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Fresh Perspectives: Exploring the World of Integral Leadership

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This article is taken from the January Issue of the Integral leadership Review. A Conversation with Jay Davies and Russ Volckmann

Russ: Jay Davies, you’re with Integral Development in Perth, Western Australia and the company is led by Ron Cacioppe and works in government, business and NGOs.

Jay: Yes, that’s right. Not for profit organizations, as well as top end businesses here in Perth, and also government organizations.

Russ: What is your role?

Jay: My role is in three parts. The most important is as the coordinator and research assistant for the Global Integral Leadership Study. The second part is facilitating teamwork with groups or dysfunctional teams to assist them get to a higher level of team development. The third part is executive coaching this involves doing 1-on-1 coaching with clients and providing them feedback on an Integral 360º profile.

Russ: I understand that as a coach you have a unique background in sports.

Jay: Yes, that’s right. My life before integral development was as an elite swimming coach. That was a career that spanned over 15 years. It started when I was doing a Master’s in Biomechanics. That led me into coaching elite athletes, elite swimmer’s specifically. I started in Western Australia and then moved to the Northern Territory Institute of Sport, which is a very remote area of Australia. I set up the swimming program there which involved a lot of travel also working with aboriginal children. This was such a luxury, because they had quite a different approach to learning new skills. It was extraordinary to watch and be part of. From the Northern Territory I moved to the New South Wales Institute of Sport and was the manager for swimming there. I came back to Western Australia and was the Program Manager for swimming at the Institute. I also was involved in performance analysis so I got to really use my biomechanics there and work with some exceptional elite athletes and coaches in helping them along the path to breaking a world record. That was very exciting.

Russ: You use the term “elite athletes.” Does that refer to Olympic competitors?

Jay: Yes their aim was to make the Olympic team. In 2004 from Western Australia we managed to get eight athletes on the Olympic team. This allowed me to go to the Olympics in Athens and watch their progress. It was an extraordinary opportunity.

Russ: You use the term “biomedical engineering,” is that right?

Jay: No, “biomechanics.”

Russ: Biomechanics, okay. That may be a term as unfamiliar to others as it is to me. Could you tell us a little of what that means?

Jay: Biomechanics is looking at the very fine detail of technical corrections. For instance, I was working with Jim Piper, who went on to break a commonwealth record. I was not his head coach; I’d come in as a specialist I helped refine his stroke in small technical changes. That might mean his approach to the wall, how he would actually turn off the wall, or to get a smoother stroke. The right technical change had to be made that would get the right improvement to help make the stroke the most efficient it could be. Given that gold medals are won and lost by one one-hundredth of a second, it was pretty exciting to make positive change to the stroke. That’s where I came in—to assist the head coach on what changes to make that I could see through my evaluation and knowledge of the technique.

Russ: Does that suggest then that you are particularly sensitive to kinesthetic dynamics even when you are coaching in the world of business and organizations?

Jay: Absolutely! Details are very important to me, but also looking at the bigger picture. So it includes taking in the whole, all the information you can see at the time, and then trying to identify the most critical aspect that needs to change. It includes making sure you change the right thing first. This is very important both in the technical aspect of a swimmer’s technique and in business. Making change for the sake of change doesn’t create improvement in the long term necessarily. I haven’t thought about it like that before but I definitely apply the same principals in business.

Russ: I’m aware that Integral Development has an Integral Leadership and Management model, a four cell model drawn from Wilber’s approach: What is involved in each of the four quadrants in the model?

Jay: The four quadrants are divided into people leadership, top left, which is looking at the heart and wellbeing of the people. Then the bottom left, is the visionary innovative leadership that is concerned with the spirit and culture of the organization. Then the top right, is the performance management- the hands or how efficiency the organization is and this is often measured in terms of tasks, timelines and responsibilities. And then the bottom right quadrant is the strategic goal management-the head or how effective the organization is in terms of its strategic planning. Then at the very center is the core, this is the authentic self, the individual getting in touch with who they truly are and their role in the world and what it is they are here to do.

The second segment of our Integral Leadership Model includes the levels of development of the sense of self of leaders, similar to Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics.

