9. Making Subject Object

This section provides an overview of the learning theories and practices integral leaders use to accelerate both acquired learning (new knowledge and skills) and significantly upgrading their capabilities through adaptive learning (expansion of meaning-making system). We will begin with a discussion of the “Nature vs. Nurture” question, and two fundamentally different orientations toward learning. Then, I’ll move into the mechanics of the learning process, along with stages of increasing expertise through acquired learning. I will explain how we have succeeded at accelerating the learning process by applying the latest research behind “deliberate practice” combined with cutting edge “integral practice.”

For students of integral theory, the title and subtitle of this section speaks volumes. “Making Subject Object: Going to the Next Level. However, I realize this same title may seem a bit cryptic for readers new to integral theory. In this section, I will be unpacking what all this means. The phrase “making subject object” is a quite literal reference to Harvard Adult Development and Education Department Chair Robert Kegan’s description of the mechanism by which minds become more complex. I will explain this in more detail later in this section. The phrase “going to the next level” alludes to the “stages of development” element of integral theory that I introduced in the integral framework section.

While the previous sections will most likely be very intriguing for most readers, for those already involved in the work of organizational development, executive education, coaching, or leader development, this section could be the most exciting. As I mentioned in the introduction, this book—and in particular this section—is the the result of a decade-long multimillion dollar experiment to understand how to accelerate the development of leaders. The obvious place to start was to ground our research and curriculum design in adult learning and development theory and practices along with integral theory and practice. I will summarize a number of these building blocks in this section.

Two Kinds of Learning

Leadership implies going from one place (either literally or figuratively) to another. Generally people use the term to refer to achieving a significant result through a team effort, making massive improvements for mutual benefit, or driving some kind of major change (in a group, marketplace, or culture). If everyone involved were already easily able to do what is required, the practice of leadership (motivating and influencing people) would likely not be necessary. Managers could simply define the job and require that workers comply with the instructions to complete the task. One of the main reasons that leadership (motivating and influencing others) is necessary to accomplish significant results, especially change, is that one or more parties involved are not currently able to easily do what is necessary. This is very important. I define learning as the process of closing the gap between our aspiration and our ability. If we want to achieve a goal (to do something) and we aren’t yet able to do those things, then clearly, we need to learn. While there are some examples where leadership is occurring yet learning is not, I find those situations rare. In most leadership situations, people are being required (and motivated and influenced) to do things they are not yet good at doing or may not know how to do at all. From this point of view, its easy to see that learning is central to leadership.

In our 12-month Integral Leadership Program, participants study a comprehensive “Learning and Practice Primer” before they arrive at the first in-person learning event. In our experience, once practitioners are grounded in a solid understanding of the mechanics of learning, appreciate the significance of having the correct attitude toward learning and orientation toward long-term practice, then all of their learning and practice engagement that follows is dramatically accelerated. It is difficult to have an intelligent conversation about learning without first contextualizing that dialog into which of the two broad types of learning we are going to be discussing. Conventional thinkers and their conventional approaches to leadership (and leader development) are often only aware of the first type of learning.

Acquired learning

Acquired learning occurs through training and experience that imparts new knowledge and skills. Most organizational training and development programs aim to deliver this type of learning. Acquired learning is referred to by psychologists as “horizontal development,” because it broadens our existing knowledge base and skill set and increases our ability to successfully execute tasks. To draw on a familiar metaphor, acquired learning can be compared to loading additional data and applications onto a computer, thereby extending the system’s capability.

Adaptive learning

The second type is referred to as adaptive learning, and it is new to many people. We have found a computer metaphor to be helpful to illustrate this kind of learning. When upgrading a computer’s operating system from, for example, Windows 98 to Windows XP, the new system transcends and includes the capabilities of the previous system (much of the same data and applications are retained). But the new operating system also opens the door for additional, more expansive, capabilities that simply were impossible with the older system.

As demonstrated by the last 20 years of developmental psychology research coming out of Harvard and other leading institutions, human beings also have operating systems— referred to as meaning-making systems. These also come in different versions of increasing complexity and capability that are analogous to the evolution of windows 95, 98, 2000, and XP.

