Measuring Leadership Development From Within

After completing the Connective Leadership Mirror, a profile appears showing the relative weight of your value systems. In itself, this provides valuable information about possible preferences in your leadership behaviour, or in general, how you relate to others. The graph also presents the profile of the so-called “ideal” connective leader, of which the relativity is explained in the March episode of this blog. What remains is the suggestion that connective leaders show high levels of the Yellow and Turquoise value systems, als known as “tier two”. The question at hand is: can we provide leadership training that supports the increase these advanced value systems, and is there a way to measure such?

Mix yellow and turquoise and you get… Teal It may not be a surprise that highly connective behaviour is fueled by value systems that represent holistic world views and implicit human interconnectedness (Turquoise) as well as thriving in complexity and open to multiple ways of relating and communicating (Yellow). Labelling with colours finds its roots in Spiral Dynamics (Beck & Cowan, 1996), where Purple, Red, Blue, Orange and Green represent the “tier 1” value systems, considered to be subsequently developed as inner coping systems to handle external stimuli. The tier 2 values are more intertwined and show less distinction between the actor and the circumstances; Yellow and Turquoise are often mentioned as a pair. This may explain the use of Teal - for painters obviously the result when mixing the both colours - and in particular the Teal organisation as introduced by Frederic Laloux in his bestseller Reinventing Organisations (2014) . Just revisit the illustration at the top of this story and you may imagine that the so-called evolutionary (Teal) organisation can only exist through highly - or widely - connective leadership in all thinkable respects. (You may also see that most of the colours resemble the Beck and Cowan model, but for Amber where you would expect Blue.)

A training to become more connective? You will agree that in our Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) times, organisations can’t afford to be rigid anymore; the need to be - beyond resilient or sustainable - adaptive, learning, preferably future forming or generative (Hoogendijk, 2023). And although the Master in Business Administration still is the dominant certification for the average manager, you might wonder how long the fragmented MBA curriculum will hold. In many respects we still live in a business environment ruled by red, blue and orange value systems. Nevertheless, at least in the social profit organisations, like health care, education and local government, we see glimpses of hope. One of my best examples would be the city council of The Hague, Netherlands, that considers inclusive behaviour as one of its primary leadership competences. When invited to provide a training on this subject for their senior managers, I didn’t directly think of introducing my students into all complex dimensions of their working environment, nor to the necessary knowledge for “connecting” stakeholders, processes and systems. Besides that these are abstracts, the actual ‘act’ of connecting is either unclear or obvious: it is a relational practice. So, actually, the learning journey is called “Inclusive Leadership Oblige” - with a wink to the proverb “Noblesse Oblige” - leaders are supposed to be inclusive, aren’t they? The first assignment after enrolling is to inform your team that you just subscribed to a training inclusive leadership, and try to sense the spoken and unspoken responses. All further learnings and assignments have to do with “doing inclusive” in order to contribute to inclusion, which is to be understood as: people in the organisation feel heard, seen, listened to and appreciated ‘as they are and may become’. The leader may be exemplary in this, but the aim is that everybody contributes to inclusivity. You may easily understand that this will have a positive effect on the organisation’s performance as well. In essence, this learning journey is about practising Appreciative Inquiry according to the formula AI = D+I i.a. - Appreciative Inquiry is Diversity and Inclusion (from: How to Win Friends by Appreciating People, Hoogendijk, 2023).

Measuring the effect of leadership training? With the levels of Kirkpatrick in mind (Evaluation Training Programs, 1993) we tend to be interested in measuring training effects. Organisations tend to, but don’t measure so much, I must conclude. Reporting the number of training days spent is sometimes the best we get… And to be honest, we should not overrate the effect of a few days training on a person’s behaviour, where all daily circumstances and life events may have much more influence. Let us assume that the relationship between leadership training and organisational performance is at its most an emergent one, they mutually influence each other. Perhaps we shouldn’t look as far as organisational effects, but stay much closer to the student and ask the question: “Did your view on work, people, organisation perhaps change a little over time, and might the training have had some influence in that?” With this question in mind I wrapped my ‘social constructionist’ learning journeys for leaders and consultants in two moments of measuring, using the Connective Leadership Mirror; one before the start of the journey, without further explanation, and one afterwards, normally a few months later. So far, with some promising results.

Shifting towards Teal It’s far from substantial, there’s not enough data yet, and there’s no control-group either. So let’s consider the following as a possible pathway to better understand the relationship between certain (socially constructive) leadership training and how this contributes to the leader’s worldview. The Connective Leadership Mirror doesn’t measure behaviour; it mirrors someone’s view, particularly on organisational life. Having said this, I have seen the mirrors of almost a hundred leaders and consultants before and after following my training. Let me remind you that I am not too interested in specific - because momentary - profiles, and prefer to stay away from ‘labelling’ of ‘framing’ people because of a CLM profile graph. But what can be said when, over time, and after practising specific behaviours of human interest, connection, inclusion, the second graph shows higher levels of Yellow and/or Turquoise than before? With all due circumstantial abbreviations in mind, I am inclined to detect a significant Teal-shift in the profiles of my leadership students. I am not sure whether I want to raise this to the level of scientific research, because the ‘confirmation’ itself for each individual student seems to work fine as a completion of the training, and may perhaps sustain the learning effect a bit for them. But if anyone would like to take this further, feel free to consider your own Connective Leadership Mirror portal for this purpose or similar studies.

Cees Hoogendijk
17 Ιουνίου 2024
Χρόνος ανάγνωσης 6 λεπτά
Measuring Leadership Development From Within
Φωτογραφία: David Dibert
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