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Aug. 4, 2022

The Journey of Adult Leadership and Awareness

How do organizations retain top leadership talent and how do highly evolved leaders find fulfillment serving in roles that have them feeling like they are no longer serving and growing to their highest potential?
For today’s episode I share my thoughts o...

How do organizations retain top leadership talent and how do highly evolved leaders find fulfillment serving in roles that have them feeling like they are no longer serving and growing to their highest potential?

For today’s episode I share my thoughts on what leaders and organizations might be experiencing in this great resignation and a few tips to help you and your organization become reinvigorated, inspired and aligned.



  • Berger, J.G. (2012).  Changing On the Job, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.                Block, The empowered Manager
  • Kegan, R., & Lahey, L. (2016)  An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization,   Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Block, P. (1987) The Empowered Manager, “Introduction: Dilemmas of Managers in the Middle,” pp. 1-6.


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How do organizations retain top leadership talent, and how to highly evolve leaders find fulfilment, serving in roles that maybe have them feeling like they're no longer serving and growing to their highest potential. Stay tuned for today's episode where I share my thoughts on what leaders and organizations might be experiencing during this great resignation. And a few tips to help you and your organization become reinvigorated, inspired and aligned.


The following was recorded in front of a live studio audience at the studio 21 podcast cafe. This is the United Podcast Network.


Welcome to rat race reboot. I'm your host, Laura Noel. And as a certified coach and former 27 year military leader, each week, I provide bite sized mindset pivots that will help you reset your mind reawaken your spirit and regain your control. Hello, everyone and welcome back. This is a really important topic, because we are dealing in the world with so much change in this global economy. And it's so important to at least be able to leverage the talents of leadership's who are thinking at higher levels of adult leadership and development. And I wanted to kind of highlight a little bit of what I'm talking about. So you have some context, adult development and stages. According to Robert Keegan, he's a psychologist and he was a professor at Harvard, he founded a theory on adult development through five stages. And as we transition through those stages, we kind of shift our awareness and how we view ourselves within the larger context and in relation to the world and the people around us. And so we're basically moving from what we know. And this is what he's describing as subject where the things around us in our experience are kind of controlling us to object where we can kind of control it. And the more expansive we become, the more clearly we can see the world around us in which we're engaging, and the people in it. So this is really important. So he talks about the idea of subject I am. So in essence, it's our concept of our self. And through earlier stages of adult development, when we're children, actually, our concept is really tied to like the here and now the world revolves around us. And eventually, it becomes to a place where we're thinking about our personality traits, for example, our assumptions were tied to those those assumptions, those traits that we have, we think at lower level, I don't want to say earlier stages of development, we think of ourselves as those traits or assumptions. But as we start to develop in our level of awareness and our complexity of thinking, we start to move from subject to object where, you know, these are maybe previously these are beliefs that were me. And now as we start to evolve, I am a being but with those beliefs, so we're starting to see those things as object. So the first couple of stages of development, like I had mentioned are when we're children, so he describes the impulsive mind and the Imperial mind. But as we start to grow, and evolve and, and grow up into adulthood or early adulthood, we start to move into this idea of the socialized mind. That's one of his stages. That's the third stage. And in these five stages, and the socialized mind, you know, people are more tied to rules, and they want boundaries. And in that, that socialized mind, their concept of themselves, more or less revolves around their idea of what they think people think of them. So they're following the rules or following the norms. Nothing wrong with that. I and it's not a negative thing. There's institutions that actually operate from a socialized mind. I mean, generally speaking, there's definitely you know, the military is one of those examples or, you know, a hospital or higher education in some aspects.


But in the military, we had a definite way of doing things. We had our rules and regulations that we followed. Now, there are definitely pockets within that where we could kind of express ourselves and in different ways, but we definitely knew that there were rules and roles and boundaries. So that's kind of where the socialized mind piece of this lies. But then as we move forward, in this five step, kind of look at adult development, we then move toward that self authoring mind, where we're defining who we are, as leaders, we're experiencing that leadership of self, we're leaning on kind of our internal judgment, to support and inform us of who we are as individuals, as opposed to leaning on the judgments of others or concerning ourselves with what other people are thinking of us. And then we move into the higher stages of development, which, that's the self transforming mind. And when we reach that stage of self transforming, we're realizing that the grit that's worked in the past is no longer propelling us forward, it's no longer sufficient to handle the complexities of life of work. And Jennifer Garvey Berger, a student and colleague of Robert Keegan, talks about some of the things that they might be experiencing individuals, leaders who are kind of transitioning from that self authoring mind, to the self transforming mind, as he talks about, they might be realizing these individuals that what they're doing, or their path is just a tiny little portion of the greater whole what there really is in life, the expansiveness of life, these leaders are becoming aware of that. They're looking at what unites us in an organization or departments or us as human beings in general, whereas before, they were just really laser focused on their role and what they were doing and what they needed to do and how it interconnected. But now it's we're getting and holding different viewpoints of stakeholders from different organizations, different departments, different people, different cultures. Actually, only a very small percentage of people are at this level, that level five, the self transforming mind, I think I personally have known one person that I would say probably was at that level, and he's no longer with us. I can't ask him, but I make that assumption. More people say or might think they're at that level than actually are. And I wouldn't even put myself at that level, I think there's far more people who are kind of in that realm of the self authoring mind. And then maybe even in that space, that transforming space moving into the self transforming, self transforming mind.