Unlike acquired learning, which simply adds new knowledge and skill to an existing meaning-making system without changing any of the underlying fundamental assumptions or beliefs, adaptive learning transforms and expands the mind itself by helping it evolve to the next level of complexity. Just as athletes know the burn of pushing their muscles to make them stronger, leaders who train their minds will become intimately familiar with the discomfort and soreness of stretching beyond their mental limits. the disorienting effect adaptive learning often precipitates explains why most people engage in this growth only when they literally have no other choice. It also provides a compelling performance advantage for the leader who elects to take on this challenge in return for the leverage and profound rewards a more sophisticated operating system provides.

Barring a life crisis of some kind, developmental researchers have found that few adults ever upgrade their meaning-making systems from the equivalent of windows 98 to windows xP. they may successfully engage the horizontal acquisition of new skills and knowledge, becoming better at what they do, but they tend not to deliberately engage in the vertical adaptation of new perspectives and capacities that might fundamentally shift how and why they do what they do.

In the last decade, though, academics and organizational experts have opened what Good to Great author Jim collins calls “the black box“ of developmentally advanced leadership and have created a reliable roadmap to initiate and sustain adaptive learning. leaders today do not need to wait for random adversity to push them to greatness. they can choose to train in more controlled conditions, with feedback and support, to safely accomplish what in the past had been a riskier and far less predictable journey.

One of the most exciting insights emerging from the fields of developmental psychology and integral psychology in the past decade is an understanding of the specific circumstances and prerequisites for upgrading a human being’s meaning-making system from the equivalent of Windows 98 to Windows XP.

Further, the latest breakthroughs in the field of organizational development and corporate lifecycle research show that similar upgrades are available to teams and even entire organizations.

This special kind of learning is facilitated through carefully selected practices that help people to expand their awareness and deepen their capacity to hold increasingly larger and more complex perspectives. Psychologists refer to this process as “vertical development.”

Attitudes Toward Learning

The age-old question … Nature vs. Nurture? Where does talent come from? Are great men and women born or made? Research conducted by leading psychologist Carol Dweck has finally closed the case on this issue. The short answer is that regardless of the baseline ability nature bestows an individual, nurture (effort and practice) can produce extraordinary gains in ability. Dweck, a Stanford university psychology professor who has achieved international recognition as a sought-after performance consultant, has demonstrated conclusively that nurture can indeed trump nature. This does not mean, however, that with enough effort, you can become the next Michael Jordan or Mozart. Rather, from whatever baseline ability you start with, intentional effort and disciplined practice can significantly enhance it.

Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test, never intended his assessment to be a measurement of fixed intelligence. As a Frenchman working in Paris in the early twentieth century, Binet designed the test to identify children who were not profiting from Paris public schools, so that new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track. Without denying individual differences in people’s intellects, he believed that learning and practice could bring about fundamental changes in intelligence.

Utterly convinced of the fluidity of intelligence, Binet wrote, “A few modern philosophers … assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism … with practice, training and, above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.”

In the process of investigating the Nature vs. Nurture question, researchers uncovered another compelling insight: people typically fall into two discrete groups based on their core beliefs and attitude toward learning. The first group believes that ability is essentially fixed from birth; the second group believes that ability is essentially expandable and can be improved with effort.6 surprisingly, both beliefs are correct, and the belief itself is the mitigating factor. Nearly 100 years ago, Henry Ford intuited this fact when he quipped: “Whether you believe you can or can’t, you’re right.”

Our beliefs about Nature (innate ability) vs. Nurture (developed ability) lead to different attitudes toward the “learning gap,” or the difference between our aspirations and our abilities. Fortune 500 management consultant and former MIT professor Fred Kofman refers to these two attitudes as the Knower and the learner.

Knowers vs. Learners

Those who approach the learning gap with a “Knower” attitude generally have a closed mind because they assume that they already have the answers and are therefore incapable of any significant improvement. This tendency not to admit that they don’t know something, according to Kofman, is the hallmark of Knowers. Yet, as he points out, it’s difficult (or even impossible) to seek and acquire new knowledge unless you are aware–and can admit–that you don’t know.

On the other hand, those who approach the learning gap with the “learner” attitude are willing to admit that they don’t know. This awareness and admission of the learning gap allows them to approach situations with an open mind and believes that intelligence is essentially fixed and additional effort does little to enhance it.

These two very different attitudes can be analyzed in terms of how they are oriented toward effort, challenges, mistakes and even others’ success. These differences are summarized in the chart below.

