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Helen DavisHelen Davis has spent 22 years as a university lecturer researching and teaching business management, organisational psychology and human resources management to line managers and HR personnel studying for their professional qualifications at Masters level. She has had her own business as a management and training consultant, and is also a qualified psychotherapy counsellor. She has an MBA and a Masters degree in Human Resource Strategies, but the material for this monograph has mostly come from the real life experiences of hundreds of line managers and HR professionals she has met and taught over the years. She is now retired and lives in Hertfordshire, UK. She has had an interest in Integral studies since the 90s.

The Managers We Deserve

A Wake Up Call

A monograph considering the criteria by which organisations select, train, appraise and reward managers, (particularly in the UK, but also elsewhere) and offering some ways around the pitfalls.

Helen Davis

  1. The managers we deserve?
  2. Shedding some light: inputs, behaviours, activities and goals
  3. Deciding on the most appropriate capabilities; context is all
  4. Can a good manager manage anything?
  5. Within a given context, is there anything to look for in particular?
  6. Maturity and flexibility, handling the unknown and complexity
  7. Recruitment and selection, and 'growing your own'
    Appendix 1: Checklist of actions to be taken when a management post needs to be filled or re-thought, or the post-holder is to be appraised, developed or rewarded
    Appendix 2: How Ken Wilber's 'AQAL' model has been applied in this book

Chapter 1: Part 1.
The managers we deserve?

I have come to the conclusion that our haphazard approach to recruiting managers... proceeds from the absence of vital knowledge.

There is a major problem in Britain's workplaces today that is not getting the attention and action it needs. It is a problem in many other countries as well. Specifically, the problem lies in the casual way we approach management and, even more particularly, our almost lackadaisical if not downright negligent attitude to selecting, training, appraising and rewarding managers, even in some of the most well-meaning organisations. This might be enchanting in its eccentricity, were it not that the resulting underperformance of companies is costing (the UK at least) rather a lot of money; we're in the realm of billions of pounds here. Competent, appropriate line management is one of the most important factors—arguably the most important factor—affecting the failure or success of organisations. A lack of appropriate know-how and 'know-what' in selecting, training and rewarding managers often leads to the actual failure of organisations, which in turn causes investors to lose money, and leads to lay-offs, with all the accompanying tribulations for the affected individuals. We can add to this the frustration many of us have experienced when we can no longer get a product or service we prefer because the company providing or making it has gone bust.

Let us not forget either the sheer misery inflicted on any person who finds him or herself working for an inadequate manager, particularly those individuals unlucky enough to report to bullies and sociopaths. Many employees leave their organisations primarily to get away from their managers.

This book is based on much sound, verified and independent research. However, rather than interrupt the flow of the points I want to make in chapters 1-5, I have placed the appropriate background research detail into a section at the end of each chapter, followed by a list of references in order of the relevant researchers' and writers' surnames. (Chapters 6-7 are a little different, and so are not divided into two parts.) This way, those of you who like to pursue points in more detail can do so, and those who wish to follow the thread of the book without interruption can skip to the next chapter. There is, therefore, more information about the evidence for lack of good management in Britain, and the far-reaching effects of this, in the second part of this chapter.

I have been a manager myself, with a staff of 130. I have an MBA, an MA in Human Resource Strategies and have taught and researched people management and organisational behaviour for over 25 years. Most of those I have taught have also been working full-time as managers, or in HR, or both. I have come to the conclusion that our haphazard approach to recruiting managers (for example, I know of one manager, recently put in charge of 500 staff at a critical time for the company, who was selected on the basis of one rather imaginative CV and a thirty minute interview) is not necessarily the result of laziness, prejudice, internal politics or a lack of resources, but rather proceeds from the absence of vital knowledge. The same can be said for how we develop, appraise and reward managers.

This book is written for company directors, senior managers and HR personnel who wish to improve the effectiveness of management within their organisation: and also for managers who want to achieve more. In addition, students and academics in the relevant fields should find much in the second parts of the first five chapters to interest them.

You may be a manager who has read this far and feels threatened or impugned by what I've written. It isn't my intention to criticise managers gratuitously, as I fully appreciate the taxing and conflicting circumstances under which your role is performed. As a manager, you are probably constantly trying to do more with less. You find yourself dealing everyday with impossible deadlines and unreal expectations. You don't have the resources you need. It's all very well talking about inadequate managers, but what about the inadequate staff you have to manage? To quote John Bratton and Jeff Gold: “It often seems like managers have to walk a tight-rope between controlling employees in order to maximise productivity and empowering them to facilitate creativity and motivation.” In addition, at the time of writing, most managers have the difficult job of being in charge of people who know full well how disposable they are, but who must be managed so as to be dependable.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that, overall, staff have much lower opinions of their managers' abilities than managers have of themselves; many staff simply may not understand what their managers must deal with every day. However, recent research found that nearly 80% of employees in the UK thought that it was managers who were most in need of training, and 80% of managers felt that they were asked to do things for which they had not been trained. (This contrasts significantly with the States and the rest of Europe. Consider the fact that the UK spends less on training per manager than any other European country.)

So this book takes a practical look at what we could be doing differently, particularly in terms of how we decide on the skills we look for when we hire managers, and how we go on to develop, appraise and reward the people we appoint in this role.

A word about two areas of terminology: for the last couple of decades it has been usual to substitute the word 'leader' for 'manager'. This seems to have been motivated by a desire to emphasise that managers should become more pro-active, more innovative, entrepreneurial, visionary etc. etc. If it makes you feel more comfortable, simply substitute the word 'leader' wherever I have used 'manager'.

Secondly, there's a fair chance that, if you're reading this book, you're acquainted with competency or competence frameworks. You might even know the difference between a competency and a competence (though there is much confusion here and, again, even experts use the terms interchangeably.) In fact, the whole area has become so muddled that I'm abandoning that terminology for the most part and where relevant I am using the term 'capability' instead, which the Oxford English Dictionary ( defines as 'the ability or qualities necessary to do something'. In other words, a capability can be an area of knowledge, a skill, a personality trait, an attitude or a type of behaviour.

I'm afraid that this is not one of those publications which promises complete success and instant results by the following of a few simple rules. Modern life is complicated, and most organisations operate within mazes. The aim of this book is to act as a 'cherry picker' machine that will lift you up above the maze, and allow you to see the full extent of what you're dealing with.

Besides my own experience as a manager and my research and work as an academic, my approach has been informed by the application of Ken Wilber's Integral 'AQAL' model. I first came across this model over 15 years ago, and have been impressed by the results of its application to schooling, healthcare, environmental issues and local politics. Four years ago I started to look at a way that the model could usefully be applied to the management of organisations, and this book is the result. I say more about Ken Wilber's model and how I have applied it in Appendix 2.

I am not going to tell you what 'competences' or 'competencies' you should be looking for in your managers, or in ourselves as managers. Experts don't always agree on these anyway. But I am going to demonstrate how vital it is that those responsible within an organisation think very carefully about the capabilities they want the holder of any management post to have, and about the wide range of considerations that need to be taken into account during this thought process. From my own research, I have learnt that important implications are very often completely overlooked. It is also crucial that the chosen capabilities are not merely used for the selection of a manager, but also for any manager's development, performance appraisals and rewards.

Managers' positions within their organisations have been represented (wrongly, for the most part) since humankind started to draw organisational diagrams. These 'organigrams' or organisational family trees are invariably shown in pyramid form, implying that a manager's staff are supporting him or her when, in fact (if an organisation is to function healthily) it should usually be the other way around. Managers responsible for the work of other staff are in fact supporting those staff, and making it possible for them to carry out their work in optimal conditions. This inverted pyramid perspective, with the bottom layer(s) playing a supportive and enabling role, is one way of justifying some of the huge salaries paid to CEOs. That particularly vexed question aside, I strongly believe that if we became used to thinking of organisations this way round, our approach to appointing, developing, rewarding and generally easing the strain on managers would be undertaken with considerably more care and success.

Many writers—from academics basing their opinions on solid research to popular management gurus and high-fliers writing from their own experiences—have produced lists of the capabilities needed by an effective manager. It is interesting to note that at least one academic, Fred Luthans, has spotted that there is a different set of capabilities needed if you want to be a successful manager—i.e. constantly promoted—to that needed if you want to be an effective one.[1] There are ongoing arguments about whether these so called 'generic' lists are applicable to every organisation, or indeed, every manager. Most organisations that use competency lists (as they're usually called) seem to have made up their own minds about this anyway, and produced their own. This might be considered heartening, as it shows that thought has gone into the process, but an examination of such lists, and I have examined many, suggests that a little more thought, and a consideration of a wider range of issues, would pay dividends.

So, in the following chapters, I will describe what should be taken into account when defining what capabilities are relevant to any particular management role. Chapter 2 may read initially as if I am trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, but it is important as it defines the terminology I shall go on to use and the way in which I am using it.

A summary of the procedure which I am going to recommend you follow when considering any management post or post-holder, or indeed if you are a manager thinking about your own development and career, is set out in Appendix 1.

Chapter 1: Part 2.
The evidence for the need to improve management capability in Britain

When I started researching this monograph in early 2009, there was still a lot being written in the UK about Lord Leitch's Review of Skills Report (written in 2006) commissioned by a Commons committee, confirming that a lack of management skills was damaging the competitiveness of the British economy. His review also discovered that the UK was spending less on management development per manager than any other country in Europe.

This problem was not new. In 2003 Michael Porter of Harvard was hired by the British Government to investigate UK competitiveness, and commented on British managers' reluctance to use modern management methods (Porter and Ketels, 2003). Subsequent research published in 2005 (Bloom et al) reported that differences in management practices between the USA and the UK explained 10 to 15 per cent of the productivity gap in manufacturing between the two countries. A report in 2007 citing further research by the LSE and McKinsey (Dowdy et al) also indicated that employee performance management was poor in comparison to other countries.

Some of the recent research conducted to find out what engages staff (there being a strongly-claimed correlation between engagement and productivity—see, for example, Buckingham and Coffman, 1999) has found that staff are more likely to be engaged if they respect their bosses. Purcell et al (2009) have also reached the conclusion that it is line managers who are mostly responsible for their staff choosing 'to go the extra mile' i.e. put in discretionary effort, or otherwise.

