Hello,Full instructions for the paper including the required references attached. Please check the instruction carefully and let me know if you have any questions.Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research
2008, Vol. 60, No. 4, 331–347
Copyright 2008 by the American Psychological Association
1065-9293/08/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1065-9293.60.4.331
Bruce J. Avolio
Sean T. Hannah
University of Washington
United States Military Academy
at West Point
The development of leaders is a stated goal of most organizations, yet a
validated framework and theory for leader development does not yet fully exist,
nor is there a method for determining who is developmentally ready to engage
in leader development. The authors of this article provide a framework for
examining how one can accelerate leader development. They propose that leader
developers first focus on assessing and then building the developmental readiness of individual leaders, as well as the developmental readiness of the
organization as prerequisite steps for accelerating positive leader development.
They identify and discuss 5 specific constructs comprising their initial modeling
of developmental readiness (i.e., learning goal orientation, developmental efficacy, self-concept clarity, self-complexity, and metacognitive ability), as well as
suggest methods for assessing and developing these 5 components.
Keywords: leader development, developmental readiness, learning versus performance goal orientation, self-concept clarity, metacognitive ability
The development of leaders is often stated as a primary goal in many organizations,
yet a validated general framework and theory for leader development does not exist, nor
is there a method for determining who is developmentally ready to engage in such training
(Avolio, Reichard, Hannah, Walumbwa, & Chan, in press). We suggest that there has been
relatively little discussion on how to best set the conditions to successfully accelerate
development before placing leaders through leader development programs or experiences.
We find this rather curious, as organizations in the United States spent approximately $12
billion on leader development in 2007 with little, if any, evidence to support the efficacy
of these interventions (“Industry Report,” 2007). In this article, we discuss the importance
of assessing and then enhancing the developmental readiness of participants before the
onset of other leader development activities. We also examine how the construct of
Bruce J. Avolio, Foster School of Business, University of Washington; Sean T. Hannah, Department
of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, United States Military Academy at West Point.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sean T. Hannah, Department of
Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, United States Military Academy at West Point, Official Mail
and Distribution Center, 646 Swift Road, West Point, NY 10996. E-mail: Sean.hannah@usma.edu
developmental readiness can be used to help explain why some leader development
interventions have a more or less positive impact depending on both the particular leader
participating in the intervention and the organization’s context.
Parallels for the concept of being developmentally ready and open to change comes
from the clinical literature related to the success of therapy. For example, Singer (1997)
reported that higher rates of recovery from alcohol addiction were associated with a
revision to the alcoholic’s own view of himself or herself and how that individual
described their life to others. The concept of developmental readiness has also been
applied to preparing adolescents for education (e.g., Plake, Impara, & Spies, 2003) and
clinical therapy (Ronen, 2003). The clinical literature suggests that the readiness of the
individual to undergo therapy is perhaps more important than either the therapist or
therapeutic technique.
We set out here to explain how leader development can be accelerated to have a
positive impact on the leader, leadership, and performance. As shown in Figure 1, we
propose that leaders with higher levels of developmental readiness in the right context will
be better able to reflect upon and make meaning out of events, challenges, and/or
opportunities that can stimulate and accelerate positive leader development. Furthermore,
as depicted by the dotted line in Figure 1, we propose that cycles of successful development can further increase the leader’s developmental readiness and performance over
time. We also show in Figure 1 that, as the individual leader’s readiness increases, so too
does the organization’s climate for development. Specifically, leaders influence the type
of climate that their followers experience in organizations. Thus, to the extent that the
leader is positive about and personally models development, it is more likely he or she will
promote positive development in others (Avolio & Luthans, 2006).
Leader Developmental
Learning Goal orientation
Developmental Efficacy
Leader Complexity
Meta-Cognitive Ability
Trigger Events
Figure 1.
Leader and organizational developmental readiness.
The Development of Leaders
Before we can launch into a detailed discussion of what constitutes the acceleration of
a leader’s development, it is important to provide evidence for the following: (a) whether
leaders can be developed and, if so, (b) the processes through which such development
Born Versus Made
Noted behavioral geneticists, Plomin and Daniels (1987) summarized existing research on the influence of heritability on human development stating, “Behavioral-genetic
research seldom finds evidence that more than half of the variance in complex behavioral
traits is due to genetic differences among individuals . . . most behavioral variability
among individuals is environmental in origin.” A critical question about the heritability of
who emerges as a leader can be stated as follows: What constitutes the complex
interaction between one’s genetic endowments and environment that produces the human
attributes and capabilities that predict who will emerge and excel as a leader as opposed
to those individuals who don’t?
Recent behavioral genetics research with twins provides compelling evidence that
one’s ability for leadership is more developed or made than heritable or born. The reason
for using twins to study heritability and leadership is that identical twins are 100% the
same in terms of genetic endowments versus fraternal twins, who are about 50% the same.
Consequently, if identical twins have exactly the same genetics, and if emerging as a
leader was determined by one’s genetics, then identical twins should have identical rates
of emergence as leaders. However, we know from recent research comparing identical and
fraternal twins that much of the variance in terms of who ends up in leadership roles is
better explained by environmental factors versus heritability (Arvey, Rotundo, Johnson,
Zhang, & McGue, 2006; Arvey, Zhang, Avolio, & Kruger, 2007; Avolio, Rotundo, &
Walumbwa, in press).
