some of them should be included in the leadership development plan of any sustainability leader with a postconventional action logic (i.e., Individualist or later). By learning to do what late-stage leaders do, leaders are more likely to transform their action logic and access the new and enhanced capacities that come with doing so. Eight essential competencies. Of the 15 competencies I identified with this research (see Table 19), eight stand out as essential for the development of leaders and change agents. All 15 are important, but I contend that, together with the three foundational practices below, these eight are the ones most likely to help individuals develop their action logic and the related leadership capacities. It is not realistic for a leader to work on more than a few competencies at a time, as competency development requires consistent time and attention over many months or years in order to bring about significant change. With this selection of eight competencies, I offer practitioners a more focused palette to choose from. My choice of these eight is based upon how frequently these competencies were cited or inferred by the participants and â€“ drawing upon the literature review and my own experience â€“ the degree of influence I believe they have on sustainability leadership. The first three have to do with learning the basic concepts and tools of systems theory (Bertalanffy, 1968; Laszlo, 1972; Senge, 1990), complexity theory (Kauffman, 1995; Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Stacey, 1996; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008), and integral theory (Beck &
235 Cowan, 1996; M. G. Edwards, 2009; Torbert, 2000; Torbert, et al., 2004; Wilber, 1995, 2000b). These three theories provide a language to understand – and toolkit to support – the development of individuals, groups, and systems. The maps, models, and practices offered by these theories will strengthen a leader’s ability to engage with complex adaptive systems, integrate disparate domains, and cultivate transformational change in themselves and others. It is also important that practitioners ground their sustainability work in deep meaning. This is the fourth essential competency. Sustainability work can be very difficult and energetically draining. As a result, practitioners often experience burnout. By anchoring this work in a broader context, leaders are probably more effective and able to manage the intensity of the work. Most of the participants in this study consider their sustainability work to be a spiritual practice. I believe that this offers them additional inner resources – such as creativity, insight, and equanimity to move through troubled times – that strengthen their leadership ability. Related to this is the competency of intuitive decision-making and harvesting. This practice was used by all my participants. Some claim that it leads to superior outcome for their designs due to how quickly and easily they can access powerful insights. Given the complexity of most sustainability initiatives today, and the near impossibility of fully understanding all the dynamics at play, this competency is highly useful. I feel that any leader who is not able to regularly complement their rational thinking with intuitive insight is severely handicapped. The most advanced of my participants in this competency claim to rapidly access powerful intuitive information by dropping into a meditative state. They can also foster its emergence in the individuals and groups they work with.
236 The sixth competency is the ability to scan and engage one’s internal environment. How we think profoundly shapes what we see. Therefore, we need to learn how to work with the mind rather than be controlled by it. The leaders in this study demonstrated high degrees of self-awareness – especially of psychological and emotional dynamics. While this capacity comes with the onset of a late-stage action logic, it can also be learned. Particularly important is the ability to recognize limiting beliefs, shadow issues, emotional “hijacking,” and egodrives. There are many resources available to leaders and change agents to learn how to strengthen self-awareness and successfully navigate difficult interior terrain (c.f., Goleman, 1995; Goleman, et al., 2004; Wilber, et al., 2008). Being able to dialogue with the system is the seventh essential competency my participants displayed. This concept comes out of the complexity leadership literature (Goldstein, Hazy, & Lichtenstein, 2010; Marion & Uhl-Bien, 2001; Uhl-Bien & Marion, 2008). It refers to the regular practice of sensing into a system, identifying what it seems to need, testing an intervention, seeing how the system responds, and then repeating the process (c.f., Snowden & Boone, 2007). These leaders consistently experimented and probed as they designed and engaged in their sustainability initiatives, often drawing upon intuitive insight to fuel the process. This competency is the key to effective adaptive management in my opinion. The final competency I want to highlight is to create developmental conditions. This concerns the practice of developing the initial conditions that foster the development of individuals and collectives. The concept comes out of the complexity leadership literature as well, but I have overlaid it with an evolutionary lens here as that is how some of the participants described it. The most advanced practice of this competency that I encountered
237 was by one of the Ironists â€“ Luz â€“ who described how she attuned to the arc of evolution in the moment, clarified what developmental movement was arising for the people and system she was engaged with, and designed her approach based upon that information. Three important practices. This research also suggests that sustainability leaders take up meditation and reflective journaling to support their own development. All of the participants engage in some form of meditation, and almost half mentioned that they used journaling. Meditation is a practice with considerable personal and professional benefits (Goleman, 1988; Wallace, 2009). Reflective journaling, or writing as a form of self-inquiry, is a tool that also has long been cited to foster development (Herring, 2010; Wright, 2007). In my opinion, both of these practices should be central to any development program for sustainability leaders with postconventional action logics (i.e., Individualists and above). These are two types of perspective-taking practices cited by these leaders. See Table 21 above for further details on the types and purposes of perspective taking practices they engaged to develop themselves, others, and collectives. An important part of developing leadership capability is to work with a coach or mentor. Most of the my participants have coaches or mentors they regularly consult with, and many serve others in this role. This is the third, highly-recommended practice for the development of sustainability leaders. Initial research suggests that regular contact with an individual and/or community that challenges and invites one to use a more complex way of making meaning supports action logic development (Pfaffenberger, 2005, 2006; Pfaffenberger, et al., 2011). If leaders want to accelerate their developmental process, consistent engagement with people who hold a later action logic seems to be instrumental.
