Innovative Leadership Fieldbook Reviewed by Harvard Professor, Jim Ritchie-Duham

Maureen Metcalf & Mark Palmer. . Innovative Leadership Fieldbook. Tucson, AZ: Integral Publishers.  Reviewed by James L. Ritchie-Dunham

What is interesting about this book?  One of my favorite papers on “interesting” suggests that showing what seems to be complicated and disparate is actually straightforward and connected is interesting (Davis, 1971).  The world of leadership development is definitely ready for a “straightforward and connected” contribution, and Metcalf and Palmer make it with the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook (ILF).

As a reviewer, I believe it is my responsibility to show you why I think this book makes a contribution, and is worth your investment of time.  To evaluate what a framework contributes, I will use the CRISP criteria (Ritchie-Dunham, 2008), which basically suggest that if we want to understand something through any given framework, the framework should support our understanding of how Comprehensive, Rigorous, Integrative, Simple, and Purposeful it is.  This book scores high on all five.

Using Wilber’s integral AQAL lens (Wilber, 2000), ILF defines a comprehensive leadership development framework as one that meets the inner and outer perspectives of the individual and the collective, at different levels for different types:  “An Innovative Leader influences by engaging self, culture and systems equally.” (p. 14)

  • On Comprehensiveness ILF scores high.
  • ILF defines rigor as a framework that is proven to deliver strong results and based on solid science.  The authors bring in very credible, often peer-reviewed tools that they have themselves tested with many leaders over many years.  ILF scores high on rigor.
  • Integrative means that the framework makes clear how the different elements fit together.  Using the AQAL framing and a pyramid structure, ILF is very explicit about how the inner, outer, developmental, and type perspectives fit together.  On Integrative ILF scores high.
  • Perhaps the authors’ most significant contribution is the Simple criteria.  Simple means understandable to intelligent leaders, in this case, not dumbed down.  Metcalf and Palmer provide an elegantly simple and, thus, very accessible entry to material that is often presented in very complicated and overly complex ways.  ILF excels on the Simple criteria.
  • The book also defines the Purposeful criteria for leadership development as one that enables leaders to critically self-assess and authentically engage in their own development, so that they can influence AQAL alignment and movement, directionally and tactically.  If it does not meet that purpose, it should not be in the framework.  On the Purpose criteria, the book does well, providing tools for critical assessment, examples of how others worked with the tools, and processes for implementing the insights from the tools.

These are five major contributions to a literature on leadership development that usually scores low on all five CRISP criteria.

Now that it is clear that ILF makes a contribution, what does the journey look like?  This is the content question.  ILF proposes a design for a multi-month journey into one’s own leadership.  The design comes in two segments: lenses and processes.  The first segment describes five different lenses into one’s own leadership, keying on different AQAL dimensions.  The second segment suggests a six-step process that uses the lenses to critically assess and re-define one’s own leadership.

  • The first segment looks at leadership development from the integral lenses of type, stages, resilience, all-quadrants, and behaviors.
  • For types, ILFuses the Enneagram to explore types of individuals and teams, providing a simple language, tables, examples, and reflections for using this lens.
  • For stages of ego development, ILF uses the well tested Maturity Assessment Profile developed by Susanne Cook-Greuter, providing brief, rich profiles of leaders at different developmental stages. 
  • Resilience is explored using a physical well-being, thinking, emotional intelligence, and connection framework presented earlier in this journal (Metcalf & Gore, 2011).
  • Building on leadership type, stage, and resilience, an all-quadrants perspective is used to analyze any leadership situation.
  • Finally, the lens that rests on top is the Leadership Circle Profile of a leader’s creative and reactive people and task behaviors.  Each lens is presented simply, with clear leadership examples from the authors’ experience, ending with reflection questions for the reader.

The authors then walk the reader through a six-step process for living into what is seen through the integral lenses of innovative leadership.  Each step is broken down into a series of straightforward and insightful questions that uses the insights from the integral lenses.  The six steps are: (1) create a compelling vision of your future; (2) analyze your situation & strengths; (3) plan your journey; (4) build your team & communicate; (5) take action; and (6) embed innovation systematically.  The brilliance of the book is how CRISPly these traditional areas are presented, making the deep, transformative use of the material relatively easy, engaging, and useful.  That is a lot to accomplish in 263 pages.  I highly recommend the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook to anyone who is ready to take on the transformation of their own leadership.