This type of behavioral genetics research examines three key components that may
contribute to a leader’s emergence including (a) heritability, (b) shared environment, and
(c) unshared environment. The twin’s shared environment includes facets such as whether
the twins grew up in the same home and attended the same schools. The unshared
environment represents the unique experiences for each twin including one twin playing
football and the other being on the debate team. In a standard behavioral genetics
regression formula (see Arvey et al., 2007, for details on how these estimates are
calculated), researchers control for the values assigned to the shared and unshared
environments to determine how much remaining variance is attributable to heritability.
The dependent variable that is predicted is the number of leadership roles assumed by the
individual in his or her career. In three separate studies, results showed that, for both men
and women, approximately 30% of leader emergence was accounted for by heritability.
On the basis of the aforementioned findings, we can conclude that leaders and
leadership are largely made through experiences. We also suggest that how quickly
leaders develop capability to lead effectively is in part linked to the readiness of the
individual to engage in those developmental experiences described in more detail later.
The Leader’s Life Story
We suggest that the factors that contribute to making a leader are in part a subset of
all of the formative experiences an individual has accumulated throughout the individual’s
life course that may position the individual to more effectively assume leadership roles.
Avolio (2005) described the leader development process as a lifelong journey in which the
individual interprets and makes meaning out of experiences that contribute to enhancing
the individual’s understanding of self and leader development. One’s self-construct is
associated with one’s self-identity (Hogg, 2001), self-standards (Carver & Scheier, 1982),
and self-knowledge (Markus & Wurf, 1987). Indeed, Kihlstrom and Klein (1994, p. 194)
suggested that the self-construct is “the point at which cognitive, personality, and social
psychology meet.” The self-construct is an elaborate and highly accessible memory
structure containing one’s domain of self-knowledge, and for our purposes here the
domain represents leader self-knowledge (Kihlstrom & Klein, 1994; Markus & Wurf,
1987; Shamir & Eilam, 2005). This self-knowledge is used by the leader to construct his
or her narrative, or what we refer to here as the leader’s life story. By constructing one’s
narrative, we mean that people proactively make meaning of their experiences, thereby
forming their identity or self-construct. One’s self-construct then becomes the lens
through which one views future experiences (Hermans, 2002).
Applied to authentic leader development (Avolio, 2005; Avolio & Gardner, 2005;
Avolio & Luthans, 2006), Sparrowe (2005) and Shamir and Eilam (2005) have proposed
and have conducted some preliminary testing of narrative approaches to examining how
authentic forms of leader development occur. Their main position is that every leader
becomes a self-author of their life narrative. Thus, how individuals experience and
interpret events and how they include these events in narratives depends on their existing
self-construct and the individuals’ readiness to be open to and extract relevant meaning
from events for growth.
McAdams (1993) argued that people work on different aspects of their life narrative
or story depending on where they are in their life span. McAdams also suggested that these
personal life stories change over time, whereby early in one’s career the individual may
have a “rough draft” that evolves over time as they accumulate additional experiences,
challenges, and opportunities.
The content held in the leader’s self-construct, or life narrative, contains self-views
such as “I am a visionary leader” or “I am adept at learning new skills,” whereas its
structure represents how content is actually organized with other self-views across the
various social roles that comprise the leader’s self-construct/narrative (Hannah, Woolfolk,
& Lord, in press). For example, a leader may see himself or herself as adept at learning
new skills associated with his or her role as a team leader but not those associated with
being a company spokesperson.
Take, for example, the born versus made issue discussed earlier. To the degree that an
individual defines himself as a born leader; the experiences he accumulates over the life
course may be interpreted and codified differently (e.g., more openly, positively, and
richly) in the self-construct as opposed to those interpreted by someone who believes
leaders are made. This is because each leaders’ self-construct guides how subsequent
experiences are interpreted and narrated in terms of describing who the leader is, who
he/she is not, and who that person can become. This suggests that it is essential for us to
determine how the self-construct is composed and changed to positively accelerate leader
Trigger Events
Luthans and Avolio (2003) have suggested as part of their model of authentic leader
development that there are trigger events that occur in one’s life that may contribute to
changing the individual’s leadership potential. Whether these trigger events contribute to
development depends in part on the individual’s level of developmental readiness. For
example, for one individual who is more developmentally ready, a challenging project at
work could stimulate a period of deep reflection on how best to start, lead, and conclude
the project. However, for someone who is not ready to think about how this event affects
his or her leader self-construct, the trigger event may simply be one among many that day,
which had no impact on development.
Pillemer (2001) and McAdams (2001) have described six types of life events that can
potentially affect an individual’s life narrative in positive or negative ways. For example,
originating events are seen as establishing the basis for one’s beliefs or life focus, whereas
turning points usually occur later in life, leading an individual to challenge his or her
fundamental beliefs to determine whether they are still appropriate. Ligon, Hunter, and
Mumford (2008) examined the life histories of 120 outstanding historical leaders and
reported that more positive and constructive leaders had experienced originating events
that had firmly established positive personal beliefs and values early in their life span.
Conversely, more destructive or selfish leaders experienced more debilitating events early
in life, resulting in negative life narratives.