Russ: Would you give an example of an approach, a methodology, of how you go about working with clients the upper left quadrant? The heart.

Jay: A good example is when a client does a 360º coaching session incorporating emotional intelligence. We are really working with the heart and emotions of the individual in terms of their relationships. This particular 360 allows the coach to see the strengths and weaknesses of the client in terms of the five aspects of emotional intelligence, which includes how they relate to other people in the organization, as well as reflecting on how they manage their own emotions in their working relationships.

Russ: The assessment is an intervention in itself. If you find that there’s someone who is wanting to attend to something in the people leadership area of the model, would you do that primarily through coaching or is there something else that you would do?

Jay: There are three primary ways I have addressed the people leadership quadrant and that is through 360 coaching, using the Integral Team Effectiveness Measure (ITEM) and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. The ITEM measures the team in terms of the four quadrants and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator improves the individual relationships through understanding individual personality types. So when the people leadership quadrant scores the lowest on average, you address the issues as to why this is occurring as a team and facilitate actions that can affect immediate change. Invariably though it is impossible to omit the authentic self and the role the ego plays in the relationships we have with others.

Russ: So it’s coaching that leads then to working with them on the relationships they have with others. That applies on the heart side. What about on the right hand side – the performance management side? How would you work with that?

Jay: We look specifically at performance management in terms of performance reviews. We coach leaders on how to better deal with good and poor performance. Also how to manage conflict, deal with difficult conversations specifically in performance management reviews. This quadrant is also about monitoring the progress of individuals, other processes like staff meetings, utilizing resources efficiently, managing supplier’s costs and efficiencies through quality management and standards. It’s about up-skilling leaders to be better at tasks and time management, with the long term aim of having a more efficient the organization.

Russ: What about at the level of spirit—“visionary innovative leadership?” What is the nature of the intervention there?

Jay: Creating personal and organizational visions gets bantered around a lot in leadership literature but it’s about being really authentic – again, it taps into the authentic self of how you make your vision real. And how do you make it tangible, and how do you create that spirit within the organization. So it’s challenging organizations to not just have their visions written in documents and stored in a file, it’s actually making them long-lasting, and making them an inspiration at the core of the organization.

Russ: How would that differ? Work on spirit and vision, innovative leadership? How would that differ from strategic goal management—the head part of the model?

Jay: Strategic goal management is far more tangible and specific. For instance, you look at the strategic objectives and business priorities. It involves implementing systems that can make business more effective and the areas you’re going to focus on, and what’s really going to affect your bottom line. The vision and the spirit has to match very closely with your strategic goal management. The bottom left is the unwritten ground rules of the organization. It’s the culture, it’s far more intangible. But it’s something that you can definitely sense when you go into any business. So it’s making people really aware of that, and challenging them on what their unwritten ground rules are? What are the things that are said in the corridors? What are the things that are said after meetings? Your bottom right quadrant will be the things that are written down in documents that you are accountable to, but the bottom left is the essence of your organization, the driving force that you don’t always see but you know exists.

Russ: It’s interesting that the two left hand quadrants use the term “leadership” and the two right hand quadrants use the term “management.” I would assume that’s quite intentional.

Jay: Yes, absolutely! The left hand side of the model focuses on the relationships and the two types of leadership required at the individual level and the organizational level. The right hand side of the model focuses on managing the results and this is more about the systems and tasks required at the individual and organizational level. Both sides of the model need to be address to achieve a balanced score card. This is in line with the research by John Kotter and Robert Quinn, Kotter on Leadership Management and Quinn on competing values. Ron Cacioppe integrated these as he saw how well they fit into the Integral framework.

Russ: As part of your role, you have already mentioned that you have undertaken some travels that have involved you in interviewing people in management leadership roles both in Australia, the UK and the United States. I’ve provided the list, you’ve interviewed eight people, and your intention is to interview more. But I’d like to hear about what was your intention in going to these three different parts of the world and talking to people about leadership.