In 2005, a survey by the 'Good Boss Company' (Higginbottom, 2005) found that 58% of the 1000 employees questioned had looked for a job elsewhere because of their managers, while a third had faked sick days, compared to only one in ten of those with good bosses. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed rated their boss as 'poor'. CIPD research in 2004 found that the category of employee most likely to be identified as bullies within organisations was management (CIPD 2004, cited ACAS and CIPD 2009.) In Skillsoft's 2008 survey of 6,000 employees in the UK, US and Europe, 78% of UK employees considered line management to be the role most in need of additional training. In 2011 the CIPD, commenting on the Government's intention to try to boost growth through 'deregulatory clarion calls' and 'pet project hobby-horses around every corner' asked 'Would it be too radical to suggest a simple focus on boosting management and leadership capability?' and stated that this was what it would be suggesting to Government (Bird 2011 p9).

In 2013, the CIPD published research which pointed out that

“Despite a wealth of academic and practitioner literature on management and leadership styles, and the abundance of leadership and management theories, in practice leadership and management capability is still a major concern for organisations. The day-to-day behaviours corresponding to leadership skills and competencies expected by employers are poorly defined and therefore rarely measured by organisations.”

There may be many and varied reasons for this situation: historical, cultural, structural, economic etc. which might best be explained by historians, sociologists and economists. However, as a joint ACAS and CIPD (2009 p1) report points out, it is “line management behaviour that is […] central to the degree that people learn at work, their wellbeing and resilience and ultimately their productivity”. And note that line management applies to all levels of management, from first line supervisors to CEOs.


ACAS and CIPD, (2009), Meeting the UK's people management deficit, CIPD.

Bird, S. (2011), 'View from the CIPD', People Management. September, p9.

Bloom, N., Dorgan, S., Dowdy, J., Van Reenen, J. and Rippin, T. (2005), Management Practices Across Firms and Nations, LSE-McKinsey.

Bratton J. and Gold, J, (2012), Human Resources Management—Theory and Practice, 5th edition. Palgrave, page 542

Buckingham, M. & Coffman, C. (2005), First break all the rules, 2nd edition, Pocket Books.

Dowdy, J., Dorgan, S. and Castro, P. (2007), Management practice and productivity: why they matter, London: Centre for Economic Performance.

CIPD (2013), Real Life Leaders: Closing the Knowing-Doing Gap, 2013

Higginbottom, K. (2005), 'Show who's boss', People Management, 15 September.

Leitch, S. (2006), 'Prosperity for all in the global economy—world class skills, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Luthans, F. (1988), 'Successful vs Effective Real Managers, The Academy of Management Executive (1987), Vol.2, No.2, pp127-32

Porter, M. E. and Ketels, C. (2003), “UK competitiveness: moving to the next stage”, DTI Economics Paper 3 (May).

Purcell, J., Kinnie, N., Swart, J., Rayton, B. & Hutchinson, S. (2009) People Management and Performance, London: Routledge

SkillSoft (2008), Essential Learning: The employee perspective, SkillSoft Co. Ltd. Accessed at

Wilber, K. (2001), A Theory of Everything, Dublin: Gateway.

Chapter 1 Summary

Organisational management and managers at all levels of an organisation are of crucial importance to the health of our society. Presently in the UK we are, for a large part, rather inept at recruiting, selecting, training, performance appraising and rewarding managers, with undesirable knock on effect.

Chapter 2: Part 1.
Shedding some light: inputs, behaviours, activities and goals

Throughout this book, I divide management capabilities into two types. It's important to be clear about the difference as it's going to affect the processes you use for selecting management candidates, and training, performance assessing and rewarding existing managers.

The first category can be called 'input' capabilities. These are the existing capabilities with which a candidate arrives, and which are ready to be applied to any particular job. This category therefore includes the candidate's knowledge, skills, attitudes and personality traits. Some attitudes, personality traits and skills are innate, and are considered by many to be fairly immutable. Other attitudes, traits and skills can be developed, as of course can knowledge.

For a long time this 'input' category of capabilities was considered very important in both the selection of candidates and as the basis for the appraisals and ratings of existing managers. Then there was a shift towards behavioural capabilities. When recruiting, these capabilities are relevant to the assessment and examination of the candidate's likely behaviours in certain situations. When it comes to performance-managing the appointed candidate, it relates to the actual behaviours exhibited.

When recruiting, developing, performance managing or rewarding, there are two other types of what are normally called 'competences' which are important, and these are the activities the manager is expected to carry out, and the goals they are expected to achieve.

To clarify:

Examples of 'input' capabilities include: knowledge of the sort of work involved; the ability to drive a car; advanced interpersonal skills; a 'can do' attitude; an open and trusting personality.

Examples of 'behaviour' capabilities include: managing time effectively; being a good team player; behaving fairly towards all staff; keeping meticulous records; never being late for an appointment.

Note the difference here between a behavioural capability and an activity: “attending meetings with other managers” is an activity; “communicating well with other managers” is a behavioural capability.

Examples of capabilities as regards goals include: increases production by 10% each year; produces certain required information on the 20th of every month; keeps costs within a certain limit on a particular project.

To help explain the difference further, think of it like this (the following is a deliberate over-simplification, but is useful at this stage nonetheless): goals can be achieved because activities have been undertaken successfully as a result of the manager's behaviours and these behaviours are made possible by the knowledge, skills, attitudes and personality traits the manager possesses ('input' capabilities).

So, in a particularly positive scenario, somebody who:

has advanced interpersonal skills, a good knowledge of the business, good time-management skills, is highly motivated, and is upset by any sort of injustice (and who is given the appropriate conditions and resources, of course) is more likely to be capable of behaviours such as treating everybody fairly and allocating resources appropriately, communicating well with other managers in the organisation, and operating in a timely fashion with the result that the activities expected and the goals set by their own manager(s) (e.g. a certain percentage increase in sales) will be met or exceeded.

So, input capabilities make possible the behaviours which determine whether activities are carried out successfully and goals are achieved or not.

Another word of terminological warning here. Some writers on management refer to behaviours as 'input competencies' because they result in activities and the achievement or otherwise of goals. Activities and goals are referred to as output or outcome 'competences'. I am not using that terminology because I particularly want to make a distinction between knowledge, skills, attitudes and personality traits on the one hand, and behaviours on the other. This distinction has not been emphasised enough in the past

It would seem logical when specifying the requirements of any management post to consider first what goals the organisation needs that manager and their staff to achieve, and therefore what activities are likely to be involved. Having established this, the organisation can draw up a list of the behaviours it thinks will result in the achievement of these goals (how it can go about this is discussed in later chapters), and then it can list the input capabilities—the knowledge, skills, attitudes and personality traits—that a person would need to be able to produce such behaviours.

However, circumstances change all the time (sometimes they change very dramatically) and goals and activities often change with them. The possibility of such change needs to be borne in mind when considering the capabilities sought. Brainstorming a list of possible future scenarios for the organisation, or for a section of the organisation, will pay off in many ways other than selecting suitable management capabilities in any case, and should be carried out on a regular basis.

At the time of writing, selecting managers, or any other type of employee for that matter, by likely behaviours is more popular than selecting by input capabilities, especially the innate ones. Mostly, in such behaviour-oriented interviews, the candidate is assessed by asking what they've done in certain situations in the past, and/or how they would behave if certain situations occur within the job for which they are applying.

According to the CIPD in 2013 “One recent variation is the use of 'strengths-based' approaches to recruitment and assessment. Such approaches can take the theme of competency to a new level by identifying individuals' strengths, such as roles they particularly enjoy or at which they excel, and then matching them to appropriate types of work, hence enhancing individual performance.” This seems to be more a case of suiting the job to the candidate, rather than the other way around, and is laudable, though not often practical.

The problem with behaviour based interviews is that most intelligent candidates know very well what they should reply to the questions they are asked, even if they have never behaved, nor intend to behave, in the way they describe. Sometimes assessment centres are set up to see what happens when a candidate is placed in a particular situation. This seems preferable, because such an environment is a more reliable test of the candidate's reaction to actual situations. It at least has the possibility of revealing any gap between the candidate's declarations and actual performance. It is more expensive of course, but nothing like as expensive as recruiting the wrong person. (There is a little more about recruitment and selection methods in Chapter 7, but this book is more concerned with how you decide which capabilities you want your managers to have.)

One must also bear in mind that some candidates turn out in hindsight to have been very good actors, and this includes certain varieties of sociopaths. It is for this reason that I would include psychometric and other appropriate testing for input capabilities, particularly the innate ones, for all management candidates. This would include screening for undesirable as well as desirable characteristics. Ideally, the assessment process should include tests for input capabilities and behaviours, (and again I would remind readers of the financial and human costs of getting the wrong candidate in post.)

There are also serious diversity and equal opportunity issues here. A potential candidate for a managerial post may find that a previous lack of opportunity for demonstrating certain behaviours (that lack of opportunity being occasioned by the candidate's gender, ethnicity etc.) prevents them being judged as suitable for the position, and so a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle operates. If the candidate has the appropriate input capabilities, they could probably pick up the required behaviours very quickly. Given that there is currently a real problem in finding suitable talent for many posts, even with high unemployment, we have another good reason for including input capabilities in assessing candidates (quite apart from the moral arguments).

And there is yet another argument for paying close attention to a candidate's input capabilities, especially the innate ones. In chapter 7 I shall be referring to research which demonstrates that if certain innate capabilities are not present in a person, there are various behaviours which it will not be possible to develop in him or her.

That said, we must also bear in mind that possessing certain input capabilities is not an infallible guarantee of certain behaviours. The same person will behave differently in different situations, depending on the context.

So including input and behavioural capabilities in our lists of desirable management capabilities seems to be the best way to proceed here. It is also important to distinguish them, as the last five paragraphs demonstrate. Very many lists of capabilities, including those drawn up by experts, academic and otherwise, do not make this distinction, which I personally think leads to some very confused thinking and decision-making.

It is imperative that an organisation thinks hard about the input capabilities and behaviours a manager would need to carry out the activities necessary for his/her particular job. In this sense, it is very important to distinguish 'activities' from input and behaviour capabilities. Activities and goals should be set out in the job description, while input and behavioural capabilities are part of the person specification for the job. As I have already pointed out, jobs (goals and activities) can change, but the people doing them may remain through several periods of change.

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of thinking very carefully about how you are going to decide which capabilities are necessary. The Centre for Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter sets out two things which are likely to happen if you don't:

  • The capabilities identified will have little bearing on actual effectiveness
  • There is a danger of forming a clique, where existing managers simply recruit in their own image

This second point is important. Irving Janis pointed out how vulnerable an overly-cohesive group is to 'groupthink', where members manage to blind themselves to inconvenient realities, and come to consider, through mutual reassurance and censoring any evidence to the contrary, that they cannot make mistakes. (The horrendous decisions made by British Generals at the Battle of the Somme, and at least one of the Challenger disasters, have been attributed to 'groupthink'.)