Avolio and Luthans (2006) argued that high-impact leader development experiences
create a point of disequilibrium and heightened self-awareness that can lead the individual
to challenge his or her basic beliefs and assumptions. We contend that this sort of
disequilibrium can occur from both positive and negative trigger events and that each can
facilitate growth, provided that the leader is otherwise developmentally ready. This is
because disequilibrium prompts or compels an individual to revise his or her self-construct
in light of the new experience.
Trigger events are critical, as one’s scripts and internal cognitive linkages once formed
are often very resistant to change (Young & Wasserman, 2005). For example, a parent
may tell a child it is always good to assume the positive intent of others, as that helps the
individual to initially motivate and engage others toward what you may want to accomplish. We would then expect this individual to be more likely to infer positive intent up
front in his or her interactions with others. These sorts of “wired” connections would
become rooted over time and altered only if the individual is open to and exposed to new
or conflicting information that serve as “tipping points” (Ibarra, 2003).
In summary, a range of trigger events can occur at any point in one’s life stream and
have been depicted earlier in this article as creating a state of disequilibrium that can
potentially result in a change in the linkages held in an individual’s self-construct. If the
individual is developmentally ready, this state of disequilibrium leads to a revisiting of his
or her definition of the self-construct and a change in his or her narrative. If properly
interpreted and processed, such trigger events are expected to stimulate further leader
development, as well as produce perhaps a new way of approaching a particular leadership
issue, opportunity, challenge, or problem.
Individual Developmental Readiness
If leaders and followers are active participants in writing their own narrative and
developing their self-construct, then they will also determine how positively and how well
they can write their own story. This agentic view is the epitome of constructivism and
suggests that leaders can create either positive or negative self-fulfilling prophecies for
their own development (Eden, 1992). We have referred to such positive ability, orienta-
tion, and openness to develop as developmental readiness. Applied to general individual
and organizational learning, Hannah and Lester (in press) defined developmental readiness
as “both the ability and motivation to attend to, make meaning of, and appropriate new
knowledge into one’s long-term memory structures.” In our previous series of longitudinal
pilot experiments involving emerging leaders, we have determined that learning goal
orientation, efficacy, self-concept clarity, and metacognitive ability all contribute to and
interact to enhance leaders’ level of developmental readiness.
Learning goal orientation represents whether individuals engage in tasks with a focus
on achieving a certain performance standard or, conversely, to learn and develop (Button,
Matieu, & Zajac, 1996). Someone who is more oriented toward learning will see
challenges as a way to improve and develop and will be more accepting of failure in the
pursuit of development.
Self-concept clarity represents the level of confidence and surety that leaders maintain
over who they are, their self-construct (Campbell et al., 1996). We believe that leaders
with greater clarity over their self-construct will have a firm starting point that will enable
them to further adjust their self-construct in response to new experiences.
Metacognitive ability has been defined as the capacity for higher order processing, or
simply, an individual’s ability to think about the way he or she thinks (Flavell, 1987;
Metcalf & Shimamura, 1994). In terms of leadership, one’s metacognitive ability could be
represented by the leader’s ability to examine his or her own theory of leadership and to
consider and make amendments to the theory on the basis of new experiences accumulated
over time.
On the basis of additional longitudinal research that we have conducted, we now add
a fifth construct to what constitutes developmental readiness and propose that the level of
complexity in a leader’s self-construct (i.e., self-complexity) will also enhance leader
development (Hannah et al., in press). More self-complex leaders have more dimensions
representing their self with which to discriminate among and more robustly interpret
leadership experiences. We now examine each of the components of developmental
readiness in more detail.
Goal Orientation
Goal orientation is considered to be a fairly stable individual difference construct and
consists of two dimensions including learning goal and performance goal orientation
(Button et al., 1996). It has been suggested that these respective goal orientations are part
of one’s implicit theory of self (Dweck & Leggett, 1988). The implicit theory of one’s
goal orientation is captured in the narrative one creates as to his or her ability to develop
and change. Learning goal-oriented leaders tend to view themselves as incremental
learners and interpret performance feedback as being developmental and useful for
enhancing one’s potential. Conversely, performance goal-oriented leaders are prone to
look at themselves as more of a fixed entity. For example, leaders who score high on
performance goal orientation tend to view feedback as self versus task diagnostic. These
leaders resist engaging in learning experiences and, following our logic described earlier,
are less developmentally ready to engage in challenging leader development events in
which failure may occur.
Leader developers should be alert to determining the goal orientation of those they are
developing, as the type of goal orientation will undoubtedly contribute to how successful
the leader development intervention is with individuals who are more or less performance
versus learning goal oriented. For example, once the developer identifies that a leader is
more performance goal oriented, he or she could work to use greater levels of individually
considerate and supportive behaviors to promote higher levels of psychological safety.
Kahn (1990, p. 708) defined psychological safety as “feeling able to show and employ
one’s self without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career.” With
such higher levels of psychological safety in which the perceived costs for failure are
reduced, we expect less resistance on the individual’s part to engage in development.
The goal-setting literature also suggests that developers may be more effective in
mitigating the impact of having a performance orientation by using incremental goal
setting and steadily increasing the level of challenge faced by learners taking on developmental experiences while focusing on successes versus failures and celebrating each
achieved milestone (Locke & Latham, 1990). Conversely, for leaders with more of a
learning goal orientation, research shows they devote greater attention and effort toward
seeking and reflecting on realistic performance feedback from both successes and failures
(e.g., Hannah, 2006; VandeWalle, Cron, & Slocum, 2001).