Click here for more information about Innovative Leadership Fieldbook or to purchase the book.

About the Reviewer

Jim Ritchie-Dunham is a student of the agreements that guide human interaction.  He explores these agreements through practice, research, and teaching.  Jim is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, a trustee of THORLO, and an adjunct faculty member at the EGADE Business School and at Harvard.

Jim’s work has focused primarily on understanding human agreements as integral systems, developing strategy from a systems-resource perspective, and fostering large-scale social-change as a collaborative, holistic inquiry. He has developed conceptual frameworks in his work with executive teams in corporate, government, civil society, inter-sectoral, and global-action-network settings for twenty years in seventeen countries. Jim co-authored the book Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources, and has written many articles on integral, systemic strategy for academic and practitioner journals.

Institute for Strategic Clarity, 108 High Street, Amherst, MA 01002 (603) 620-4472   


Davis, M. F. (1971). That’s Interesting: Towards a Phenomenology of Sociology and a Sociology of Phenomenology. Philosophy of Social Science, 1, 309-344.

Metcalf, M., & Gore, B. (2011). Resilience Through The Integral Lens – A Case Study. Integral Leadership Review, 11(2).

Ritchie-Dunham, J. L. (2008). A Collaborative-Systemic Strategy Addressing the Dynamics of Poverty in Guatemala:  Converting Seeming Impossibilities into Strategic Probabilities. In C. Wankel (Ed.), Alleviating Poverty through Business Strategy(pp. 73-98). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wilber, K. (2000). A Theory of Everything. Boston: Shambhala.

James Cameron at World Business Forum 2010 – The power of Innovation, Creativity and Passion

James Cameron is a renowned film writer, producer and director whose films have blazed new trails in visual effects and set numerous performance records both domestically and abroad.  He shared his experience of creating the block buster movie Avatar at World Business Forum 2010.

His story illustrates many of the points that speakers over the past 2 days have made.  Leaders in their fields across multiple industries tell a very similar story.  To name just a couple of the common threads, AG Lafley from P&G talked about the importance of curiosity, openness and collaborating and  Jack Welsh talked about fielding the best talent and how fear was an ineffective management tool.   Following are 5 points from James Cameron’s presentation.

1. Be curious and open to learning.  “Curiosity is the most important thing we have – we pursue avenues for things we do not know what the pay off will be.”  I will thrust myself into any situation where I think I can learn.

2.  Collaboration is a dynamic process.  Each group has a role in making the movie come to life, the designers, the actors, the writers and the editors.  The film takes on a new life in each stage of the process with the expansion of the team.

3. People empower you to lead. Leadership can be learned.  Dictatorial style is not as good as an encouraging style.  Be firm and in charge but not authoritarian.  Leadership skills that were not innate could be learned.  To be a good leader you get the best out of people by respecting them.  You have to be analytical and critical of yourself as a leader, and always be open to learning.

4. Your personal passion gets you a long way.  Passion is a strong motivator for others, they can see your vision and feel that you will accomplish it.

5.  Timing is critical in innovation.  Innovation is like riding a wave,  don’t create the wave, harness the energy it’s building.  Commit to what you are trying to create.  Too much study causes opportunities to pass you by and premature launch can also lead to failure.

So as we look at Avatar and the new and innovative techniques used to create this movie and the passion that allowed the team to stay together and make it happen, we may wonder how to translate this message to our personal and professional lives.  I propose a few questions that I will be thinking about as take aways.  What am I passionate about in my work and in my community?  What am I curious about?  How can I combine curiosity and passion to spark innovation in my work?

Jim Collins from World Business Forum 2010

Mr. Collins spoke at the World Business Forum 2010 about the syntheses of Good to Great, Built to Last, and how the Mighty Fall. Sustaining Great Results What does a Level 5 Leaders do?

1.  Combat Hubris through ruthless self examination.  Level 5 Leaders are committed to the truth over the image they have of themselves and their companies.  They understand that only through rigor and discipline in thinking and action will the success continue long term.  They have the courage to ask the tough questions about their companies and themselves that enable them to face changing times.

