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Episode 11

Integral Leadership: Vision, Purpose and the Evolutionary Path

Photo of Bob Anderson
January 23, 2018
58 minutes

What makes for an effective leader? You might be surprised! In this far-reaching deep dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes a bad leader, a good leader and an outstanding leader, Bob Anderson explores the subtleties of going from good to great, and the fine art of connecting to a purpose larger than oneself.

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What makes for an effective leader?

Most of us, when we think of leaders, mentally compose a set of skills and character traits that we associate with leadership. Some of us may feel that if we’re lacking some of those skills or qualities that we are not suited to becoming leaders. However Bob’s analysis of large quantities of data on just what sets effective leaders apart shows some surprising results.

It turns out the best and worst leaders are equally talented on qualities like effectiveness, drive for results, creative genius, domain expertise and so on. Slight variations exist, but to play at a high level there’s a certain standard that must, unequivocally, be met.

So what makes for an effective leader? One who facilitates a great company culture, helps people develop, and helps the business thrive? It’s not the stuff we get promoted for; technical know-how, talent, intelligence and a drive for results are necessary but not enough.

Here it is (drumroll): Six of the top ten differentiators between good and bad leaders have to do with people. Skills such as interpersonal relationships, developing teams, empowering people, listening, mentoring, integrity, passion, and vision are what set these people apart.

Three types of leaders

An interesting distinction can be found between passion and drive; due to their different core motivations, the way they are expressed varies greatly, and is a significant contributor to the way in which those leaders are perceived. This and other subcategories of motivation are what make the biggest difference.

Leaders can be separated into three types, defined primarily by motivational locus, identity construct and source of creativity:

  • Reactive: authored by others, socialised mind, outside-in drive, self-identity very important, focussed on being acknowledged and validated by others
  • Creative: self-authored, inside-out drive, focussed on creating what is needed, authentic, I-am-this-but-not-that, open to deeper sense of purpose
  • Integral: authored by something larger than themselves, by an emergent future, authentic self becomes paradox-holding awareness

Reactive leaders are the dominating, bully-type leaders that tend to be associated with stressed employees, unethical behaviour and short-term egotistical thinking.

Creative leaders are people who have a good sense of who they are, what their values are, and who they want to become. Highly creative leaders are not self-centric but have a service mentality; the sense of being in service to something larger than themselves. 

Integral leaders have the sense that their purpose or vision is stalking them (rather than the other way round). Their experience is that some force external to themselves wants something specific from them, and that this, if they open to it, becomes an unfolding informed by grace/unity/something larger than us.

So how do we move towards integral leadership?

  • Get close to what makes you come alive
  • Do some experiments, notice your experience
  • Watch for synchronicities
  • Expand your perception into your subtle energy field
  • Meditate

Resources mentioned:

About Bob

Photo of Bob Anderson
Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson is the founder, Chairman and Chief Development Officer of The Leadership Circle and the Full Circle Group. Over the past 35 years, Bob has dedicated his career to exploring the intersections between leadership and mastery, competence and consciousness, spirituality and business. He works with CEOs and leadership teams to help them improve their leadership effectiveness and is the co-author of the book, Mastering Leadership, described as the next seminal work in the leadership field.

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