238 There is a caveat here. While a good coach or mentor is able to customize the developmental practices to the action logic of the person they are working with, it is important to remember that they, too, have their own worldview which is filtering their choice of practices. Therefore, leaders should choose coaches and mentors that are a good â€œdevelopmental fitâ€? for them. That is, such support figures should hold an action logic that is, ideally, one-half or one full action logic later than the leader (Eigel & Kuhnert, 2005). A greater difference than one-half to one stage ahead may lead to a coach or mentor not consistently filtering the influence of their own worldview and may suggest practices that are not developmentally appropriate.
This section addressed the implications of this research for sustainability leadership practice. I focused on the development of a leaderâ€™s meaning-making system as vital for bringing about the advanced capacities of later action logics. I also highlighted the most important competencies and practices that I believe sustainability leaders and change agents should engage in and develop. Given the challenge of the large-scale social, environmental, and economic issues we face, the capacities of developmentally mature sustainability leadership are profoundly needed. This research has served as the first empirical inquiry into what developmentally mature sustainability leadership looks like in action. I invite leaders, change agents, and leadership development professionals to draw upon this research to accelerate their own transformation and that of the individuals, collectives, and systems they touch. The next section addresses the implications of this study for the research agenda.
239 Implications for Future Research
This section makes seven suggestions for future research in this domain. These range from extending the existing study to a larger sample, to engaging in longitudinal studies and using additional developmental instruments for more specific insights. The section concludes with the argument that the need for this type of research is likely to increase and should therefore be rigorously pursued. This study has been exploratory and has generated three major propositions, each with sub-elements. Due to the sample size of thirteen participants, these cannot be extended to the general population. An important next step is to repeat the study with a larger sample and test the propositions. While this study focused on change agents and leaders engaged in sustainability initiatives, the findings are not limited to a sustainability context. That means that a follow-up study could utilize a sample of leaders not involved in sustainability. Additionally, it would be important for a subsequent study to not draw as heavily from a community of practitioners that is informed about integral theory. It also seems useful to expand the study to leaders who hold an Achiever or Individualist action logic. An inquiry into how they design and engage in sustainability initiatives would enable comparison across all five action logics. Such research could lead to the creation of a developmental scaffolding for change agents that maps various qualities and behavioral practices which emerge with the onset of each new action logic. For both of the above recommendations, I also suggest that researchers add more questions related to how change agents engage with their initiative over the course of its lifetime. I focused on the design of sustainability initiatives in this study. â€œDesignâ€? is a term
240 that relates to both the initial design and the on-going, “rolling” design throughout the execution of the initiative. Much of the discussion with participants therefore focused on their engagement with and delivery of their initiatives. I feel that the study could be enhanced by asking questions that inquire more thoroughly into this area. Two different research designs – both longitudinal – would also help expand the empirical understanding of how late-stage leaders reflect and engage. The first study I recommend is one that follows multiple leaders with different postconventional action logics throughout the course of an initiative. Such research could produce thick descriptions of how people with a late-stage action logic behave, including the reasoning behind their actions. The second type of research that would contribute significantly to understanding this topic is one that compared the overall effectiveness of sustainability initiatives over time. Such a study could longitudinally track a variety of sustainability initiatives designed and executed by postconventional leaders against a control group of leaders with a conventional action logic. The constructive-developmental research on leadership to date only correlates later action logics with general leadership effectiveness. There has been no research done on the effectiveness of initiatives designed by postconventional leaders. Building upon the suggestions made by McCauley, et al. (2006), I believe that the study of leaders who hold postconventional meaning-making capacity would be enhanced by adding other developmental measures that provide more granular insight into developmental distinctions. One measurement to consider is the Developmental Structure/Process Tool (DSPT) developed by Laske (2000), which uses data from the Subject-Object Interview and another protocol to track the usage of dialectical schema in a leader’s reasoning (Basseches,
241 1984). This instrument provides additional data about the maturity of meaning-making structures, beyond the stage designation of Kegan’s framework. Another tool, the Lectical Assessment System (Dawson & Wilson, 2004; Z. Stein & Heikkinen, 2008), provides granular insight into the developmental nature of specific leadership skills (e.g., leadership reasoning, ethical reasoning, decision making). This tool is largely informed by Fischer’s Dynamic Skill Theory (Fischer, 1980; Fischer & Bidell, 2006) and Common’s Model of Hierarchical Complexity (Commons & Richards, 1984a, 1984b). This tool draws upon a Rasch scaled/calibrated metric, which allows for very fine distinctions within levels (Bond & Fox, 2007). When used for leadership development, it reputedly (Z. Stein & Heikkinen, 2008) allows for more targeted recommendations concerning leadership weaknesses and strengths than the version of the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (i.e., the SCTi-MAP) used in this study (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Loevinger & Wessler, 1970) or the Subject-Object Interview (Lahey, et al., 1988). This study has focused on the psychological qualities and the behaviors of individual leaders and change agents. Another important and related domain is the emerging research on shared or distributed leadership (Pearce & Conger, 2003). All of the participants in this study designed their sustainability initiatives in collaboration with colleagues and – in some cases – many stakeholders. Future inquiries into the expression of mature meaning-making in leaders may be well served by including a review of the shared leadership literature. A particularly interesting and still unexplored dimension is how teams of developmentally mature leaders work together to enact change. I have proposed 15 competencies based upon my research data, and isolated eight of them as essential in my opinion. Future research should test for the presence of these 15