2.   Combat the desire for too much too quickly. Level 5 Leaders understand the “right pace” for long term sustainable growth.  If a leader is building an organization that will last for 25 years and even 100 years, what does he/she need to do today to move forward 1 step today?  Great leaders build the team who can execute on goals and values impeccably then expand.  They regroup and recharge and plan before each next step to ensure successful implementation.

3.   Face the Brutal Facts and Act – Level 5 Leaders are willing to face the brutal facts and take the difficult action.  With a 25 year vision, clear values and principles, they make the tough decisions that will produce long term sustainable progress because it is what needs to be done.  This can mean making major changes to projects or products they value and may have created.

4.  Commit to Discipline and Rigor – Level 5 Leaders know that there are no quick fixes or short cuts to greatness.  Daily discipline and right action from all employees creates great results.  These results are not immediately visible.  Success is a combination of quick wins and long term daily actions aligned with the organizations’ goals and principles.

5.  Commit to Creating Value – Level 5 Leaders meet a need in the community that is not being filled by others.  They are driven by passion and commitment to improve the world – not for fame. They do what they do because at their core they are doing what they are called to do.   By responding to a larger purpose, the leader is able to make the tough calls at times with high personal cost.  They are able to make the toughest of calls.

Level 5 Leaders create long term value for their companies, employees, communities and the world by taking these actions.

What are the 5 key elements that drive effective Leadership in 2010 and beyond?

Leadership defined We talk a lot about ‘transformational leadership’ as being the kind of leadership necessary to transform organizations but the term is still not commonly understood.  In this post we talk about the key components to consider when discussing, assessing and developing leaders.

Based on years of research, consulting, and coaching, we have developed a model identifying five key elements that work together to deliver exceptional results.  A leader who can effectively transform organizations must have all of these elements functioning in alignment.

Here is the story of a leader who over-emphasized a few elements while under developing others:  meet Dave.  Dave is an exceptionally talented man and has built strong skills in his area of focus.  He rose quickly in the ranks of a large consulting firm on the strength of his intellect, his charisma, and his presence.  He then bought a division of a smaller company and was faced with the challenge of creating a new market and building a company.  He failed and closed the company, losing the company and most of his personal wealth.  His largest mistake was his over-confidence.  In order to create a differentiated offering, leaders and entrepreneurs have to have the confidence to take on what many others would not.  At the same time, they need to be keenly aware of their environment and know when to make changes.  If the leader is too confident, he will miss the subtle cues.  Dave missed them.  Dave had too much hubris and discounted the cues that he was missing the mark.

We introduce all five elements briefly in this post and will go into greater detail about each one in subsequent blog posts.

What are the components each leader must have?

  • Character/type – each of us has a type.  This is what we commonly call personality – qualities like introversion or extroversion.  We would measure this using something like the Enneagram or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  Leaders benefit  from understanding themselves and working with their gifts and limitations.  Self-awareness is key.
  • Developmental level – we move through developmental levels as we mature and grow.  This can be deliberately changed with attention and work.  When we are talk about “Level 5” leaders, we mean individuals who have moved up the developmental ladder.  Leaders can progress through higher levels and doing so increases their effectiveness.
  • Leadership behaviors – these come in two categories.
    • Leadership specific competencies involve knowing how effective leaders behave and measure behaviors like mentoring and developing staff.
    • Business skills and acumen is the other critical part of leadership behavior that evaluates industry acumen, skills required to run a business and to make solid business decisions.
  • Situational Awareness – in dynamic environments, it is critical for leaders to understand the situation or context they are working in and to make decisions that are appropriate to that situation.  A leader in a bank may make very different decisions after the financial crash in 2009 than before because the situation has changed.
  • Resilience – is the ability to adapt and thrive and to take a positive attitude toward the challenges we face as leaders.  Resilient leaders navigate challenges and inspire others to move forward toward success.

The most successful leaders perform well in all of these categories.  A significant deficiency in any of the areas could derail an otherwise talented leader.  When considering how to invest your development time, we recommend spending about 80% of your time building on your strengths and the remaining 20% addressing areas that could be deficiencies.  The exception to this rule is if there is an area that is derailing the organization.  Additionally, if you are overusing a strength to the detriment of developing others, attending to the under-used strengths will also pay dividends.

5 Keys to Being an Outstanding Team Member

Untitled It is not enough to be an exceptional level five leader; you must also work effectively with others. Even super heroes work together just like Batman and Robin.

