Leadership Development Framework

Dictionary definitions of leadership highlight associations ‘showing the way by going in advance‘, ‘guiding behaviour‘, ‘inducing, directing, and inspiring‘. And the word development is an antonym of envelop, so can be interpreted as ‘unwrapping’. So, leadership development can be thought of as unwrapping thee potential of individuals, teams and organisations to guide, direct and inspire. In the context of rapidly changing economies, cultures and ecology, leadership development has a fresh sense of urgency.

Most developmental psychologists agree that what differentiates leaders is not so much their philosophy of leadership, their personality, or their style of management. Rather, it’s their internal “Action Logic”-how they interpret their surroundings and react when their power or safety is challenged. Relatively few leaders, however, try to understand their own action logic, and fewer still have explored the possibility of changing it.

Often, leadership in organisations is a relative concept, an implicit judgement made by others or appraisal against goals for external performance. What is frequently lacking is both a means of understanding the evolution of the action-logics that underly performance, but also a validated measure that is applicable across all sectors and cultures. The Leadership Development Framework addresses these deficiencies.

The Leadership Development Framework offers the most well-researched and tested means of providing leaders with an objective perspective on their own action-logic and development. It is more than a psychometric tool whose impact an appreciation of diversity of styles or preferences and how to work with them, instead it offers customised information on how to consolidate and extend individual’s personal and professional development to better serve the needs of their organisation (and society). The Leadership Development Framework is concerned with the core human process of making meaning – how we make meaning determines how we think and ultimately, how we behave. The Framework analyses and predicts the meaning making stages leaders pass through.

Three aspects of this Framework are worth highlighting for those that are interested the leadership development of themselves, team of organisation: the process of using the tool, developmental stages and it’s benefits and applications.


The foundation for working with the Leadership Development Framework is an analysis of leader’s responses in completing the 36 unfinished sentences in the Sentence Completion Form (e.g. ‘A man’s job…’ and ‘Crime and delinquency cold be halted if…’). This enables a profile to be drawn up which gives insight into the sense-making behind their actions, and so enables the central ‘action logics’ of their work and life to be identified. This analysis will be presented back as an individual Leadership Development Profile (LDP). The LDP is a highly validated instrument. It has been used with thousands of people from diverse cultures and has been rigorously researched for internal and external validity by academics and practitioners. There are a large and increasing number of studies on it, or using it, it is evolving, and is used as a foundation in other widely-used meta-frameworks and philosophies (e.g. Integral Theory).

Stages of leadership development

Based on decades of application and thousands of responses, evaluators are able to assess which of seven action-logics currently functions as a leader’s dominant way of thinking.

The significance of these different action-logics is the relationship between them and individual and corporate performance. This relationship emerged from 25 years of research on thousands of individuals. For example, people operating with Individualist, Strategist and Alchemist Action Logics showed consistent capacity to innovate and successfully transform their organisations. For example, at the strategist action-logic, the capacity to co-create shared visions that resonate with a range of stakeholders, are more comfortable dealing with conflict, and generally create or lead organisations with an explicit social purpose.

The encouraging findings are that transformation from one action logic to another is possible. These shifts may be induced by changes in work and life context (e.g. new role, organisation, or peer group), new personal practices (e.g. meditation, artistic expression), formal education (e.g. Master’s programmes that create space for new ways of collaborating, and leading that challenge assumptions) or through planned interventions.

Based on practice and research, the Leadership Development Profile offers a range of actions and practices for individuals to undertake to either consolidate their current action-logic, or extend their capabilities.

Benefits and application

Engaging in conscious leadership development for yourself, your team or your organisation can be one of the most effective means of increasing performance. Benefits of this sort of transformation have been documented at all levels, and primarily result from the increased ability of the leaders to be more innovative and flexible in their response to challenges within and outside their organisation i.e. More able to re-frame challenges as opportunities, and facilitate others’ collaborative and action necessary to take advantage of them. To access these benefits, individuals may use this for their own development, organisations may use it with high-potential leaders, or amongst leadership teams.

“If you want to make minor, incremental changes and improvement, work on practices, behaviour or attitude. But if you want to make significant, quantum improvement, work on paradigms… perception, assumption, theory, frame of reference or lens through which you view the world.” – Stephen Covey, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

The figure below outlines some of the benefits of engaging in transformational, developmental processes.

What I can do

I am trained in introducing, administering and debriefing the Sentence Completion Form and Leadership Development Profile. I have personally conducted, published and presented several pieces of research into the relevance of developmental transformations of individuals to organisational development and contribution to societal sustainable development. Through my own developmental process and work as a consultant and working with leadership development programmes, I have knowledge of the transformational practices and the factors that affect which are appropriate for each individual, team or organisation. I am able to use this as a stand-alone tool and basis for developmental work, or bring it in as part of a wider leadership or team development programme.

If you are interested to learn more about this framework, its relationship with other tools or processes, or its relevance to your current challenges, please contact me.

Learn More

This Harvard Business Review article introduces the LDF and provides several cases of its application and impact on individuals and organisations.

This recent report on coaching and sustainability uses the LDF and action logics as a core part of its framework.

To read a succinct description of one of the most powerful practices to support development: Action-Inquiry, click here.

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