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  • New Leadership Paradigm

Seven Levels of Leadership Consciousness

Level 1: Crisis Director 

Healthy Aspect: Level 1 leaders understand the importance of profit and shareholder returns. They manage their budgets meticulously. They look after the health and safety of employees. They are appropriately cautious in complex situations, but are willing to take risks that do not compromise the organisation’s resilience and future. They maintain a long-term perspective while dealing with short-term issues and goals. Normally, they will go no further than they have to in complying with legal regulations, especially if it means spending more money.

One of the most important attributes of Level 1 leaders is the ability to handle crises. When the survival of the organisation is threatened, they know how to take control. They are calm in the midst of chaos and decisive in the midst of danger. In such situations, the leader may need to take on the mantle of the authoritarian, but only in crisis conditions.

Unhealthy Aspect: When leaders operate as authoritarians on a regular basis, they quickly lose the trust and commitment of their people. Very often the reason leaders use a dictatorial style to get what they want is because they find it difficult to relate to people in an open and effective way.  They are afraid to let go of the reins of control because they have difficulty in trusting others. The greater their existential fears regarding their survival and safety, the more risk-averse they become.

Authoritarians can be quick to anger and are unable to discuss emotions. They bottle up their feelings and hide their true selves behind their position of authority. They are very lonely people. If they have insecurities around money, they will exploit others for their own ends. They are greedy in the midst of plenty and for them enough is never enough. They are always pushing the limits of what is possible. They focus exclusively on short-term results. Fear-driven authoritarians create unhealthy climates in which to work. They hardly ever relax. They are demanding and impatient. They are consumed by the anxieties generated by their subconscious fears about survival.

Level 2: Relationship Manager

Healthy Aspect: Relationship managers handle conflicts easily and invest a lot of time in building harmonious working relationships. They know how to handle their emotions and respond to the emotions of others. They use their relationship skills to handle difficult interpersonal issues, and they use their communication skills to build loyalty with their employees. They deliver good news and bad news to all staff indiscriminately. They believe in open communication. They acknowledge and praise staff for a job well done. They give people recognition. They are accessible to their employees and not stingy with their time. They are actively involved with customers and give priority to customer satisfaction—either internal or external.

Unhealthy Aspect: When leaders hold subconscious fears about not belonging, they are afraid to deal with their own or others’ emotions, they avoid conflicts, are less than truthful in their interpersonal communications, and resort to manipulation to get what they want. Either they try to mask their true emotions behind humour or they protect themselves by blaming others when things go wrong.

Relationship managers are often protective of their people, but demand loyalty, discipline and obedience in return. They are often enamored by tradition and operate as paternalists. Paternalists find it difficult to trust people who are not part of the “family”. They are secretive and engage in mafia politics. They will get even by seeking revenge. If they are the founder of a family-owned business, their lack of trust in outsiders can severely limit the pool of talent that they are able to draw on. Because paternalists demand obedience, they tend to crush the entrepreneurial spirit of employees.

Level 3: Manager and Organizer

Healthy Aspect: Managers bring logic and science to their work. They use metrics to manage performance. They build systems and processes that create order and efficiency and enhance productivity. They have strong analytical and technical skills. They are experts in their fields. They think strategically and move quickly to capitalize on opportunities. They are rational in decision-making. Inwardly focused managers are good at organizing information and monitoring results. Outwardly focused managers anticipate workflow problems and get things done. They plan and prioritize their work and provide stability and continuity. They create schedules and enjoy being in control. They are focused on their careers and willing to learn new skills if it will help them in their professional growth. They embrace best practices, and want to learn the latest management techniques so they can drive towards quality and excellence. They want to be successful and they want to be the best. They have a healthy pride in their work.

Unhealthy Aspect: When a manager’s self-esteem needs are driven by subconscious fears, they become hungry for power, authority or recognition. They build empires to display their power or they build bureaucracies and hierarchies to demonstrate their authority. They are over achievers, and will compete with their colleagues so they can come out on top and thereby gain status, recognition or acknowledgement from their peers or bosses.
They are proud of their achievements. They will talk about them openly, and sometimes endlessly. They display signs of arrogance. They will play office politics to get what they want. They will want to buy a big house, join the best golf club, or drive the flashiest or most exclusive car.  They want to show off. Their self-esteem is built around their possessions. They will be meticulous about their wardrobe. They are more concerned about how things look rather than how they are. Image is everything. Very often, they derive their self-esteem through their work.  Consequently, they tend to work long hours and neglect their health and families. They lead unhealthy lives because they are out of balance. They are consumed by their work because this is where they find their self-esteem. Their self-esteem is derived externally from others.

