Episode 37: Susanne Cook-Greuter On Leadership Maturity, Part 2 [The Amiel Show]

In Part 1 of my interview with Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter, she gave an overview of the stages of adult development and what they mean for our capacity to handle life’s complexity.

This week, in Part 2, we explore how her model of Leadership Maturity reframes two everyday leadership challenges:

  • How do you approach your job or career?
  • What is it like to be in a pivotal or difficult conversation?

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Highlights

  • 6:00 How three conventional stages of adult development (Socialized Self, Specialist Self, and Independent Self) experience work and career
  • 20:30 Why people at the Relative stage often step outside of the rat race
  • 27:00 At the Interdependent stage, you make sense of historical patterns and construct integrated strategies
  • 31:00 Susanne and I disagree about membership criteria for the Denial of Death club
  • 32:30 How development stages approach pivotal conversations differently
  • 34:00 Why someone may interpret even the most skillful feedback as disapproval of him
  • 44:00 Helping leaders at the Independent stage see how they are not fully responsible when something goes awry
  • 45:30 At the Relative stage, you realize what you can gain by understanding others’ perspectives
  • 48:00 Why Millennials may seek out difference as part of conforming to the emerging culture’s norms
  • 50:00 When paradox becomes the norm–and then the main source of juice

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The depth and capacity of what a person can notice can expand throughout life.

–Susanne Cook-Greuter  Tweet this quote

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Episode 36: Susanne Cook-Greuter On Leadership Maturity, Part 1 [The Amiel Show]

Often when things go haywire, we blame others or ourselves.

  • “If only I was smarter.”
  • “If only my boss gave me the right responsibilities.”
  • “If only I picked a better boss.”

Susanne pic

What if the source of our troubles wasn’t something wrong with us–or others–but the fact that we haven’t yet developed to our full potential?

When I first came across this concept 15 years ago, I felt a breath of fresh air. What an amazing idea that as adults, we haven’t yet reached the end of the line.

This is the theory of adult development. You can’t look far in this field without running across the name Susanne Cook-Greuter. She is one of the world’s leading researchers, consultants, and coaches in adult development. In fact, many of the world’s leading experts in this area consider her their mentor.

Recently, I had the privilege of spending two hours with Susanne talking about how and why adults develop and what this means for leadership and organizations. This week, join me in enjoying part 1 of that conversation.

Highlights

  • 5:30 What Piaget taught us about child development
  • 13:00 Vertical development becomes mainstream
  • 16:30 The three waves of development: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional. See the chart we discuss here.
  • 24:00 The three stages where 80% of adults in the West live
  • 31:30 The impact of a CEO’s level of development on her organization
  • 33:00 Susanne’s advice for parents of teenagers
  • 43:30 What all adult development models have in common
  • 52:00 How stage models different outside of western culture

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At each developmental stage, there are capacities that weren’t imaginable before

–Susanne Cook-Greuter  Tweet this quote

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Episode 34: Disown Others’ Emotions, A Jedi Leadership Trick [The Amiel Show]

Just as other people are not responsible for your emotions, you are not responsible for theirs.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that you likely act as though you are.

It happens every day. Someone on your team is angry they were passed over for a promotion. Your peer glares at you when you don’t have their back in a meeting. Your spouse gives you that “look” because you’re late for dinner again.

About one tenth of a second later, you feel the impact in your body. “Oh crap,” you think to yourself. “I just pissed her off.”

Nice thought. But you’re wrong.

You can’t piss someone off. It’s not in your power. The person who is angry generated that emotion herself. She is responsible for the emotion. Not you.

And once you embody this understanding, your life will never be the same again.

So it’s time to stop taking responsibility for what is not rightly yours. It’s time to disown others’ emotions.

That’s the name of this Jedi Leadership Trick and the theme of this 10-minute. Listen in.

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Episode 32: Turn Toward Others, A Jedi Leadership Trick [The Amiel Show]

In this 7 minute episode, I describe a simple and powerful method for increasing trust with others.

Learn how to improve relationships even while disagreeing with others.

And how to turn microscopic interactions into positive changes in your public identity.