Research suggests that people who have a predominate Knower attitude were often praised as children for being smart or getting the right answer rather than for their willingness to make an effort and persevere with a difficult task or problem. This left them—and the adults they became—with the sense that their very identity and self-worth were on the line every time they attempted a task at which they might not quickly succeed. For this reason, Knowers tend to approach the learning gap with thoughts such as: I already know this. My ability isn’t lacking. There’s no point in exerting effort because it won’t make any difference.

Rather than risking exposing their own learning gap, Knowers strive to preserve the appearance of competence. But this backfires in the long run. By holding on to the false sense of security of what they know (and who they are) in the present, they unwittingly sacrifice what they could know (and who they might become) in the future.

Dweck’s original research focused on the question of why some individuals are frustrated by failure and abandon their efforts while others are stimulated and even encouraged by similar challenges. Psychologist Richard Bandler said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first.” Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, “if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research and development, would it?” Dweck’s research showed that since Knowers are unwilling to “do badly” at first—to practice outside of their comfort zones and risk failure—they prematurely plateau and fail to fulfill their potential.

People who adopt a “learner” attitude tend to equate effort with improvement and assume that, in time, they will learn to succeed at the tasks with which they currently struggle. Therefore, they view “doing badly”—and the inevitable frustration that comes with it—as normal and to be expected. Learners don’t regard setbacks as failures but as the inevitable twists and turns along the path to increased ability.

Whereas Knowers are preoccupied with preserving the appearance of competence, learners aren’t afraid to be wrong; they wear “i don’t know” as a badge of honor and tend to approach challenges with questions like: What can I learn? How might I do things differently? To whom might I look for inspiration and guidance?

Learners actively seek out and commit to opportunities that expose their learning gap with the belief that their abilities aren’t static but fluid, and the confidence that their abilities will increase through effort and practice.

Although for simplicity we’ve presented Knowers and learners as two distinct types of people, in reality, most of us hold an attitude toward learning that falls somewhere on the continuum between the two extremes. Further, our attitude toward learning may vary with different circumstances and learning contexts.

For example, some people are confident “learning by doing” but less comfortable in a formal classroom setting or when reading texts. The key point is that the more we consciously choose a learner attitude, the more fruitful our efforts will be.

In a previous section, two kinds of learning were introduced: acquired learning and adaptive learning. Acquired learning involves adding incremental knowledge and skills to our existing way of thinking (meaning-making system). Adaptive learning involves the transformation and expansion of our meaning-making system itself, which represents a massive increase in ability.

With a learner attitude, acquired learning is relatively easy and adaptive learning—given sufficient time and effort— is well within reach. However, with a Knower attitude, acquired learning is more difficult and adaptive learning can be unlikely or even impossible.

This simple truth applies not just to individuals, but also to teams and organizations: if we want to achieve an outcome, obviously we don’t yet know how to achieve it–or we would have done so already. The key word here is yet. Learning is the road that takes us from here (the current situation) to there (the intended outcome). Not surprisingly, learning—closing the gap between what we want to do and what we are able to do—is essential for success. Yet many leaders and employees of mid-market companies have little to no exposure to learning theory or its practical application.

Why Learn About Learning?

David Kolb, professor of organizational behavior at case Western Reserve University, posits that learning is a major determinant of growth and development–and our approach to learning determines how we grow and develop. Understanding how learning works and how different people approach learning can dramatically improve effectiveness–for yourself, for your team and for your organization.

Furthermore, familiarity with the learning process will help you to better understand how different people can notice different facts about the same event, interpret those experiences differently, draw different conclusions and decide to take different actions based on those conclusions. The success or failure of many initiatives and projects hinge on these interpretations and the resulting decisions. As such, refining understanding of the learning process–and enhancing learning skills–is one of the most highly leveraged investments to ensure sustainable success.