Level 4: Facilitator and Influencer

At this level of consciousness, leaders focus on developing the healthy aspects of their personalities, and managing, mastering, or releasing the unhealthy aspects. They seek to be accountable and responsible for all their thoughts, feelings and actions.
Facilitators and influencers readily seek advice, build consensus and empower their staff. They recognise that they do not have to have all the answers. They give people responsible freedom; making them accountable for outcomes and results. They research and develop new ideas. They evaluate risks before embarking on new ventures. They resist the temptation to micro-manage the work of their direct reports. They promote participation, equality and diversity. They ignore or remove hierarchy. They are adaptable and flexible. They embrace continuous learning. They actively engage in their own personal development and encourage their staff to participate in programs that promote personal growth.

They are looking to find balance in their lives through personal alignment. Balance leads to detachment and independence, and allows them to become objective about their strengths and weaknesses. They are learning to release their fears so they can move from being outer-directed to being inner-directed. They are in the process of self-actualization. They are on a journey of personal growth. As they let go of the need for outer approval, they begin to discover who they really are. They become enablers of others, encouraging them to express themselves, and share their ideas. They encourage innovation. They focus on team building. They enjoy challenges and are courageous and fearless in their approach to life. Facilitators are in the process of shifting from becoming a manager to becoming a leader.

Level 5: Integrator and Inspirer

The integrator/inspirer is a self-actualized individual who has discovered his or her sense of purpose. They build a personal vision and mission, and a vision and mission for the organisation that inspires employees, customers, investors, and society. They promote a shared set of values and demonstrate congruent behaviours that guide decision-making throughout the organisation. They demonstrate integrity and are living examples of values-based leadership. They walk their talk. They build cohesion and focus by bringing values alignment and mission alignment to the whole organisation. In so doing, they enhance the organisation’s capacity for collective action. By creating an environment of openness, fairness and transparency, they build trust and commitment among their people.

The culture they create unleashes enthusiasm, passion and creativity at all levels of the organisation. They are more concerned about getting the best result for everyone rather than their own self-interest. They are focused on the common good. They are creative problem solvers. They view problems from a systems perspective, seeing beyond the narrow boundaries of cause and effect. They are honest and truthful and display integrity in all they do. They feel confident in handling any situation. This confidence and their openness, allows them to reclassify problems as opportunities. They clarify priorities by referring to the vision and mission. They make decisions based on their values. They display emotional, social and intellectual intelligence. Integrator/Inspirers are good at bringing the best out of people and unleashing discretionary energy.

Level 6: Mentor and Partner

Mentor/partners are motivated by the need to make a difference in the world. They are true servant leaders in that they create a working environment where individuals are encouraged, supported and empowered to fulfill their potential. They create mutually beneficial partnerships and strategic alliances with other individuals or groups who share the same vision and embrace similar values. They collaborate with customers and suppliers to create win-win situations. They have a strong stakeholder orientation.

They recognise the importance of environmental stewardship, and go beyond the needs of compliance in making their operations environmentally friendly and socially responsible. They build relationships through empathy. They create an environment where people can excel. They are active in building a pool of talent for the organisation by mentoring and coaching their subordinates. They are intuitive decision-makers. They are inclusive. They are on top of their game. They are active in the local community, building external relationships that create goodwill and support the resilience of the organisation. 

Level 7: Wisdom Keeper and Visionary

Wisdom/visionaries are motivated by the need to be of service to the world. Their vision is global and they have a holistic perspective on life. They can handle multiple levels of complexity. They are focused on the questions, “How can I help?” and “What can I do?” They are concerned about the state of the world. They also care about the legacy they are leaving for future generations. They are not prepared to compromise long-term outcomes for short-term gains. They use their influence to create a better world.

They see their own mission and that of their organisation from a larger, societal perspective. They are committed to social responsibility and ethics. For them, the world is a complex web of interconnectedness, and they know and understand their role. They act with humility and compassion. They are generous in spirit, and patient and forgiving in nature. They are at ease with uncertainty and can tolerate ambiguity. They are able to handle multiple levels of complexity. They enjoy solitude and can be reclusive and reflective. Level 7 leaders are admired for their wisdom and vision. They are very often regarded as the elders of our society.


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