242 competencies, prioritize them, and look for additional competencies. Furthermore, a stronger competency model would include a maturity model for each competency that clarifies how each develops. In sum, the study of leaders with developmentally mature meaning-making systems is just beginning. While initial research has been done in this field (see the literature review above), considerable questions remain. How do such leaders reflect and behave? What specific leadership qualities and capacities arise with each new stage of development? What are the discreet skills that actually make a difference in leadership, and how are they expressed at the latest stages of maturity? What are the impacts of developmentally mature leaders working together? These and many other questions provide a robust research agenda for decades to come. I am confident that this topic will be of increasing relevance and interest for two reasons. First, many leaders face an increasingly complex scale and scope of leadership challenges. Our local, national, and global economic, social, and environmental issues are often pressing and require long-term engagement for their resolution. Thus, there is substantial and growing need for leaders and change agents that are able to understand and manage in the face of such complexity. Secondly, postconventional meaning-making represents a mature stage of a trajectory in psychological development. If people live longer, and the conditions that support healthy psychological development continue to improve, more leaders will likely develop meaning-making systems that today we consider mature. There are already young leaders who hold late action logics. Eighty-five percent of my sample (11/13) was under 47 years old and the two Ironists â€“ Rick and Luz â€“ were 33 and 36 years old, respectively. Additionally, individuals as young as 18 and 20 have been assessed
243 as Alchemists and Strategists (Cook-Greuter, 2011). Therefore, the number of developmentally mature leaders may also increase in time which will drive the need for greater understanding of them. Combined, these factors imply that research into the qualities and behaviors of leaders with mature meaning-making systems will continue to be needed and should be pursued.
We are facing issues of near-overwhelming complexity and unprecedented urgency. Our challenge is to think globally and develop policies to counteract environmental decline and economic collapse. The question is: Can we change direction before we go over the edge? ~ Lester Brown, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, ch. 1 From Enlightenment radiate the insight, compassion, and power needed to resolve individual and collective human problems as they continue to arise endlessly. ~ Les Hixon, Coming Home: The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions, p. xi The future of our organizations depends on successfully identifying and developing all leaders to higher [developmental levels] – to a place of greater authenticity – so that they can respond effectively to the increasingly complex demands of our times. ~ K. M. Eigel & K.W. Kuhnert, Authentic Leadership Theory and Practice: Origins, Effects, and Development, p. 383
Concurrent with this research I have been involved in the design of a large-scale, 20M Euro public-private partnership to support market transformation of the cocoa sector. We plan to leverage market forces to improve the livelihoods of tens of thousands of West African farmers. My colleagues at the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative are building similar programs for other major commodities such as tropical timber, aquaculture, soy, tea, and cotton. Thousands of organizations like ours, worldwide, are contributing their “piece of the puzzle” to address the sincere ecological, social, and economic threats faced at local and global levels. To achieve greater degrees of global sustainability will require changing government policies, industry practices, and human behavior everywhere. The design and delivery of
245 sustainable development is the largest initiative humanity has ever collectively undertaken. Should we fail, many parts of the world face the stark potential of a crumbled society and a natural environment that can no longer be depended upon for vital services. The poorest and least developed countries are expected to be amongst the hardest hit (L. R. Brown, 2011; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). We have a precious opportunity in the years to come to create a world that works for all while avoiding large-scale collapse. The execution of global sustainability consists largely of rolling out innovative political and financial tools, new business models, green technologies, and public communications campaigns to stimulate behavioral change. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of sustainability initiatives will be required within local, national, and international contexts. Behind every one of these initiatives will be a leader, change agent or, more likely, a team of them. Given the current scarcity of resources currently allocated to this global goal, and the difficulty of both changing systems and behaviors, these leaders will need all the creativity and insight they can muster. The widespread development of leadership consciousness is integral to global sustainability. This work is a vital piece of the puzzle, as postconventional meaning-making offers significant advantages and abilities over earlier worldviews. With this research, I have attempted to accomplish two things. First, I wanted to strengthen the linkage between the fields of leadership development for sustainability and constructive-developmentalism. Secondly, I wanted to empirically identify specific actions and capacities of leaders with a late-stage action logic. These, in turn, can be used to help guide the development of leaders and change agents into the postconventional realm, thereby aiding them to unlock greater potential.
