Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Our Developmental Model


Our “Developmental Model of Leadership Agility” is based on the extensively researched developmental framework presented in the award-winning book,  The three dimensions of this framework are summarized below.

Agility Levels

The first dimension is an articulation of the “leadership agility levels” that came out of our research. As managers develop, they grow through stages or levels of agility that can be clearly defined and measured. Teams and leadership cultures have the potential evolve through parallel levels of agility. The three levels of leadership agility most relevant to the vast majority of today’s organizations are:

  • Expert: Managers who operate at this level of agility use their technical and functional expertise to make tactical organizational improvements, supervise teams, identify and solve key problems, and sell their solutions to others. Research indicates that approximately 45% of today’s managers operate at this level of agility.
  • Achiever: Managers who function at this level of agility use their managerial skills to set clear organizational objectives, lead strategic change, motivate and orchestrate team performance, and engage in challenging cross-boundary conversations. About 35% of today’s managers operate at this level of agility.
  • Catalyst: Those rare managers who have developed this level of agility are visionaries who can lead transformative change, develop high participation teams, and collaborative with others to develop creative, high-leverage solutions to tough organizational issues. About 10% of today’s managers operate at this agility level.

As change accelerates and the world continues to become more complex, the need increases for more Experts to become Achievers and for more Achievers to develop the capacities and skills needed to operate at the Catalyst level. In this increasingly turbulent environment, teams and leadership cultures are challenged to undergo parallel developments.

Action Arenas

As leaders develop through the levels of agility described above, their capacity for taking leadership in all three key leadership arenas expands and becomes more effective:

  • Leading organizational change
  • Improving team performance
  • Engaging in pivotal conversations

The Agility Compass: Four Types of Agility

Our research found that agile leaders employ four types of agility, which work together to increase the effectiveness of leadership initiatives in each of the three arenas. The four types of agility are briefly summarized below:

  • Context-setting agility determines how leaders scan their environment, select key initiatives, then scope and set objectives for these initiatives
  • Stakeholder agility determines how leaders identify and understand key stakeholders, as well as their ability to create greater alignment with different stakeholder groups
  • Creative agility determines a leader’s ability to identify the key problems an initiative needs to solve, get to the underlying issues, and develop creative solutions that work for multiple stakeholders
  • Self-leadership agility determines how proactive leaders are in experimenting with new leadership behaviors and in learning from their experience

While this unique framework helps to guide all the work we do, we also have more specific change models that guide our work in the three action arenas: organizational change, team development, and leadership development.