So who cares? Right? Why are we talking about this, and again, I mentioned, you know, we're dealing with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, ambiguity. I can't say that word today, I'm talking too fast, because I'm really excited about the subject. But we're dealing with a lot of things out there in the world, we need leaders who can adapt and deal with adaptive challenges that we're facing now. And organizations and in a global economy, and the better we're able to understand these highly evolved leaders and the better these leaders are able to understand themselves and even what the organizations are going through, the more we can leverage their talents, whatever that looks like to help us navigate these adaptive challenges. I wanted to read this little quote, you know, coming from the individual perspective, when we're transitioning from that self authoring mind, to that self transforming mind. I wanted to read a little excerpt here about what an individual might be experiencing. And so I want you to listen and see if you hear yourself in this in this description. So the transition can come with a loss, especially the loss of the single minded dedication, and the potential for and hope for certainty that they once had when they were more self authored in that self authoring mind. This feeling can be frightening to executives, who have been single mindedly working toward goals they firmly believed in, they talk with fear about the loss of the fire in the belly they once had, and sometimes they can begin a quest for the job or project that will rekindle this fire. At this stage, people can become off center as leaders, feeling that their previous strengths are lost to them, or that to make use of those old strengths would be in authentic in some kind of way. So you know, potentially, a leader who is experiencing this transition might feel like it's lonely at the top where they have fewer peers that they can engage with and actually have authentic conversation with deep conversation and make meaning of things in similar ways they might not have that cohort to have those conversations with, they might even start to feel misunderstood by other people who view the world from previous stages of adult development. Maybe they're starting to feel a little bit constrained and boxed in at work. And, but at the same time, maybe they're noticing that people are starting to gravitate toward them. And just ask for advice. Like they're the Obi Wan Kenobi of all things, the knower right. And maybe they're even starting to feel a sense of burnout, because they're noticing, there's a disconnect, and they're not feeling aligned with who they are, who they're becoming, with the roles that they're serving in. So, some suggestions on how a person who's experiencing this might find alignment. And I'm really keeping this simple and boiling it down. And I highly encourage you to, I'll have some resources in the notes, but read some of the work by Keegan, Keegan and Leahy and Jennifer Berger. It's really fascinating. And I love that it's tying in these stages of adult development in a way that it's spiritual it to me and you know, this is all about in rat race reboot is, you know, we are reconnecting our mind, we're reawakening our spirit and reconnecting with that, so that we can regain control and be in alignment. So you can't separate the spirit from the person in the body, we're all we're all the same, we're going to take us wherever we go, in whatever context, we just are experiencing greater levels of awareness. And that's what this is about. And that's why I love it. But some ideas for that leader who might be experiencing some of these things as they're transitioning to that self, you know, self awareness. So that higher level of mind is start to create space for yourself, to contemplate and gain clarity on what it is you'd like, if you are wanting to transition and you do like your your organization and what they stand for. what are maybe some ways to Job craft and create something that's not so confined to a role that you're serving in. But as more expansive, the more expansive you become, how can you leverage that? How can you pivot your leadership and your purpose in a different way,


