Mindset Quadrant 1

Mindset: Quadrant 1

The Mindset (Q1) Organisational Perspective is about what is individual and what is intangible; it includes:

  • ​Emotional intelligence; affective acuity
  • Cognitive, problem-solving capability; complexity of thinking
  • Ego development; action logic; complexity of consciousness
Large-scale organisational change has always been difficult, and there’s no shortage of research showing that most transformations continue to fail. Digital transformations are just as fraught. Two studies by Bain of hundreds of companies attempting major changes found that over 80% of 'conventional' AND digital transformations either settled for "dilution of value and mediocre performance" or failed to deliver even 50% of promised outcomes! 

So, what can make a difference? Transformations stand the best chance of success when they focus on key actions to change mindsets which then results in changes in people's behaviour
Unfortunately, this perspective is almost completely ignored or believed to be outside the scope of organisational development work. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are our mindsets ever-present in organisational life, but they determine our effectiveness and drive our performance, or lack of it.

Leaders with more developed mindsets are more effective in their work; this correlates strongly with a variety of desirable business outcomes such as profitability, turnover, employee commitment, and customer satisfaction.

Adults develop greater complexity of thinking through identifiable phases.

Research shows that progressive phases mean increased complexity of consciousness/ thinking, leadership competency, problem-solving and decision-making capability, and effectiveness in leading through complex problems.

Business cultures and structures are transforming to become more flat, lean, agile, adaptive, innovative, engaging, high-performing, and high-fulfilling.

Research estimates that approximately 75% of all adults do not progress beyond an Expert/ Achiever or socialised mindset. Research also indicates that socialised mindsets are not capable of orchestrating and sustaining these cultural and structural shifts.

Development of adult cognitive, emotional, and behavioural complexity is possible and can be accelerated.

Mindfulness, introspection, affirmations, meditation, reflective work on beliefs, values, immunities to change, and development to existing psycho-social patterning can all contribute to the growth of an individual's mental complexity.

Leadership Maturity Framework (LMF)

There are several different bodies of research focusing on slightly different aspects of adult development; however, they all markedly correspond in terms of their findings and descriptions of discrete, sequential phases of adult development that appear in all cultures and through historical records.
The LMF is one of those bodies of research and is particularly useful in understanding the different kinds of thinking-complexity of individuals in organisational settings.

The LMF focuses on the development of adults' Action logic; that is, the predominantly reoccurring ‘centre of gravity’, or the worldview of reality from which a person routinely operates to make meaning of who they are and what is happening around them. It is the combination of

  1. Thinking: conceptions, interpretations, models, and abstractions – putting order on experiences, how things are explained and make sense of events, how people reason and argue positions, what questions are asked?
  2. Being: affective/ emotional dimension of awareness and expression – how to people feel about their lives, how do they express affect, how are events experienced and digested, what is felt as stress or problematic, defensive routines, what do people have access to in their internal lives and what remains hidden from their consciousness?
  3. Doing: operative (behavioural) coping, needs and ends, purpose – behaviours, what needs do they act on, what do they move toward, how do they go about getting it?
Action Logic Mountain

Progressive Stages in Action Logic

The following breakdown of progressive ego-development stages of action-logic have been distilled from David Rooke and William R. Torbert's paper published in Harvard Business Review, originally in 2005, Seven Transformations of Leadership.
opportunist torbert
Opportunist (5%): World and other people as opportunities to be exploited

Not an organisational player; while theoretically possibly good in emergencies, their predominant mindset is 'Any way possible for me to win'. They tend to be selfish, they mistrust everything and everyone because they are fundamentally untrustworthy themselves and assume everyone is like them, their egocentrism (it's always and only about them) is legendary, and manipulativeness is their standard operating procedure; in their world, might makes right, it's an eye-for-an-eye world. They reject feedback on principle, externalise blame, and retaliate harshly.