I would add that there is also the danger of simply being pulled in by the latest fads or trends, and am obliged to mention that I have seen many young (and some less so) HR staff and managers falling prey to this (especially where there is sexy new jargon involved), often completely oblivious to the fact that there is hardly anything that is genuinely novel in management practice.

Pointers for deciding how to choose capabilities for each management job will be explored in the following chapters.

Chapter 2: Part 2.
A short history of the research into desirable activities for and capabilities in managers

Fayol, writing in 1916, was perhaps the first person to think of management as a profession in its own right. “He is the earliest known proponent of a theoretical analysis of management activities.” (Pugh and Hickson 1989 p88). His work was published in English in 1929, with the French word 'administration' being translated directly into the English word 'administration', but a 1949 republication replaced the word 'administration' with 'management'. Fayol (1949) considered that a manager's role was to plan, organise, command, co-ordinate and control. Under the element of 'organising' he directly refers to the need for an efficient system for the selection and training of managers themselves.

By the 1970s however, the emphasis was changing. Drucker (1977), the American business guru, defined management as the job of organising resources to achieve satisfactory performance, and his five activities of management have a softer, less militaristic edge: a manager sets objectives, organises, motivates and communicates, measures, and develops people. Management here sounds less like something done to subordinates and more like something achieved via staff. This is commensurate with a move from a predominantly mechanistic metaphorical view of the organisation to a more organic one (Burns and Stalker, 1966). In the 1980s globalisation and increasing competition placed an emphasis on more flexible forms of organisation and management, with an emphasis on adaptability, market orientation, an entrepreneurial approach and innovation (du Gay et al 1996).

The continuing interest in 'what managers do' led understandably to the question: are there personality traits, skills, areas of knowledge or competencies which differentiate the “effective” from the “less effective” managers? In the United States, Boyatzis (1982), using critical incident research with 2,000 managers, came to the conclusion that there were 18 competencies that all the effective managers had in common, whatever their type of organisation or level within that organisation. He grouped them into five clusters as follows:

Table 2 Boyatzis's Competency Clusters (1982)

As you can see, this list is a mixture of input capabilities, behaviours and activities.

In 1988, in response to a Government initiative looking to establish standards for different levels of management, Fine produced a methodology known as 'functional analysis' focusing on the desired outcomes of any job (Fine and Cronshaw 1999). The standards established are clearly concerned with the way in which the job is done, i.e. with behaviours and activities, and the underlying knowledge needed is set out in detail in the Management Charter literature.

This revised set of standards, released in November 2008, built on the 2004 suite with the addition of new units covering fresh areas such as knowledge management, environmental management and quality assurance. They can be found on the website of the Management Standards Centre at

The University of Exeter's Centre for Leadership Studies report, referred to in the first part of this chapter, is well worth a read. You'll find full details under 'Bolden, R.' in the Sources section below


Bolden, R. Gosling, J. Marturano, A. and Dennison, P. (2003), A Review of Leadership Theory and Competency Frameworks, June, Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter. Accessed at on 22 October 13

Boyatzis, R. (1982), The Competent Manager, New York, Wiley.

Burns, T. and Stalker, G. (1966) The Management of Innovation, Tavistock Publications

CIPD (2013), Competence and Competency Frameworks, Factsheet.

Drucker, P. (1977), People and Performance, Heinemann.

Du Gay, P. Salaman, G and Rees, B. (1996), 'The conduct of management and the management of conduct: Contemporary managerial discourse and the constitution of the 'competent' manager', Journal of Management Studies, Vol 33, No. 3. May, pp 263-82

Fayol, H (1949), General and Industrial Management, Pitman

Fine, S. A. and Cronshaw S.F. (1999) Functional Job Analysis: A foundation for human resource analysis, Mahwah, New Jersey: Erlbaum

Janis, I. L. (1972). Victims of Groupthink: a Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Management Standards Centre, 'Full list of the 2008 National Occupational Standards' online, accessed at on 22 October 13

Perren, L. and Burgoyne, J. (2002), Management and Leadership Abilities: An analysis of texts, testimony and practice. London: Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership.

Pugh, D. and Hickson, D. (1989), Writers on Organizations, 4th ed., Penguin

Chapter 2 Summary

Keep your job description, which is best used to describe the activities involved and goals to be achieved, separate from the specification for the person you want doing that job. Within that person-specification, set out the input capabilities you desire—both innate and other—and the behaviours you require. Be clear on the difference, and on how they all relate to each other. Recruit, select, train, performance appraise and reward managers by taking into account both input and behavioural capabilities.

Chapter 3: Part 1.
Deciding on the most appropriate capabilities; context is all.

Of course it's not just the activities you expect and the goals you want achieved that will be your guide here. The way in which you want those goals achieved and activities carried out, or the way in which you think they ought to be achieved and carried out, are equally important. This will depend primarily on two aspects of your organisation: its culture, and its structure.

If structure is how an organisation looks (on paper), then culture is how it 'feels'. Culture is 'the way we do things around here' and that way will reflect certain basic assumptions and values. You need to be clear about whether you intend to confirm and continue the organisation's existing culture, or whether you desire to change it. In either case it is important that you attempt to fully understand the present organisational culture, and the implications of that.

This is no easy matter. In the first place, the organisation is probably made up of a melee of cultures, sometimes at war with each other. But a collection of cultures within one organisation is not necessarily a bad thing; for example, you probably don't want the people working in your finance department to show the same sort of risk taking behaviours that you might encourage in your research and development department. I am however frequently surprised by the number of competency lists drawn up which are intended to apply to every manager within the organisation, regardless of the function within which they operate. There will of course be certain values that one would want exhibited by everyone in the organisation, perhaps those like polite consideration of fellow workers, or honesty and diligence, but I'd be very surprised if a culture didn't vary throughout an organisation in ways which are positive and good for that organisation.

So you have to consider the sort of behaviours you want to see from any one manager, in pursuit of the goals they are there to achieve, in the light of an appropriate value system. This is impossible to do if those values have never been identified, which is not unusual as culture is usually deeply implicit. Sometimes new employees are better at describing a company culture than old hands, who are so deeply immersed in it that—to mix metaphors—they can't see the wood for the trees. Answering the following questions as regards both the organisation and the relevant department and section, as truthfully as possible, will help you get a handle on the cultures you've got:

  • What is the overall purpose of the organisation/department/section? To make money? To improve society? To satisfy a personal ambition of the owner or most senior manager?
  • What is the business strategy of the organisation/department/section? For example, does it rely on constant innovation, or on being the cheapest, or on providing the best quality? What values reflect this?
  • How does the organisation/department/section deal with those outside itself, e.g. its customers, its regulators, its other stakeholders, or the other departments and sections alongside which it works? Openly? Defensively? At arm's length? Collaboratively? Competitively?
  • What is the psychological contract between the organisation/department/section and its employees? For example: What does the organisation expect from its employees? Loyalty? In what form? Does it expect prompt and regular attendance in the workplace or that its trust in employees working diligently from home will not be abused? What do employees expect for their part? That redundancies will only be made as a last resort? That their skills and knowledge will be kept up to date by their organisation?
  • What is the organisation's moral stance? Are its ethics based on 'anything you can get away with (even if it's illegal)', or 'anything you can get away with (as long as it's legal)'? Does it undertake its corporate social responsibilities as a useful publicity and marketing device, or because it really believes in fulfilling those responsibilities for the sake of a better society?
  • How formal is the organisation/department/section? How do employees address each other? How do they address their bosses?
  • How hierarchical is the organisation/department/section, and how do employees feel about and behave around employees higher or lower in the structure than themselves?
  • What is the organisation's/department's/section's attitude towards risk taking and innovative behaviour on the part of its employees?
  • Can people who have made mistakes expect to be bawled out in public, or taken to one side privately to discuss the matter?
  • How do people within each section regard each other? Competitively? Collaboratively? As fellow combatants or as an intrinsic team? If a colleague stabbed another in the back (metaphorically, hopefully) to their own advantage, would they be respected or condemned? Is it every man and woman for themselves or do employees regard individual bonuses as an anathema?
  • What symbols would employees choose to represent their organisation/department/section, and why?

(For those who've already made a study of the concept of culture, you will recognise the debt this list owes to three very eminent writers: Roger Harrison, Geert Hofstede and Edgar Schein.)

I can't emphasise enough that the answers to these question must be what the organisation actually does think and do, and not what it says it thinks and does.

Having asked and answered the questions above, you may be perfectly content with the culture you discover. In this case you will be requiring managers to fit into and reinforce this culture. There is evidence however that some organisational cultures are not as productive as others (see Chapter 5), and you may decide that it is time for a change. You might decide to effect this by changing the training, performance appraisal and reward mechanisms for existing staff, and/or you might consider that bringing in new managers is appropriate.

Of course, if you decide to try to change the culture of an organisation or department, it would be very unfair to expect one new manager to exhibit behaviours based on values that most of their own bosses or peers have still not bought into. You will either have to recruit within a fairly short time a number of new managers who will display the replacement values so that they can reinforce each other, and/or alter people management systems throughout the organisation so that everybody is trained, performance-appraised, and rewarded according to the replacement values. Most importantly, the senior managers must be seen to walk the new talk. If they don't there's a good chance that your new manager(s) will leave within a very short period, conform to the existing behaviours, or suffer badly from stress—unless they are made of very stern stuff indeed. If you decide to go ahead anyway regardless, 'made of stern stuff' would be a very important input capability to include for such a post!

The idea of using a whole range of people management processes (recruitment, selection, development appraisal, reward etc.) in such a way that they reinforce rather than detract from each other is an important concept, and we will come back to this further on.

While on the subject of managers 'not fitting in', you may be aware that there are various taxonomies of culture, that is, ways of classifying any culture as a particular type. One thing to consider is that cultures—and value systems generally—tend to 'evolve' or move on from one type to another according to a particular pattern. It is claimed by some analysts that, if this happens successfully, the new culture 'includes and transcends' the old culture, i.e. the organisation retains all the good things from its previous set of values, but adds some generally more complex and usually more outward going values. The same is said to apply to every individual, and to whole nations as well, though many do stop evolving at a particular point, and a crisis can send an individual, organisation or nation state back to an earlier value system. The following page is an example of one such taxonomy, applied to organisations.

