Leadership Library Review – Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Results

February 2016

Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Results by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams (Wiley, 2016)

What are the big take-aways?

A very dense but deep and passionate book, Mastering Leadership reflects the venerable experience and research of its authors, who are also the creators of The Leadership Circle assessment system. The book attempts to offer – and indeed succeeds at delivering – a universal model of leadership mastery that brings together in one comprehensive set of tools what had been previously unwoven threads from the fields psychology, systems research and the social science of leadership.

To be sure, the book is a sales pitch for The Leadership Circle products, and it is extremely persuasive.

Why do I like it?

I like that Mastering Leadership and its Leadership Circle system are simultaneously simple and complex, infused as they are with the latest research from the field of adult development. I wholeheartedly agree with the authors’ fundamental premise, which is that “the inner game runs the outer game.” A leader’s inner individual capacity for learning, adaptation and transformation greatly affects her outer effectiveness; in turn, the collective leadership effectiveness of the folks driving an enterprise directly affects company results.

Anderson and Adams do a beautiful job of explaining the stages of consciousness development and why they matter to leadership and business outcomes. That said, their extreme thoroughness in explanation and level of detail is probably not for everyone. The Leadership Circle is a sophisticated organizational development tool, and Mastering Leadership is clearly geared toward a specialized audience (particularly organizational development consultants, human resources professionals, and coaches). Therefore, the book may not immediately speak to all leaders in every level of an organization. Nonetheless, Mastering Leadership is highly versatile, and anyone who takes the personalized Leadership Circle self-assessment that comes with it has the potential to gain actionable, life-changing information.

I also like that this business book does not shy away – as so many others do, to their detriment – from the inherently spiritual dimensions of leadership growth and the role of love in human development.

In what situations would this be useful?

For any professional considering certification in The Leadership Circle, Mastering Leadership is a must-read.

For leadership wonks of every stripe, the whole book could be very useful in general: e.g., regarding information about the stages consciousness development, understanding the business case for consciousness development, for its comprehensive dissection of The Leadership Circle model, and for the authors’ recommended Six Leadership Practices (“Spiritual Bootcamp for Leaders”), among other pieces. Plus, many leadership coaches and organizational development consultants will already recognize parts of this universal framework (such as the inner and outer game analogy, the emphasis on heroic narrative, reactive and creative structures of mind, Robert Kegan’s “immunity to change” theory, or Peter Senge’s systems theory, etc.), and to have them brought together in one integrated model — with proven self-assessment and 360-degree evaluation tools — is exciting.

What other resources might “pair” well with it?

Limitless resources in books and online, learning experiences, body work, and contemplative practices, etc. would pair well with this book (on top of the ones outlined by Anderson and Adams in their “Spiritual Boot Camp”). As for more information specifically about leadership and consciousness development, here are my current favorite readings in this area – some of which have been previously reviewed here in the Leadership Library – listed in chronological order by publication date:

  • Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness by Frederic Laloux (Nelson Parker, 2014).
  • Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World by Jennifer Garvey Berger (Stanford University, 2012).
  • Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (Harvard Business Press, 2009).
  • Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs (John Wiley & Sons, 2007).
  • “Seven Transformations of Leadership” by David Rooke & William Torbert (Harvard Business Review, 2005).
  • “Making the Case for a Developmental Perspective” by Suzanne Cook-Greuter (Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 36, Number 7, 2004).





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1 Response to Leadership Library Review – Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Results

  1. Pingback: Leadership Library Review: Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most | Susan Palmer Consulting, LLC

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