Leadership Development Framework
The Leadership Development Framework is a method for organisations to build transformational leadership and competencies to deal with adaptive challenges.
For an organisation to succeed, it needs to have a backbone—a new breed of leadership that enables teams to adapt to changes, overcome challenges as they rise, and embrace innovation. It needs leaders and sound leadership that would help propel it towards success. For this to be possible, it needs to invest in leadership development and its accompanying framework.
With adaptive challenges, leaders are compelled to take charge of their organisation and their workers in the face of constant change. They need to adopt a different mindset, new values, and a better attitude so they can proactively address any new issue that might crop up. This, in turn, allows them to successfully lead their organisation in transformation.
The Leadership Development Framework emphasises transformational leadership—a form of leadership that involves guiding peers in solving complex problems and focuses on change, creativity, and forward-thinking so as to empower them to deal with adaptive challenges. The Leadership Development Framework is a philosophy, a method and toolset that guides leadership development towards learning profound competencies for successfully driving organisations to holistic transformation.
“Transformative leaders have shifted their interest from self-realization to being of service to others” Arthur Lankester
The development framework nurtures a leader’s critical and strategic thinking skills, allowing them to make better, more informed decisions. To get a solid grasp of transformational leadership and how it plays a role in solving adaptive challenges, adult development and developmental theory must be understood first.
Framework for Adult Leadership Development
Adults develop in a way that’s similar to how children do. They go through different developmental stages and build skills, abilities, and experiences that enable them to have a better understanding of and respond to their surroundings in an effective way. Because of this, adults develop a certain repertoire of behavioural and cognitive responses and mindsets to interpret and deal with situations and relationships. This is called the ‘frame of mind’.
Frame of mind is the built-in storyteller in one’s head that makes sense of the world around us and creates a coherent narrative. The frame of mind acts as a continuous meaning-making process, where experiences are interpreted through complex frames within the context of previous experiences. The developmental theory tells that one’s frame of mind or personality is not fixed and can still develop until the later stages of adult development. Personality is a process and not a static trait.
Awarego’s Framework for Adult Leadership Development (FALD) is hinged on this process, recognising that adults also go through identifiable development stages. A leader’s development stage influences how they interpret and respond to issues and how they connect with other people and their environment. The framework maps a leader’s dominant development stage and identifies how their leadership practices and competencies can improve.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Embracing the Leadership Development Framework enables organisations to not only improve business practices that yield better results but also pave the way for more agile leaders who encourage innovation, drive higher team engagement, and enhance how they handle, guide, and inspire their organisation. It enables them to develop new lenses to understand and deal with complexity, equipping them to build a strong transformative vision and strategy execution. The framework also helps leaders elevate authentic communication both within and outside their organisation, allowing them to strengthen employee loyalty and customer retention.
Principles and Trajectory of Leadership Development
Leadership develops through a fixed consecutive trajectory of adult developmental stages. Each new stage or frame of mind builds on the previous one and integrates. Therefore, it’s not possible to skip a stage or develop in a different order.
- Principle 1 – Certain frames of mind are more effective in a particular context than others. For organisations in transformation, the ‘transforming frame of mind’ fits the best context, but it can only be developed with the right attention.
- Principle 2 – Adult leadership development is a process, not a skill, that undergoes a fixed trajectory of stages. This means that a leader’s frame can continue to develop in their adult lives.
- Principle 3 – There are three key ingredients that foster the growth and development to post-conventional frames of mind: curiosity, awareness of experiences, and discipline to practice.
The Framework for Adult Leadership Development has three levels. The lowest level are the principles that the framework is based on, and the competencies are derived from these principles. These are followed by practices–developing and putting the competencies into ‘practice.’ The principles are the ‘why’ behind the framework; competencies are the ‘what’, and practices the ‘how’.
8 stages of leadership development
The 8 Stages of Leadership Development describes the eight different frames of mind. A frame of mind is how an individual interprets their environment and reacts to different stimuli and shifts. The eight stages are adapted from the work of J. Loevinger, D. Rooke, B Torbert, and S. Cook-Greuter*.
An adult’s trajectory of development goes from dependent to independent to interdependent. There are certain types of frames of mind that make an individual a less effective leader. Conversely, there are frames of mind that can help individuals and their organisations affect positive change, thus transforming their respective organisations for the better.
