Leading Comments

Russ Volckmann

I am grateful to the more than 860 subscribers to Integral Leadership Review. Your support means that we can move closer to a way of viewing and being in the world that is integrative, generative and supportive of our evolving integrity – learning to align our theory and our action, our values and assumptions with achieving what is important to us. Also, I am grateful to the many kindnesses, suggestions and offers of support we have received.

The mission of this e-publication is to be a practical guide to the application of an integral perspective to the challenges of leadership in business and life and to the effective relationship between executive/business coaches and their clients. My vision includes that this will be a place where others, as well as myself, can continue to develop and share ideas about Integral Leadership and integral coaching.

> Russ Volckmann


Bill Torbert and Associates, Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership, San Francisco: Barrett-Kohler Publishers, Inc., 2004

Summarizing a book is beyond the boundaries of this section. Mainly, I want to make you aware that this work provides and augments materials published in earlier and more difficult to find works by Bill Torbert and offers a strategy for development worthy of attention.

Bill wrote:

[For those who] have read my previous book (with Fisher and Rooke, Personal & Organizational Transformations)…although there is much that is different about the two books (the focus in the new book on triple loop learning, the orientation toward time and different meanings of timeliness, the exercises, new stories of different leaders, a scientific appendix, and this whole book shorter and more reader-friendly), it is also true that 50% of the material is the same or only slightly edited.

If you are not familiar with Torbert’s work here is a place to start. His use of the action-logics of Susann Cook-Greuter’s Leadership Development Profile is couple with attention to use action inquiry as an ongoing learning process for individuals and organizations.

The middle portions of the book address the action-logics in the individual – Opportunist and Diplomat, Expert and Achiever, Individualist and Strategist, and Alchemist (Magician…) – and provides exercises for enhancing our capacities at each level and moving to building strength at higher levels.

In looking at organizations, Torbert and Associates show us how to recognize the levels of development of the organization and suggest strategies for addressing these as consultants. A process of collaborative inquiry is described for application in these contexts.

Action inquiry is a process for using single-, double- and triple-loop feedback in a learning process. Single relates to the relationships between our goals, our behavior and our results. Double relates to the examination of goals and strategies for improving effectiveness. Triple uses our own ongoing awareness to examine our experience and “the legitimacy and integrity of our actions.”

These relate to four territories of experience: visioning, strategizing, performing and assessing. While this is not explored in the book it would be interesting to compare Mark Edwards’ Cycle of Knowledge Creation to this model.

Tobert, more than most others, focuses his work on individual and collective dynamics. Levels of development pertain not just to individuals, but to social systems, as well. Consequently, one might expect a comparison of this work with integral models. That will not be found here.

I asked Bill if he thought it would require a higher level of development for people to actually use the exercises he offers in the book. He wrote:

I think you are right that virtually no one who is not already at least an Achiever with a secret yen to move on to Individualist will engage in disciplined, prolonged practice of the exercises on his or her own. Like P&OT this book is really a curriculum (but I think a more accessible one) to be used by consultants, executive coaches, and teachers in interplay with working groups, communities of practice, etc., which is why we keep emphasizing the importance of creating such groups right up to the final paragraph. Paradoxically, I also think the exercises are valuable even if readers don’t do them. They make it clearer what the scale of the challenge of practicing these ideas is and that you cannot claim mastery of this theory unless you take on the challenge of practicing it.

A Request
If you are finding the Integral Leadership Review to be bringing useful, fresh perspectives to the subject of leadership, please think of the leaders in business and life that might be able to benefit from subscribing to this epublication. Please send them a copy or a link to the web site, so that they may explore it. In this time of intense internet communication, we all need to manage our time and read those things which are most relevant for our work, our thinking and our values. It is my hope that many people will find the evolvingIntegral Leadership Review does just that. Your help is deeply appreciated.
Got any? E-mail Russ Volckmann
Thanks for taking the time to consider this e-publication in a world of data overload. For leaders, collaborators, consultants, academics and coaches alike; I welcome you to some ideas and a dialogue that may benefit us all. I hope you will contact me soon with your idea, reference or article. Suggestions on improvement are welcome.
Russ Volckmann, PhD, Coaching Leaders in Business and Life
Tel: 831.333-9200, FAX: 831.656-0110
This material is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Financial, Legal and Professional information is not Financial, Legal and Professional advice. You should see a Financial, Legal or Professional in the area in which you live if you need advice.
You are welcome to share the contents of this e-publication. Please provide source information,
Thank you.