From Reactive to Creative to Integrative, an upward journey. Adult Development in a Vertical Model.

Friends, this year I learned about a framework for adult development that blew my mind. In fact, I haven’t been this excited about human potential in quite some time.

This year I got Leadership Circle Certified which is built on the Universal Model of Leadership (supported by the latest research on leadership and adult development and validated through rigorous statistical analysis).

My biggest takeaway, a paradigm shift really, was learning about the Adult Vertical Development Model, which transforms the underlying capacity of the leader to make sense of and respond to situations, working directly on their internal “meaning-making” rather than just external validation.

As adult humans we all start in the “Egocentric stage” and most of us move up into what is known as the “Reactive Self”: an identity structure that is self-defined from the outside-in. According to the research provided in my training, 70% of the population stays in Reactive Self. As leaders, meaning and worth are bonded to your role, and authority is vested outside of yourself. The vision is defined by others and one may be defensive when challenged. Think: “I am either the controlling authority or careful follower.”

With concentrated effort and evolution, 30% of the population cycles upward into “Creative Self,” a place of peaceful, internally validated worth. These kind of leaders find meaning in self-expression, co-creation, and responsibility. They have a self-generated capacity for vision and independent action with self-correction. They are perceptive, empathetic, and authentic. Authority is granted from within and shared with others.

And a few more lucky enlightened ones, less than 1% of the population, can and will cycle into the “Integral Self,” someone who is truly one with the whole, a leader who works for the benefit of the collective, who sees conflict as an opportunity to dialogue across differences for discovery and new understanding. For this type of leader, authority is plural.

Where do you fit in the Adult Vertical Development Model? I’m striving every day to live from the Creative Self, but I still have some transitions to make and intentions to set before I feel I have “made it” to this level of leadership. Some days, it’s two steps forward and one step back. And some days, I feel like I can see the Integrative Self on the other side of the horizon.

Ain’t life (and leadership) grand?

Yours in cycling up, buttercup.

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