I have expanded on this theme in part two of this chapter but, regardless of whether these different cultures do indeed arise in the precise order set out by those who have written extensively on the subject, and of whether any stage is 'better' than the one before, the relevance of these levels to organisations is that, according to such theories, every single organisation and each of the sections within it will also predominantly reflect one of these stages. For a manager to be successful within it, they have at least to be able to talk the right language, and be able to operate successfully within that culture.

Meanwhile, this discussion of organisational culture gives rise to another valid question, but one it would appear that is rarely asked: how well do you need any manager to know about and understand the processes relating to effectively managing organisational culture? Do you test for this awareness when recruiting? Do you train existing managers in it? If not, why not?

Chapter 3: Part 2.
The cultural evolution of an organisation

The idea of cultures evolving is heavily influenced by the work of Clare Graves, and his successors, such as Don Beck and Chris Cowan (Cowan and Todorovic 2005, Beck and Cowan 1996). Now better known as 'Spiral Dynamics', these theories are concerned with the innate values of any collective, and how they develop. Applying Graves and similar theories, Wilber (2001) suggests the following stages of development, or evolution, as regards the cultures of societies and civilisations.

  • Cultures, as we understand them, begin as survivalistic, and are preoccupied all day everyday with the practicalities of staying alive. If these evolve, they will evolve into
  • Cultures which have developed magical thinking. These cultures are animistic, and very concerned with 'kin spirits'. Such cultures 'have a name for every bend in the river, but not for the river itself'. These tribal cultures develop in turn into
  • Exploitative power seeking cultures, sometimes known as 'warrior' cultures, as represented in the Iliad and the Odyssey, (but also represented today in street gangs, and many City firms) in which strength takes priority over justice. These eventually become
  • Law ruled cultures, usually referred to as 'traditional', or 'people of the book' (the Torah, the Ten Commandments, the Koran for example). In organisations these tend to be bureaucracies which emphasise formal procedures. In turn, these evolve into
  • Materialistic and rational cultures, usually referred to as 'modern', and 'achievement orientated'. Empirical science takes pride of place, and there is talk of 'conquering nature'. These evolve into
  • Pluralistic cultures, which are often referred to as 'postmodern' and relativistic. Nature is cared for, rather than there to be 'conquered'. All people are equal and all values are relative.
  • Flex-flow cultures, the first stage at which a society or community can appreciate all the stages that it has been through, and what it has gained from each of them, rather than denigrating them as 'inferior'. This level or stage is also often referred to as 'Integral' or post-post-modern.

These stages are set out specifically in relation to organisations, in Table 3.

Table 3: Basic levels of organisational development specified by values (adapted from Cacioppe and Edwards, 2005, pp100-1)

There are stages beyond this which will not be referred to here (as being outside of most organisations' present experience.)

Each stage is necessary to the stages that follow, and none can ever be 'skipped'. Furthermore, a society or organisation successfully moving from traditional to modern will not abandon the rule of law, but will subject that law to rational analysis before legitimising it.

All stages, even the highest we know of at present, have their weaknesses, dangers and paradoxes, the resolution of which is what can force a culture or community on to the next stage (Beck and Cowan 1996, McIntosh 2007). As such there is a dialectical process, with each stage emerging as the synthesis of the thesis and antithesis of the previous stage, with that synthesis becoming the thesis of the newly emerged stage (McIntosh 2007). Research undertaken independently to the work of Graves, Beck or Cowan, and apparently in ignorance of it, by Ray (Ray and Anderson 2000) identified three cultural sub groups within the USA, which Ray called the Traditionals, the Moderns and the Cultural Creatives, with the last being the most recent to emerge to a significant degree (in the 1970s.) These three groups correspond with Spiral Dynamics' traditional, modern and postmodern/pluralist stages. Those familiar with the work of Jean Gebser will see the parallels between these ideas and those of Jean Gebser when he writes about the unfolding of unconsciousness.

From my own reading, I would suggest that parallels can be drawn between the tiers described above and Harrison's four types of organisational culture (1984, taken up and developed by Charles Handy in his popular textbook 'Understanding Organizations' 1993). Harrison's power culture equates to Spiral Dynamics' warrior stage, his role culture is the equivalent of a traditional culture, his achievement culture (Handy's 'task' culture) is 'modern' and his support culture (which he originally referred to as 'affiliative') is postmodern/pluralist. Harrison does not mention developmental stages, but it is interesting that in a pamphlet for AMED in 1987 he writes about each organisational culture in the same order as they appear in Spiral Dynamics.

'Spiral Dynamics' and 'Spiral Dynamics Integral' are actually commercial company trademarks, and the companies use this model in a consultancy role both in business organisations, and nation states. The companies' aims are to help these bodies move smoothly from one stage to the next, but are also concerned with helping employees who are at different individual development levels within an organisation communicate with each other (Beck and Cowan, 1996.)

Another company, Minessence, works with a values analysis tool which reflects Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs' model. To see an example of this tool applied to the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) as an organisation, see

By the time you are reading this monograph, I have no doubt there will be other companies in the same line of work.


Beck, D.E. and Cowan, C.C. (1996), Spiral Dynamics, Blackwell Publishing.

Cacioppe, R. and Edwards, M. (2005), 'Seeking the Holy Grail of organizational development', Leadership and Organization Development Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2, pages 86-105

Gebser, J. (1949), translated into English by Barstad, N. with Mickunas, A. The Ever Present Origin, Athens: Ohio University Press

Graves C. (2005,) The Never Ending Quest, edited by Christopher C. Cowan and Natasha Todorovic, Santa Barbara, C A: ECLET Press

Handy, C.B. (1993), Understanding Organizations, 4th edition, Penguin.

Harrison, R. (1987), Organization, Culture and Quality of Service, AMED, SOS Free Stock.

Hofstede, G, (2001), Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations. Second Edition, Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications

McIntosh, S. (2007), Integral Consciousness and the future of evolution, St. Paul MN; Paragon House

Ray, P. and Anderson, S.(2000), The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World, Harmony Books

Schein, E. (1990) 'Organizational Culture' American Psychologist, February, Vol. 45, No. 2, pages 109--119 .

Wilber, K. (2001), A Theory of Everything, Dublin: Gateway.

Summary of Chapter 3

The capabilities you specify for any manager must fit the organisation's existing culture. If you want to try to change the organisation's culture by specifying capabilities which do not fit the present mind-sets and behaviours, you will have to take quite drastic additional measures as well.

Chapter 4: Part 1.
Can a good manager manage anything?


Or rather, I would say it depends on what level of the organisation we're talking about. And so we come on to consider the relevance of the organisation's structure to the choosing of appropriate capabilities. In particular I want to examine and compare the need for technical capabilities as against the need for conceptual capabilities in different parts of the organisation.

Structure is taken to include the number of layers the organisation has, each manager's span of control (that is, how many staff they have), the way that jobs are grouped and arranged, reporting lines, communication lines, where the decisions get taken, the design of each job itself and the organisation's systems. Here, specifically, I want to talk about the tiers of management, and the relevance of how high up or how close to the coal face a manager's job is positioned.

In this country, we usually don't expect the very top managers to have much technical expertise in their organisation's business. For example, Government Ministers are regularly swapped and moved around from one Department to another; Home Office one week, say, and the Ministry of Defence the next. These top level managers are hired and selected for their conceptual, visioning and political (note—with a small 'p' and capital 'P') skills. They have civil servants to supply them with all the technical advice they need or want. Such is also the case in most British organisations; though there are still some who prefer their top managers to be au fait with the details of the product or service they provide.

Employees often appreciate their bosses knowing the business, so long as their leaders are also fulfilling the role of senior management and not trying to do their staff's jobs for them.

There is indeed a lot to be said for appointing senior managers from within the organisation itself, providing they fulfil the management capabilities needed, because they know how the organisation ticks. There are several eminent experts(see that veteran Henry Mintzberg for example) who deplore the practice of bringing in somebody from outside to head up an organisation, simply because they've done a good job elsewhere, or performed well at the interview. You probably know of several instances when such a strategy has failed miserably; I certainly do. But when a Board honestly cannot find anybody within the organisation with the appropriate capabilities—often those to do with values and attitudes—they will of course have no choice but to go outside.

On the other hand, there still exists a strange propensity within organisations to promote people to management level because they have good technical skills, without first checking out if they have the appropriate management capabilities. Even first line managers and supervisors need these to operate successfully. It looks obvious stated in black and white like that, but I have lost count of the number of examples HR personnel have given me of good operatives being promoted to management positions without possessing any management skills whatsoever. A typical example I have heard is this: “She was our best saleswoman but was threatening to leave so we promoted her to sales manager.” The move was not successful. The promoted saleswoman left anyway, but not before several of her staff had.

Of course, as a first line manager, technical knowledge is very useful. First line managers are probably the ones who need the most technical knowledge of all managers. But a good salesperson does not necessarily make a good manager of other salespeople. I'm quite sure that, if a bit of imagination and flexibility had been used, there could have been other ways of giving the saleswoman in question the extra status, financial reward or new stimulation she needed. If such other ways could not be found, a decent succession plan could have ensured that there was some-one trained up to take over when the inevitable happened and she left.

So, when deciding on management capabilities, you will be using the level of that post to decide on the importance of technical capabilities versus that of conceptual, visioning and political capabilities. This is besides any of the other necessary capabilities, another category of which I will go on to describe now.

The Management Standards Centre, referred to before, divides its standards for managers into four levels of sophistication and complexity, (see and the second part of this chapter for an example). Many professional bodies, such as the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development for human resource managers, employ a similarly tiered system. Both models base levels of capability on stages of responsibility within an organisation. The CIPD's four levels or 'bands' are reproduced in part two of this chapter as well. Often, organisations specify that applicants for a particular management job should have reached a certain professional level. Before using this approach however, you need to check out whether the relevant professional body does include people and organisational management capabilities alongside the relevant technical abilities.

I have concentrated mostly on tiers of responsibility within this chapter on structure but, as mentioned earlier, structure includes much else as well. It is logical to take into account any managerial post-holder's need for a thorough knowledge of the organisation's structure and systems, as well as that of its industrial sector, especially when that manager has been recruited from outside. I am surprised how many new managers are expected to pick this up by osmosis, or are simply not given the time to seek out the knowledge they need about this.

