This blog seven part blog series talks about Leadership 2050 and the leadership mindset necessary for success in the future. We walk through what the future of leadership will look like then walk you through the story of Jill as she moves through the developmental perspectives. Growth through the perspectives is a linear process in that we progress through each step without skipping stages.
In the post last week we saw Jill as she grew through the Expert Developmental Perspective. This week we will see her move to the Achiever Perspective as she becomes more complex in her thinking and her time horizon expands. This is the third of the five perspectives that we see most often in professional settings.. Our intent is to illustrate how a leader progresses through the developmental perspectives and how they “fit” in jobs aligned with their developmental perspective.
At twenty-five-years old, Jill was working at the nationally known accounting firm. Her altered behavior made her more popular although she still didn’t really understand why. However, with her popularity came more invitations to join her co-workers for dinner and drinks. As she spent more time with her colleagues, she started to become aware that her style was not consistent with others.
She hired an image consultant to help her appear more professional as this would help advance her career. The restaurants and bars frequented by the group were often filled with designer clothes and adjacent to a parking lot of BMWs and Acuras.
Jill started thinking about what she wanted out of life and developed a five-year plan. This plan included her goals in several areas of life including: career, house and car, marriage and family, and savings. For the first time since she was a little girl, Jill started a journal and wrote about her life experience. She appreciated seeing the changes in herself. She started reading biographies as a way to evaluating how other people’s choices helped bring about the lives they enjoyed.
Jill decided that she would like to return to school to earn an MBA; she noticed that many of the senior executives in her company had advanced degrees. Returning to school and getting promoted were two of the key goals in Jill’s five-year plan. Once Jill returned to graduate school, it seemed all of her time was spent working or studying. Her reviews improved as she started managing her time to better accomplish her five-year plan. Her task list for each day got a little longer until she was working 60 hours a week minimum; her boss noticed this and Jill was promoted to the next level. The substantial pay increase allowed Jill to buy a house for herself and a garage for her new Audi TT. She was excited about these purchases but had little time to appreciate them. Most of her energy continued to be dedicated to work and school. Jill often attended training events to learn about the latest GAAP or FASB pronouncements.
At one of these events, she met Matthew, an accountant at another firm. As they talked, they found they both value responsibility, family and community. Their courtship was slow as they each worked significant hours but they found time to meet once a week. Jill was delighted as getting engaged was on her five-year plan and Matthew appeared to be just the right fit for her. After a few years of dating, Matthew proposed. Jill happily accepted and they set a date for another year down the road. Jill’s hours at work reduced just a bit as she planned the wedding but she was still effective enough to receive another promotion. At 31, she was making more money than she thought she ever would and was about to marry a wonderful man. Jill didn’t think that life could get much better. The wedding went off without a hitch and Jill sold her house to move into Matthew’s place as it was quite a bit bigger than hers. They settled happily into married life with both of their careers going strong. About five years went by and Jill was still quite happy with her marriage and career. However, the firm she dedicated her entire professional career and much of her life to was experiencing significant financial trouble. Unexpectedly, they laid off her whole department. Suddenly, Jill became unemployed. She was in a state of shock and confusion immediately after the layoff.
People at the Achiever perspective are primarily concerned with accomplishing and completing tasks. Their focus has moved away from the mere perfection of each task and toward achieving as much as possible. The Achiever’s primary focus tends to be heavily aimed at delivering the desired results. These could be installing a computer system, delivering financial returns to stockholders, exceeding sales goals or raising money for charity. They are often very successful and resourceful, especially if there are clearly presented goals and measurable objectives to achieve.
According to an HBR article, Seven Transformations of Leadership by Torbert and Rooke, 30% of leaders test at the Achiever level. Characteristics include:
- Basic ability to identify shades of gray and see conceptual complexity.
- Focuses on causes, achievement, and effectiveness.
- Considers others while pursuing their own individual agendas and ideas.
- Sees themselves as part of the larger group, yet separate and responsible for their own choices.
- Appreciates mutual expression of differences.
- Time horizon one-five-years.
As one becomes a highly effective Achiever, further growth may move into the next developmental stage, Individualist. We will follow Jill next week as she moves to the next level. This perspective tends to be much less common among most typical organizations.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.
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