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The Stages of Development – Leadership

  •  The  Egocentric Self – This stage usually ends with adolescence when people learn how to pursue their wants within a larger system of competing needs.  Progression through this stage means recognising that the world does not revolve around “me” and what “I” want. One must give up this “egocentric” agenda in order to take up a functioning membership in society. 5% of adults never fully make this transition. Leaders at this stage tend to be very controlling. Organisations whose culture is organized at this level are dictatorial and oppressive


  • The Reactive (Socialised) Self – At this stage the self is made secure and valuable by belonging to and being successful within the prescribed socially accepted norms. People at this stage do not recognise how their goals and behaviours are actually predetermined by others or by a culture. Leaders at this level care deeply about their employees, but still limit their decision making and creativity to the top. Organisations operating at this level tend to be hierarchical and efficient. 


  • The Creative (Independent) Self  – Only 20% of adults in our culture make it to this level. Here people recognize that sometimes following one’s own path means disappointing others, or risking failure or contradicting the norms that link us to society and hence how we define ourselves. Leaders at this level begin to share power and the development of the self and others is prized. Organisation’s who operate at this level are structured on high performing, self managed teams. Whilst leadership is shared it is not yet a true partnership; creativity and critical decision making is developed and expected at all levels 


  • The Integral Self – Only about 5 % of adults develop to this stage- with another 5-10% in transition to it – here we begin to recognize that we are all complex multidimensional beings, with underdeveloped strengths, and weaknesses. Leaders at this level become systemically and community oriented. The organisation is seen a s a network of stakeholders nested within a larger system of networks. Vision becomes global. Sustainability and long term common good become salient values. This is the level of servant leadership. 


  • The Unitive Self – this stage seldom, if ever, develops without meditation and long term spiritual practice. At this point another major shift occurs – where the self realizes that “I am not the body nor the mind”. Leadership at this level is rate – leaders at this level function as global visionaries and enact world service for the universal good. 


By Bob Anderson, taken from the Spirit of Leadership