Chapter 4: Part 2.
Organisational levels

Below I have set out two systems which utilise levels:

1) The following can be accessed at

Diagram 1: Model representing the HR Profession Map

Note that this model is primarily concerned with 'behaviour capabilities'. The 'eight behaviours' outlined above are each described at four different levels. For example, one of the activities expected within 'driven to deliver' at Band One is “Demonstrates a consistently strong bias for action and a desire to deliver.” An example for the same behaviour at Band Four is “Ensures delivery across the organisation by inspiring others with energy and personal drive.”

2) Below I have reproduced an extract from the Management Standards Centre website. This extract contains lists of what are mainly activities that candidates should be able to carry out effectively at different levels. I have not reproduced the behaviours or input capabilities considered necessary for this, as my main intention here is to demonstrate the difference between levels. Readers may be aware however that all NVQ syllabi contain descriptions of the underpinning knowledge deemed necessary for the activities listed here (sometimes known as 'outcomes') to be successful.

You may find it an interesting exercise to match the MSC's levels against the various levels in your own organisation.

Table 4: MSC 's Management Qualification Structures, NVQ Levels 2 , 3, 4 and 5

Level 2 NVQ/SVQ in Team Leading

Candidates will need to complete four mandatory units and two optional units (from a choice of 7) in order to achieve the full qualification


A1. Manage your own resources

B5. Provide leadership for your team

D1. Develop productive working relationships with colleagues

E5. Ensure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety


C1. Encourage innovation in your team

D5. Allocate and check work in your team

D7. Provide learning opportunities for colleagues

D8. Help team members address problems affecting their performance

D12. Participate in meetings

F5. Resolve customer service problems

F7. Support customer service improvements

Level 3 NVQ/SVQ in Management

Candidates will need to complete four mandatory units and three optional units (from a choice of 18) in order to achieve the full qualification


A2. Manage your own resources and professional development

B6. Provide leadership in your area of responsibility

D6. Allocate and monitor the progress and quality of work in your area of responsibility

E6. Ensure health and safety requirements are met in your area of responsibility


B11. Promote equality of opportunity and diversity in your area of responsibility

C2. Encourage innovation in your area of responsibility

C5. Plan change

C6. Implement change

D1. Develop productive working relationships with colleagues

D3. Recruit, select and keep colleagues

D7. Provide learning opportunities for colleagues

D8. Help team members address problems affecting their performance

D9. Build and manage teams

D11. Lead meetings

D12. Participate in meetings

E1. Manage a budget

E9. Manage the environmental impact of your work

E10. Take effective decisions

E11. Communicate information and knowledge

F1. Manage a project

F6. Monitor and solve customer service problems

F8. Work with others to improve customer service

Level 4 NVQ/SVQ in Management

Candidates will need to complete five mandatory units and three optional units (from a choice of 22) in order to achieve the full qualification


B1. Develop and implement operational plans for your area of responsibility

C2. Encourage innovation in your area of responsibility

D2. Develop productive working relationships with colleagues and stakeholders

E6. Ensure health and safety requirements are met in your area of responsibility

F3. Manage business processes


A2. Manage your own resources and professional development

A3. Develop your personal networks

B6. Provide leadership in your area of responsibility

B8. Ensure compliance with legal, regulatory, ethical and social requirements

B11. Promote equality of opportunity and diversity in your area of responsibility

C4. Lead change

C5. Plan change

C6. Implement change

D3. Recruit, select and keep colleagues

D6. Allocate and monitor the progress and quality of work in your area of responsibility

D7. ` Provide learning opportunities for colleagues

D10. Reduce and manage conflict in your team

D11. Lead meetings

E2. Manage finance for your area of responsibility

E8. Manage physical resources

E9. Manage the environmental impact of your work

E10. Take effective decisions

F1. Manage a project

F2. Manage a programme of complementary projects

F8. Work with others to improve customer service

F9. Build your organisation's understanding of its market and customers

F11. Manage the achievement of customer satisfaction

Level 5 NVQ/SVQ in Management

Candidates will need to complete four mandatory units and three optional units (from a choice of 21) in order to achieve the full qualification


B7. Provide leadership for your organisation

C3. Encourage innovation in your organisation

E7. Ensure an effective organisational approach to health and safety

F12. Improve organisational performance


A2. Manage your own resources and professional development

A3. Develop your personal networks

B2. Map the environment in which your organisation operates

B3. Develop a strategic business plan for your organisation

B4. Put the strategic business plan into action

B8. Ensure compliance with legal, regulatory, ethical and social requirements

B9. Develop the culture of your organisation

B10. Manage risk

B12. Promote equality of opportunity and diversity in your organisation

C4. Lead change

C5. Plan change

C6. Implement change

D2. Develop productive working relationships with colleagues and stakeholders

D4. Plan the workforce

D7. Provide learning opportunities for colleagues

E3. Obtain additional finance for the organisation

E4. Promote the use of technology within your organisation

F2. Manage a programme of complementary projects

F4. Develop and review a framework for marketing

F9. Build your organisation's understanding of its market and customers

F10. Develop a customer focussed organisation

Mumford et al (2007 p154) have carried out research that confirms such 'strataplexes' are a valuable tool:

“Leadership scholars have called for additional research on leadership skill requirements and how those requirements vary by organizational level. In this study, leadership skill requirements are conceptualized as being layered (strata) and segmented (plex), and are thus described using a strataplex. … Findings support the “plex” element of the model through the emergence of four leadership skill requirement categories. Findings also support the “strata” portion of the model in that different categories of leadership skill requirements emerge at different organizational levels, and that jobs at higher levels of the organization require higher levels of all leadership skills. In addition, although certain Cognitive skill requirements are important across organizational levels, certain Strategic skill requirements only fully emerge at the highest levels in the organization. Thus a strataplex proved to be a valuable tool for conceptualizing leadership skill requirements across organizational levels.”

Mumford et al, 2007 p154


CIPD's HR Profession Map accessed at on 22 October 2013

MSC 's Management Qualification Structures, NVQ Levels 2 , 3, 4 and 5 accessed at on 22 October 2013

Mintzberg, H. (2006), 'Community-ship is the answer', Financial Times, 23 October.

Mumford, T. Campion, M. and Morgeson, F. (2007). 'The leadership skills strataplex: Leadership skill requirements across organizational levels', The Leadership Quarterly, Vol 18, Issue 2, p154.

Chapter 4 Summary

Match the capabilities for any management post to the level at which it exists within the organisation, e.g. how important are technical skills against conceptual skills? As regards knowledge capabilities, how much do post-holders need to know about the structure of and systems and processes in place within the organisation, the industry and the sector generally? If a manager does not have this knowledge, what is being done to remedy this?

Chapter 5: Part 1.
Within a given context, is there anything to look for in particular?

Not surprisingly, given the length and width of lists of capabilities such as Lew Perren and John Burgoyne's in Chapter 2, considerable research has been devoted to whether there are particular capabilities which should be sought more than others, or which have been neglected with unfortunate results.

There has been a growing interest in emotional intelligence ('EI' or 'EQ') thanks to the likes of Daniel Goleman and, within that, interpersonal skills (sometimes referred to as 'soft' skills, communication skills or just plain people skills), and the behaviours of managers with high EI and developed interpersonal skills. This is a very controversial area, but it is generally agreed now that managers at all levels need to have well developed people skills. (For the researched evidence, see the second part of this chapter.) Such skills come naturally to some people. Other managers need to be taught and encouraged to hone their soft skills by the way they are performance appraised and rewarded.

We've actually known—officially—from the 1920's and the 'Hawthorne Experiments' (written up by Elton Mayo, see the second part of the chapter again) that employees who work for line managers who take an interest in them, tell them what's going on, and genuinely listen to what their staff think about what's going on, are more productive than those who don't, (all other things, like available resources, being equal.) A couple of studies have also suggested that the best managers care passionately about their work, and equally passionately about their staff simply as people, not as a means to an end. Furthermore, if the chips are down, and it's one or the other, it's safer to concentrate on the staff rather than the work.

It sounds rather counter intuitive and indeed, I see managers taking the opposite course of action in emergencies time and time again. But I think a lot of this is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what 'caring about staff' means. It does not mean that you don't discipline people who need it, nor ever make redundancies. It's more concerned with the way in which disciplinary procedures and redundancies—particularly the latter—are handled. McKinsey, the big American consultancy firm, 'lets go' the majority of the graduates it recruits—only about 20% make the grade of Partner. But they do it in such a way that they can even maintain a network of what are called 'McKinsey alumni' (see People are proud to be McKinsey alumni.

This is basically about consideration and kindness. Yes, you may have to make people redundant, and it's a horrible thing if you're the manager or HR personnel who has to do the deed, but I cannot stress enough the importance, to both the organisation and society generally, of recruiting managers who can be kind in situations like this. Kindness does not exclude toughness. And if your existing managers don't have it, do something about it. This might mean having to change the organisation's culture, of course!

So kindness is one thing you may want to particularly specify. Another is fairness,—again because people who work for line managers who do their best to treat all their staff fairly are more engaged and productive than those who don't. Explicitly and implicitly coercing and manipulating your staff, however good a manager happens to be at it, may work wonders in the short term, and may feel absolutely necessary in an emergency, but solid research has shown that it has destructive implications for the long term, even if only resorted to once. I'm not saying that organisations that rely on coercion cannot be successful—think of the Roman Empire, or the mafia—but most of us would do best to avoid such organisations, and when things go wrong with them, the results aren't pleasant. Anyway, I have a feeling that anybody who works in an organisation with this sort of 'power' culture and wants it to stay that way would not be reading this book. For more about fairness, see the latter section of this chapter.

Particularly topical as I write this are several books that have been written about psychopaths and sociopaths (the latter being socially acceptable psychopaths) in the workplace. In my opinion 'Snakes in Suits—When Psychopaths go to Work' by Robert Hare and Paul Babiak should be required reading for everybody in employment. Sociopaths are charming and ambitious, ruthless and without conscience. Unless they are spotted, and stopped, or self-destruct (they tend not to learn from the problems their behaviour causes other people, or themselves), they can actually destroy an organisation. The late Robert Maxwell is often given as an example of this. Those suffering from narcissism—grandiosity, self-focussed lack of concern for others and exploitativeness—can cause as much damage.

Personally I believe these people are so dangerous, not just to their staff but to society in general, it should automatically be part of an organisation's HR function to screen for sociopathic and narcissistic tendencies with any managerial appointment. An acquaintance of mine, a freelance consultant, is sometimes called in to psychometrically analyse the leading candidates for very top jobs. More than once he has had to tell a Board that their preferred choice is a sociopath…. Ideally, they should never have got that far.

