Recent advances in neuroscience have found that our brain continually changes throughout our adult life.  This has not been a surprise to many psychologists who have theorised, for many decades, that we continually change and develop throughout our entire life. These include psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Clare Graves, Robert Kegan, Elliot Jaques, Jane Loevinger, Bill Torbert, Lawrence Kohlberg and Susan Cook-Greuter.


Each of these psychologists has mapped a different aspect of a person’s development such as values, cognition, morals, personality or ego, etc.  However, they all tend to share one thing in common in that they view adult growth in terms of periods of transition followed by plateaux of stability. It is this combination of plateaux and transitions which is the basis of most models of adult development.  It is this similarity which has enabled us to map all the models together to form a unified model of ‘Seven Stages of Leader Development’.








We develop the ability to view ourselves, the situation, and society simultaneously, from an external perspective. At this stage, because we are not driven by our ego, we tend to focus on the growth and well-being of people.



By this stage we are no longer fully invested in our constructed identity. We now have less need to defend ourselves and this releases more psychological space to include and collaborate with other people. We now become ‘inter-dependent’.



As we face a more VUCA world, we find that our constructed identity is constraining our ability to respond.  As we gradually let go of this identity, we find we can adopt multiple perspectives, hold contradictory views and behave with agility.




By developing and using our skills to add value we find our own way to perform at a high level and deliver results.  This success gives us confidence to construct our identity as a leader and be ‘independent’



As we develop we gradually acquire more knowledge, skills and expertise.  Through using these we are able to add greater value.  This gives us greater confidence to separate ourselves from our ‘group’ and establish our own identity. 



We turn to a ‘group’ to protect us from other people.  To ensure that we are not ejected from the group we tend to adopt the prevailing norms of behaviour, beliefs and values.  We become ‘dependent’ on other people. 


Power and Control

When we operate at this stage we find safety in our authority, position and the rule book.  We tend to use whatever power we have available to us, derived from the different roles we play in life, to protect ourselves.

Throughout our lives we travel on a journey of development.  We can stop at any stage or, equally, we can accelerate our progress.  As adults, we tend to stop our journey when our level of psychological growth is aligned with the activities in our life.  We have no need to further develop.  However, if life becomes more challenging than our level of psychological growth can deal with, then this tends to generate stress and anxiety.  With the right preparation and support this challenge can provide a stimulus for future growth.  We can, therefore, accelerate our development through seeking new challenges in life.


Terry Sexton

Leadership Psychologist

27th September 2017

Stay in Touch

Sign up with your email address to receive our latest news and updates
When you sign up you will receive a copy of our short e-book ‘Developing New Leadership’ (preview)

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please enter a valid email address
Please provide consent for us to use your email address to contact you.

We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. By submitting this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide
will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Invalid Input
bringing imagination, science and humanity to create the future together.