Think: Donald Trump.
These people do not last long in organisational settings, unless they own them.
Torbert - Diplomat
Diplomat (12%): Rules, norms, externally set values-driven
A loyal Team-member, generally Diplomats do not progress to higher levels in organisations, and tend to peak out in more junior roles. They are loyal to people and to codes of values, or principles and desire to perform well, mostly for approval of others, and therefore, to obtain security and safety. They seek belonging through garnering the acceptance of a greater, external authority.
They have a strength for bringing people together and often perform a valuable service as 'social glue' in a team. They are generally dependent, seeking others in authority to make decisions for them, and avoidant of conflict; their thinking and perspectives are often aligned to a conventional values set. Approval-seeking means that they can find it impossible to give challenging feedback to others. This will result in delays to organisational projects and other changes.
Think: Church or religious groups, conventional military establishment and hierarchy, old-school civil service collective environments. The group culture is with strong status differences, undiscussable norms, and ritual “court-like” ceremonies that are carefully stage-managed
Torbert - Expert
Expert (38%): Rules by craft logics, knowledge, skill
Individual contributor is the role that ideally suits an Expert. They excel at, enjoy, and value rational efficiency, and hold themselves (and others) to high standards of watertight thinking. They want to see the data, at depth, and will debate analytics and how to approach it properly until you give in. They are passionate about continuous improvement and the pursuit of efficiency gives them joy. IN doing all this, they can be judgemental, perfectionistic to others (often more then themselves), and oppositional, seeking debate, argument, and needing to be right. It's often "My way or the highway" if they have positional power. Their mantra might be "I don’t do feelings."
Leaders see themselves as chiefs and their “teams” as an information-reporting formality. Consequently, team life is bereft of shared problem-solving, decision-making, or strategy-formulating efforts.
An individual's movement from Expert to the next phase, Achiever, can be occassioned by a loss of faith in the system that they previously identified wholely with, accompanied by feelings of boredom, irritability, burnout, depression, and even anger. Or, development could be triggered by promotion to a role that required coordination of others and cooperation across departments. Coaching to develop could look like encouragement to ask others questions (rather than criticizing), and instead of seeing the faults in others, encouragement or challenge to get the Expert to identify clearly what they could contribute to a situation or problem.
Torbert - Achiever
Achiever (30%): Kicks goals; Do-er; Meets goals; optimises and improves

Achievers are the poster-people for our currently conceived 'Managerial' and 'Executive' roles. This action logic is very action and goal oriented; seeks results, outcomes, and values effectiveness over efficiency, although it wants both. These people can be perfectionistic to self, materialistic, both in status and worldly aspirations and in logic and decision-making. They are motivated by external status linked to self-concept - their status is intricately intertwined with their self-worth and identity. Liking winning, they can be negative on new approaches/ innovation that seem too risky. They are suspicious of the collective, and so are fans of American-style individualism, but despite this understand the value of teams in getting complex work advanced and can lead teams and collective work. They are good at appearing to multi-task, juggling multiple competing agendas such as management and market demands, people and task.

An Achiever-style organisation is functionally divided. Everyone has OKRs, KPIs, measures, unambiguous targets and deadlines, and characteristically are working with clear strategies, tactics, and plans, often against tight deadlines. These are cultures that thrive in a climate of adversity (“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”) and derive great pleasure from pulling together and delivering against the odds. They are often impatient at the prospect of slowing down to reflect and learn, are apt to dismiss questions about goals and assumptions as “endless philosophising,” or see it as a waste of time and resources and believe it to be a diversion from their purpose.

