Thursday, November 13, 2008

Marilyn Hamilton - Leadership Development: Accelerating the Development of Post-Conventional Leaders

A great article that was presented at the first ever integral conference this summer in the Bay Area. Thanks to Integral Praxis for the heads up.

Leadership Development: Accelerating the Development of Post-Conventional Leaders

© Marilyn Hamilton, PhD CGA - All rights reserved

October 7, 2008

Integral Theory in Action Conference

At the first bi-annual Integral Theory in Action (ITIA) Conference at John F. Kennedy University (JFKU) in August 2008, I had the honour and pleasure of presenting a paper on my 12 years of Learning and Leadership research and a preview poster presentation of my forthcoming book Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. The paper will be published shortly and the book is imminent as well. In the book, I allocate more than one chapter to explore the importance of leadership to the wellbeing of cities.

In an Integral City, I assume “that effective city leadership requires an understanding of dynamic human development, integrated with healthy workplaces, education and healthcare systems. Effective city leaders are interested and invest in leadership of themselves, other individuals, organizations and communities at the appropriate level of complexity. Effective leaders lead from about a half a level ahead of the current level of development, offering a vision that is a stretch but attainable (Hamilton, 2008).”


This article is a report on a key theme of the ITIA Conference. I review five presentations on leadership development research, that confirm many of my propositions about the quality and criteria needed to grow leaders for an Integral City. (Using the Spiral Dynamics (SDi) (Beck & Cowan, 1996) levels of complexity, I describe these leaders as Level 8 leaders with capacities that these five papers reference as Level 5 or post-conventional leaders, using the summary levels derived from the work of Bill Torbert and Robert Kegan.)

The five presentations are intertwined because they ground, use and/or apply findings from each other’s work. (It should be noted that each of these papers is available in full format from the ITIA website on a CD bibliography and/or audio DVD.)

The first review of the presentation by Bill Torbert and his associates at Boston College, has influenced the second paper by Gauthier and Fowler from JFKU, which has in turn contributed to the third paper which outlines the development of conventional leaders by Stagen Consulting. The fourth paper describes the original work of Bill Joiner (and Stephen Josephs) on Leadership Agility and the fifth is research at the organizational level by John Schmidt and Cynthia McEwen that examines many of the leadership insights from the first four studies with a particular focus on the field of sustainability.

To start with, I would like to offer a summary of the life conditions that describe the context for developing leaders capable of serving an Integral City. Gauthier and Fowler (Gauthier & Fowler, 2008) argue that the leadership development field is impacted by both “enhancing forces and constraining forces”. Enhancing forces are visible from the emergence of: the talent competition across all sectors creating demand for capable leaders; the adoption by many business schools of the UN Global Compact’s principles for responsible management education; civil society and its influence; social entrepreneur networks; collaborative and multi-sector partnerships for leadership development; cross-generational and international leadership networks; virtual education; ‘cultural creative’ and of ‘post-conventional’ leaders, in Gen X and younger cohorts; partnering paradigms with women as catalysts; and spiritual practice and creativity in wellbeing domains.

Although the authors were considering mostly organizational scale change (rather than city scale change), the constraining forces to effective leadership development programs that they identified also apply to cities: distraction by short-term performance goals; time pressures; quantitative metrics; limited integration of existing leadership programs; limited numbers of qualified change practitioners/educators; prohibitive expense of generative leadership development programs; little focus on the development of collective leadership or collective intelligence; and the domination mindset common to older men.

On a larger scale of human systems, they noted the “increasing fragmentation of society and growing individualism and materialism with a growing fundamentalism in some societies”.

Read the whole article.

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