246 I believe that I have succeeded in both of these endeavors. Any comprehensive program of leadership development for sustainability that draws upon the latest academic literature needs to acknowledge the constructive-developmental dimension. Additionally, for those that develop leaders who are nearing a postconventional action logic, I have provided a suite of competencies and practices that can serve as the foundation for their programs. From a scholarly perspective, I recognize that the propositions, competencies, and practices postulated in this study are hypothetical and subject to validation and refinement. I invite other researchers to do this work and therefore drive our collective understanding of developmentally mature leadership. I will continue as a scholar in this field and trust that many new discoveries await. However, from a practitioner standpoint, I believe that now is the time to act. We have enough evidence to make bold strides forward regarding the design of leadership development programs for change agents globally. I have looked closely at the existing research, studied my peers, and personally served as a sustainability leader using the competencies and practices discussed here. From this deep empirical and experiential research I can state unequivocally that there are considerable leadership advantages to holding a late stage meaning-making system. We should, therefore, shift our attention to embedding practices that foster developmental maturity into leadership development programs everywhere. Numerous organizations have already begun this journey, basing their leadership development programs on constructive-developmental findings. 20 For me, the issue is no
These include: Avastone Consulting, Axialent, Bath Consultancy Group, The Center for Human Emergence and its School of Synnervation, The Change Leadership Group at Harvard University, Cook-Greuter & Associates, Core Integral, Core Leadership Development, Drishti, Dynamic Results, Forsyth Consulting Group, Future Considerations, Harthill Consulting, Innovative Leadership Services, The Integral Business Leadership
247 longer if postconventional meaning-making in a change agent or leader makes a difference. Rather, the biggest question is how quickly it can be cultivated amongst the many millions who are developmentally ready and would be better able to bring about global sustainability with it? Resolving this challenge is a crucial ingredient for humanity to overcome the biggest crises we have ever faced. I am hopeful, and ultimately trust that we will eventually build a world with greater social harmony, ecological health, and economic vitality. One conscious step at a time, we can do it.
Group, Integral City, Integral Ecology Center, Integral Life, Integral Institute, Integral Sustainability Center, Integral Without Borders, The Leadership for Results Programme at United Nations Development Programme, Jean Houstonâ€™s Mystery Schools, MindShift Integral Planning, Next Step Integral, NVC Consulting, OneSky, Pacific Integral, Renaissance 2, Source Integral, Spiral Dynamics Integral, Stagen, and Teleos Leadership Institute. There are many others as well.
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274 Appendix A: 21 Sustainability Leadership Theories
Scholars approach sustainability leadership from various dimensions, resulting in many names and considerable overlap. Some of these theories are based upon the application of existing leadership theories to sustainability, others have been generated through grounded theory. They include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Adaptive leadership (Burke, 2007; Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz, et al., 2009) Conscious capitalism (Sisodia, Wolfe, & Sheth, 2007; Strong, 2009) Conservation-science leadership (Manolis, et al., 2009) Ecocentric leadership (Shrivastava, 1994) Eco-leadership (Hanson & Middleton, 2000) Environmental leadership (Berry & Gordon, 1993; Boiral, et al., 2009; Egri & Herman, 2000) 7. Ethical leadership (Banerjea, 2010; Ciulla, 1998) 8. Holistic wealth generation (Neville, 2004) 9. Global leadership (Hames, 2007) 10. Globally responsible leadership (European Foundation for Management Development & Global Compact, 2006; Haskins, 2005) 11. Green entrepreneurship or â€œecopreneurshipâ€? (Linnanen, 2002; Pastakia, 1998; Walley & Taylor, 2002) 12. Dialogical leadership (Cox, 2004) 13. Organic leadership (Cox, 2005) 14. Regenerative leadership (Hardman, 2009) 15. Responsible leadership (Doh & Stumpf, 2005; Maak & Pless, 2006) 16. Servant leadership (Covey, 2006; Greenleaf & Spears, 2002) 17. Social change model of leadership (Gerhardt, 2008; Komives & Wagner, 2009) 18. Social entrepreneurship (Muscat & Whitty, 2009; Nicholls, 2006) 19. Socially responsible leadership (Gustafson, 2004; Neville, 2004) 20. Spiritual leadership (Fry & Slocum, 2008) 21. Sustainability leadership (Ferdig, 2007; Parkin, 2010; Quinn & Dalton, 2009).