Below, 8 frames of mind are described and how they can potentially affect the leadership in an organisation.
Opportunist leaders take advantage of opportunities as they arise, but often at expense of others. Self-protection is the main driver for their behaviour and they tend to see life as zero-sum game, where the focus is on obtaining personal gain in any way possible.
Leaders with an Opportunist frame of mind often show hostile humour and strongly reject feedback. They glamourise power, assign blame to others, and never admit own mistakes.
Qualities and Challenges
For Opportunist leaders, it is challenging to build trustful working relations with people within their organisation. They move beyond the self-protective state towards a constructive collaborative state. However, a few qualities may help the Opportunist become successful, one of which is their drive to fulfil immediate needs and focus on short-term wins.
Diplomat leaders are preoccupied with fitting in a group. They conform to group norms and to the status quo. They highly value friendliness, and relationships, for them, are an end in itself. Diplomats generally have a simple notion of ‘what is right or wrong’, based on socially accepted norms.
Leaders acting from a Diplomat frame of mind tend to avoid conflicts and strive to please their colleagues. They deem feedback as disapproval, and they see reputation as their highest achievable goal.
Qualities and Challenges
One advantageous quality of Diplomat leaders is their sensitivity to social dynamics in the work context. They are often the ‘social glue’ within teams and are very attentive to the needs of colleagues. However, they experience challenges in developing and standing up for their own authentic opinion.
Expert leaders pursue mastery through gaining knowledge and skills. They perceive intelligence as the highest goal. They believe there is only one correct approach to a problem, which can result in “black and white” thinking.
Leaders acting from an Expert frame of mind often seek perfection and give personal attention to details. They take feedback personally and dismiss insights from those who are not seen as experts. It’s challenging for them to understand other viewpoints and adapt to new ideas, solutions, or ways of getting things done.
Qualities and Challenges
These leaders, however, constantly seek continuous improvement. They strive for efficiency and are focused on gaining the required knowledge and skills to achieve goals.
Achiever leaders have strong self-determination in achieving goals by adapting to the most effective approaches. They aim for change and improvement and feel responsible for developing their personality towards an ideal image.
Leaders acting from an Achiever frame of mind focus on performance and results. They apply different approaches to accomplishing their goals. Unlike the former frames of mind, the Achiever mindset accepts feedback and sees it as a tool for learning and improving.
Qualities and Challenges
Achiever leaders are able to create their own circumstances, successfully move through the system, and deliver results. In organisations, these are the people that often take the lead and guide teams towards success.
These leaders have a tendency to overextend their capacity. They usually lack work-life balance, and they sometimes narrowly focus on daily operational concerns.
Redefining leaders are focused on self-questioning. They give importance to bearing a unique personality, and they have a genuine interest in personal development. Curiosity and change are more valued than acceptance and stability. Often, they realise the differences between their qualities, purpose, and the context they operate in.
Leaders acting from a Redefining frame of mind welcome feedback as necessary for self-development. They question the status-quo and use their creativity to solve challenges. They have unique ways of putting things into perspective.
Qualities and Challenges
The striking qualities of Redefining leaders are their strong skill in questioning and creative nature for solving problems. They are very innovation-driven and adapt to change easily. Consequently, their penchant for challenging the status-quo can cause them to be side-lined in organisations and become less effective. One challenge is moving beyond their questioning nature and applying their inner qualities in the external world. Another challenge that counts specifically for the redefining stage is that earlier frames of mind need to be deconstructed. Basically, parts of one’s personality need to be redefined and there’s a need to soften the rigidity of one’s ego.
Transforming leaders strongly connect and engage with people around them, enabling them to work collaboratively towards and inspire vision. They seeing things from a fresh or multiple perspectives and can deal with paradoxes. They feel deep motivation for self-fulfilment in complex situations where people usually have to figure things out in their own way.
Leaders acting from a Transforming frame of mind focus on collaboration and bringing change-strategy into practice. They recognise other people’s need for autonomy and they welcome collaboration and cooperation across borders.
Qualities and Challenges
Transformative leaders are primarily defined by their decision-making skills. They see multiple perspectives and can deal with complexity. However, it’s challenging for them to find balance between becoming a hero archetype and a servant-leader type. Another challenge is that although they are aware of their desires and aversions, they are unclear on how to diminish them.