  • Ray Anderson, Chairperson, InterfaceFLOR Carpets, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tim Munden, Vice president for Human Resources, Unilever Americas, Chicago
  • Dennis Littky, Co-Director, Founder, The Big Picture Company, Providence, Rhode Island
  • Jim Ostijich, Deputy Director General, Industry Development, Department of Industry & Resources, Perth, Western Australia
  • Pamela Hartigan, Co-Founder and MD, Volans Ventures and Schwab Foundation, London
  • Tim Boddy, Executive Director, Global Investment Research, Global Investment Bank, London
  • Bill Fox, Headmaster, Philosophy Day School, New York City
  • Robb Smith, CEO Integral Institute, Boulder, Colorado

Jay: The intention is to take integral theory and the best of leadership and management advice that’s out there or in the literature and bring the two together, along with Eastern and Western philosophy, and come up with a term called integral leadership. Defining that is our biggest challenge at the moment. We think it can be defined in the four quadrants. The key purpose of this study is to say that integral leadership is the way of leading for the 21st century. It’s a stepping stone from Good to Great, that fantastic book by Jim Collins that talks about exceptional level 5 leaders. We’re suggesting there’s more to leadership than being a level 5 leader, and that is being an integral leader.

Russ: You interviewed these eight people. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the kinds of things you were asking them and what you were finding. One of the first areas had to do with vision and challenges, both personal and organizational. What was the purpose behind asking about that?

Jay: We tried to have our interview questions evenly balanced throughout the four quadrants. We looked at visionary, their company vision, but we were also particularly interested in how their personal vision complemented their work vision. We seemed to find there was always a close correlation between the two. Their personal vision and what they aspired to do or their life path, was very similar to what they were doing in their organizations. That was a key finding: they held a vision in themselves in how they go about their work and what they did. They actually breathe the vision into everything they do in their daily work, in their home and in their community. Vision represented a life path more than just a job that they did.

Russ: Can you give an example of that?

Jay: A good example would be Ray Anderson at InterfaceFlor, one of the biggest carpet companies in the world. His vision by 2020 is to have a completely sustainable organization and reach “mission zero”—where the company has no negative footprint on the earth. Given the fact that tons of carpet ends up in landfill every year—to be specific it’s about 2.3 million tons ends up as waste. So the essence is to recycle the carpet but produce no waste in the process. To do that, they are converting their plants to run using renewable resources, they’re in the process of taking one of their plants off the grid completely. This has never been done before in manufacturing industry. Ray describes his vision as leading the next industrial revolution in terms of the way we see the world, in the way that we create and make things and the way we consume. With this vision, he went about his business on a day-to-day basis getting people to come on the path with him. Everyone, when he started out 14 years ago, thought he was slightly crazy. Some people left InterfaceFLOR. But now they are a leading company in terms of being sustainable and profitable through this vision—a 25-year vision.

Russ: I understand that there’s a woman who was walking across the floor of the plant at one point, and had quite an unusual experience there. Is that right?

Jay: Yes, that’s correct. This is a story that Ray told me. Companies conducted workshops at InterfaceFLOR. One of the women in a particular workshop was quite skeptical of the whole concept of sustainability and Mission Zero. During the morning tea break she went across to the bathroom and had walk across the factory floor. As she was coming back she engaged a fork lift driver and out of curiosity she had stopped and asked, “What do you do here?” And he said, “Oh, ma’am, I’m saving the world.” And she said, “Oh, right, could you explain that a little further for me?” And he said, “I would love to talk to you, but while I’m talking to you I’m actually wasting energy and increasing our impact on the environment. So I need to get this roll of carpet over to that machine so that I can keep the process going, because our process is very important and so is minimizing our waste. I have to go, I’m sorry.” And off he went. She was completely dumbfounded. It was a life changing moment for her. She went back into the workshop a new person, because she realized that there on the factory floor, these people were living the vision. They lived it and breathed it because they could see how their role impacted the vision. Ray called it “Love on the factory floor”.

Russ: That’s an amazing story about the degree to which that vision seems to have penetrated into the organization. Another area that you alluded to earlier had to do with difficult situations and difficult people. Does this go in the upper left quadrant?