275 Appendix B: The Seven Action Logics of Environmental Leadership
Action logic & percent of management population
Possible implications for environmental leadership
Little sensitivity to environmental issues except when they represent a threat or foreseeable gain for the manager; resistance to pressure from stakeholders, who are viewed as detrimental to economic interests; vision of the environment as a collection of resources to exploit (DSP); sporadic and short-term measures
May seize certain environmental opportunities or react quickly in a crisis; superficial actions may be showcased in opportunistically
Pursuit of individual interests without regard for environmental impacts; comprehension of environmental issues limited to immediate benefits or constraints
Supports environmental questions due to concern for appearances or to follow a trend in established social conventions; concerned with soothing tensions related to environmental issues within the organization and in relations with stakeholders
Reactive attitude with respect to environmental pressures; consideration of regulatory constraints and the impact on the organizational image
Superficial conformity to external pressures; absence of real reappraisal of how things are done, statements often contradict actions
Considers environmental issues from a technical, specialized perspective; reinforcement of expertise of environmental services; seeks scientific certitude before acting; preference for proven technical approaches
Development of environmental knowledge within the organization; implementation of environmental technologies
Limited vision and lack of integration of environmental issues; denial of certain problems; has difficulty with collaboration
Integration of environmental issues into organizational objectives and procedures; development of environmental committees integrating different services; response to market concerns with respect to ecological issues; concern for improving performance
Efficient implementation of ISO 14001 type management systems; follow-up of environmental performance; more widespread employee involvement; pragmatism
Difficult questioning management systems in place; conventional environmental goals and measurements; lack of critical detachment with respect to conventions
Inclined to develop original and creative environmental solutions, to question preconceived notions; development of a participative approach requiring greater employee involvement; more systemic and broader vision of issues (NEP)
Active consideration of the ideas and suggestions of diverse stakeholders; personal commitment of the manager; more complex, systemic and integrated approach
Discussions that may sometimes seem long and unproductive; idealism that may lack pragmatism, useless questioning of issues; possible conflict with Experts and Achievers
Inclined to propose a pro-environmental vision and culture for the organization, more in-depth transformation of in-house habits and values; development of a more proactive approach conducive to anticipating long-term trends; marked interest for global environmental issues; integration of economic, social and environmental aspects
Changes in values and practices; harmonization of the organization with social expectations; real integration of the principles of sustainable development; long-term perspective
Approach that may seem difficult to grasp and impractical; risk of disconnect with pressures to produce short-term profits; scarcity of Strategists
Alchemist (1% )
Re-centering of the organizationâ€™s mission and vocation with regard to social and environmental responsibilities; activist managerial commitment; involvement in various organizations and events promoting harmonious societal development; support for global humanitarian causes
Active involvement in the comprehensive transformation of the organization and society; concern for authenticity, truth and transparency; complex and integrated vision
Risk of scattering managerial and organizational efforts, to the benefit of the common good; losing touch with the primary organizational vocation; extreme rarity of Alchemists
Note: Adapted from â€œThe action logics of environmental leadership: A developmental perspectiveâ€? by O. Boiral, M. Cayer, & C. M. Baron, 2009, Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 479-499. Reprinted with permission. Data for the percentages of managers at each action logic from (Rooke & Torbert, 2005). For additional research on the percentages of the adult population for each action logic, based upon a large sample (n = 4510), see Cook-Greuter (1999, 2004).
277 Appendix C: Summary of Sustainability Leadership Competencies Research
Personal characteristics: Honesty; Integrity; Trustworthiness; Fair and principled.
(Trevi単o, et al., 2000) Structured interviews with business executives in the U.S. Focus on ethical leadership. Attributes are linked to perceived leadership effectiveness. N = 40
Personal characteristics: Need for achievement; Need for affiliation; Self-confidence Skills: Interpersonal; Technical; Conceptual.
(Egri & Herman, 2000) Interviews with leaders from for-profit green business organizations and non-profit environmentalist organizations in the U.S. and Canada. Focus on what is required to lead environmental organizations, in service of building a model of environmental leadership. N = 73
Business competencies: Building insight; Communication skills; Decision making; Commercial awareness; Building internal partnerships; I.T.; Innovation; Strategic awareness; Leadership; Handling complexity; Problem solving Technical competencies: Technical expertise; Understanding impacts; Stakeholder dialogue; Internal consultancy; License to operate; Selling the business case; Understanding human rights; Understanding sustainability People competencies: Adaptability; Empathy; Developing others; Influencing without power; Building external partnerships; Open minded; Integrity; Political savvy; Self-development and learning; Team working Personal characteristics: Questioning business as usual; Understanding the role of each
(Wilson & Holton, 2003) Research involved interviews, expert reference workshops, and survey of leaders in CSR in the UK. Focus is on competencies required for responsible leadership. N = 68
278 player in society and their interaction; Building internal and external partnerships; Building and managing stakeholder relationships; Respecting diversity; Taking strategic view. Personal characteristics: Feeling of interconnectedness with others; Bias for action; Passion and resolve to follow their vision; Courage Skills: Storytelling; Attract resources; Develop leaders within their organization.
(Gustafson, 2004) Grounded theory approach using interviews and observations of founders of non-profits in the U.S. Focus on developing a theory and model of socially responsible leadership. N = 22
Personal characteristics: See the world as a web of interconnected systems; Value a holistic conception of wealth that includes relationships, wholeness, environmental sustainability, and financial measures; Hold a multi-generational perception of time.
(Neville, 2004) Grounded theory approach using interviews with people perceived as change agents in the U.S. Focus on leading positive change at the intersection of business and society toward the generation of holistic wealth. N = 37
Personal characteristics or â€œcore commitmentsâ€?: Work from a deep sense of personal purpose; Redefine the purpose of business; Work with a broad range of stakeholders; Engage in transformational interactions; Embrace emergent organizing.