dialoguing with leaders and teams about what it is you want, and, and just realizing that your leadership is needed now more than ever. And if you're, you know, if you're open to exposing your blind spots, and having those conversations with others around you, that could also open up opportunities for you. And it might mean also that you're serving in your role might not be a good fit, but maybe there's opportunities for you to move on. But serve in an advisory capacity in a different way to still be of service to still connect with a an organization and values and an idea that you're still aligned with just not in that same way, it just looks different. And I would say for organizations, if you're starting to experience this, if you have these kind of rising stars that are kind of moving onward, upward and onward on to other things, and there's, you know, you're noticing a little bit of a disconnect there. Maybe you're starting to notice that these once type A over achievers, maybe according to your perspective, it looks like they've lost their grip, or their grit. Maybe it looks like they're indecisive, because when they once were really honed in on one purpose and moving forward and just being laser focused on that. They're they're able to kind of hold on to different perspectives of different stakeholders in a different way. And it might seem to you that they're kind of backsliding, they're not they're just being more expansive in their thinking. I want you to think about and see the gifts in this type of leader who is transforming into another realm of leadership, see that and capitalize on the fact that they're not seeing competition really as much anymore. They're more or less coming from the perspective of collaboration and creation. Right? And that's a different mindset altogether. And know that another gift Often this is their ego isn't playing a role in their decision making, they've kind of, they've transitioned from that they're not identified with that outcome, their ego is out of it. So they can be more expansive in their thinking, thinking of the greater good and moving forward. They, they understand, they can see multiple perspectives. And, and they have an awareness of how to bridge those gaps, to create something that's more cohesive and more collaborative, and honestly, much more. K capable of dealing with the complexities in the world today. And they're in it, they're playing not to, they're playing to win, they're not playing to win. They're, they're playing to win for all, a lot of times people are playing the game of life, to not lose. And that's a losing game. That's, that's we're kind of retracting, and we're recalling, recalling, recoiling, we're not really giving, and we're not serving in a collaborative way. So they're playing in the big picture to win overall, they're not playing not to lose. So hopefully that makes sense. So some ideas to leverage some of that talent is be open, listen, and learn. You know, when somebody who's transitioning and experiencing these higher levels of awareness and adult development, be opened to maybe redesigning roles and not having them serve in those those old ways that they were serving, it's no longer working for them, you know,


have that let people make decisions at the lowest level possible, foster self directed personal and professional development, allow people to find their way and, and foster really support them in their journey and that continual expansion of self awareness and growth? I like to, you know, ask, why not? Instead of a, why do you want to do this ask why not. These are the people who are going to help you solve the wicked problems as adaptive challenges that you might be faced with. So leverage those talents. Really, that's, that's a key here. So I hope that helps you, there's a lot of things to consider here, as individuals are moving from that self authoring mind to that self transforming mind, it doesn't have to be the end all be all, they might find as an individual that you know, their time and that role, and that place needs to evolve or that they need to move forward. But you can still leverage those talents. And you as an individual experiencing this can still serve, but just be open and aware of different ways that that that might look like card that time and space out for yourself. And know that the world needs you, especially during these times of uncertainty. So that was that that in a nutshell, a lot of information that we covered in a very short period of time, I am literally just scratching the surface. And I highly recommend that you look at the show notes. And and research this more on your own, learn a bit more about it. And if you'd like to have a conversation, if you feel like you are kind of in that circumstance, whether it's as an organization or as an individual, and you want some support navigating that, then I want you to reach out to me, go to the shownotes go to rat race reboot.com Connect with me there and connect with me on LinkedIn, whatever works for you. And let's have a conversation about it and get you some focus and clarity moving forward. So I want to thank you for listening to today's episode. I know this is a little bit different than a little bit of a different format that I usually follow. But it's important, you know, it's important for our growth and our expansion, and for the support of us as individuals and the greater whole of our organizations as well. So go to rat race reboot.com If you have questions, if you have comments on today's episode, wherever you listen to your episodes, I want you to leave a review and let me know what you think. And let me know how you're dealing with this how you're making sense of this information. I would love to hear from you. And we're going to end today's episode the way we always do and that's in taking inspired action. So I want you to consider what we talked about today, digest it and think about where you are in these five stages of adult development and where you are in your leadership journey. So wherever you are, just take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale,


take another deep inhale. And exhale. And taking another deep inhale. And exhaling as you release any signs of tension in your body that you might be holding on to.


And I just want you to think about where you are in your journey and your journey of adult development and leadership and start to bring to your awareness, being really honest with yourself. How are you feeling serving in your current role? Are you starting to feel a little bit restricted? Or a little bit discombobulated? Knowing that maybe there's some lack of practice or alignment there? Like something's missing. But you don't know what maybe you yourself are experiencing that feeling of gosh, you know, I once had this fire in my belly, and I, I just want everyone to get along. I'm seeing multiple perspectives here. And I see where they all connect, I can connect the dots easily. People are coming to me for advice, and mentorship. What can I do with that? What's the next level for me? And then ask yourself, what is the next level for me? How can I serve at a greater capacity using these God given gifts and talents that I've been blessed with? And then just sit quietly for a couple of moments? And be with that question. And as things bubble up to your consciousness make a note of them. This is what taking inspired action is all about. Welcome back, so as you start to get more ideas of how would I serve? How could I serve? That's a question I would love for you to ask yourself every day, just taking a few moments every morning. Visualizing you serving at your highest potential, and then asking, How can I serve? How can I serve today give me clarity. And then being quiet, not forcing anything. And any ideas that float to your mind? Jot them down and then take that inspired action. I want to thank you so much for listening today. And again, as I always say, everything is created twice first in your imagination, and then and physical form. I look forward to seeing you next week.


The views and opinions expressed by the hosts guests or callers of this program do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the studio 21 podcast cafe, the United Podcast Network, its partners or affiliates.