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Levels of Development Coaching

At any given point in time, leaders operate from a particular "critical mass" or level of development in the four domains: cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Within each domain there are competencies in a slow or rapid process of development (moving from an initial "novice" level upwards towards "mastery"). Beyond developing these competencies, there is another dimension having to do with how and when we use these competencies. That is the dimension that reflects the maturity of moral judgments. Employing Carol Gilligan's accessible model, these judgments reflect a moral progression from a beginning level of narrow self-interest (immaturity), to care for one's own "tribe/s," (e.g., based on gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, etc. -- emerging maturity), to a level that acts from a position of care for universal rights (for one inclusive "tribe," including nature -- full maturity).

In times of suffering (under conditions of stress, fatigue, fear, anger, sadness, guilt, etc.), a leader may drop down into lower levels of expertise and moral behavior. Likewise, in times of courage and compassion (animated by selflessness, love, and grace), they may be drawn into higher expressions of moral behavior. Each level has its own particular assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors that conform to that level of development -- explaining and reinforcing how the world works, and how it should work (from within the perspective of that level). Below are four well-regarded theorists whose writings offer ways to make distinctions between developmental levels. They each provide a structured, developmental way to think about and explore past, present, and desired future stories of leaders and followers in an organization.

Lawrence Kohlberg

7. Universal spiritual (Post-Post Conventional)
6. Universal/ethical
5. Rights/social contract (Post Conventional)
4. Law and order
3. Approval of others (Conventional)
2. Naïve hedonism
1. Punishment/obedience (Pre-Conventional)

Carol Gilligan

3. Universal Care
2. Care
1. Selfish

Clare Graves

7. Systemic/integrated
6. Relativistic/individualistic
5. Multiplistic
4. Socio-centric
3. Egocentric
2. Magical-animistic
1. Autistic

Jane Loevinger

9. Integrated
8. Autonomous
7. Conscientious-individualist
6. Conscientious-conformist
5. Conformist
4. Self-protective
3. Impulsive
2. Symbiotic
1. Pre-social/autistic

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