Developmental Efficacy
More statelike and open to change than goal orientation, developmental efficacy is task
and context specific (Bandura, 1997). Leaders’ developmental efficacy represents their
level of confidence that they can develop a specific ability or skill for employment in a
specific context or leader role. Such confidence would then result in greater effort on the
individual’s part in pursuing experiences to develop those skills as well as enhancing the
level of effort applied to those experiences (Lord & Hall, 2005).
Efficacy beliefs are critical to leader development because, when activated, they elicit
encoding categories, affect, goals, expectancies, and self-regulatory plans that drive
engagement and performance in tasks (Hannah & Luthans, 2008). Such orientation to
master tasks has, in turn, been shown to drive the allocation of greater effort to reflect
upon one’s learning and to seek more performance feedback (VandeWalle et al., 2001).
Consequently, we propose that having a higher level of efficacy for development will
enhance a leader’s ability to envision successful outcomes when engaging in developmental experiences and, in turn, promote further engagement (Hannah, Avolio, Luthans,
& Harms, in press).
Relevant to what we have referred to as the positive acceleration of leader development, Kanfer and Ackerman (1989) demonstrated that learning efficacy predicts a person’s ability to acquire complex skills. Therefore, we suggest that building learning and/or
developmental efficacy directly affects not only leaders’ development of knowledge,
skills, and abilities, but also the efficacy beliefs associated with using those knowledges,
skills, and abilities in leading.
We suggest that developmental efficacy can be built through the four standard
experiential modes suggested by Bandura (1997), which include enacted mastery experiences, vicarious learning/role modeling, social persuasion and feedback, and physiological and psychological arousal. First, mastery experiences are developmental experiences
that challenge the adequacy of a person’s current thinking and mental models (Avolio,
2005). Second, role modeling or vicarious learning can build developmental efficacy
through viewing the successful leader development of similar others, thereby convincing
an individual that he or she too can develop in the same way as in the model. Third,
efficacy can be developed by means of social persuasion and feedback. For example,
leaders can convey high expectations to a junior leader that he or she can develop and
thereby initiate a “Pygmalion effect” that raises the follower’s efficacy for development
(Eden, 1992). Finally, developmental efficacy can be increased through raising levels of
psychological arousal (Bandura, 1997) by tapping into leaders’ individual interests,
positive feelings, and intrinsic motivation about a particular area of development.
Self-Awareness and Clarity
Self-clarity and/or awareness represent central themes in many models of effective
leadership (e.g., Luthans & Avolio, 2003). This may be the case because the ongoing
challenges of dynamic and multifaceted modern organizations prompt leaders to search
for a greater understanding of the situation with which they are confronted and who they
are in terms of their capabilities and motivation to handle the situation. We believe that
a heightened sense of self-concept clarity, defined as “the extent to which self-beliefs (e.g.,
perceived personal attributes) are clearly and confidently defined, internally consistent,
and stable” (Campbell et al., 1996, p. 141), will promote greater developmental readiness
and leader development. Higher levels of self-awareness can enhance the leader’s ability
to make meaning of relevant trigger events and how they contribute to the individual
becoming a more effective leader.
Whereas self-concept clarity promotes higher levels of self-awareness, we next need
to ask whether leaders are adaptive or more maladaptive in how they reflect on what they
have learned about themselves. Avolio, Wernsing, Chan, and Griffeth (2007) have
distinguished two forms of self-reflection that are relevant to understanding the positive
acceleration of leader development, called adaptive and maladaptive reflection. Adaptive
self-reflection represents a constructive process of reflection associated with patterns of
thinking and emotions characterized by openness, positivity, and a learning goal-oriented
perspective (Trapnell & Campbell, 1999). Such openness to aspects of the self can result
in greater self-awareness and self-knowledge that then contributes to more effective
choices in terms of actions, behaviors, and emotional self-regulation over time (Carver &
Scheier, 1982).
Maladaptive self reflection involves more destructive ways of thinking that generates
negative emotions such as anxiety, self-doubt, and fear-based actions (Mor & Winquist,
2002), which could prevent or diminish one’s engagement in leader development experiences. When entering into maladaptive reflection, the individual ruminates over what did
not work as opposed to what is possible and changeable. For example, after getting
feedback on a leadership survey on which the leader overrated her own visionary
leadership, someone who is maladaptive may become self versus task focused and
ruminate on how her followers “simply don’t get her leadership.”
We also know that whether leaders choose to engage in adaptive versus maladaptive
reflection is affected by how they are primed by situational factors that leader developers
can control. For example, previous research has shown that it is relatively easy to elicit
maladaptive reflection through instructions that ask participants to focus on the things that
went wrong with a situation (e.g., Watkins & Teasdale, 2004). Rumination involves a
repetitive re-examining of an issue coupled with higher levels of resistance and negative
judgment (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991). This type of rumination becomes increasingly more
maladaptive to the extent that it sops up cognitive resources that could have otherwise
been applied to problem solving, adaptation, and positive leader development.
In summary, to the degree that we can trigger adaptive self-reflection in leaders, we
suspect that we can positively accelerate the development of leader self-awareness.
