Many years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a weekend workshop with developmental psychologist, Dr. Robert Kegan. Being exposed to his ideas was a turning point for me, learning what he’s done to document adult levels of consciousness.  Much like Piaget did for children, Kegan managed to identify various levels of consciousness in adult development. 

Dr. Jeffery Martin, who I have been tracking all this year as part of my health and fundamental wellbeing challenge to myself, has built on Kegan’s work. He’s done so by suggesting how we can develop our levels of consciousness through tools such as gratitude, meditation and a trust in the unfolding mystery of life.

So, it was with pleasure that I found this article, which references the work of one of Kegan’s Phd students, Susanne Cook-Greuter. The unique contribution of this article is to take the work Kegan did and create a way to identify where one is in a leadership developmental continuum. Cook-Greuter shifts the framework from consciousness to leadership development.

The idea of developing our own levels of consciousness and moving along this leadership continuum dove-tail. The more we invest in leadership development as individuals, teams, organizations and communities, the more we can learn and grow and develop. In fact, the way we learn, grow and develop IS to grow our consciousness.

I’ve listed a short summary of the 7 types of developmental leadership below and here is your link to the more detailed list of the 7 types.

Here are the 7 types in brief:

  1. The Opportunist Leader – focuses on survival, lives in fear and mistrust. This type of leader consciousness operates through covert, non-direct and individually-focused ways.
  2. The Conformist Leader – sees the world as challenging but responds by “playing it safe.” This leader consciousness operates through giving their own power of choice to others and often complains in response.
  3. The Specialist Leader – focuses on standing out through getting their own work done correctly in a type of continuous improvement strategy.
  4. The Achiever Leader – focuses on the excellence of their work and focuses on the impact of their work on others, including creating feedback loops to learn.
  5. The Catalyst Leader – moves into the personal growth zone where growing and evolving becomes the natural way of being.  They feel their way forward in the world despite uncertainty to lead a more purposeful and fulfilling life based on conscious intention and committed action. They attune to leveraging strengths, fueling personal growth and collaborating with others to exercise mutual power to co-create the best possible outcomes for the whole community
  6. The Synergist Leader – has adopted the mantle of personal authentic power in the interests of serving the whole community. This represents a shift from “doing good” at Catalyst to “the greater good for all concerned” at Synergist.
  7. The Alchemist Leader – ignites and generates social evolution as well as transforms global structures. The Alchemist embodies their own intuitive guidance and employs mutually collaborative power to generate transformational shifts in the world. They are able to hold and embrace wonderful future possibilities while standing firmly in the present. They look at events symbolically and value both the shadow and the light. They’ve surrendered their personal will, desiring to be, and trusting in being, an instrument in the divine orchestra on earth.

“Imagine so valuing the importance of developing people’s capabilities that you design a culture that itself immersively sweeps every member of the organization into an ongoing developmental journey in the course of working every day….Imagine finding yourself in a trustworthy environment, one that tolerates–even prefers–making your weaknesses public so that your colleagues can support you in the process of overcoming them…You’re imagining an organization that, through its culture, is an incubator or accelerator of people’s growth. In short, you’re imagining a deliberately developmental organization.”   … Robert Kegan, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization