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?

Master difficult conversations

Learn my best tips for staying cool under pressure and elevating your leadership in complex times.


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.


  • 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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