Jay: What we were looking for there was how these leaders dealt with difficult situations and difficult people. It also touches into authentic self. It is about how they really understand their own behavior in the conversations that they have? An amazing answer came from Tim Munden. He is the Vice President of HR for Unilever Americas. When we asked him these questions, his comment was quite profound. He asks, “From what point of view does this look right?” He uses that as his mindset when he’s in difficult situations, or difficult conversations with people. The long and short of that is when he’s in a tough situation, he always tries to think, “From what point of view would this look right for this person for them to make this decision?”

He made a comment about the terrorists of the world, “Look, we’ve got to understand where they’re coming from. We should spend time with those people that annoy and frustrate us the most, because it is only then that we’ll learn the most about who we are and what annoys us. Therefore, we will be more tolerant of what goes on in the world. It doesn’t mean that we condone what people do, like a terrorist, but it does suggest that we understand where it is they are coming from. From what point of view does this look right to them for them to make this decision or to be behaving in this way?” That was really quite an amazing moment to hear his explanation. It really changes your mindset on how you see difficult people in the workplace.

Russ: I would imagine in organizational context this relates closely to the idea of empathy and emotional intelligence. Is that right?

Jay: Yes, it does. Emotional intelligence is definitely a part of that. It’s the ability or the awareness to take your thoughts out of yourself and to really understand other people.

Russ: A kind of social awareness. A third area of your explorations had to do with leadership and leadership development. What was is it that you had in mind in that arena?

Jay: It was looking at how these leaders took the time out to develop other people around them. It was a test to see where the ego was sitting. If they are very attached to their role and their ego, then they are not going to be planning for people to come up through the organization.

It was very lovely to see these leaders were really about serving. That came up a lot. They were there to serve others. While they might have been in a leadership role, they just went out of their way to make sure that they gave others an opportunity to grow and to achieve their highest level in the organization. This was done through a lot of one-on-one informal coaching. It was just a part of their day—“How do I get the best out of this person?”

When I asked Pamela Hartigan, she said, “Well, it’s about getting the best out of every person I come in contact with every part of my day.” That was definitely a theme. The humility that came out that constantly throughout the interview was quite remarkable.

Russ: Then there’s also the piece about “present moment and self awareness.” This is closely related to the whole consciousness arena of integral. And I’m wondering what you were exploring there?

Jay: Well, it taps into the deeper aspects of connectedness of the Integral Model. An example that we had here was when we interviewed Tim Boddy from Global Investment banking company. He had just experienced “Meltdown Monday.” when we interviewed him at 5:30 p.m. He came in and his first comment at the beginning of the interview was “Do you realize what happened today?”

We said, “No, we have no idea. We’ve been in transit, and arrived at 5:00 A.M. We’ve been sleeping and now we’re here.”

He said, “Well, what happened today will change the way people view money and credit across the world. Our major competitor, Lehman Brothers, has just declared bankruptcy. Approximately 500,000 jobs are expected to be lost across the UK. The Bank of England is saying, they’ll have to invest 20 billion ponds to keep things afloat. It’s been claimed to be one of the worst days in history—the worst financial days in history since the Great Depression.” And he said, “Oh, by the way, do you mind if I keep my mobile phone on? My wife is expecting our third child today.”

That’s how he started the interview. And so then to sit with this person who sat on the trading floor and had seen millions and millions of pounds disappear, to be so calm and so in the moment with us, so present—we almost didn’t need to ask the question about being in the present moment, because his example, was exactly that. That was, again, something that we found across the interviews: these people were present and they worked very hard and continuously in being in the present moment.

Russ: I would imagine your background in Biomechanics would give you some insights into what you were seeing.

Jay: Yes! I think being present is critical. It’s probably more my training with elite athletes. One thing that was quite a mind-shift work for me as an elite swimming coach was that we often would train athletes to be positive with positive self-talk, going through their race plans and mentally training for the event. We would go even to the point of having them do hypnosis where they’d visualize their event and see the time that they would achieve at the end. A lot of time was spent keeping their mind busy about what they were doing.

When we asked Tim Munden about his present mind and self-talk, his comment was that was all self-talk is negative. I sort of sat in this interview and thought, “Wow, that shifts the way I think!” When I think about that, that positive self-talk sets us up for failure, I realize that I need to be still and see what arises in the moment. That was a very interesting time for me, to get my head around that, given my training with elite athletes.

