The Leadership Development Profile

This profile contains information designed to offer you developmental perspectives about yourself and how you operate as a leader.

How valid and reliable is the Leadership Development Profile?

Continuing the LDF with a real report

In this issue, we continue to look at the developmental stages of leaders utilizing the Leadership Development Profile1 created by Suzanne Cooke-Greuter2 and Bill Torbert3. In my work, I use a variety of assessment tools, including development assessments, to get a sense of what is the primary frame of perception driving the executive. Often, when given a developmental view, it enables the client to sense a new way of being that might be possible.

Using the work of Harthill Consulting, the base for the work of Bill Torbert, we will explore adult development and the creation of action logics that depict each stage of development. In the prior issue, we explored the alchemist action logic. In this issue, we will include a sample report.

I encourage the readers to consider client situations and/or self reflect on how you might use a particular action logic as your meaning-making perceptual window to life.4

Refresher of the Nine Action Logics and their Dynamics

The Leadership Development Framework describes nine sequential changes in how a person interprets events, or makes meaning. Research and our extensive experience confirms that most people develop the Action Logics in the order presented.

Once an Action Logic has been assimilated it remains a part of the person's meaning making capability, even as later and more integrated logics are adopted (just as when a child learns to run it doesn't cease to be able to walk).

The Leadership Development Framework provides a way of understanding how a leader or manager is likely to interpret situations and thus how they may act. Although people draw their understanding from multiple Action Logics, we can usually describe one, and sometimes two which are dominant. People may be in transition from one Action Logic to another or rooted firmly in one central logic. In stressful times adults often revert to behavior associated with earlier Action Logics because of unconscious patterns. People may choose to act from earlier Action Logics if the situation demands it (in a robbery Diplomat behavior is a lifesaver). In contrast, behaviors associated with Action Logics later than a person's current logic cannot be consistently summoned forth.

The Leadership Development Framework offers a chance to reach deep personal understanding and the option to identify unique developmental challenges. The Leadership Development Framework does not provide a once-and-for-all label which describes a person fully. It does not predict how people will behave in particular situations. It does not predict whether or when a person will transform to another Action Logic in the future.

It is important to understand that this framework is not a guide to increased happiness (or even wealth). Each Action Logic has its own merits and difficulties, beauties and shadows. There is no evidence that later stages bring more joy or greater satisfaction from life, only that the nature of what delights and what causes suffering changes. However the framework does give some very reliable pointers as to the qualities and types of leadership capability an individual may have.

Action Logic Key Characteristics Leadership style associated with each Action Logic
Opportunist Wins any way possible. Self- oriented; manipulative; "might makes right". Short term horizon; focus on concrete things; deceptive; rejects feedback; externalizes blame; distrustful; fragile self-control; possibly hostile humor or "happy-go-lucky"; views luck as central; views rules as loss of freedom; punishes according to "eye for eye" ethic; treats what they can get away with as legitimate. Seeks personal advantage: takes an opportunity when it arises.
Diplomat Avoids overt conflict. Wants to belong; obeys group norm; rarely rocks the boat. Observes protocol; avoids inner and outer conflict; works to group standard; speaks in cliches and platitudes; conforms; feels shame if they violate norm; avoids hurting others; seeks membership and status; face-saving essential; loyalty is to immediate group, not distant organization or principles. Attends to social affairs of group and individuals. Provides supportive social glue.
Expert Rules by logic and expertise. Searches for improvement and rational efficiency. Is immersed in the self referential logic of their own belief system, regarding it as the only valid way of thinking. Interested in problem solving; critical of self and others based on their belief system; chooses efficiency over effectiveness; perfectionist; accepts feedback only from "objective" experts in their own field; dogmatic; values decisions based on the incontrovertible facts; wants to stand out and be unique as an expert; sense of obligation to wider, internally consistent moral order. Consistent in pursuit of improvement. Strong individual contributor.
Achiever Meets strategic goals. Delivery of results by most effective means. Success focused. Effectiveness and results oriented; long-term goals; future is vivid, inspiring; welcomes behavioral feedback; feels like initiator, not pawn; begins to appreciate complexity and systems; seeks increasing mutuality in relationships; feels guilt if does not meet own standards; blind to own shadow, to the subjectivity behind objectivity; seeks to find ways around problems in order to deliver, may be unorthodox. Adopts rather than creates goals.
Individualist Innovates processes. Relativistic position with fewer fixed truths. Self, relationships and interaction with the system. Focus on self and less on goals; increased understanding of complexity, systems operating and working through relationships; deepening personal relationships; takes on different role in different situations; increasingly questions own assumptions (part of rise in self absorption) and assumptions of others; attracted by change and difference more than by stability and similarity; increasingly aware of own shadow.
Strategist Creates personal and organizational transformations. Links between principles, contracts, theories and judgment. Recognizes importance of principle, contract, theory and judgment - not just rules and customs; creative at conflict resolution; process oriented as well as goal oriented; aware of paradox and contradiction; aware that what one sees depends upon one"s world view; high value on individuality, unique market niches, particular historical movements; enjoys playing a variety of roles; witty, existential humor (as contrasted to prefabricated jokes); aware of dark side of power and may be tempted by it - may misuse their own abilities and manipulate others. Post conventional.
Alchemist Generates social transformations. Interplay of awareness, thought, action and effect. Transforming self and others. Seeks participation in historical / spiritual transformations; creator of events which become mythical and reframe situations; anchoring in inclusive present, seeing the light and dark in situations; works with order and chaos; blends opposites, creating "positive-sum" games; exercises own attention continually; researches interplay of institution, thought, action and effects on outside world; treats time and events as symbolic, analogical, metaphorical (not merely linear, digital, literal), involved in spiritual quest, often helps others in their life quests.