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READ: Episode 26: Help Me Understand, A Jedi Leadership Trick [The Amiel Show]

What’s behind your question?

Want to get better at asking questions?

Don’t start with the words. Start with what you hope to achieve by asking the question.

Start with your intention.

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Half the time people ask questions, their intention is not to learn, but instead to prove a point–or something even more nefarious. For example, during a phone conversation one day, a close relative interrupted me multiple times without apology. I nearly lost it. “You continue to interrupt me,” I said, “and I’m getting frustrated. What’s it going to take for you to stop?” I didn’t care about his response and didn’t want to hear it. Instead, I wanted to drill home the depth of my anger while appearing reasonable and mature.

Your intention is the specific outcome you want from asking a question. Usually this intention is hidden in the deep corners of your subconscious. You think you’re being curious, but in reality you’re playing a different game that has its own peculiar goals and rules. I’ve played all of these games myself. Here are some other examples from my experience.

  • When I was 23 years old, I met with my boss for my first-ever performance review. After telling me how much he enjoyed my work, he asked, “So, Amiel, do you want to make a case for how much you want to be paid, or do you want me to tell you how much you will be paid?” I interpreted the question literally and made a robust case for a salary increase. My boss wasn’t pleased. An uncomfortable 40-minute argument followed. Later I realized that my boss’s intention wasn’t to hear my preference about salary, but to communicate that he had already made a decision.
  • Several years later, I had coffee with a famous leadership consultant who was a generation older than me. Going into the meeting, I told him, “I’m not looking for connections. I just want to talk with you.” During the meeting, I asked him a series of questions about his work. Although I was genuinely curious, I had an ulterior motive. I wanted him to introduce me to people he knew. He eventually figured this out and called me on it. I felt ashamed and never reached out to him again.
  • Recently, my wife went out of town for a week, and I stayed home with the kids. The night before her return, we chatted on the phone. I asked her, “How would you say this trip has been for you?” Ordinarily, that would be a nice question. However, I already knew she’d had a great time. What I secretly hoped was that she’d thank me (again!) for holding down the fort. This is exactly what she did.

In all of these examples, the person asking a question is playing a covert game. They wouldn’t admit it if asked and may not even be aware of it. But it’s right there below the surface. And the other person feels it.

Their intention is not to learn from the other person or invite an authentic response. Instead, curiosity is trumped by fear, manipulation, anger, or resentment.

I think we can do better. That’s why I created a simple scale for assessing what’s behind your questions. You can use it when preparing to ask a question or when reflecting on it afterwards. My back-of-the-envelope model is called Amiel’s Ratings of Intentions Behind Questions:

  • A: Asked with curiosity and openness to having your own assumptions overturned
  • A-: Asked with curiosity and the hope that your assumptions will be confirmed
  • B: Asked to get an objective response
  • C: Intended to gently point out defects or steer in a direction
  • D: Intended to badger, criticize or force in a particular direction
  • F: Intended to humiliate or cause other forms of damage

Go ahead and grade yourself today on the last three questions you asked. How did you do?

Episode 28: Sarita Chawla On The Near Death Experience Of The Ego [The Amiel Show]

Sarita Chawla is a wise woman. Wise enough to realize that when it comes to developing people, deeper isn’t always better.

It’s important to meet people where they are.

In this episode, we discuss vertical development–how it differs from most approaches to leadership development and why it matters for mastery. Sarita walks us through two stages of development where most people experience challenges. New Ventures West calls them Immediate Concerns and Balance. One describes an inner life of constant firefighting with little capacity for self-reflection. The other deals with life as a proud juggler of “necessary” responsibilities.

Think these sound like you? Think they don’t? Either way, Sarita has a message worth hearing.

sarita-chawla

Highlights

  • 3:00 What is vertical development?
  • 14:30 The challenge of letting go
  • 16:00 A near death experience of the ego
  • 22:00 After the “aha” moment is…disorientation
  • 30:00 Immediate Concerns–a life of constant firefighting–and beyond
  • 37:30 Balance–a self-important juggler of many things–and beyond
  • 40:00 Reinterpreting the networking lunch
  • 48:30 What Sarita is personally practicing in her life

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