A key differentiator for professional growth is how well you work with others. We can all think of times where we could have accomplished a task easier alone but still needed to work with others. We can probably also see where there was some benefit to the organization by our working with someone else, like they got to learn from us and from the experience.

I worked with a client who saw himself as the expert at everything he did. He was frustrated by working with teams because it got in the way of doing the real work and no one knew as much as he did. This team stuff slowed the work down and frustrated him. He also thought he should be promoted because he could certainly accomplish the work more effectively than anyone around him.

If only he knew and focused on the 5 key behaviors that would have made him a better team member.
In the spirit of being a team player, the balance of this post is located at the blog of our good friend and strategic partner – thoughtLEADERS, LLC. Click here to read further about being a better team member.  By Maureen Metcalf at Metcalf & Associates, Inc.

Transforming a Leader and his Organization Success Story

Achievement award by joshMcConnell cc We recently published an article, Transforming a Leader and his Organization An Approach, a Case Study, and Measurable Results. We explore the transformation approach Metcalf & Associates uses with clients and Bob shares his experiences and successes. We also discuss what we learned and what we would do differently in the future. To provide the perspective of the client, Robert Weisenburger Lipetz, MBA, the CEO, offers his insight throughout the article.

Excerpt from the Article

CEO: I started my first day on the job with a borrowed card table and folding chair, with $20,000 in seed money, no income and no way to get paid. But, it was the right mission at the right time and I was determined to make it work. I introduced two lines of service to the community that we served that directly supported the mission: hospital accreditation and care provider education. Both of these services became big successes, rapidly growing us from zero revenue to a seven figure revenue organization. After a couple of years of feeling like I was constantly trying to hang on to a bucking bull, I was searching for an effective way to put into place a structure that could support continued growth with less pain. Metcalf & Associates was initially hired to coach the CEO. Over the course of their work together, they all came to believe that the scope of the work should expand to include both leadership development coaching and management consulting to facilitate the transformations necessary for the organization to thrive.


CEO: I’m no doubt a more resilient manager with a better ability to think in terms of strategy. I’ve also improved my listening skills and have not only become a better leader, but also a happier person. It is a pleasure to work with someone of my coach’s caliber. While research indicates that 75% of change efforts fail to deliver the business results they expected, this transition delivered more than promised and established the foundation for ongoing success. In addition to the client’s individual changes, the organization experienced some significant success in their transition that are listed in detail in the article. To read the full leadership transformation article.

By Maureen Metcalf at Metcalf & Associates, Inc

Photo credit: Josh McConnell

Response to Criticism Of Good to Great – No Guarantee

Magic Circle by freeparking Because I use Collin’s Good to Great as an important set of research to inform my consulting and leadership development work, I want to respond to the criticism. I pulled the criticism directly from: Good to Great: More Evidence That “Most Claims of Magic are Testimony to Hubris” via Bob Sutton de Bobsutton le 22/12/08. The bullets below are direct quotes from the article:

Key elements of criticism:

* There are no magical leadership or organizational practices that will quickly propel your organization to the top of the heap. Even the greatest organizations struggle to stay at the top and are led by fallible people who make many mistakes.
* There is no such thing as a single breakthrough study. The best and most valid conclusions and advice are based on a series of studies that have survived the brutal peer review process and that result in a consistent set of findings.
* The hubris and ignorance about the claims about the rigor of the research and the originality of the ideas. There are lots of management books, or parts of management books, that are incredibly useful and inspiring, but don’t claim to draw on research.

My analysis – By Maureen Metcalf:

As a consultant who has been working with various tools (models, approaches, and methods) for organizational transformation and change over the past 25 years, I believe there are many approaches, tools and methods that have been successful. Some of them, such as the Malcolm Baldrige assessment are comprehensive and tested by time. Many of the Baldrige winners have sustained success over the years and there have been some who failed shortly after winning the award for various reasons. I would not view any of these tools or methods as the only thing needed to succeed, but as an important part of an overall success strategy. We are seeing now in the current conditions,that companies that appear to do everything right can still fail, but the ones who follow solid principles and business practices – whether Baldrige or Good to Great or others are more likely to succeed. They are also more likely to have built a system that is resilient, that tracks data to indicate when they are at risk, and thus able to change.