Supporting the development to the next stage of Individualist/ pluralist one could encourage Achievers' self-awareness and awareness of other worldviews. They would need to develop skills in speaking and listening as creative actions, not transactional dispensations of knowledge, opinion, or facts; true dialogue and interest in the meaning-making of the other is required to progress. Consequently they also need to develop the ability for reflection of purpose/ intent, not just goals. An ongoing community of enquiry at the center of their life could assist in this sort of transformation.
Torbert - Individualist
Individualist/ pluralist (10%): Seek multiple perspectives, using uncertainty, tension, and conflict for creativity
Individualists often leave organisations for their own business ventures and consulting roles. They are relational, interested in understanding other peoples' points of view and enjoy interweaving competing personal and organisational action-logics. They can see values-, ethics-, and moral-relativity and seek to understand and take into consideration the social-historical construction of reality, and the changing interpretations of what is true, fair, just, and acceptable over time and between societies, contexts, and cultures.

Generally they are politically savvy, but if particularly invested in a certain outcome or value set can become entrenched, angling and finding it difficult to compromise. Pluralism in practice can result in consensus-seeking and decision-making paralysis. Another organisational challenge is that they can tend to ignore rules they regard as outdated, unjust, ineffective, or irrelevant; their ways of operating and getting things done can be dismissive of the status quo may create conflict or distrust.

A pluralist organisational culture is interested to accept and integrate the diverse opinions of its members. It will exhibit shared leadership, mutual testing of one another’s assumptions and practices, and individual challenges that contribute to those individual's development as leaders. Social processes that encourage strongly reflectiveness can mean that excessive time may be spent reviewing goals, assumptions, and work practices. Because individual concerns and input are very important to these teams and organisations, rapid decision making may be difficult.

Movement to the next phase will involve exploring the disciplines and commitments entailed in creating projects, teams, networks, strategic alliances, and whole organisations on the basis of collaborative inquiry. People will need to learn to challenge conventional assumptions about leading and organising. Development will be through programs that are either long-term (one or two years) or comprised of repeated, intense experiences that nurture the moment-to-moment awareness of participants, always providing the shock of dissonance that stimulates them to re-examine their worldviews
torbert - strategist
Strategist (4%): shared visions across different action logics that encourage both personal and organisational transformations
Strategists are organisational transformational leaders; their power sits in their capability to harness mutual enquiry, vigilance, and thoughtful use of their own vulnerability in both short-term and long-tern work.
They have a focus on organisational constraints and perceptions, which they treat as discussable and transformable; they are socially conscious and commercial, understanding that profitability is 'table stakes' in the game of changing the world; they enjoy collaborative inquiry with colleagues.
They see business challenges as opportunities for growth and learning on the part of both individuals and the organisation, and that such growth and learning is the point of the exercise. So, they balance action and enquiry.
On-going support and development looks like senior-peer mentoring to create a sustainable community of people who can challenge any emergent leader’s assumptions and practices and those of their company, industry, or other area of activity. They are actively shaping the boundaries of their industry and organisation and engage with others to accomplish those ends. They are seeking out similar others who want to transform the larger systems.
Alchemist (1%): Visionary leaders; creators of transformative, integrative systems
Alchemists are the rarest stage of leadership maturity. They are visionary leaders who possess an extraordinary ability to integrate material, spiritual, and social dimensions of leadership, transforming their organisations and the broader systems in which they operate.

Their holistic worldview sees the interconnectedness of all things, aligning organisational purpose with societal and environmental goals. Alchemists influence complex systems using deep awareness and intuition to drive change.

They create and sustain transformative cultures where innovation and learning are continuous, fostering environments that encourage individuals to reach their highest potential. Alchemists leverage personal development and self-awareness to inspire and guide others, often through storytelling and symbolic actions.

Crises and challenges are seen as opportunities for growth and transformation. Alchemists are comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, balancing strategic action with reflection and inquiry.

Organisationally, Alchemists cultivate shared purpose and collective responsibility, prioritising sustainable, ethical practices and making a positive societal impact. Their influence often extends beyond their organisations, shaping broader industry and communities.

Development at this stage involves continuous self-renewal and mentoring others to achieve their transformative potential. Alchemists build networks and alliances, creating ecosystems of innovation and change, drawing society forwards into the future. 

Mindset Quadrant 1