Leadership Coaching Tip: Lenses and Questions

Erik Mazziotta


Erik Mazziotta

Erik Mazziotta

As Integral coaches we have the tool of the AQAL model to support our clients in addressing the issues they present and help them expand their awareness. Inviting our clients to consciously look at their concerns and aspirations through the different lenses of the model provides them with leverage to distill what is important to them and the actions available to them.

Invoking the lens of the four quadrants through inquiry is particularly effective in helping the client identify the intertwined elements of their presenting issue:

  • Upper Right or “IT” dimension: What outcome are you looking to achieve?
  • Upper Left or “I” dimension: What values and beliefs underlie your desire to create the change or outcome you want? Why is this important to you?
  • Lower Left or “WE” dimension: What kind of working relationships do you want in pursuing your goal? What shift do you want to see in your current relationships? What cultural assets or challenges exist?
  • Lower Right or “ITS” dimension: What processes or structure do you need to put in place to effectively forward your goal?

A place to start is to walk the client through these four lenses to see where the greatest tension lies and then work that quadrant. Then have the client circle through the remaining quadrants to identify any supporting work to be done. In doing this we help the client build the muscle of looking at challenges and aspirations in an Integral way.

An even greater opportunity is using the quadrants to help our client gain traction in difficult conversations. Typically difficult conversations involve an emotionally charged rush into the “content” of the conversation. There is leverage in setting “context” up front so that all parties understand the lens through which the conversation is being opened. Here are some examples:

“IT” Dimension: What is important to me is to get our project back on track and meet the deliverable date. I suggest we spend our time talking about how we can dissolve the obstacles that have derailed us.

“I” Dimension: Collaboration is a key value for me. I am not effective in building relationships that get work done at a high level when a collaborative environment is not present. I would like to check with you to see what level of collaboration is important to you and how you see our environment.

“WE” Dimension: I am concerned that our relationship is getting off track and leaving us both dissatisfied. I want to work with you to see where I am not meeting your expectations and share what has been problematic for me. In this way I think we can strengthen our engagement.

Each dimension of the AQAL model provides a context setting opportunity. By consciously using the lenses that the AQAL model offers we can help our clients clarify their intentions, determine where they want to invest their energy and practice seeing the world from a multidimensional Integral standpoint.

About the Author

Erik Mazziotta is a leadership consultant with business expertise in enterprise management, strategic planning and leading change. Over the last 7 years, he has delivered leadership development programs to a broad range of enterprises from Fortune 50 companies to non-profit organizations.  He has coached individuals from C-suite to high potential leaders and their teams.  Erik’s approach is integrally informed with a strong developmental focus on expanding mindsets.  His business experience comes from a 24 year career at Citibank in the United States and Latin America that culminated with roles as CFO in Venezuela and Country Business Manager in Panama.  Erik’s stake as a consultant is to contribute to the evolution of humankind through his work while not taking himself too seriously.