Promoting such adaptive reflection will likely require that we design methods to follow
leaders into situations in which they are addressing real challenges that may trigger
rumination. In situations characterized by high levels of emotional engagement and stress,
we expect leaders to be more likely to go to rumination, thus inhibiting enhanced
self-awareness. In these instances, the benefits of promoting adaptive reflection may be
significant for promoting the development of leader self-awareness (Avolio, 2005).
Leader Complexity
Using a life story perspective, we suggest that the level of complexity in a leader’s
self-construct (i.e., self-complexity) is directly associated with the level of complexity he
or she has experienced and encoded into the self-construct from various trigger events
(Hannah et al., in press). We also hold that complexity is generative and will positively
influence leaders’ readiness to develop further complexity in the future. This is because
more complex leaders have more internal associations with which to process and interpret
unique and novel experiences. Cognitively complex leaders process information more
thoroughly and expertly and perform tasks better because they use more dimensions to
discriminate among stimuli and yet see more commonalities among these dimensions
(Hannah, Eggers, & Jennings, 2008).
Applying our discussion of leader self-complexity to accelerating positive development, we suggest that more complex leaders are better able to perceive and attend to a
greater range of factors that are represented in a developmental trigger experience.
Furthermore, they will be better able to develop a refined conceptualization of their view
of themselves as a leader, relative to the triggered experience and what is being learned.
Leaders’ self constructs and associated complexity are also associated with their
various social roles, such as being a team leader, coach, or project leader (Hannah &
Luthans, 2008; Hannah et al., in press). Specifically, the self is an elaborate and multidimensional structure that is differentiated on the basis of how a leader catalogs various
attributes (e.g., confident or articulate), taking into consideration certain roles (Markus &
Wurf, 1987). Therefore, the experiences that a leader has had, unique to each role, and
their type of reflection will result in different levels of positive versus negative content,
representing each role being stored and recalled.
Content (types and level of attributes) and structure (inclusion of attributes across
roles) of the self-construct are important to leader self-development in that, when facing
a developmental challenge, aspects of the self are triggered or primed and, in turn, the
leader automatically activates other linked self-aspects that are pertinent to the triggered
event and its interpretation (Hannah & Luthans, 2008). We suggest that this activated
portion of the self can be viewed as a somewhat developmentally ready working selfconcept that encourages a leader to engage in some developmental experiences and not
In summary, we suggest that a more complex leader will have greater personal
resources to draw from when experiencing trigger events or moments. Hence, instead of
activating an avoidance orientation when faced with a difficult developmental challenge,
such individuals will broaden their thought repertoires and be able to visualize a greater
breadth of potential successful developmental outcomes that can enhance developmental
Metacognitive Ability
Leading is widely recognized as requiring complex cognitive and social problemsolving skills and capacities (Mumford, Friedrich, Caughron, & Byrne, 2007). We believe
that these complex skills and capacities are critical to accelerating leader development
by assisting leaders in making better sense out of their developmental experiences.
Metacognitive ability is how one is thinking about their thinking (Metcalf & Shimamura,
1994). This form of “second order” thinking entails awareness of one’s cognitive processes, cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and cognitive self-regulation. Also, in the
context of this article, such meta-abilities relate to the individual’s capacity for examining
his or her own self-construct.
When being confronted with a developmental trigger experience, first order thinking
is exemplified by processing a given leadership challenge and perhaps resolving it without
any impact on one’s self-construct and development, whereas metacognitive ability entails
introspection over the actual thinking process as one is experiencing these events, as well
as how those events may be interpreted and utilized in altering one’s self-construct or
narrative. For example, a leader may assess how a given developmental challenge
influences her emotions and how those emotions are influencing decisions. A leader may
also metacognitively reflect upon the adequacy of the information being used in her
thinking and what further information is needed to improve her judgments. Relevant to
developmental readiness, Hannah (2006) reported that metacognitive processing was
strongly related to higher levels of self-efficacy, goal orientation, and mastery orientation.
Furthermore, individuals with higher levels of learning goal or mastery orientation also
appeared to allocate greater levels of effort to scrutinize development and to seek
performance feedback (VandeWalle et al., 2001).
In summary, whereas high levels of complexity provides a rich set of knowledge that
leaders can use to make meaning of a broad suite of developmental trigger experiences,
metacognitive ability provides the processing capability to maximize the use of that
enhanced rich suite of knowledge. Therefore, both metacognitive ability and selfcomplexity are necessary for accelerating positive leader development.
We propose that developers can build leaders’ metacognitive abilities by exposing
them to various trigger events and then by focusing the leaders to use guided adaptive
reflection through various metacognitive processing strategies; for example, prompting
questions such as the following: “What positive or negative emotions are you experiencing right now after the event transpired?” “How are those emotions influencing your
thoughts and behaviors?” “How does the new knowledge and skills you are learning fit
within your description of what you describe as your self-identity?” “How does this
experience help you grow toward what you consider your possible future self in terms of
roles and expectations?”
Assessing Developmental Readiness
Organizations may assess the level of developmental readiness of their leaders through
standardized survey instruments at key points in their development. Measures related to
each developmental readiness construct are provided in the Appendix for this purpose.