Alchemist leaders are aware of how meaning is constructed and do their best to contribute to humanity. This frame of mind can be considered as a leadership characteristic and entails good listening skills, an open mind, keeping your ego in check, genuine compassion, and understanding of the struggles of others. This skill also requires leaders to be present and listen to what their peers are saying and engaging in a dialog that can foster teamwork for crafting innovative or appropriate solutions to challenges.
Leaders acting from an Alchemist frame of mind perceive human existence and experience of consciousness in an entirely new way.
Qualities and Challenges
The qualities that define Alchemist leaders are their awareness of the underlying process of meaning-making and being good mentors for people who experience life’s complexities.
Unitive leaders are concerned with global justice, fairness and benevolence towards everyone. They practice values of unity, truth, non-violence and honesty.
Leaders acting from a Unitive frame of mind are intrigued by the human need for meaning-making. Inner conflicts as well as conflicting external demands are part of their being. To the Unitive leader, these only need to be witnessed and not necessarily resolved or denied.
Qualities and Challenges
The defining quality of Unitive leaders is that they’re no longer driven by desires to be one way or another or to achieve one state over another.
Dimensions of Transformative Learning: Thinking, Doing, and Being
Transformative learning is the process of ‘perspective transformation’ or developing new perspectives and has three dimensions. It operates on the fact the everyone learns and understands differently. The concept was founded by Jack Mezirow and puts an emphasis on the idea that learners are capable of adjusting their perspective by engaging in critical reflection on their experiences.
An integral part of transformative learning is empowering individuals to shift their frames of mind through critical reflection on their pre-existing assumptions and beliefs. It requires transformational leaders to intentionally make and implement plans that will then enable them to redefine their worlds through rational and analytical means and awareness of feelings and emotions.
The dimensions for transformative learning involve three key components:
This entails developing the capacity to make assumptions, oppose perspectives, and revise existing belief systems. It describes an individual’s cognitive structure, which involves the capacity for meaning-making, integration, imagination, reasoning and perception, among other functions.
Doing is being able to try out new behaviour or patterns and changing an individual’s behaviour and lifestyle. It combines orientation and knowledge and gives an individual the ability to engage and be curious. It also enables them to develop their emotional capabilities.
This pertains to the need to have new experiences and changing an individual’s understanding of the self. It entails orientation, which refers to an individual’s ability to cultivate a way of being that requires them to become more open, collaborative, aware, and mindful. Additionally, it gives them the capacity to have a sense of appreciation, the ability to be flexible, and to welcome the idea that everyone deserves to be treated equally.
In the context of the Leadership Development Framework, transformational leadership involves competencies that are honed to prepare and equip leaders for organisational success. Transformational leaders recognise the value of innovation and the disruption of old habits, company cultures, mindsets, values, and perspectives to bring about organisational change.
Awarego has defined three competencies that are critical to successful leadership for organisations in transition. These competencies are decomposed into three dimensions of transformative learning.
Emphasis is placed on competencies related to vertical development. These complement the conventional horizontal competencies such as problem-solving, decision making, and influencing. Below, we’re outlining the key competencies and dimensions that play a role in transformational leadership.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is perceived as an individual’s ability to be in touch with their emotions, which are an individual’s impulse to act. Managing emotions is important for transformational leaders and it requires them to have a deep understanding of their emotions, as well as the ability to perceive, use, and handle their emotions. Individuals with high EI are capable of recognising emotions, both their own and that of others, and use this to guide how they think, behave, and temper their emotions according to their environment.
It operates in these aspects:
Creative innovation requires leaders to tap into their intuitive and creative side and bank on non-verbal understanding. These traits are crucial for leaders who want to embrace innovative approaches to adaptive challenges.
Reflection is about having a heightened awareness of the space one occupies and taking the time to pause and think. These traits are important, given that leaders constantly need to analyse information while refraining from coming up with automatic responses, which may cause unsustainability within their organisation.
