Leading Comments

Russ Volckmann


I am grateful to the more than 400 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.


Keeping up with the literature on leadership is a challenge, if you want to do anything else with your life. So I am not embarrassed to reach back to 1997 to look at Stuart Wells’ From Sage to Artisan, (Davies-Black Publishing, Palo Alto, CA). Wells states that leadership is about

  • Creating order,
  • Inspiring action, and
  • Improving performance.

His introductory remarks are still focused on the individual, yet he looks to each of us as a source of leadership. His work is an interesting contribution to the upper left and right quadrants of a leadership holon.

What really attracted me, however, was his categories of leadership roles. Aspects are reminiscent of Loevinger and Cook-Greuter. Some scholar might find it interesting to explore his approach to these and to Spiral Dynamics. Here are the categories:

  1. Sage: Pulls together diverse information and designs a coherent strategy.
  2. Visionary: Thinks about the future to specify a vision that inspires others to act.
  3. Magician: Maintains flexibility to bring about large-scale change when necessary.
  4. Globalist: Operates across cultures and consolidates different perspectives.
  5. Mentor: Motivates others and assists their professional development.
  6. Ally: Forms highly effective and productive teams and alliances.
  7. Sovereign: Accepts responsibility for consequences of decisions.
  8. Guide: Sets clear and challenging goals and organizes work to achieve them.
  9. Artisan: Sets and meets increasingly higher standards of quality and excellence.

His thesis is that each of these roles is important to the modern organization. Each individual performs or is attracted to one or more of these roles. Rarely is there someone who can perform all effectively. This supports the notion that leadership is both an individual and a collective act in organizations.

From a developmental point of view, there is no hierarchy of importance for these roles. All rest on a “foundation of core values.” It is in this discussion that we get a hint of an integral perspective. He offers the long-standing model of arenas for developing awareness:

  • Spirit: The degree to which we find things truly interesting, energizing, inspiring, or significant.
  • Thought: The ideas that we bring to a situation.
  • Emotion: Probably a taboo subject in business but a very real part of everybody’s daily experience: being excited, frustrated, compassionate, angry, challenged, fearful, etc.
  • Action: Our behavior, willingness to act, and responsibility for the consequence of our action.

Wells offers a guide to the roles and application in appropriate ways in organizations. What we have is another category of upper left and right factors. The core values and mental models are the upper left. Each is manifested in upper right as a role through related behaviors. Wells describes these extensively. Self management become a process of learning about oneself in relation to each role and one’s core values.

Lower left and lower right could be seen as the context for leadership. However, these are organizational and environmental in nature and are not about the collective aspects of leadership. This is not bad. It simply falls short of being 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
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