A quick review of the literature–or even the latest talk in today’s organizations–reveals two distinct schools of thought regarding learning and development. The first focuses on increasing strengths while the second focuses on eliminating weaknesses. It’s important to realize that both approaches have merit; the optimum balance of focus varies, depending on the circumstance and the context. Over the past two decades, a major trend has emerged toward emphasizing strengths. Richard Boyatzis’ work on Intentional Change Theory, the increasingly sought-after Appreciative Inquiry methodology, and Marcus Buckingham’s hugely popular books all emphasize the benefits of leveraging strengths rather than fixating on problems and weaknesses. This movement reflects an important shift away from an historical overemphasis on criticism and deficit-based thinking. However, like any good idea, when taken to the extreme (in this case, overfocusing or exclusively focusing on strengths), this orientation may neglect the important benefits of the approach it attempts to counterbalance. Individuals and organizations will certainly benefit from amplifying what works and developing existing strengths. However, this doesn’t mean that we should ignore weaknesses altogether. In fact, ignoring weaknesses can leave you vulnerable. For individuals and organizations, a single blind spot or weakness in a fundamental competency can derail success–despite tremendous talent across every other dimension of performance.

The Feedback Loop

Decades of research on phenomenology and learning tell us that individuals, groups and organizations learn through a series of specific steps in which we take in information (receive feedback) and make sense of things (derive meaning). As you can see at the center of the below illustration, the four steps are:

1) We take actions and have experiences.

2) We observe and notice the results of what happened. This is often referred to simply as feedback.

3) We interpret the experience and the feedback, make generalizations and assign meaning.

4) We take new actions informed by our conclusions. These new actions, of course, result in new experiences and feedback and the iterative cycle repeats indefinitely.

Kolb was the first to articulate this feedback loop (or Learning Cycle, as he calls it) in his groundbreaking work on experiential learning. For more than two decades, Kolb’s work has been the basis of much educational theory, the field of action learning and, more recently, the field of organizational learning. One of Kolb’s key insights was that the process of learning requires us to constantly shift between skills that are polar opposites of each other. In order to successfully process the feedback that we receive from our environment–in the service of improving the results we get—we must shift between the following poles: experiencing (concrete) vs. Thinking (abstract) and observing (reflective) vs. Doing (active). Action inhibits reflection and vice versa, and abstraction inhibits concrete experience and vice versa. The result is a dynamic tension between reflectively interpreting one’s experience and actively testing one’s conclusions and approaches.

Since each skill is necessary for effective learning, the ideal approach is to move with agility through the entire learning process, without getting stuck in the cycle. That’s easier said than done, however. As a result of inherent abilities, psychological makeup, life history and current circumstances, most people tend to emphasize or prefer some learning skills over others. One person may thrive on integrating information into logical theories, for example, and feel less comfortable immersing themselves in experience. Another may enjoy acting spontaneously and decisively and may resist having to analyze a situation before taking action. Recognizing your own preferences can help you to take advantage of your strengths while intentionally cultivating less-developed learning skills. Similarly, understanding other people’s learning preferences can improve your ability to collaborate effectively, assemble a high-performing team or delegate problems and opportunities, generate problems and make decisions hypotheses, formulate theories and make plans.

Double-loop learning

As summarized above, learning involves having experiences, observing and reflecting on the feedback we receive (including the results we achieved), forming interpretations and conclusions, then changing our behavior and repeating the “learning loop.” this is what Harvard’s Chris Argyris calls single-loop learning. Argyris is one of the leading researchers in the field of organizational learning. Together with Donald Schön, he introduced the concepts of single- and double-loop learning to distinguish between learning to improve behaviors that drive performance and learning to improve the thinking behind those behaviors. Argyris uses a simple metaphor to illustrate single-loop learning. A thermostat set to 68 degrees will automatically turn up the heat whenever the temperature drops below 68. The key single-loop question is, “What’s the action necessary when the room temperate falls below the desired 68 degrees?”

The simple binary response for the thermostat would be to turn up the heater. Double-loop learning takes an additional step by asking, “Is 68 degrees the optimum temperature for this room?” in other words, double-loop learning asks questions not only about objective facts but also about the reasons and motives behind those facts.

This same framework can be applied to a middle manager who operates according to guidelines defined by her executive team. If she finds herself out of compliance with those guidelines, a single-loop approach would simply inform her to change her behavior to regain compliance. However, a double-loop perspective would inquire into whether the guidelines themselves are actually promoting behaviors that are in alignment with achievement of her organization’s stated goals.

Behind all actions lie assumptions and beliefs that are referred to in organizational learning literature as “mental models.” Argyris refers to mental models simply as “reasoning.”