Russ: That’s actually quite surprising to me as well. I’ve done a fair amount of work with clients about visualizing and the like, it always seemed to me like it was a really useful exercise, not because it was going to train them to accomplish a certain thing, but that it’s going to give them a mindset when they are in the moment to be looking for the opportunities to realize what’s important to them.

Well, then another area had to do with actions regarding the natural environment and in a sense you’ve referred to that already with the carpet company. Is there something beyond that that you want to comment on here?

Jay: Yes. I think what part of integral leadership is that there is a global view. There’s a concern for the impact a business has on the environment and how these leaders awareness of that transcends through their organization. InterfaceFlor is an amazing example of being so conscious and so aware.

One of the key things that we found is that it was an equalizer across the organization, in that it dissipated the hierarchy. When you’ve got a global company and are dealing with a lot of different cultures, it keeps everyone completely grounded, because it is every person’s responsibility in their daily actions, in their home life, with the friends they interacted with, to keep influencing and keep giving the same messages and maintain people’s awareness of what they were doing. One woman showed us around at Interface. She told us that she had said to her 4-year-old son that morning, “Darling, I’m going to be home late tonight.” He turned to his mom and said, “That’s all right Mommy. You’re saving the world. I’ll see you when you get home.”

It is just that true belief that what they are doing is significant, that they are trying to set an example to the rest of the world, that there is an alternative way for business, and there is a way to do business in the future that is environmentally friendly, that does reduce the impact, that does look for alternatives and that reduces the greed and the demand for materialism that we have.

Russ: Was this a criteria by which you selected the people you interviewed? That they be in companies that were already actively engaged with attending to the natural environment?

Jay: No. It wasn’t part of the criteria, but it was something that we believed to be important for an integral leader in that you need to have an awareness and you need to be making positive change in that area.

Russ: You found this consistently across all the interviews?

Jay: I wouldn’t say to the same degree. The awareness was definitely there. There were those that we interviewed at Interface who were clearly at the higher end of this in terms of the score. So we would ask on a scale of 1 to 10 what is your company’s impact on the natural environment? On a scale of 1 to 10 what do you actually do about it in your workplace? And then, on a personal level, what do you do on a day-to-day basis that shows your concern for the environment in the way you conduct yourself? There were definitely variations in that.

Russ: Another area has to do with spirit, I suppose—the experience of something greater. How did you approach that?

Jay: Well, the specific question I asked was, “What is your understanding of or your experience of something “greater?” Would you like to give examples of where you felt there was something more than just the ‘self?” This question was a bit of a surprise in that we don’t normally go into this area in terms of our leadership. But there was a general theme across all the leaders in that there was a belief that there is something greater out there and that they are part of it. They are an integral part of it. What they are doing is important to the bigger picture of why we’re here.

Russ: And what kinds of things did you discover?

Jay: That there was a certainty that there was something greater. Their humility was definitely part of this feeling of something greater, and a feeling of this spiritual world, or inter-connectedness. They came about it in different ways for different individuals. Whether it was Tim Boddy, who experienced these moments of inter-connectedness on the training floor or walking in nature; or for Pamela Hartigan, who spent time in her garden where she would completely lose herself and lose sense of time, where she was so present that it was dissolved into something bigger; or Ray Anderson by just being completely in the moment and being touched by a certain feeling; or Tim Munden who explained how he’d get to places, at times with complete guidance. Tim ended up in Chicago, for instance, and working with Unilever and Lucca leadership. A serendipity occurred about how he got to where he is today. Dennis Littky talked about walking in New York at night and having the realization that he is a part of something greater. The humility in that was quite profound.

Russ: The final area then that you’ve indicated that you’ve had questions around, was leadership in the future. What is that about?

Jay: It involves looking at how these people perceive the future of leadership and what it is that they are most concerned about. Some of the key things that they felt is needed was that these people needed to manage difficult people in difficult situations and they needed to be completely authentic. In their daily business, it was about “doing well by doing good.”