(Cox, 2005) Grounded theory approach using interviews (and secondary data sources) with CEOs/Founders of green organizations in the U.S. Focus on leadership in green organizations and how it differs from traditional leadership approaches. N = 18
Knowledge: Understanding the competing demands of different stakeholder groups; Understanding how the core business activities create opportunities for other actors in society and how the company can make a contribution to society; Understanding the social and environmental risks and opportunities of the company and its industry sector; Understanding the institutional debate on the role and legitimacy of the firm. Skills: Well founded and balanced judgment; Critical thinking; Team player; Creativity, innovation, and original thinking; Communicating with credibility; Business acumen; Listening skills; Managing stakeholder network relationships; Emotional
(Wilson, et al., 2006) Survey followed by interview-based action research with senior managers in European multinationals, focusing on the competencies required for responsible leadership. N = 100 for survey; N = 24 for interviews.
279 intelligence. Attitudes: Honesty and integrity; Long-term perspective; Open mindedness; Appreciating and embracing diversity; Conviction and courage; The drive to contest resistance; The capacity to think outside the box. Reflexive abilities: Systemic thinking; Embracing diversity and managing risk; Balancing global and local perspectives; Meaningful dialogue and developing a new language for corporate responsibility; Emotional awareness. Competencies: Long-term view; Communication; Influence; Scan the external environment; Collaboration; Understand anotherâ€™s perspective.
(Quinn & Baltes, 2007) Survey-based research with corporate leaders in the U.S. Focus on competencies required for supporting corporate social responsibility and the triple bottom line. N = 247.
Literacies or meta-competencies: Networked intelligence; Futuring; Strategic navigation; Deep design; Brand resonance.
(Hames, 2007, 2009) Decade of action research with leaders from business, government, and civil society, from the global North and South, developed and developing countries. Based on a behavioral modeling methodology, with interviews, observations, modeling analysis and feedback for confirmation. Focus on global leadership. N = 362
Personal characteristics: Acting with integrity; Caring for people; Demonstrating ethical behavior; Communicating with others; Taking a long-term perspective; Being open-minded.
(Hind, et al., 2009) Survey-based research on most important competencies managers need to integrate social and environmental considerations into business decisions. Participants were from both the public and private sector in Europe. N = 108.
Abilities: Deal with the complexity of environmental issues; Integrate seemingly contradictory outlooks; Understand and address the expectations of a wide range of players; Profoundly change organizational practices.
(Boiral, et al., 2009) Conceptual research, based upon a review of the environmental leadership literature, as part of building a postconventional approach to environmental leadership.
280 Competencies for Stage 1, CSR Decision: CSR awareness; Reflexivity; Discerning CSR goals. Competencies for Stage 2, CSR Adoption: Using business case language; Persuasion; Handling paradoxes and conflicting priorities; Consistency of application; CSR measurement; Follow through. Competencies for Stage 3, CSR Commitment: Will to act.
(N. K. Kakabadse, et al., 2009) Case-based interview, data feedback, and participant observation, focusing on how to effectively implement CSR and drive it through an organization. Analysis of cross-section of leaders and managers in 65 organizations, both for profit and non-profit, across four continents. N = 300
281 Appendix D: Informed Consent Form
Fielding Graduate University Informed Consent Form Research on how leaders and change agents design sustainability initiatives NAME OF PARTICIPANT: _______________________________________________ You have been asked to participate in a research study conducted by Barrett Brown, a doctoral student in the School of Human and Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, CA. This study is supervised by Judith-Stevens Long. This research involves the study of how leaders design sustainability initiatives and is part of Barrett's Fielding dissertation. You are being asked to participate in this study because you have been nominated by a colleague. That person will not be advised whether you chose or not to participate. You have been selected to participate in this research because you are perceived to have considerable experience and insight into how to design effective sustainability initiatives. Before you agree to participate in this research study, it is important that you read and understand the information provided in this informed consent form. If you have any questions, please ask the researcher for clarification. Why Is This Study Being Done? The purpose of the research is to better understand how leaders and change agents design sustainability initiatives. The results of this research will be fed into leadership development programs for sustainability leaders. How Many People Will Take Part In The Study? Up to 40 participants. What Is Involved In The Study? Should you choose to participate, there are two phases of this research. In Phase I you would take an assessment called the SCTi-MAP Professional Sentence Completion Form. For this, you complete 36 sentence stems in writing. It takes 60 minutes and you can do it anytime. I will invite some (12-20) participants from the research sample to be interviewed (Phase II). If you are chosen, this would be a 90-120 minute interview with open-ended questions about your approach to designing sustainability initiatives. How Long Will I Be In The Study? The study involves one assessment and possibly one interview, to be arranged at your convenience. This will last approximately 60 minutes for the assessment and 90-120 minutes for the interview. The total time involved in participation, if you are interviewed, will be approximately 3.5-4.0 hours, including administrative e-mail contact and any follow up