Profile Overview

The Leadership Development Framework describes crucial sense-making processes by which people interpret and give meaning to their experiences, and then structure them into more-orless coherent worldviews and characteristic patterns of action. We describe these worldviews and characteristic patterns of action as 'Action Logics'.

Your primary Action Logic has a profound impact on your leadership approach and capability because it affects where you place your attention, your underlying assumptions, what inferences you draw and, crucially, the actions that you take.

The Leadership Development Profile identifies your primary Action Logic – that is, the most complex Action Logic that informs your thinking and action on an everyday basis. As you become more aware of how this Action Logic influences your behaviour, you may discover that you also have a characteristic 'fallback' Action Logic when you are tired or otherwise vulnerable. You may also find yourself quite motivated to move toward the next Action Logic in the sequence once it becomes more explicit to you in the following pages.

The nine sequential Action Logics of the Leadership Development Framework

The nine sequential Action Logics of the Leadership Development Framework


Your Profile: Herb Stevenson

Your profile as making meaning primarily at the Late Strategist Action Logic

The distribution and nature of your responses on the sentence completion form indicate that your current Action Logic is that of a Late Strategist.

In a sample of 4510 managers, supervisors and students 5% of people profiled at the Strategist

Action Logic

Action Logic

Developing meaning

With experience and insight over time your meaning making has transformed from one Action Logic to the next. At each development you have preserved the insights and knowledge of the earlier Action Logics, from Impulsive onwards, and added new meaning making capacities.

Developing Meaning

Describing the Strategist

At the Strategist stage people become adept at creating shared visions among people and teams at all Action Logics – visions which support and encourage personal and organisational transformations. To the Strategist social, organisational and personal change is an interactive development process that requires enhanced attention at multiple levels and they seek to cultivate this awareness within themselves. Strategists are increasingly guided by principles which inform their actions, such as seeking increasing mutuality of power with colleagues. The longer term future increasingly concerns them, but this is part of a dance which moves between the present moment (where we must live) and the future, which we are ever creating.

Typical characteristics of Strategist meaning making

The graph and commentary which follow are unique to your profile

How each of the 36 sentence stems that you completed have been scored


The commentary that follows is unique – it has been written for you about the themes emerging from your 36 sentence completions.

This personalised commentary has been written in a spirit of invitation and inquiry (rather than as an authoritative statement of 'the truth'). It is intended to provide support and provocation in exploring your thinking, actions and opportunities for growth.

How you compare to other groups of people that have been profiled

We can provide comparative data for two population samples. The first is a mixed group consisting of leaders, managers, supervisors and students taken between 1980 and 1995, predominantly in the US. The second group consists mainly of leaders, managers and consultants who have been profiled between 1993 and 2009, predominantly in the UK.

Comparitive Data

As you compare yourself to the samples above please consider these differences between the samples.

The developmental implications
of your profile

The Leadership Development Profile offers rich information about your current Action Logics. You may want to focus on becoming more effective within your current dominant Action Logic and on activities that can help you move towards the next Action Logic.

You profile as making meaning at the late Strategist Action Logic. Typically, Strategists are concerned with seeing the world as a dynamic system of interrelated processes and relationships. They have a heightened awareness that individuals can maintain a distinct identity whilst being part of a community; playing a transformational leadership role in single conversations as well as on a larger and longer-term organisational scale.

By way of contrast, while continuing to participate in conversational and organizational change, the evolving Alchemist becomes more concerned with a moment-to-moment listening both back toward the origin of attention and out toward societal myths and archetypes that invite transformation.

Some activities that may support you to consolidate further the Strategist Action Logic:

Developing towards the Alchemist Action Logic – some activities which might support your development

Whilst you may want to attend to further consolidating the Strategist's Action Logic, as detailed above, you may now also be aware of and attracted to developing meaning making more typical of the Alchemist's Action Logic. In fact you might feel yourself already developing and using some of the meaning making typical of this Action Logic. To develop further in this direction you might choose some of the following developmental approaches:



1 I am indebted to Bill Torbert, David Rooke, Elaine Barker, and Jackie Keeley at Harthill for their gracious permission to reprint the descriptions of their leadership development framework, including the leadership action-logics that depicts the stages of executive development. Information in how to become certified in the LDF can be found on their website.


3 See David Rooke and Bill Torbert, Seven Transformation of Leadership, in the Harvard Business Review for an abbreviated description of the action-logics of leader development.

4 See Fisher, Dalmar, Rooke, David, and Torbert, Bill, 2003 Personal and Organisational Transformations through Action Inquiry. Edge/Work Press.

Training Programs

For those seeking more information on the Tuck Executive Education At Dartmouth Leadership and Strategic Impact Program:

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