We also believe that developmental readiness can be evaluated on the basis of using
mentors or senior leaders who are trained to observe more junior leaders for signature
developmental readiness behaviors and habits, such as those discussed earlier. For
example, a mentor may observe a leader who shows more of a learning goal orientation
and higher confidence when facing developmental challenges. Moreover, when a leader
faces setbacks, the mentor could observe whether he or she seeks (vs. avoids) constructive
feedback, as well as practices adaptive (vs. maladaptive) reflection.
We also believe that carefully crafted simulations could be used that place leaders in
a series of trigger challenges of various degrees of difficulty in which trained observers
can code the leader’s signature developmental readiness behaviors, or in which the
leader’s decisions can be captured by the simulator. In addition, leaders going through
such simulations could be asked to provide verbal protocols of how they thought about
and approached these challenges, providing further evidence of their developmental
Organizational Developmental Readiness
We now turn our attention from getting individuals’ developmentally ready, to setting
the context for positive leader development to occur and flourish in organizations. There
are many facets on which leader developers can focus to get the organization developmentally ready. For example, one organization with which we worked emphasized the
importance of everyone taking ownership to influence the organization’s success. The idea
was not to come to work and be a “renter” but rather to take ownership for delivering the
best possible service.
Strengths-Based Organizations
Peterson and Seligman (2004) proposed that each human being possesses a certain
makeup of strengths (e.g., curiosity, courage, wisdom), which they view as somewhat, but
certainly not entirely, stable personality traits that provide the psychological mechanisms
that enable one to flourish and perform. Strengths-based approaches to leader and follower
development (Avolio & Luthans, 2006) build upon this framework and argue that
organizations should focus on developing strengths instead of mainly concentrating on
mitigating weaknesses. Avolio and Luthans (2006) took this argument further by suggesting that one can create a climate for positive development that reinforces the
developmental readiness of individuals to assume greater personal responsibility for their
own development.
Strengths-based organizations facilitate leaders’ manifesting their true selves (i.e.,
being authentic) as they lead, and they promote the positive psychological capacities of
their leaders and followers, which helps to stimulate positive (e.g., optimistic) thinking
and greater inquiry into “who we are” and “what we can become.” Such a positive developmental context is established by leader developers who practice individualized consideration
and create a climate that helps others to identify their strengths and potential. Such developers
hold the desire and dedication to expend the time and resources—perhaps even at the sacrifice
of short-term performance—to tailor the assignment of tasks and challenges that serve to
accelerate the development of each individual leader by leveraging his or her unique
We argue that the majority of what promotes positive leader development is attributable to the type of context in which the individual leader is embedded, including what we
consider the contextual characteristics and influences of the leader’s followers. A more
positively focused climate that is psychologically safe (Kahn, 1990) will, with all other
things being equal, contribute to accelerating positive leader development. Indeed, by
enhancing the organization’s climate to support development, leaders will be better
prepared to address difficult and challenging trigger events, particularly those that may not
be so positive. This is because their personal resources (e.g., self-efficacy) for handling
such events have been enhanced by how they had been treated by others over time as they
experienced both successes and failures.
Cascading and Diffusing Effects
of Leader Development
Bass, Waldman, Avolio, and Bebb (1987) have described how leadership at higher or
more macro-organizational levels can affect subsequent levels using what they called the
“falling dominoes” or “cascading of leadership” impact in organizations. This process
suggests that leaders at more senior levels of organizations, perhaps even strategic levels,
can develop an aggregate leadership style that cascades down, resulting in it being
represented in similar form at subsequent organizational levels. This process of cascading
can occur through social learning mechanisms such as role modeling and/or vicarious
learning. We believe that, through a pattern of positive interactions between developmentally ready leaders and organizational members, an emergent positive collective culture
and climate would form over time (as shown in Figure 1), further promoting the
developmental readiness of all members. Through a similar process, however, the cascading of negative leadership could create an infectious, toxic environment that could
diminish the developmental readiness of leaders and result in more maladaptive forms of
Research has shown that leaders can affect the self-construct of followers through role
modeling (e.g., Lord & Brown, 2004). This is because followers tend to develop a schema
of prototypical leader qualities based on attractive and admired leaders (Ibarra, 2003).
These prototypes then serve as a form of idealized behavior that members of the
organization would come to identify with over time and be influenced by in terms of their
own self-construct (Hogg, 2001).
It is important to note that this cascading influence process is bidirectional and can
thus also occur from the bottom up. Howell and Shamir (2005) argued that the impact of
followers in the leader–follower dynamic is critical. Kark and Shamir (2002) explored this
dynamic, indicating that followers with a more stable self-identity and, we add, a higher
developmental readiness may at critical times reinforce the leader in continuing forward
with development, which in turn may further bolster the follower’s readiness, resulting in
a cyclic reinforcing pattern.
We suggest that it is through this emergent process resulting from social interaction
between leaders, followers, and peers that individual perceptions of developmental readiness can, over time, form group perceptions of developmental readiness. We believe that
developmental readiness can thus be conceptualized at the individual level and/or through
the diffusion of shared mental models (Klimoski & Mohammad, 1994) at collective levels.
Practical Implications
There are several key points that we suggest consultants and/or leader developers
consider as they structure the next experience they will use to develop leaders and
• Organizations will increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of their leader
development resource allocations by first ensuring that the organization and its
leaders to be developed are developmentally ready.