For the last few years there's been quite an emphasis on 'transformational' managing rather than 'transactional'. As far as I can see, it's basically a re-hash of the leadership versus management argument, and you've probably gathered by now I don't think it's as simple as that. Furthermore, some takes on transformational leadership seem to be about that charismatic knight in shining armour, riding in to rescue a company. Research suggests that such knights often leave the company in an even bigger mess, whereas it's the 'leader as servant' doing good by stealth who is more effective. Since the collapse of Enron, and then WorldCom (see for example, we should all have developed a deep abiding suspicion of anybody charismatic, unless they're quiet, modest and unassuming with it. Jim Collins has done some substantial research that links successful firms with CEOs who had a 'deep personal humility'.

Chapter 5: Part Two.
The evidence regarding soft skills

As mentioned above, back in the 1920s and 30s researchers at the Hawthorne works in Chicago experimenting with things like the best level of lighting, tea break intervals etc. for staff productivity discovered that, more important than any such technical, structural phenomena, was the interest that was taken in the staff who participated in the experiment (Mayo 1933). Productivity rose in both the control groups (where nothing was being changed) and the groups being put through various experiments, because the researchers were taking an interest in them.

By the 1950s a whole raft of psychologists had taken up research into the best way to motivate staff for productivity. Douglas McGregor for example said that there were two opposing approaches to management—one that assumed that employees are at work under duress, don't really want to work, don't like making decisions and have to be controlled via carrots and sticks. McGregor called this 'Theory X'. The other approach he described, 'Theory Y' assumed that people do want to work, want to do a good job, and happily take on responsibilities if allowed.

Douglas McGregor would never answer the question as to which was more effective, but Rensis Likert discovered that supervisors who were enthusiastic about getting the job done well, and treated their staff like intelligent, responsible human beings were more effective than supervisors who put one well before the other. He also found that, when it was a choice between one or the other, the more successful supervisors put their staff first, which leads us on to the topic of emotional intelligence. Much interest has been taken in this by the academic business community

Rosete and Ciarrochi's research (2005 p396) led them to conclude that “executives higher on EI are more likely to achieve business outcomes”, while in the conclusion to their own research, Lindebaum and Cartwright's (2010, p275) state “The overall results of the data analysis indicate that an individual's EI may indeed be a determinant of effective leadership.” Interestingly Rosete and Ciarrochi also state (ibid, p275) that their “pattern of findings suggests that an executive may need a high IQ to get to the management or executive levels, but once there, IQ does not discriminate between better or worse performing managers.” Kotze and Venter, 2011, using several instruments to assess 114 middle managers, concluded

“… the effective leaders scored significantly higher on the total emotional intelligence measure. They also scored significantly higher on two emotional intelligence composite scales (Interpersonal EQ and Stress Management EQ) and six sub scales (Self Actualisation, Empathy, Social Responsibility, Stress Tolerance, Problem Solving and Optimism”) - Kotze and Venter, 2011, p 397.

Also of significance are the findings of research done into employee engagement. Engaged employees have been found to be more productive, so the hunt was on immediately for the 'drivers' and 'antecedents' of engagement. “The top priority seems to be communication” and “people are treated not as a 'mere employee' but as a valued individual” plus it is important that you have employees “thinking that their manager [is] committed to the organisation”. “It is of overriding importance that people are treated as individuals” (Woodruffe, p8)

Enough evidence had accumulated that, in 2010, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development could publish a paper calling for organisations to pay as much attention to the soft skills of its managers as to their technical skills, in order to get the best from their staff (CIPD 2010).

Why you should avoid certain traits

Before moving on however, readers are also advised to take note of the academic literature, such as that written by Joyce and Robert Hogan (1995, 1996, 2001), which lists features that should be tested for in potential managers in order that they can be avoided. Managerial incompetence is associated with 11 dysfunctional dispositions, which in turn can be summarised into three disrupting tendencies: to blow up, show off, or conform when under pressure. Do you test for these in your managers? If you don't I suggest you at least read the following brief summary of Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon's research as detailed below (taken from the website 'Broaden Me' at

“In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses's scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.”


Board, B. and Fritzon, K. (2005). "Disordered personalities at work" Psychology, Crime and Law. Accessed at:

CIPD, (2010), Using the Head and Heart at Work: a business case for soft skills, Research Paper.

Collins, J. (2001), Good to Great, Random House Business

Goleman, D. (1998), Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury.

Hare, R. and Babiak, P. (2006), Snakes in Suits—When Psychopaths Go to Work, Harper Business

Hogan, R and Hogan J. (1995), Hogan Personality Inventory Manual, Tulsa, OK: Hogan Assessment Systems

Hogan, J and Hogan R. (1996), Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory Manual, Tulsa,OK: Hogan Assessment Systems

Hogan, R. and Hogan, J., (2001), 'Assessing Leadership: A view from the Dark Side', International Journal of Selection and Assessment', 9:1 March, pp 40-51.

Kotze, M. and Venter, I. (2011), 'Differences in emotional intelligence between effective and ineffective leaders in the public sector: an empirical study'. International Review of Administrative Sciences, Vol 77, Issue 2, pp397-427

Likert, R. (!967), The Human Organization, New York, McGraw-Hill

Lindebaum, D. and Cartwright, S. (2011), 'Leadership effectiveness: the costs and benefits of being emotionally intelligent', Leadership and Organization Development Journal, Vol 32, no 3, pp281-290

Mayo, E. (1933), The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization,, New York: MacMillan

McGregor, D. (1987), The Human Side of Enterprise, Penguin

Rosete, D. and Ciarrochi, J. (2005), 'Emotional intelligence and its relationship to workplace performance outcomes of leader effectiveness', Leadership and Organization Development Journal, Vol. 26, No 5, pp 388-399

Woodruffe, C. (2006) “From 'Whatever' to 'My pleasure': how can employers increase engagement?” in Reflections on Employee Engagement, CIPD Change Agendas

Chapter 5 Summary

Managers at all levels of an organisation need people skills and emotional intelligence. They should have the ability to value their staff, treating them as individuals, and understand the importance of communication, both in letting staff know what's going on, and in listening to them. Fairness and open-ness are essential attributes. Never underestimate the beneficial power of kindness. Self-effacing is preferable to charismatic.

Chapter 6.
Maturity and flexibility, handling the unknown and complexity

Nowadays it is often considered politically incorrect to talk about levels or stages of development in relation to adults, as such talk may smack of elitism and/or imply inequality. Furthermore, it goes against the important and prevailing postmodern belief that all values are relative. However, this is exactly what I am going to do here, because it's too important to ignore. (I have also temporarily abandoned the two part structure of my chapters for this and chapter 7, as it is more meaningful to merge them for this topic.)

There is much evidence to suggest that staged development does not stop for everybody once we have reached adulthood. Some people go on to develop broadening and deepening levels of awareness and autonomy,—not just cognitively but generally. Many of us stop developing when we have attained the ability to fit into society and become a useful member, but there is evidence that further development can happen.

Robert Kegan for example talks about 5 orders of development. To move 'up' an order involves a process where you dis-identify from what you thought of as 'you', and step back a little, to see that what you thought of as 'you' was only part of the picture. In relation to work, Kegan is particularly interested in the move from 'Order 3' to 'Order 4' which he saw as going like this:

Order 3—our actions are in accordance with others' expectations; to

Order 3(4)—in need of handholding by others to act on own behalf; to

Order 3/4—conflicted over and unsure about one's own values, worth, direction, capability; to

Order 4/3—conflicted, but with growing detachment from internalized viewpoints (i.e. other people's viewpoints which you've accepted as your own); to

Order 4(3)—nearing self-authoring, but in danger of regression to others' expectations; to

Order 4—fully self-authoring decision maker, respecting others.

I've heard of many occasions when an organisation has specified that it wants some-one who is independent and self-authoring (it's fashionable—'able to work on their own initiative', etc.) in a particular management post, when it really wanted some-one able to work on their own initiative who would also toe the company line. That cannot be guaranteed with somebody at Order 4, or beyond.

Again, the particular 'order' you'll favour for a post depends on your organisational culture, and the level at which the post sits. However, a person who has developed to Order 4 or beyond is much more likely to respond in any situation with what is appropriate to it, in the 'here and now'. Those below Order 4 are more likely to respond with what has worked before, or how they always respond, or how they think they ought to respond.

Since the middle of the last century there has been a school of thought within the literature known as the 'contingency' approach. There is a considerable body of this literature, but I would refer you to some relatively recent research done by Daniel Goleman (the 'EQ' man) which found that more effective managers choose their management style in any given situation according to the type of situation, the staff involved, and the context.

In his research Daniel Goleman identified six different basic styles that effective managers moved between from situation to situation, perhaps running through all six in the space of an hour where appropriate. And, here's the rub, people at Order 4 or above are more likely to be able to do this.

Table 5: Goleman's Six Management Styles

Robert Kegan's work is backed by others, although different terminology is used. Bill Torbert's research for example, set out in his book Action Inquiry; the secret of timely and transforming leadership and in an article with David Rooke in the Harvard Business Review, concerns a similar set of stages called 'action-logics'. (In 2012 the Harvard Business Review chose David Rooke's and Bill Torbert's article, originally published in 2004, as one of its 10 best leadership articles ever. You can read the whole article online at

An 'action-logic' is how a person or company interprets their surroundings, and how they react when their power or safety is threatened. Bill Torbert is concerned that many managers do not know what their own action-logic is, or how they could improve their abilities as managers and leaders. He sets out how to diagnose which action-logic an employee has reached using a sentence-completion survey tool, and how to make best use of that knowledge. See the following page for all of Bill Torbert's action-logic stages.

This area is not without controversy. Even if you believe that schemes like Robert Kegan's and Bill Torbert's have something extremely interesting to offer, there are two major points to bear in mind. The first is that not many organisations could cope with or benefit from having an 'individualist' or 'alchemist' at any level; and secondly, there aren't many 'individualists', 'alchemists' or, sadly, 'strategists' about. I believe however that Bill Torbert's stage descriptors set out a number of capabilities that organisations could be including as requirements for their own managers, depending on the requirements of the job.

Table 6: Chart of Torbert's 'Action Logics'

Many people have drawn parallels between the stages of Spiral Dynamics (see Chapter 3) and Bill Torbert's stages. The 'opportunist' corresponds with Spiral Dynamic's warrior stage and will be most at home in Charles Handy's 'power' culture; the 'diplomat' corresponds with Spiral Dynamic's traditional stage and will be most at home in Charles Handy's 'role' culture. Both the 'expert' and the 'achiever' correspond with Spiral Dynamic's modern stage and Charles Handy's 'task' culture. Beyond that there is some disagreement.