Self-awareness is the capacity to explore the full range of emotions, which drive one’s behaviour. It can also influence the emotional and behavioural patterns that drive one’s actions.
|Develop Emotional Intelligence through Transformative Learning Dimensions:|
|Thinking||Emotional intelligence can be developed through self-awareness, which is the capacity to know yourself well and analyse and recognise your patterns, emotions, and drives. Taking note of certain situations by keeping a journal is one way to develop not only your thinking skills, but also your self-awareness.|
|Doing||Learning emotional intelligence by doing is about developing a leader’s capacity to be proactive and to interact with their surroundings and other individuals. It also describes a leader’s ability to have a thorough understanding of their team and the intricacies of teamwork. It’s about being able to make decisions in different social settings and having the capacity to adjust accordingly with the emotional state of others.|
|Being||Learning ‘to be’ emotionally intelligent is about understanding other people’s emotions and being attuned to one’s own emotional responses in the current moment. It is the capacity to engage with other people, their emotional makeup, and how they respond to changes or challenges. This affects how a leader interacts with empathy or compassion.|
Systems thinking requires leaders to have an awareness of the interconnected nature of challenges. This competency requires leaders to understand the dynamics of complex (social) systems and use feedback as essential component. It’s all about being to spot cyclical flows, identifying the interconnections between overlapping systems, and balancing views, both short-term and long-term.
This competency focusses on two main points: informal structures and goal complexity. It zeroes in on an organisation’s behavioral aspects and how each individual within that space act within the context of the organisation’s rules and structures. Goal complexity revolves around the concept of goals being pluralistic instead of being unitary. It recognises the fact that, within an organisation, many varied interests exist.
Within systems thinking, organisations adopt systemic thinking or perspective, enabling them to evolve and adapt within the context of their environment.
|Develop Systems Thinking through Transformative Learning Dimensions:|
|Thinking||Thinking leverages the systems theory concept, which operates on the premise that organisations are like a living organism that’s comprised of multiple components or networks that work together, allowing it to be fully functional. With this in mind, thinking requires leaders to come up with approaches to challenges that can accommodate varying perspectives and requirements.|
|Doing||Doing is the capacity to engage not only with your direct stakeholders, like direct team members or customers, but also with indirect stakeholders like colleagues who don’t directly relate to your job or other external stakeholders.|
|Being||Being is having awareness of interconnectedness and its development within your organisation. It’s focused on shared qualities and the ability to realise that we’re all interconnected and, to some extent, dependent on each other.|
Spiritual intelligence is developed when an individual gains an intuitive connection with their inner and outer surroundings. This empowers them to change their perspectives and how they relate to their environment.
Leaders should be aware that the opposite of spiritual is material or something that’s tangible. Spiritual intelligence covers every aspect that is not material and embraces the concept that an immaterial reality exists. It’s about focusing on the internal or what is in the mind. It taps into an individual’s values and meanings, both of which form a part of their reality. As a transformational competency, spiritual intelligence is about an individual creating an inner path that will allow them to discover their truest essence.
Introspective practices, such as meditation, can help hone an individual’s spiritual intelligence, allowing them to connect to internal and external resources. Such exercises also enable an individual to find their purpose and form their personal values and beliefs.
Building your spiritual intelligence can equip you with the knowledge and skills to create a connection with the bigger picture. You’ll be able to cultivate an understanding that cannot be easily gained from intellectual learning processes alone. Instead, you’ll gain an intuitive, albeit unexpected, connection with the environment. As a result, you’ll be able to transform how you view yourself in relation to your environment.
|Develop Spiritual Intelligence through Transformative Learning Dimensions:|
|Thinking||An individual’s capacity to think about their purpose and mission from a bigger perspective and how they can make a contribution that adds value or meaning to our lives.|
|Doing||This involves cultivating mindfulness and practicing reflection for an individual to be able to determine the impact of their actions or decisions before they make them.|
|Being||The capacity to recognise or develop a connection to life and having an intimate understanding of it.|
Practices and methods to develop transformational competencies
Under the Leadership Development Framework, certain practices are derived from competencies and describe ‘how’ leaders can bring transformative leadership competencies (emotional intelligence, systems thinking and spiritual intelligence) into practise within the context of the organisation.
The ability to perceive, use, and handle emotions and being capable of recognising emotions, both their own and that of others.
Empathy talks help leaders create opportunities for connection and reflection. By having a dialogue with their peers and stakeholders, transformational leaders are creating a sense of empathy and connection between human beings. These talks can enhance organisational capabilities and practices, giving an organisation’s system the opportunity to embrace transformation. Through holding empathy talks, transformational leaders are offering peers a way for them to feel seen, heard, and validated. Such leaders are also giving them an opportunity for reflection and shifts in their perspectives.