• Preintervention assessments of developmental readiness of the organizational
context and the individual leader(s) may determine whether the organization and
leaders are ready to be developed and, if so, configure a tailored choice and
sequence of events to be used to maximize the developmental intervention.
• Once developmental readiness has been assessed, leader developers can identify
unique trigger events and experiences that will promote learning and development

for every individual leader. Some of these events may focus on enhancing the
developmental readiness of the organization (e.g., psychological safety) and its
leadership to promote further leader development. Other events may be common
to the group of learners, whereas some ought to be unique to the individual learner
on the basis of each learner’s level on the five developmental readiness factors.
Development can be accelerated by increasing current leaders’ recognition that
they constitute one of the most powerful forms of interventions through role
modeling the five developmental readiness factors to future leaders; as well as by
training and equipping leader developers with the skills and techniques needed to
practice strengths-based leadership and to create a learning-oriented context.
In terms of readying the context, organizational leaders can implement evaluation
and reward mechanisms that will facilitate positive leader development. This
includes aligning evaluation and reward mechanisms so that they (a) reinforce
learning versus performance; (b) reward demonstrated individual development in
each of the five developmental readiness factors; and, ultimately, (c) reinforce the
self-construct and behavioral changes desired in leaders. This is particularly
critical in sustaining transference of development from training site to the workplace and achieving sustained success.
Leader developers will be well served by promoting that each developing leader
understands that an able leader is largely made versus born and that he or she is the
author of his or her own leadership journey.
Finally, consultants can design ways to continually show the progress that is being
gained in terms of leader development. For example, progress may be shown in
terms of less tangible criteria (e.g., measuring the self-complexity of the leader
over time as they rotate through developmental assignments), or increases in
metacognitive ability to reflect on the adequacy of one’s leading can be measured
after successive guided reflection sessions. Measuring the impact of the leader
development intervention at individual and organizational levels not only will
serve to mark its success, but also will reinforce further investments in such
Most organizational leaders would not invest in the development of a new manufacturing system and process without first determining whether they believed they would be
successful in implementing those systems and processes. Why then do organizational
leaders not approach leader development with similar due diligence, given the long-term
strategic effects of leaders and leadership on organizational success? Here, we have
attempted to bring greater attention to preparing leaders and the context for continued
successful development. Drawing from emerging theory, we have also offered a new
framework for examining how organizations may approach such preparation. We
believe that, by focusing on enhancing developmental readiness, organizations can
maximize their return on investment from subsequent leader development efforts.
Indeed, we would like to imagine a world for authentic leadership development, where
interventions are customized on the basis of the developmental readiness of each
leader and his or her organization. We argue that such a high degree of alignment
would be an important factor in accelerating positive leadership development for
positive impact and return in organizations.
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The measures we have chosen for inclusion below are well validated in the psychological
literature, except for the developmental efficacy measure, which we note is under
Sample Developmental Readiness Measures
Self-Concept Clarity and Self-Awareness
The 16-item Authentic Leadership Questionnaire includes a four-item leader selfawareness scale (Walumbwa, Avolio, Gardner, Wernsing, & Peterson, 2008). The 12-item
Self-Concept Clarity Measure assesses a single core clarity factor (Campbell et al., 1996).
Goal Orientation and Implicit Theory of Self
The Goal Orientation Inventory contains 20 items, 10 each to assess dimensions of
learning and performance goal orientation (Button et al., 1996). The Implicit Theory of
Self 8-item measure contains 4 items each for entity (fixed) and incremental (malleable)
dimensions of implicit theory of self (Levy, Stroessner, & Dweck, 1998).
Metacognitive Ability
The 52-item Meta-Cognitive Awareness Inventory assesses the two dimensions of
knowledge of cognition (17 items) and regulation of cognition (35 items). After
discussions with the measure’s lead author, we adapted the original measure into a
reduced 24-item measure (Schraw & Dennison, 1994).
Self-complexity can be measured through an unrestricted trait sort (Q-sort) method as
pioneered by Linville (1987), where participants are instructed to create self-aspect
categories (i.e., social roles such as “team leader”) and then use blank cards to list
attributes they perceive themselves to possess within each category. Conversely, researchers can preselect self-aspects and a list of possible attributes and create a paper-and-pencil
measure as advanced by Woolfolk et al., on which participants rate whether and to what
extent those attributes apply to each self-aspect (Linville, 1987; Rafaeli-Mor, Gotlib, &
Revelle, 1999; Woolfolk, Gara, Allen, & Beaver, 2004).
Developmental Efficacy
We have not found a validated developmental efficacy measure directly developed to
assess leadership development. Hannah’s (2006) 43-item Agentic Leadership Efficacy
measure contains a 17-item scale measuring a leader’s efficacy for aspects of thought and
self-motivation that includes a focus on developmental items.
Correction to Romney (2008)
In the article, “Consulting for Diversity and Social Justice: Challenges and Rewards” by
Patricia Romney (Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 2008, Vol. 60,
No. 2, pp. 139-156), the author refers to “Paul Winn.” The referenced author’s last name
was printed incorrectly. The correct spelling is Winum.
DOI: 10.1037/a0013831
Hi droucher.