They needed to manage their self-talk and be in the moment. They needed to have an inspiring vision that people would be attracted to. There were these sort of things that came out. Each of the leaders that we spoke to had characteristics or different aspects of these. And also that if we’re going to have a good future, then we need to really get in touch with what’s in our heart and to follow what’s our true calling. It appeared that these leaders were all following their natural calling, they are here for a purpose and they are part of something greater. To be a truly integral leader you need to make sure that’s what you’re following. That you’re true to yourself to your authentic self.

Russ: I really like the statement, “Everyone is an integral leader during moments when inspired, and when inspiring others to do well and do good.” That really captures the snapshot of leading. That it’s a dynamic process in a system, where different people move in and out of leader roles. And that no one is a leader 24-7.

Jay: There’s hope for all of us! (Laughter) We can all be leaders. It’s definitely not a black and white thing. Integral leadership is fluid. And yes, you move in and out of it. Some days you do great and other days you don’t, but you always have that opportunity to try again. You do your best that day to serve others and to make sure that what you’re doing is really right.

Russ: So where do you go from here? You’ve talked with eight people from three different countries. What’s next?

Jay: This is just the tip of the iceberg for us. This was just a pilot study. We need to go back and reassess our methodology and selection criteria and find more integral leaders. A general theme is that they’re very humble in the way they go about their business. They’re not the charismatic type with their names up in lights. So finding them is hard work. We hope now to interview Australians, so we’re looking at conducting 10 interviews here in the next 6 months. The second half of next year we will go back overseas. We need to visit Asia and Europe and find leaders in these cultures. We have a long-term view of writing a book and producing a DVD of our findings of the interviews.

We would like to invite people to contact us if they know of leaders in their organizations that they feel have Integral characteristics. They are really in the present moment, have an inspiring vision, are authentic and have a global world view in their business. Please let us know, because it’s not restricted to anyone. We’re looking for not-for-profit government and also corporate leaders.

Russ: I think it’s great. I hope that the readers of Integral Leadership Review are responsive. Can we include the contact information for you?

Jay: Yes that would be great. [See below-RV]

Russ: There’s a quote that I’ve seen in your materials that goes like this: “World class leaders are 10 times more likely to experience ‘a perfectly peaceful state’ in which the mind is awake, but still, an awareness beyond the boundaries of thought.” What is that about?

Jay: That’s the essence of being an integral leader—that you’re truly in the moment and truly present. You’re responding to the need.

Russ: With an awareness beyond the boundaries of thought you are in tune with a lot more than just what’s going on in your mind?

Jay: There’s an interconnectedness. It’s saying there is something greater than the self and you are totally connected with That. If you are in the moment, you will respond accordingly.

Russ: I want you to know how much I deeply appreciate your sharing such, I think, very valuable information with the readers of Integral Leadership Review.

Jay: Thank you very much for the opportunity. It has been a pleasure.

*****************************

Jay Davies, Integral Development’s consultant specialising in facilitation and team development, holds both bachelors and masters degrees in science and a postgraduate diploma in human resource management and industrial relations, is an accredited Integral 360° Leadership Coach, and has fifteen years experience in coaching and managing teams in the areas of leadership and facilitation, strategic planning, negotiation and dispute resolution. Additionally, Jay is an accredited administrator of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Having successfully coached and managed Australian Olympic swimmers, Jay brings to her work a strong emphasis on high performance and strategies for success. During her time with Integral Development Jay has facilitated workshops with the Department of Corrective Services, the Bethanie Group, Clayton Utz, the Department of Health and the Western Australian Institute of Sport.

Currently, Jay is facilitating and conducting, in cooperation with Dr. Ron Cacioppe, a research study. The aim of the research is to demonstrate a more satisfying, meaningful, fulfilling and authentic way to lead, and the project is being conducted on behalf of the not-for-profit organisation Integral Institute Australasia, in cooperation with the University of Western Australia Business School.

If you would like further information on this project, email Jay Davies jay@integral.org.au.

Jonah Cacioppe

Jonah holds a BA from Curtin University and an MSA from Sydney University. He is a Director of Integral Development and has been involved in the design, administration and running of leadership and management programs over the last 12 years.

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