Because double-loop learning involves reflecting on and changing the reasoning behind our behaviors, it can allow us to see problems⎯and solutions⎯ in new ways. This is important because though single-loop learning (evaluating results against objectives) can tell you if you’re on course toward your objective, it cannot tell you if it is the right objective to be moving toward in the first place. Only double-loop learning—questioning the assumptions and conclusions behind the objectives—can answer that question. The self-questioning of double-loop learning allows individuals and organizations to adapt to an environment of rapid change and uncertainty.

In his groundbreaking Harvard Business Review article entitled, “teaching smart people how to learn,” Argyris uses business problem solving to illustrate these dynamics. He points out that many organizations define learning too narrowly as mere problem solving, which involves identifying and correcting errors in the external environment. Of course problem solving is important, but for real progress to occur, managers and employees must also look inward. They must critically reflect on their own behavior (and the reasoning behind it), identify the ways they often inadvertently contribute to the problems, and then change how they think and act.

In particular, they must learn how the very way they think about problems (including their tacit beliefs and unquestioned assumptions) may actually be a major source of the problems in the first place.

Shifting from Single- to Double-Loop Learning

As the illustration above shows, single-loop learning is concerned with experiencing the results of behavior, reflecting on the results, interpreting observations and trying new behaviors. Double-loop learning is about reflecting on, interpreting and applying new reasoning. In other words, double-loop learning involves thinking about thinking. In many workplaces, this is uncommon until a failure occurs.

Failure forces us to reflect on assumptions and interpretations. This is why some of the smartest and most successful people are often such poor learners: they haven’t had the unique opportunity for introspection that failure provides. Argyris’ research uncovered another common yet rarely discussed phenomenon: when highly accomplished people do fail—or simply under-perform—they can be surprisingly defensive. Instead of critically examining their own behavior, high performers often take a defensive stance and cast the blame outward. While professing to be open to feedback and new learning, their attitude and actions suggest different priorities, namely: a need to avoid embarrassment, threat, or feelings of vulnerability or incompetence. The phrase, “brilliant execution of the wrong strategy” points to the dynamic in which we unwittingly contribute to the very problems we are working to solve.

When we are unaware of our assumptions and interpretations (mental models), fail to question them or are unwilling to re-evaluate them, we may continue to apply the right behaviors to the wrong circumstances.

Espoused Theories vs. Theories in use

We all have mental models that inform how we act in different circumstances. That’s because it’s not practical— or even possible—to reason anew in every situation. If we had to think through all the possible responses every time someone asked us a question, we would be paralyzed. So we develop what argyris and schön call a “theory of action”—a set of rules that we use to design and implement our own behavior and to understand the behavior of others. Bill torbert expanded “theory of action” into “action logics” by integrating argyris’ framework with susanne cook-greuter’s stages of psychological development.20 as these researchers have shown, most people take their reasoning for granted (including the assumptions and beliefs inherent in them). Furthermore, it is this implicit, taken for granted “logic” that guides our actions. Interestingly, these pioneering researchers uncovered a slightly embarrassing yet incredibly powerful dynamic: in reality, we all have two sets of theories for action: 1) our “espoused theories” and 2) our actual “theories in use.”

Espoused theories are the approaches that we claim we would take when confronted with hypothetical scenarios. Theories in use are the approaches we actually employ when those hypothetical scenarios become real situations.

Here’s the embarrassing part: For most of us, in most circumstances, the gap between our espoused theories and our theories in use is fairly large. Worse, this gap is generally invisible to us yet frequently visible to others. The good news is that by engaging in practices that leverage double-loop learning, we can become aware of our mental models and begin to understand how they operate. And we can learn new ways to reason and approach situations that may lead to significantly greater potency and effectiveness.

In review, the process of learning involves closing the gap between our aspirations (what we want to do) and our ability (what we can do). As mentioned earlier, there are two fundamental types of learning: acquired and adaptive. Acquired learning represents what chris argyris calls single-loop learning. Developing expertise through acquired learning does not require a person to evolve their fundamental assumptions or beliefs as required in double-loop learning.

