Integral for Business Leaders: Vertical Leadership Development

Six ways Integral helps organizations today

In April-May 2012 a group of 12 business-leaders from Russia, Lithuania and Ukraine set out for what was called an «Integral Journey». The 17-day trip Hawaii – San-Francisco – Boulder Colorado was organized by Dana Carman and the Coaching Institute of Saint-Petersburg team.

One sunny morning the group visited Ken Wilber at his loft in Denver. Among others there were two statements that Ken made that personally touched me the most. Here’s the first one:

“all key world problems of today share two characteristics – they are both global and fatal”.

One: can not be resolved by any particular country alone. Two: if not resolved leads to extinction of humanity and severe damage for the planet in 40-50 years perspective.

Ken’s second thought was: “The wave of integral consciousness (that is needed to resolve those problems) is coming our way and we are here to sell surfboards”.

We clearly see these two phenomena in life of organizations today. There is big wave of demand for teal leadership and integrally informed solutions. What is amazing – you can distinctively see this wave in a small private company in Irkutsk in Siberia and you can see it at global corporation’s headquarters in Brussels. This wave shows up in a startup in Saint-Petersburg and it is there when you enter the office of a state-owned company in Moscow.

If you want to use the Integral approach for helping companies address the challenges of today it is important to see this wave. Here are some ways that we observe this wave in conversations with business-leaders.  

Vertical leadership development

brain-998996_640CEO of a large international production company: “The game has changed. We are navigating in chaos. Critical changes happen every month. I like it. It feels like a dynamic and challenging game for me. And my top-managers need to feel secure “knowing the strategic plan for 3 years”.

Leaders of today are in over their heads (1). They face challenges that can not be resolved at the level of consciousness that created them (2). They need “bigger minds” capable of dealing with V.U.C.A (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) times.  

That’s why CCL (Center for Creative Leadership) called vertical leadership development future trend number 1 in leadership training (3).

Organizational change initiatives

«Organizational change is a new way of living. The IT market evolves very fast. New disruptive trends come every year. New segments are born – old ones disappear.  The only thing we can do to cope with this pace is

create a field of even more dynamic evolution within our company.

Make mistakes. Learn our lessons. Reframe, reimagine, iterate and reiterate our products, management practices and the business-model itself» says the owner and CEO of an international IT company.

With this pace and depth of change leaders need to take into account many dimensions of the situation. They need to apply the whole AQAL approach (all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all types, all states) to the many holons they engage with – the global economy, their industries, their markets, their companies, their teams and themselves.

According to Bill Torbert’s studies (4) you need to be at least at teal (Strategist action logic) to manage this kind of change effectively. And only 4 percent of leaders operate at this level.

Strategy planning and deployment

chess-316658_640“Today trust goes strategic. Frankly, I don’t so much care which strategy we will choose (although it is also important) if our people believe in it and are ready to implement it” – CEO of a successful international bank in Russia.

100% of all strategy development and deployment projects we do are not only about creating strategy. They take into account and work with realms like top-team alignment, the right rhythm of strategy review and iteration process, making strategy a cultural fit for different layers of the company, working with the CEO and key people’s views of the strategy, inner resistance and organizational shadow that may influence the strategy.

More and more what companies want is a holistic AQAL approach to strategy development, that takes into account and masterfully engages all those different factors.

Creating healthy cultures

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – said Peter Drucker – “operations excellence for lunch and everything else for dinner” added Bill Aulet.

There are very many projects centered around developing strong and healthy company culture. Culture seems to be a «soft» topic, but great projects for cultural change and development involve a lot of hard stuff like changing the organizational structure and management system, revising strategy, altering existing KPIs and so on.  This multidimensional approach to working with culture needs to take into account all aspects of the AQAL model.

Working with people engagement

According to Gallup 70% of American workers are disengaged at work (5). The epidemic of loosing meaning at work and the great demand to regain it is swiping the planet.

Many programs on raising engagement become fruitless efforts to entertain people while real engagement as we see in cases like Buurtzorg’s (described in Frederic Laloux «Reinventing organizations») (6)  comes from creating organizations where people get the meaning of their work back while no one is trying to entertain them.

Integral coaching

Integral coaching methods are in great demand in the arena of executive coaching today.

“They say the fish rots from the head. I think it grows from the head as well. Today I have no question to grow or not to grow. The minute I stop growing my company stops growing. And I’m not talking just about getting new skills and knowledge.

Leadership today is a process of a constant self-transformation”

– CEO of a construction company Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

Bottom line

Speaking from many years of experience in organizational consulting and executive coaching we can say that the time for integral organizational solutions has come. The wave is here today. Let’s meet at the IEC to share real-life cases, deep question and insights about it.

Phillip Guzenuk, Coaching Institute of Saint-Petersburg


(1) «In over our heads: mental demands of modern life» by Robert Kegan

(2) “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. Albert Einstein

(3) CCL «Future trends in leadership development» white paper

(4) Seven transformations of leadership

(5) Gallup «State of the American Workplace» report:

(6) Frederic Laloux «Reinventing organizations»

Contribution at IEC:

Integral Breakthrough in Vertical Leadership Development: 5 real-life case studies of organizational transformation in Russia, Europe and USA in 2015 . What works, what doesn’t?


Presenters: Phillip Guzenuk, Dana Carman, Jesse McKay
Phillip, Jesse, and Dana are bringing a fresh, playful, co-creative approach. This workshop honors the most useful and profound paradoxes related to human development and its organizational implications/applications.

Jesse McKay and Dana Carman

Phillip Guzenuk

Outline of the contribution:

  • Setting the stage: living into and co-creating the life-and-business-case for Vertical Development
  • Meeting the characters: brief hugs with all the main stages of leadership development
  • The main journey: embracing all the light and shadow of each action-logic looking through the eyes of the Strategist
  • The epilogue: hard staff – numbers, figures, use-cases, and creative stuff – drawing the mandala of your Vertical leadership Development program for yourself your company, your community.

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