Leadership in Action

The GLP is based on Torbert’s 40+ years of research (see Torbert & Associates, Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership [Berrett-Koehler, 2004], as well as Seven Transformations of Leadership [April 2005 Harvard Business Review]. The 2013 scholarly summary CDAI appears in Torbert’s Listening Into the Dark. The latest methodological review of five different measures (2016), can be viewed in Bill’s Developmental Measures Compared whilst here, Bill explores The Pragmatic Impact on Leaders and Organizations of a CDAI Approach.

Torbert has been involved in testing the validity of several developmental leadership measures that are close equivalents, and the GLP is the latest version, building on the validity of the others, while improving upon them in various ways. For example, we now offer each person who takes the GLP a Self-Estimate document that supports making your own subjective estimate of your centre-of-gravity action-logic before receiving our relatively objective estimate. This process generates better conversation afterwards both within yourself and with a coach.

Also, we no longer depend merely on occasional testing of reliability between scorers. Instead, each set of sentence completions submitted is tested for reliability between two of the half dozen most senior scorers of such developmental instruments.

Finally, even more important than the already-established validity of the objective GLP instrument is the catalytic validity that engaging the action inquiry process at a workshop or with an executive coach achieves on behalf of your ongoing transformation to later leadership action-logics.

We each have a characteristic way of decision-making and relating to others. This is our centre-of-gravity action-logic. We call the 7 most common styles of thinking-in-action…

Measuring Complexity-in-Action

To a great extent our action logics can be surfaced through the Global Leadership Profile.

The GLP is an adult development assessment tool. It is distinctive in that it helps identify not only where leaders concentrate their attention – for example on matters of relationship, outcomes or social justice -) but also measures it across the seven levels of complexity-in-action

The GLP classifies a person’s response to problem resolution across a continuum of the seven action-logics. The continuum is arranged in sequential order, each action-logic building on the insights and capabilities of the previous one. It starts with the reactive, short-term time frame of the Opportunist’s approach to the initiating, adaptive and systems-aware vision of the Alchemical worldview.

To profile at Alchemical, you’ll have experienced some of the talents and vulnerabilities of the earlier structures; your approach to problem resolution, will have developed a unique, shape. While for many at earlier stages a foretaste of Alchemy is experienced in moments of flow, penetrating insight, enlivening conversations, and the feeling of inner peace.

Below are the action logics
beginning with the earliest and least complex:

Click on the different levels to read more.

Opportunistic: a reactive and short-term mind-set that may deliver results but may also endanger others and self. Brutal humour, belittling the vulnerable, winning-at-all costs and a self-protective stance are hallmarks of this frame.

Time horizon: instant gratification or long-held revenge.

Development Edge: seek to control emotional and physical outbursts; reduce ego-centric motivations and selfishness.

The Diplomat, recognising the limits of Opportunistic, self-serving action joins “the group” and follows its rules. The Diplomat mindset prioritizes loyalty, safety, group truth and aims to be routinely reliable to their allies.

Time horizon: short-term (weeks); ideas kept simple and repetitive.

Development Edge: to overcome move beyond decision-making ruled by norms such as conflict avoidance or embarrassment; challenge the desire to maintain exclusivity.

Expert: Emerging from the overly-conformist Diplomatic mentality of group loyalty, the Expert brings scepticism, empiricism, and rational judgment. Alive to the dangers of group-think, leaders reasoning from the Expert frame prioritise mastery of skill and knowledge over conformity.

Time Horizon extends over months and ideas are additive.

Development Edge: overcome decision-making rooted in prior judgements, loosen reliance on detail, and look beyond localised issues.

Achiever: the reasoning of the Achiever emerges from the efficiency of Expert. For the Expert a narrow focus on skill and control can favour efficiency over effectiveness, whereas leaders responding from the Achiever frame move beyond an immediate task focus to conscientiously attend to wider responsibilities, causes, outcomes and solutions. Delivery, personal growth and team effectiveness now take priority over detail and silo based thinking.

Time Horizon opens up to consider year-long implications and greater credence is given to historical patterns.

Development Edge: challenge the immutable law that there is never enough time to reflect. Use knowledge and experience in ever more collaborative and creative ways.

Redefining: deconstructs the rationality of the Achiever logic. Redefining leaders challenge the value and integrity of processes and frameworks, putting how decision-making is enacted at centre stage.

Time Horizon: expands to consider possibilities beyond 12-18 months. Sees the folly in long-accepted rules, processes and ideas. Recognises the importance of being present to self and other.

Development Edge: acknowledge the value of earlier, more prescriptive world-views by stepping into the shoes of different others and acknowledging their perspectives on the world. Thus noticing when they can become stuck in newly found Redefining novelty.

Transforming: the Transforming leader integrates the new discoveries of the Redefining frame into a more coherent story that, when well articulated, can inspire. Coherence now trumps deconstruction.

Time horizon extends to 2-5 years; cyclical events such as predictable swings in politics, narratives & business sales are noted while at the same time moment-to-moment awareness is valued.

Development Edge: recognise the pull of hubris and inquire further into systemic patterns and own role and purpose in the service of timely leadership action.

Alchemical: the perspectives of the Alchemical leader act inversely to those of the Transforming leader, dismantling the towers of reason that have given meaning to life. Disturbance sits alongside coherence as the Alchemical leader plays with norms, partly embracing and partly disowning what is true.

Time Horizon is expansive, long term, cross-paradigmatic and systems aware. Actions are intentionally generative.

Development Edge: contribute meaningfully; find focus, clarity and joy in coherence. Withstand the long nights and dark days of meaningless sacrifice.