I would make two comments here. The first is that not many organisations would benefit in the long term from being managed by opportunists. Unfortunately, I can think of several organisations which are, and even more which were managed by opportunists before spectacular demises.

The second is that a lot of writers and researchers into stages of adult development agree that the more stages a person has progressed through, the better able they are to deal with complexity and ambiguity, the more humane they become, the more able to deal with the broader picture and longer term, and the more flexible they are in their approach to any problem. Those at later stages of development are not egocentric in any form, tend not to identify with any one group of people (e.g. by class, ethnicity, gender, nationality etc.) or even species in the more advanced stages, and the very advanced tend to have gone 'beyond' rationality to an appreciation of the trans-rational.[2]

This latter attribute—'trans-rationality'—is often confused with being 'pre-rational' by those at a rational stage. In fact, one of the big problems in life, as seen by stage theorists, is that a lot of people cannot appreciate what those at later stages have to offer. Obviously, if you can't or don't believe that these stages exist and that people pass through them in a predictable pattern, very little of this chapter will have anything to offer you!


Goleman, D. (2000), 'Leadership that gets Results', Harvard Business Review, March-April, pp. 78-90.

Handy, C.B. (1993), Understanding Organizations, 4th edition, Penguin.

Kegan, R. (1994), In Over Our Heads, Harvard University Press.

Rooke, D. and Torbert, W. (2005), 'Seven Transformations of Leadership', Harvard Business Review Onpoint, April, accessed at on 29 October 2013

Torbert, W. (2004), Action Enquiry, San Francisco: Berett-Koehler Publishers.

Chapter 6 Summary

Among the people who apply for management posts, only a few of them will have the maturity and flexibility to effectively handle complexity, ambiguity, rapid change and the unknown. Such people will not toe the organisational line if they think it is wrong, and can be difficult for their seniors to manage. They do however make very good managers at any level of an organisation.

Chapter 7.
Recruitment and selection, and 'growing your own'

This monograph is more about helping readers identify the capabilities they want their managers to have, or they want to have themselves, as managers, than with recruiting for or developing those capabilities. Recruiting and developing are both worth a book each, and there are many adequate books on the market. However, I have already made it plain in preceding chapters that many organisations simply do not put enough thought and effort into their selection processes, and/or have insufficiently trained staff doing the assessing and selecting.

As regards recruitment practice in particular, the researcher Ute-Christine Klehe refers to the 'scientist-practitioner gap' that affects all levels of organisational recruitment and laments: “The organizational adoption of unstandardized, unreliable, unvalidated, and biased selection procedures, despite the existence of seemingly superior alternatives, has been a matter of concern for researchers in human resource management for quite some time” . (2004, p327)

The single most popular method for selecting any personnel, including managers, is the interview (CIPD 2011). However, work described by Cornelius Konig and his colleagues in an article published in 2010 recommends that for best results recruiters should use a general mental ability test in combination with an integrity test, a structured interview, a work sample test and/or a conscientiousness measure. Yes, that's expensive but, I repeat, so is hiring the wrong person.

I'm not blind to the pressures that organisations are under when recruiting; some of them conflicting, and most of them political. Richard Barton wrote an extremely interesting article in People Management magazine about destructive political behaviours in the workplace, giving a couple of reasons why existing managers prevent the rise of those below and alongside them who would do well as managers, and it seems mostly to do with preserving their own status.

However I have often observed that, where there is a will, there is a way to overcome these pressures. As Richard Barton says, HR and senior management must be ready to constantly challenge systems and processes, the choices made when selecting staff, and challenge themselves about their own motives. In my opinion, if you don't want to risk wasting a lot of money, considerable investment and effort should be made in recruiting managers from first line supervisors onwards.

My main concern in this monograph is that organisations are clear what capabilities they want their managers to have, and why, before that money is invested in the sort of procedures that will find people with those capabilities, and training the assessors and selectors who are going to use those procedures.

Research which I carried out with HR staff from over 50 organisations suggested that so many managers are appointed for political or cost or 'convenience' reasons (e.g. the successful candidate was the 'best of a bad bunch', or would not stay with the organisation unless promoted) that training in all aspects of management must be crucial for a lot of managers if they are to function effectively.

As we have seen, many professional commentators, especially the CIPD (see their publication 'Using the Head and Heart at Work' 2010), are of the opinion that most managers have been appointed for their technical skills, and need training in interpersonal skills. I have also suggested above that, where organisations have the appropriate culture, they would probably do well to have managers operating at Robert Kegan's 'Order 4' or Bill Torbert's 'Individualist' and beyond.

But can such attributes be developed in people?

The jury is definitely out as regards whether you can push or pull a person through Robert Kegan's or Bill Torbert's stages quicker than they would have progressed naturally, if they were indeed going to progress at all. Bill Torbert thinks it is possible, although he indicates that business schools are not very good at getting their students beyond 'Achiever', mainly because not many people, including academics, appreciate that there ARE stages beyond Achiever. He does however praise a 'path breaking' programme at Bath University, here in the UK, and maintains that there are other institutions around the world with similar programmes.

Others are less optimistic. Robert Kegan outlines evidence that it takes at least five years to progress from one of his orders to the next. This is one reason why it is probably better to recruit people already at the required level if you can.

Levels of consciousness complexity aside, how easy is it to develop interpersonal skills in people who don't have them? This isn't straight forward either. In depth research carried out by John Hunt and Yehuda Baruch found that the success of teaching certain interpersonal behaviours depended on the trainees having appropriate personality traits and attitudes (i.e. input capabilities) to begin with. For example, they say, sensitivity to the pressures on others is not easily learnt by the insensitive. This is yet another reason for carefully thinking through the input capabilities you need in any manager. However, the success of the training they studied also depended upon how easy it was to explain and justify the required behaviour, and whether it could be broken down to a step by step routine. A step by step routine of course makes it easier to teach and learn.

Personally, I don't think that there is any substitute for the most senior managers 'modelling' the preferred behaviours themselves. Their staff will do as they do, and not as they say. Learning theory is very clear about this.

Remember also that what gets measured gets done, and rewarding a manager for using the preferred behaviour capabilities can work as well. Unless your organisation has a culture where the ends always justify the means, it is important not to base your appraisal procedures simply on the achievement of certain organisational goals, but also on the effective use of the input and behaviour capabilities identified for that particular managerial job.

Again, there are many, many good books or appraisal and reward. But over the years I have come to notice how often a manager is appraised and rewarded on capabilities and goals that do not reflect that manager's person specification for their job, their job description or development. That is, if he or she is appraised at all. When setting up or overhauling an organisation's appraisal and reward systems, the goals, activities, behaviours and input capabilities against which any manager is measured should rationally reflect those on which a new holder of that post would be recruited. This is known as 'horizontal integration'. It provides consistency in and reinforcement to what the organisation is trying to achieve. It also removes a good deal of arbitrariness that bedevils many appraisals.


Barton, R. (2010). 'Talent Management: The politics of skill', People Management, 24 April

CIPD, (2010), Using the Head and Heart at Work: a business case for soft skills, Research Paper.

CIPD, (2011), Annual Survey Report 2011, accessed 22.11.11 at

Hunt, J. W. and Baruch, Y. (2003), 'Developing Top Managers: the impact of interpersonal skills training', Journal of Management Development, 22:8, pp729-52

Kegan, R. (1994), In Over Our Heads, Harvard University Press.

Klehe, U., (2004), 'Choosing How to Choose, Institutional pressures affecting the adoption of personnel selection procedures', International Journal of Selection and Assessment', 12:4, pp327-346

Konig, C.J., Klehe, U. Berchtold, M and Kleinmann, M. (2010), 'Reasons for being Selective when Choosing Personnel Selection Procedures', International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18:1, March, pp. 17-21.

Torbert, W. (2004), Action Enquiry, San Francisco: Berett-Koehler Publishers.

Chapter 7 Summary

There are many good books and training courses about recruitment, selection and management development, and this particular monograph is here to advise you urgently to make use of them. Many organisations do not, and it is to their own detriment. It is important to bear in mind how ineffective management training can be in the absence of certain innate capabilities in a manager. However, all advantages gained from selecting a manager with the relevant capabilities will be thrown away if that manager is not subsequently regularly appraised and rewarded for using them appropriately, and is assured of training and development to keep those capabilities relevant.


Checklist of actions to be taken when a management post needs to be filled or re-thought, or the post-holder is to be appraised, developed or rewarded:
  1. Identify the wider goals of the organisation, decide what goals the holder of the post should be trying to achieve, considering as many alternative future scenarios as possible and the activities these are likely to involve. (Chapter 2)
  2. Specify the behaviours and input capabilities the post-holder needs to achieve the goals identified. To do this, consider
    1. The existing culture of the organisation/department/section. Do you want to reinforce it or change it? If you intend to change it, are you hiring/replacing/re-training sufficient and appropriately placed managers at the one time to do so, and are you putting into place the appropriate structural and procedural changes needed to back up the new or re-trained managers? In addition, how much does the post-holder her or himself need to know about organisational culture management? (Chapter 3)
    2. The structure of the organisation. At what level is the post at and what are the implications for the mix of conceptual and technical capabilities the post-holder needs to have? What knowledge does the post-holder need of the industrial sector within which the organisation is positioned, and the broader systems which operate throughout the organisation and the sector? (Chapter 4)
  3. How do you intend to avoid hiring or promoting a sociopath? (Chapters 5 and 7)
  4. How will you ensure that you choose a candidate for a management post with adequate people management skills, or the innate capability to be trained in such? (Chapters 5 and 7)
  5. What degree of maturity, flexibility, and ability to handle the unknown, the ambiguous and the complex does the post-holder require? Can the organisation, especially the post-holder's seniors, handle such a person? (Chapter 6)
  6. Ensure that procedures are in place so that any new manager is immediately lined up for development in any possible areas of weakness, and that his/her own manager regularly appraises and rewards them according to his/her deployment of the capabilities set out and tested for when that person was recruited. (All chapters)
  7. Regularly review the goals, activities, required behaviours and input capabilities required from any existing manager. This should be undertaken with the manager her/himself. Further development should be arranged as a priority if appropriate. (All chapters)


How Ken Wilber's 'AQAL' model has been applied in this book

As mentioned in Chapter 1, this book grew out of the application of Wilber's AQAL model ('AQAL' being short for 'all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states and all types') to management capabilities. The 'AQAL' model is part of Wilber's take on the philosophy of 'Integralism'. He has written many books on the topic, including 'A Theory of Everything' (2001).

