Leading Comments

Russ Volckmann


I am grateful to the more than 440 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


Michael C. Armour, Ph.D. and Don Browning. Systems-Sensitive Leadership: Empowering Diversity Without Polarizing the Church. Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 2000.

I was surprised (due to my own subtle or not stereotyping) to find an interesting application of Claire Graves’ work in the area of “management.” I was surprised because the application was in the area of church management or development and management of congregations in the Protestant religion, particularly. And it turns out to be one of the most interesting applications of Spiral Dynamics with an integral perspective that currently exists.

The authors describe the individual and system aspects of the first six levels in Graves’ theory as systems. They describe these as worldviews and then apply them, not only to the individual, but also to the system. For example, System Six (FS, Green) is explored in several dimensions:

  • A description of the system: “Worldview: the world is so interdependent that every life-form and individual is a cherished treasure. Compelling Drive: egalitarianism and ecology.
  • Benefits of the system: “Commitment to universal absolute equality; A drive to build a truly classless society; Our passion for individual rights; Identification with the plight of the exploited; A feeling of duty toward the environment; Determination to put people above profit; A sense of shame for insensitivity toward others.”
  • Strengths of the system: ” Strives for authentic equality; Quickly rises to the needs of the victim; Fosters genuine acceptance of diverse views; Creates a caring, compassionate atmosphere; Carefully guards the vulnerabilities of the weak; Battles narrow-mindedness and judgmentalism.”
  • Weaknesses and Limitations: “Has a tendency toward spiritual or moral elitism, even though it views itself as an avowed opponent of elitist outlooks; Frequently develops and excessive inward focus; Reaches group decisions very slowly; Can be naïve about the darker side of human behavior, such as found in unhealthy System Three [Red, CP]; Is gullible to ‘the victim’s tale of woe;’ Lets spontaneity destroy structure.”
  • System Traps: “Total relativism; Poli6tical correctness; Care-giver burnout; Treating everyone as a victim at the expense of responsibility, accountability, being self-causal.”
  • Organizational Impulse: “System Six organizations are ‘flat’ (non-hierarchical) with heavy reliance on self-directed work teams, decision-making by consensus, a premium on informality, virtually no distinctions in male-female roles, few distinctions between managers and those they manage, [and] leaders who serve primarily as facilitators.”

And what is even more intriguing is that at the end of every chapter describing a system is a summary chart that describes the (1) inner life of the individual, (2) individual observable behavior, (3) the inner life of the group, and group observable behavior. Need I point out that these are the four quadrants of the holon?

So what we have here is a very useful description of a holarchy using Claire Graves’ developmental models to suggest the content of each quadrant. Whether interested in building a congregation or a business this work provides a useful summary of a developmental model that is also integral.

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.
Dedicated to Chris Newham with deep appreciation.
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.