282 discussions. If you are not interviewed, the total time involved in participation will be 1.5 hours, including administrative e-mail. What Are The Risks Of The Study? The risks to you are considered minimal; there is a small chance that you may experience some emotional discomfort during or after your participation. Should you experience such discomfort, please contact the counseling services and/or therapists provided in the attached list. What Are The Benefits To Taking Part In This Study? You may enjoy the opportunity, and find it useful, to reflect upon your own leadership for sustainability. You may develop greater personal awareness of how to design effective sustainability initiatives as a result of your participation in this research. You will also be contributing to the development of increasingly effective leadership development programs for sustainability leaders. This is a tangible way of giving to future generations of leaders. What about Confidentiality and Protection? Study related records will be held in confidence. Your consent to participate in this study includes consent for the researcher, supervising faculty, and possibly a confidential Research Assistant who may also see your data. Your research records may be inspected and/or photocopied by authorized representatives of the Fielding Graduate University, including members of the Institutional Review Board or their designees, for monitoring or auditing purposes. The information you provide will be kept strictly confidential. The informed consent forms and other identifying information will be kept separate from the data. All materials will be kept in password-protected computer files on the laptop and back-up media of Barrett Brown. The tape recordings will be listened to only by the Researcher, the Dissertation Chair, and possibly a confidential Research Assistant (a transcriptionist), who has signed the attached Professional Assistance Confidentiality Agreement. Any records that would identify you as a participant in this study, such as informed consent forms, will be destroyed by Barrett Brown approximately three years after the study is completed. You will be assigned a different name for any quotes that might be included in the final research report. If any direct quotes will be used, permission will be sought from you first. The results of this research will be published in Barrett Brownâ€™s dissertation and possibly published in subsequent journals, books or presentations. The security of data transmitted over the Internet cannot be guaranteed, therefore, there is a slight risk that the information you send to Barrett Brown via email will not be secure. The collection of such data is not expected to present any greater risk than you would encounter in everyday life when sending and/or receiving information over the Internet. Participation in Research is Voluntary You are free to decline to participate or to withdraw from this study at any time, either during or after your participation, without negative consequences. Should you withdraw, your data
283 will be eliminated from the study and will be destroyed. The researcher is also free to terminate the study at any time. Compensation No compensation will be provided for participation. Study Results You may request a copy of the summary of the aggregate final results by indicating your interest at the end of this form. Additional Information If you have any questions about any aspect of this study or your involvement, please tell the Researcher before signing this form. You may also contact the supervising faculty if you have questions or concerns your participation in this study. The supervising faculty has provided contact information at the bottom of this form. You may also ask questions at any time during your participation in this study. If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant, contact the Fielding Graduate University IRB by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 805-898-4033. This informed consent form has been provided to you electronically, via e-mail. Please print out one copy of this form and sign it, indicating you have read, understood, and agree to participate in this research. Keep this record for your files. Then please reply to the researcher via e-mail that you have read, understood, and agree to participate in the research. If you would like a copy of the study results, please also indicate this to the researcher in your reply. The Institutional Review Board of Fielding Graduate University retains the right to access to all signed informed consent forms and other study documents. I have read the above informed consent document and have had the opportunity to ask questions about this study. I have been told my rights as a research participant, and I voluntarily consent to participate in this study. By signing this form, I agree to participate in this research study. I shall receive a signed and dated copy of this consent. _____________________________________ NAME OF PARTICIPANT (please print) _____________________________________ SIGNATURE OF PARTICIPANT _____________________________________ DATE RESEARCH SUPERVISOR Judith Stevens-Long, Ph.D. Fielding Graduate University 2112 Santa Barbara Street Santa Barbara, CA 93105 JLong@fielding.edu +1 805-687-1099
RESEARCHER Barrett Chapman Brown, M.A. Amstelboulevard 124 1096 HK, Amsterdam The Netherlands firstname.lastname@example.org +31 614329246
284 Appendix E: Invitation Letter to Enroll Nominated Participants
Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name], [Name of person who nominated them] nominated you to participate in a research program on sustainability leadership. This invitation describes the purpose, process, and potential benefits to you for participation. I am a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University, based in Santa Barbara, USA. I reside in the Netherlands where I co-lead the learning and development component of the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative. This is an invitation to participate in my dissertation research. Purpose. The purpose of this research is to better understand how leaders and change agents design sustainability initiatives. Its results will be fed into the creation of leadership development programs for sustainability leaders. Process. Should you choose to participate, there are two phases of this research. In Phase I you would take an assessment called the SCTi-MAP Professional Sentence Completion Form. For this, you complete 36 sentence stems in writing. It takes 60 minutes and you can do it anytime. I will invite some participants from the research sample to be interviewed (Phase II). If you are chosen, this would be a 90-120 minute interview with open-ended questions about your approach to designing sustainability initiatives. Phase I and Phase II will occur over the next 2-3 months and would be customized to your schedule. There is no compensation. Your responses to both the assessment and interview would be kept in complete confidentiality. A pseudonym will be assigned to your data and used throughout the research. Benefits. You may enjoy the opportunity, and find it useful, to reflect upon your own leadership for sustainability. For your participation, you will receive a report of the study findings. This may serve the development of your own approach to designing sustainability initiatives. Additionally, the information you provide may be used to help develop other sustainability leaders through leadership development programs. This is a tangible way of giving to future generations of leaders. Next Steps. If you are willing to participate please be so kind as to let me know via e-mail or by calling me at the number listed below. I will then send you the above-mentioned assessment to take and a research consent form. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Barrett C. Brown, M.A.
