Authentic Leadership Development: The journey of growth & development.

Clients I work with have been asking for more and more Authentic Leadership coaching so I decided to take my own learning a little deeper. After a mini-literature review I have discovered some interesting topics that I will write about in my next several blogs. 

The first one I wanted to share with you is rooted in a research study that was done about leadership development and the levels at which we progress from adolescence to maturity. 

In “Authentic Development: Leadership Development Level and Executive Effectiveness” by Keith Eigel & Karl Kuhnert they studied the levels of maturity that shape the mental and moral capacities of a leader. 

I found it fascinating.

Learning to be a great leader takes a lifetime. It is an ongoing journey for many of us who seek it and we always seem to feel like we have a lot more to learn. We learn from the people we lead, from our clients, our partners, our collaborators, our competitors and our own families. The environment around us and the experiences we have been challenged by are all part of what forms and moulds us into the leader we’re meant to be.

Eigel & Kuhnert’s theory of leadership development starts at level two because level one, in their opinion, is equivalent to childhood development and is studied in early childhood education models. 

As you read the lists of characteristics in each level, try to decipher where you may be? Where do you spend most of your time? What situations pull you back and forth between the different levels? What sparks you as something you may need work on?

Leadership Development Level 2

Leaders in level two see the world similar to that of an adolescent. These leaders tend to:

  • oversimplify
  • have concrete viewpoints
  • see things in black and white 
  • only see win-lose options
  • see other’s views as oppositional
  • be self-centred
  • be simplistic
  • be unbending 
  • be rule oriented leaders 
  • associate breaking the rules with negative consequences

Leadership Development Level 3

These leaders can: 

  • consider the perspectives of others
  • understand their own weaknesses and limitations from level two 
  • understand that they are more than their own personal agenda 
  • see more than black and white
  • disobey rules they don’t agree 
  • see that they do not always have to win
  • internalize
  • empathize
  • adopt other’s perspectives
  • acknowledge, synthesize and fairly represent the viewpoints of others

In this level; however, leaders struggle to:

  • create action independently
  • deal well with conflict 
  • use their own creativity and authentic expression
  • make decisions without support
  • feel ‘ok’ about themselves without relationships to support them

Leadership Development Level 4

Leaders in level four:

  • are independent
  • are less reliant on outside sources of information 
  • have an understanding that comes from within and from others
  • understand that all opinions can be evaluated objectively but do not define their decision-making
  • are able to separate their feelings from the facts 
  • can author their own point of view
  • have started learning how to lead from a place of their own authenticity 
  • are truly able to be effective leaders
  • are more successful at generating willing followers
  • know the world doesn’t revolve around them
  • are not beholden to their own circumstances for their well-being 
  • have needs and an agenda but know that they alone cannot create an effective team or organizational value
  • have their own techniques for doing what they do 
  • are distinguishable, identifiable and unique

Leadership Development Level 5

The final level is level five. here, leaders:

  • are highly aware of their environment 
  • can respond in an situation they find themselves in
  • are only 5 to 8% of 40 to 60 year olds in leadership roles
  • have the ability to step away from, take perspective on and evaluate their leadership objectively
  • are open to the influence of others
  • can be their own critics
  • can see into the situation, themselves and others at the same time
  • are open to reports on their own performance
  • understand their likes and dislikes 
  • are aware of their impact on others as well as their changing needs
  • are grounded in their values
  • are open to experiences and opinions of those they represent
  • display openness and vulnerability to others
  • are in constant transformation
  • have a strong ability to reflect 
  • create their vision and brilliantly articulate it 
  • illustrate their value system through their actions
  • influence followers to action, growth and effectiveness
  • have a strong sense of self-awareness, self-esteem and authenticity

As you journey through these four levels you are transitioning from a self-centred, ‘in the moment’ style of leadership to one of complexity, inclusivity and stability. You begin to know more about yourself, others and the world and that knowledge shifts from something that defines you to something you define from within.

Movement between levels happens when your team/organization/self becomes unbalanced. A shake up or challenge occurs and your old way of dealing with things no longer works. At this point, you can choose to gain a new understanding or you can shut down and oversimplify what is around you and stay at a lower level.

As you can see, most of the differences between levels have to do with self. There is nothing above that mentions how you need to fix your team or your colleagues. Leadership growth and development is internal and is hard work. Are you ready?

Leading Millennials: How to lead and engage student interns.

Why "The 5 Love Languages®" Matter in the Workplace

Why "The 5 Love Languages®" Matter in the Workplace