Only Deliberate Practice Makes Perfect

In his recently published 900-page manual, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, Anders Ericsson compiled the findings of more than 100 leading scientists who have studied high performance in a wide variety of fields. Their research shows conclusively that gifted performers are almost always made, not born, and that the journey to superior performance is neither for the faint of heart nor the impatient. Becoming an elite performer requires struggle, sacrifice and honest⎯often painful⎯self assessment. Depending on the scope and difficulty of the skill you are learning, it will take months years to achieve a high level of proficiency or mastery. According to his research, it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in most fields.  Ericsson demonstrated that not all practice makes perfect. A particular kind of practice⎯deliberate practice⎯is necessary to develop expert-level performance in just about any field. Deliberate practice involves setting specific goals,

Obtaining feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome. This idea of practice may be most obvious when thinking about sports, playing a musical instrument or rehearsing an important presentation. But the term “practice,” as used here, refers to an approach we use when we intentionally set out to improve any area of competency through an ongoing effort involving experience, feedback and learning.

When practicing, most of us focus on the things we already know how to do or are good at. And to some degree, we’re intuitively on the right track. As mentioned previously, recent theories in organizational psychology and change emphasize strength-based approaches because deficit-based approaches (which focus on problems and weaknesses) can undermine motivation, morale and, ultimately, effectiveness. On the flip side, however, focusing exclusively on strengths⎯and ignoring weaknesses⎯can lead to blind spots that may eventually limit performance or worse, derail success.

A primary way that elite performers achieve success is by intentionally practicing what they can’t do well, or even at all, according to ericsson’s research. This means that to achieve the highest levels of ability, you must take a balanced approach: developing your strengths while also working to improve your weaknesses.

While acquired learning is necessary for a quantitative increase in our knowledge and skills, it’s sometimes necessary to make a qualitative shift⎯an “upgrade”⎯in our meaning-making system itself. This requires learning that changes not just what we know and do but how we think. (recall that chris argyris refers to this as “double-loop learning.”)

As its name suggests, adaptive learning allows us to go beyond knowledge and skills, so we can begin to question and evolve our mental models themselves.

As seen in the previous section, acquired learning can be extremely effective at increasing one’s ability to better understand and “play the game.” however, only adaptive learning can improve your ability to rethink⎯or even reinvent⎯the game itself. Marshall goldsmith conveys this dynamic succinctly in the title of his bestselling book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

My partner Rand Stagen and I use the term the “performance paradox” to describe the puzzling situation many of our clients (and their companies) find themselves in. Simply put, the very thinking (winning formula) that produced an organization’s current level of performance is now the biggest obstacle between it and the next level.

Deliberate practice is crucial for both acquired and adaptive learning, but the practices serve different purposes. Practices that emphasize acquired learning introduce and reinforce new knowledge and skills, while those that emphasize adaptive learning aim to increase the complexity of the mind that holds the knowledge and skills.

Adaptive Learning to Get to the Next Level of Psychological Development

Adaptive learning practices involve a “next-level“ psychological dynamic that helps us to see a much larger perspective. Robert Kegan calls this dynamic a “subject–object move.” While this phenomenon is the topic of dozens of books and thousands of pages of academic texts, this section will attempt to briefly summarize it here.Humans are said to be “subject to“ many assumptions, beliefs, motivations, and behaviors in the same way that fish are subject to water. That is, humans are so identified with them that they are not aware of their existence. This is like a fish is subject to water. The fish takes the water for granted as its reality and lacks an objective view of the water.

When a person’s cognitive functioning (structures) develops to a higher level of complexity, people become objectively aware of those aspects of themselves to which they were formerly subject. As Kegan puts it, “The Subject of one level becomes the object of the subject of the next level.”

This Subject-Object Move requires the ability to observe—with some degree of dispassion—that with which the person were previously identified.

Naturally, this process takes a long time. To achieve a Subject–Object Move, one must find ways to obtain an objective self-view and become aware of aspects that have previously been outside of awareness.

This is a feature of our Integral Leadership Program that is, perhaps, the most interesting. We found a way to build in the mechanics of psychological development (the Subject-Object Move) into the practices themselves.

In plain English, this means that when leaders go through our course and adopt the practice of integral leadership, not only do they become more effective in their roles as leaders (strategic thinking, decision-making, communication, motivation, influence, etc.) but they engage in and internalize “integral practices” that over time (12-18 months on average) spurs vertical development (increase in psychological maturity, consciousness complexity). We have “baked in” Kegan’s Subject-Object Move to the practice of Integral Leadership.

This means that the practice of Integral Leadership is itself psychoactive: in addition to getting better at their current level (horizontal development), over time, practitioners create the conditions for moving to the next level of complexity (vertical development).


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