The AQAL model is a type of 'meta-theory' that aims to identify and categorise all relevant aspects of any situation, and set out how those aspects relate to and affect each other.

Below I attempt to describe the AQAL model and then describe how I have used it in this book.

Ken Wilber includes several 'elements' in his AQAL model but the first element, known as the 'four quadrants', could be considered the foundation element, as all of the remaining elements can be mapped onto one or more of these four quadrants, (but not vice versa.) This is the element which I have used to structure this book.

Sean Esbjorn-Hargens describes these four quadrants as follows: “According to [AQAL] theory, there are at least four irreducible perspectives ... that must be consulted when attempting to fully understand any issue or aspect of reality.” In other words, there are at least four angles from which any situation should be examined in order to understand it fully. These aspects are:

  • a subjective perspective: the point of view from where 'I' am, i.e. I have thoughts, feelings and desires that are particular to me about a situation. This is also known in the AQAL model as the 'individual interior'.
  • inter-subjective: the shared point of view from where 'we' are, i.e. the thoughts, feelings and desires that are particular to us—the members of any particular group, community, organisation or society—about a situation. Also known as the 'collective interior'.
  • objective: impersonal, typically seen as the domain of modern science, where conclusions and experiments must be empirical and capable of being repeated. Also known as the 'individual exterior ' ; and
  • inter-objective: which is also impersonal, but concerned with several situations or phenomena interacting, rather than just the one situation or phenomenon. Also known as the 'collective exterior'.

Sean Esbjorn-Hargens uses a diagram to illustrate how each of those four 'perspectives' or quadrants as set out in the diagram below 'approaches' a dying fish in a lake.

Figure 1: The four quadrants of a dying fish in a lake, Esbjorn-Hargens 2009 p6

The quadrants have acquired short hand names: UL (upper left), LL (lower left), UR (upper right) and LR (lower right). This is the notation that will be used from this point onwards.

Turning now to the AQAL literature specifically on organisations (e.g. Edwards 2008; Divine 2009; Hunt 2009 and Esbjorn-Hargens 2010,) the UL has come to indicate the personal qualities of any individual working in an organisation, and the UR indicates individuals' behaviours and concrete achievements. The LR indicates the systems and structures that operate both within the organisation and between the organisation and its environment, and LL indicates the organisation's shared values and its overall attitude to change and learning.

The four quadrants have also been applied to the activities of leaders of organisations as follows:

Figure 2: adapted from Morris, 2009: The Four Quadrants Applied to Leadership

However, I would suggest that the capabilities listed in the LL and LR of this diagram should all in fact be represented in the UL, as they are all actually capabilities that only an individual (in this case 'a leader'), can have. This is not to dismiss collective management capabilities, which I shall return to again below.

On the other hand, although most the capabilities desired in its managers as individuals by an organisation are by definition only going to fall into the two upper, individual quadrants, the selection of exactly which capabilities are to be included is likely to be heavily influenced by the conditions and circumstances applying in the two lower collective quadrants i.e. the culture, structure and systems in place within that organisation. For example, an organisation with a culture, structure and processes associated with high performance working (as defined by the CIPD, 2005) may well specify good interpersonal skills as an 'input' capability in any new managers it takes on.

Further thought on this might conclude that every quadrant influences every other quadrant. The four quadrants 'tetra-arise' or develop together, as individual attitudes in the UL and individual behaviours in the UR in turn feed back into the collective cultures and structures of the LL and LR. It was part of my intention in this book to consider how this 'tetra-arising' might be happening in the workplace.

There is one last consideration here, to which the two lower, collective quadrants specifically draw our attention. Organisations usually hire individuals as managers rather than groups or teams, but many organisations have occasion to select management consultants, or decide to whom to outsource management. These two options will as much involve a choice, conscious or otherwise, of particular capabilities as selecting one individual does. Furthermore it is not unusual for whole groups or teams of managers to be put through development or assessment centres, again based on desirable management capabilities. It is accepted that a team's performance can be better or worse than the sum of the performance of its members and one of things that a selector might be looking for is that the team as a whole has the ability to cover all the roles necessary for success .

Returning to Figure 2 and the consideration of the four quadrants as a whole, one can also see how each quadrant can fulfil another function, and that is concerning the areas of knowledge and skill that each quadrant indicates a manager (or leader) might usefully have. In this way the four quadrants can act as a useful 'checklist', (which is how I've used them in this book). For example: Does the manager understand the different values and attitudes that individuals can have, and how best to develop each employee's knowledge and skills (UL)? Do they have the ability to successfully performance manage individuals (UR)? Do they understand the organisation's environment, its industrial sector, its internal systems and structures and operate successfully within them (LR)? Do they understand how to manage and develop organisational culture (LL)?

The other two elements of the AQAL model explored in this book are those of 'levels of development' and 'lines of development'. Along with the 'four quadrants' element these have warranted the most attention from Integralist writers concerned with organisations.

There is what seems to be an unlimited number of developmental lines, each of which run through several stages, or levels, also referred to as altitudes, of development or complexity. Each level is more complex than the one before and includes it.

These lines are present in all of the four quadrants. I have concentrated particularly on the developmental lines in the UL and LL quadrants, but Table 3 shows how these developmental levels extrapolate into the UR and LR quadrants.

The individual's stage of development is a concern of the UL quadrant, not the LL, but as we have already noted when talking about the four quadrants above, the two are inextricably linked, any collective being made up of a number of individuals

Relating the LL to the UL, Ken Wilber has stated (2006) that a culture is simply a reflection of the stage at which the predominant number of people within that stage are at personally. However, most writers on organisational culture, (such as Charles Handy 1993,) are of the opinion that an organisation's culture is affected by more than simply the individuals within it, e.g. the industrial sector within which it operates, the context etc.—in other words, the LR quadrant! And while all members of an organisation shape its dominant culture, it is often the senior managers that determine the overall culture of the organisation, as they have the most power. In view of earlier remarks concerning the 'tetra-arising' of all four quadrants together, one must not forget that organisational cultures will in turn have a significant influence on which people it chooses to become senior managers.

As regards the development of individuals (UL quadrant) the work of Jean Piaget with children is probably best known (see Piaget 1969, Evans 1973). One of his students, Laurence Kohlberg, conducted a study over more than 20 years of the development of moral reasoning in both children and adults (Kohlberg 1981).

Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)

1. Obedience and punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?)

2. Self-interest orientation (What's in it for me?)

Level 2 (Conventional)

3. Interpersonal accord and conformity (Social norms) (The good boy/good girl attitude)

4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation (Law and order morality)

Level 3 (Post-Conventional)

5. Social contract orientation

6. Universal ethical principles (Principled conscience)

As we saw in Chapter 6, Robert Kegan (1982) has also developed a model of stages that the individual goes through, but his model continues these well into adulthood. These stages are based on an individual objectifying (i.e. stepping back from) the experiences they formerly perceived as subjective (part of themselves, of their identity) and thereby moving on a stage.

Robert Kegan himself draws correlations between his own and Piaget's developmental stages, Kolhberg's moral stages (1981), Loevinger's stages of ego development (1976) and Maslow's 'hierarchy of needs' (1954). He compares this with the 'life phase' literature of Levinson (1978), Neugarten (1968), Sheehy (1976), and Vaillant (1977). For example, while Daniel Levinson is aware that individuals of the same age do differ markedly in their ways of making sense of the world, he puts this down to “personality, social structure, gender, social roles, major life events, [and] biology” (ibid, p43, cited in Kegan 1994, p 181). Robert Kegan considers that Daniel Levinson, among others, has left out the most important factor, that of “the order of consciousness, the complexity of the individual's way of knowing” (ibid, p181).

Jane Loevinger (1976), Bill Torbert (2004), and Susanne Cook-Greuter (1994) are also concerned with matching a manager's stage of what they refer to as 'ego' development with different levels of management responsibility.

Ken Wilber includes all these models of individual developmental stages in the UL quadrant of his AQAL model and, most importantly, considers that an individual can be at one level in his or her development along one line, while being at a different level on another. For example, he or she might be at a fairly advanced stage in their intellectual development, but at a less advanced stage in their moral development. A person might be at different stages for every aspect of their development—cognitive, affective, interpersonal, self -identity, leadership readiness, and so on (Wilber 2007). However, the ontological status of 'lines of development' (e.g. 'cognitive', 'affective') has been questioned. In recent Integralist online discussions concerning this Tom Murray wrote “Some developmentalists indicate that differentiating human capacities into separate skills or lines is largely artificial… [C]omplex human social tasks/contexts such as communication, parenting and leadership have…overlapping characteristics such that the skills developed to meet those needs should be expected to be equally interdependent and difficult to separate.” (, 2009). In my own experience, however, an individual's cognitive development can sometimes be rather more advanced than other UL functions, that is, people can understand a concept intellectually long before its implications are translated through into their moral or affective development, or into actual behaviours (UR).

To summarise an overview of the book, using AQAL terminology:

Chapter 2 is concerned with ensuring that those selecting, training, appraising and rewarding managers are aware of the difference between the UL quadrant (input capabilities) and the UR quadrant (behaviour capabilities, activities and goals),

Chapter 3 concerns the LL quadrant (organisational culture) and the developmental lines within it.

Chapter 4 mainly concerns the LR quadrant (organisational and industrial structure and systems) and Table3 sets out the developmental levels for both the UR and the LR quadrants.

Chapter 5 returns to the UL and UR quadrants and how they inter-relate

Chapter 6 looks specifically at developmental levels within the UL quadrant.

Chapter 7 is an overview of all four quadrants from an HR perspective.

Finally, I have to add that there is now, inevitably, a meta-integral movement, particularly concerned with addressing the shortcomings of the AQAL model, and the deep application ('praxis') of meta-integralism to everyday concerns. As well as the writings of Ken Wilber, the work and models of Roy Bhaskar and Edgar Morin are considered particularly important. For those who would like to look further into this, I would recommend you look at websites such as . The academics among you may appreciate Sean Esbjorn-Hargens introduction to the Integral Theory Conference in 2013, setting out the 'story so far', and the basics of Meta-Integral.


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[1] Both effective and successful managers spend a lot of time communicating. Effective managers do it with their staff, and successful managers network.

[2] 'Trans-rationality' accepts there are some things which are true, but which we do not yet understand and which do not seem to make sense. Quantum physics is often seen as an example.

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