Beautiful tools by geishaboy500 Is the book Good to Great helpful? I believe so – it provides one look at what makes companies successful. There have been many over the years and they all had positive and negative elements – none would be – THE TRUTH. My advice to the discerning leader is to select a program that focuses on the basics first then builds on your success. The program should be aligned with the specifics of your strategy and industry. An example could be something like: If customer information is important to customer retention and satisfaction – invest in this and make sure you build a full system to leverage your investment. Make sure people know how to use the system and do so consistently. Make sure the data is kept current. Remove the option to use alternate systems such as spreadsheets so everyone is using and updating the same system. This solution may not be important for other businesses and would prove to have low return on time and money invested.

While the response I posted did not specifically criticize the use of Level 5 Leadership, I would still like to respond to comments I have heard with clients and in MBA classes. The question is “Do we need a Level 5 Leader to succeed”? My response: It depends on your situation – you may benefit from having one but this may not be critical to your success. Companies who have Level 5 Leaders are more likely to successfully transform their organizations. The leader does not need to be the CEO, he or she can be an internal or external advisor. Not all people who test at Level 5 are good leaders. I have a close friend who tests at Level 5 or Strategist using the MAP assessment tool. He is a very talented musician but not qualified to transform businesses. Level 5 as we use it describes specific qualities related to thinking, feeling and doing. These qualities are important in transforming organizations and incomplete. Leaders also need very specific skills related to business, management, and the industry.

Can leaders at earlier levels succeed? Absolutely, we see it every day. Given the various research I have reviewed, between 1.4 – 5% of leaders test at Level 5. If the only way an organization can succeed is to be run by a Level 5 leader we are all in trouble. That said, there are qualities that Level 5 Leaders have that make successful TRANSFORMATION more likely. The qualities include the ability to take more perspectives when solving a problem, the ability to balance many competing goals, the ability to be tough and also show compassion, the ability to make decisions that allow the organization to meet short term objectives while also building toward long term financial and organizational health. The ability to navigate complexity, make tough decisions, and maintain vision and inspire people are all important for organizations undergoing major change.

If I were to pick a public figure who I think demonstrates qualities of a Level 5 Leader, I would select Colin Powell. If I were changing an organization or running any complex organization where I needed a leader who showed solid thinking, an ability to make the tough calls, an ability to engender respect from people at all levels, he is a person I would select.

* I could take each of the ideas in Good to Great and conduct a similar logic test. They are all solid ideas.
* Is Good to Great the only way to succeed? Certainly not.
* Are the ideas helpful? Yes.
* Is there a one size fits all solution? No.
* Is there a magic bullet? No.
* If I follow the principles set forth in Good to Great will I get a return on the investment I spent on making the changes? My experience with clients says yes. While I have limited data, especially over a number of years to prove the value – I have seen clients gain far more value than they spent on their transformation efforts.

I hope my experience and perspective is helpful in considering if the Good to Great approach would be helpful for you. If you are interested, run a small experiment. Try some of the principles i
n a department or location. Measure the results and see if you are happy with the benefit you are seeing compared to the investment you are making – recognizing that some results will not be visible quickly. While one can question the research methods, the ideas put forth pass the logic test and while they may not make your company great – they will likely make you much better than you are. For many companies – getting better may not ensure your greatness but it will make the difference between survival and failure. Is greatness your goal? Should it be? How does sustainability fit into the picture?

By Maureen Metcalf at Metcalf & Associates, Inc

Photo credits: magic circle by freeparking; beautiful tools by geishaboy 500

How can you use your knowledge of Level 5 Leadership

After reading the articles on Level 5 Leadership or attending a class, how will you use this information to increase your effectiveness at work or at home?

Level 5 Leadership: Leadership that Transforms Organizations and Creates Sustainable Results

I have been interested in leading effective personal and organizational transformations for a number of years. I talk about it and teach in an MBA program. I have finally written an article that was published in the Integral Leadership Review , “Level 5 Leadership”:Leadership that Transforms Organizations and Creates Sustainable Results.

I invite you to read this article if you are interested in questions such as:

* What is Level 5 Leadership?
* How would I know what level I am?
* How does leadership connect to transformation?
* How do I increase my “level”?

After reading the article – I welcome questions and comments. I appreciate hearing how this work impacts others so I can refine my thinking.

– Maureen Metcalf at Metcalf & Associates, Inc.