as opposed to leadership “learning” or leadership “training.”

According to Robert Keegan and Lisa Lahey, authors of Immunity to Change, leadership learning and/or training involves the acquisition of knowledge and skills; however, one’s capability to utilize acquired knowledge and skills, especially under pressure, is dependent on leadership and adult DEVELOPMENT.

“True development is about transforming the operating system itself, not just increasing your fund of knowledge or your behavioral repertoire.”

Keegan & Lahey, p. 6

In applied terms, transforming our operating systems means growing beyond the filters of our current mindsets.

“If we do not, we can learn and reflect as much as we want, but the changes we hope for, or that others need from us, will not happen because all the learning and reflecting will occur within our existing mindsets.”

Keegan & Lahey, p. 5

Keegan and Lahey describe adult development as a three part hierarchy of mental complexity. Each stage of development has a vastly different capability of meaning making and grows from the previous stage.

  1. Socialized Mind: Shaped by the definitions and expectations of your cultural environments. Your wants and needs are influenced by aligning with, being loyal to, and PRESERVING the status quo of what you believe others in your social settings perceive to be of value. The primary objective is to fit in.
  2. Self-Authoring Mind: Aware of the social environment and able to BREAK away in order to have and protect your own vision, belief system, and values. The primary objective is be autonomously independent.
  3. Self-Transforming Mind: Capable of SEPARATING yourself from any one mental model, even if it’s your own, so you are not overly attached nor fused with your agenda. Your mental complexity is so advanced that paradoxical thinking is tolerated and welcomed because of the paramount importance of healthy skepticism. The primary objective is to be adaptable by resisting binaries and embracing nuance with openness.

Each of these meaning making systems can be correlated with one of the elements of the Japanese concept Shuhari, which I wrote about yesterday:

  • Shu (to preserve) and the Socialized mind
  • Ha (to break) and the Self-Authoring mind
  • Ri (to separate) and the Self-Transforming mind

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