Reflective journaling is an effective method for leaders who want to capture their ideas, thoughts, and feelings to have more clarity or aid in decision making. It also helps cultivate self-awareness and critical thinking and gives added value to practitioners.
Collaborative communication creates room for interpersonal harmony and fosters deeper cooperation. It follows concepts such as objectively gathering facts through observation while withholding evaluation and foregoing coercive means of dialogue. Collaborative communication puts an emphasis on expressing one’s needs in a collaborative way to help cultivate harmony in both your relationships and the workplace.
Awareness of thinking patterns and decision making and understanding of long term impact of decisions.
Systems thinking refers to the process of creating meaning and making sense of the environment by looking at the bigger picture instead of breaking it down into smaller components. It’s a method that’s based on and contributes to systems theory and system sciences and is used to explore and develop effective solutions in the face of complex challenges.
Integrated polarities help leaders develop more fundamental ways of thinking, allowing them to quickly develop more intrinsic ways of being. This method cultivates a more flexible way of thinking and takes into account varying views and perspectives, using them in a way that fosters the health and wholeness of your organisation.
Individual grows an intuitive connection with their inner and outer surroundings and taps into deeper values and meanings.
Mindfulness is a practice that can be developed through introspective practices like meditation. It creates a sense of being present in the moment while holding back on evaluation or immediate judgment. Practising mindfulness can reduce stress and improve a person’s performance. Moreover, it’s an important tool that can help individuals gain insight and awareness through observation and increased attention, particularly when it comes to the well-being of others.
Five Components of Awareness
The five components of awareness are 1) physical sensations (sensory input), 2) feeling tone, 3) cognition, 4) mindstates and 5) intentions.
Developing transformational leadership is a process that takes time and challenges conventional leadership concepts.
Having a new frame of mind or adopting a new form of leadership requires leaders to welcome changes in the consciousness of both individuals and the collective. By embracing transformational leadership, you’re opening opportunities for greater organisational success while creating a positive impact on society.
When supported by the principles, competencies and practices of the the Leadership Development Framework, it empowers leaders and teams to effect change and innovation within and outside of their organisations. The effect of transformational leadership and the Leadership Development Framework are far-reaching and can pave the way for an organisation’s progress and success.
Awarego’s Service Offerings
Our goal at Awarego is to provide people with resources that will help them access vertical development. We want to help our clients achieve greater awareness that will empower them to become more effective, transformative leaders through developing their transformational capabilities.
We specialise in leadership training programmes and e-learning courses for leaders and employees. Visit our website to learn more about our services.
Transformational leadership disrupts traditional leadership concepts. It emphasises the value of progressive leadership through the formation of leaders who can effect positive change within and outside of their respective organisations. Within the transformational leadership framework, transformational leaders hone the ability to engage and inspire their peers, while working on their ability to face adaptive challenges and come up with innovative solutions for growth and progress.
Adaptive challenges are problem situations for which solutions lie outside the current way of thinking and operating. For these challenges, there are no clear solutions that are based on previous experiences. Solutions can only be found by vertically minded people who think out of the box and beyond learned processes.
Organisations in transformation need leadership that goes beyond goal-driven, top-down strategy execution. They need leaders with first-hand experience on developing new perspectives, dealing with uncertainty, and looking through a new lens to relate with their environment. The Framework for Adult Leadership Development (FALD) guides leaders in this process of developing a new frame of mind.
Through action-driven and transformative learning, leaders experience their current dominant frame of mind and can experiment with applying new perspectives, practices and behaviour to grow their transformative competencies and shift to a later development stage.
Progressing to the next developmental stage requires the development of a new frame of mind. With the right training and coaching, a leader can develop a deeper understanding of the self and their environment within 1 to 3 years.
Vertical development is about developing new perspectives and meaning-making processes. It stimulates one’s capacity to think in more systemic, strategic, and interdependent ways to deal with uncertainty. It helps leaders understand their own mindset and actions and enable them to interpret reality through a new lens.
Learn more about how we can help you embrace transformational leadership and make an impact.
Leadership Development Guide
Complex times demand from leaders and teams new approaches to navigate through rapidly changing circumstances.