285 Appendix F: Invitation Letter to Enroll Participants from My Network
Dear [Name], I hope this finds you well. I would like to invite you to participate in a research program on sustainability leadership. This invitation describes the purpose, process, and potential benefits to you for participation. As you may know, I am a doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University, based in Santa Barbara, USA. I currently live in the Netherlands where I co-lead Learning and Development for the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative. This is an invitation to participate in my dissertation research. Purpose. The purpose of this research is to better understand how leaders and change agents design sustainability initiatives. Its results will be fed into the creation of leadership development programs for sustainability leaders. Process. Should you choose to participate, there are two phases of this research. In Phase One, you would take an assessment called the SCTi-MAP Professional Sentence Completion Form. For this, you complete 36 sentence stems in writing. It takes 60 minutes and you can do it anytime. I will invite some participants from the research sample to be interviewed (Phase Two). If you are chosen, this would be a 90-120 minute interview with open-ended questions about your approach to designing sustainability initiatives. Phase One and Phase Two will occur over the next 2-3 months and would be customized to fit your schedule. There is no compensation. Your responses to both the assessment and interview would be kept in complete confidentiality. A pseudonym will be assigned to your data and used throughout the research. Benefits. You may enjoy the opportunity, and find it useful, to reflect upon your own leadership for sustainability. For your participation, you will receive a report of the study findings. This may serve the development of your own approach to designing sustainability initiatives. Additionally, the information you provide may be used to help develop other sustainability leaders through leadership development programs. This is a tangible way of giving to future generations of leaders. Next Steps. If you are willing to participate please be so kind as to let me know via e-mail or by calling me at the number listed below. I will then send you the above-mentioned assessment to take and a research consent form. I look forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Barrett C. Brown, M.A.
286 Appendix G: 36-Item SCTi-MAP Research Form
Your Project Gender
Dissertation Research B. Brown Age
Research ID Profession Native language
Instructions: Please save this form to your hard drive. Then use the tab key to advance from field to field to fill it in. The MAP contains 36 sentence beginnings of various kinds. Please just complete each sentence to the best of your knowledge, or the best of your ability. Give yourself no more than sixty minutes of private time to complete this form. There are no right or wrong answers. When you are done, return a copy of the assessment by email attachment to email@example.com, your research administrator. Please mark the field on the right with an “OK” to give explicit permission to Cook-Greuter & Associates to share the result of this survey with the researcher, Barrett Brown. OK here: 1
Raising a family
When I’m criticized
When a child will not join in group activities
A man’s job
Being with other people
The thing I like about myself is
My mother and I
What gets me into trouble is
10 When people are helpless
11 Women are lucky because
12 A good boss
13 A girl has a right to
14 The past
15 When they talked about sex, I
16 I feel sorry
17 When they avoided me
18 Rules are
19 Crime and delinquency could be halted if
20 Men are lucky because
288 21 I just can’t stand people who
22 At times s/he worried about
23 I am
24 If I had more money
25 My main problem is
26 When I get mad
27 People who step out of line at work
28 A husband has a right to
29 If my mother
30 If I were in charge
31 My father
32 If I can’t get what I want
33 When I am nervous
“S/he” should be read as “she” by women, “he” by men
289 34 For a woman a career is
35 My conscience bothers me if
36 Sometimes s/he wished that
“S/he” should be read as “she” by women, “he” by men
290 Appendix H: Interview Protocol
1. Would you tell me a little bit about how you got into sustainability work? 2. Please describe the most sophisticated or complex sustainability initiative that you have designed or helped design within the past two years. a. Probe: What made it so sophisticated or complex? b. Probe: How did you design the initiative? c. Probe: How did you determine what to do? d. Probe: What tools, models, or processes did you draw upon to design it? e. Probe: What was your experience of the design process? 3. How would you describe your current approach to designing sustainability initiatives, (if different from the one you just described)? Please base it on a specific design you engaged in recently. a. Probe: How do you identify the intervention points for change in the system? b. Probe: What were the critical first steps? c. Probe: What are the most powerful tools, models, or processes you have found to support the design process (besides those mentioned above)? d. Probe: What do you do when you canâ€™t get all of the information you would ideally like to make a decision? 4. Please tell me about a time when you were at your best in the design process, what did it look like? a. Probe: What did it feel like? 5. At its deepest level of meaning to you, what is it that you do? That is, what is the essence of your work; what are you doing on the deepest level? a. Probe: And how do you bring that essence to the design process? 6. What is the inner place from which you operate when designing sustainability initiatives? 7. What guiding principles or design principles, if any, do you follow when you design? 8. If you could share three pieces of advice to tomorrowâ€™s sustainability leaders about how to design effective sustainability initiatives, what would you say? 9. Is there anything else you would like to add about how to design sustainability initiatives?
Conscious Leadership for Sustainability