You have helped me before in writing the assessment for the AASTMT University, now it’s time for the
second assignment
Learning Objectives and Developmental Readiness/Adult Development Theory
Second, you will identify and describe the overall vision of the leader and leadership
development intervention program. This vision will be communicated in part through the
articulation of clearly defined and appropriate learning objectives. You will also identify and
describe the underlying developmental readiness and adult development theories that will
impact the developmental interventions.
This assignment will be comprised of two key components: 1) providing a vision for the leader
and leadership development intervention by describing learning objectives and rationale how
these objectives will build upon the strengths and address the weaknesses; and 2) explaining
the role of participants’ developmental readiness and adult developmental levels will likely
impact the developmental intervention.
Things to remember:
You have already done a good work in the first assignment. This assignment is the second one and for
the same organization AASTMT
Please feel free to ask any questions.
In People Admin, the University will be asking managers and
supervisors to focus their Performance Management outcomes by
basing employee work plans on SMART goals written to measure
performance in each of the Functional and Behavioral
Competencies. New supervisors to UNC Charlotte have been
learning how to write SMART goals during their Leadership
Training sessions for the past five years. This training section is
designed for those who have not participated in LEAD or for
those who need a review of how to write SMART goals to
measure employee performance. By establishing SMART objectives, supervisors develop and motivate
employees by ensuring their activities are linked to the overall goals and mission of the university.
Training Objectives
Participants will understand:
The difference between Job Duties and Performance Goals;
How to establish SMART goals for employees; and
How to use tools to keep performance on target (managing to SMART Goals)..
Performance Management Process–Overview
Elements of the Performance Management Process
Employee Performance Begins with Leadership
Leadership Means . . .
• Establishing an environment conducive to excellence.
• Managing for performance
• Taking all opportunities to support individual and organizational achievement and growth.
• Communicating Expectations clearly and concisely
• Holding employees accountable
Defining SMART Goals
SMART refers to an acronym built around the key characteristics of meaningful goals, which can be
very helpful in writing performance expectations that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of work
and behaviors. The acronym may be broken down as follows:
1. Specific –Specifically define what you expect the employee to do/deliver. Avoid generalities and use
action verbs as much as possible. The level of detail you need to provide depends on the employee’s
personality and their experience level. For example, a highly autonomous or experienced employee will
need less detail than a less confident or seasoned one. (concrete, detailed, well defined).
2. Measurable – You should be able to measure whether the employee is meeting the goals or not.
Identify how you will measure success – usually stated in terms of quantity, quality, timeliness or cost
(e.g. increase by 25%).
3. Achievable – Make sure that accomplishing the goal is within the employee’s realm of authority and
capabilities. While considering whether a goal is actionable/achievable, you also need to consider the
employee’s total set of goals. While each individual goal may be achievable, overall, you may be
assigning the employee more goals than they could reasonably be expected to successfully complete.
4. Realistic – Can the employee realistically achieve the objectives with the resources available?
Ensure the goal is practical, results-oriented and within the employee’s realm of authority and
capabilities. Also, Relevant: Where appropriate, link the goal to a higher-level departmental or
organizational goal, and ensure that the employee understands how their goal and actions contributes to
the attainment of the higher level goal. This gives the employee a context for their work.
5. Time-bound – When does the objective need to be completed? Specify when the goal needs to be
completed (e.g. by the end of Q2, or every month).
We will look at each of these characteristics in more detail later.
Writing SMART Goals
While SMART goals are generally recognized as a performance management best-practice, writing
them is not easy. It takes some practice, but especially vigilance, to ensure that an employee’s goals are
effective. It’s easy to get bogged down in the theories, especially since there are several different
variations of what the SMART acronym stands for.
When managers and employees know how to write SMART goals, it helps take the subjectivity out of
goal setting, and ensures they have a shared set of expectations. The real aim is to specify the who, what,
where, when and why for the goal and ensure shared understanding and expectations. All of these
elements are critical for helping align goals throughout your organization. Remember, the ultimate
purpose is always to help the employee, and by extension, the organization, succeed.
Research has found that as many as half of all workers say they don’t know their organization’s high
level goals. Further, more than half of all workers say don’t clearly understand their own goals. How can
an organization succeed if its workforce does not have clear, aligned goals?
Developing SMART Goals based on Job Duties
Performance goals are written to describe the measurable results an employee needs to achieve within
each functional competency area. Performance goals should be tied to the business outcome the
supervisor needs to accomplish through the job and its incumbent. In our use of the term “SMART
goal,” we include both a goal (where we want the employee to be) and an objective (the steps needed to
get there).
SMART goals are meant to be realistic targets for an employee to reach on a regular basis, or over the
annual cycle. Goals are written in an active tense and use strong verbs like plan, write, conduct,
produce, etc., rather than learn, understand, feel. Goals can help you as a supervisor focus your
employee on what matters most out of the myriad tasks he or she may perform in the job. A SMART
performance goal answers the question “What do I need you to do, When, Why (what does it
demonstrate), and to What Standard?”
A job duty or responsibility is not a measurable performance goal. It only represents one of these three
components, the “what” needs to be done.
Setting Goals for Functional Competencies
Setting goals creates employee motivation and should help the employee connect the job to
the mission of your department and the university. While position descriptions often list everything a
supervisor expects an employee to do within each functional area, work plans in People Admin will
require that you state succinctly no more than three SMART goals within each functional competency
area (following the priority order from the job description) and describe how they will be met and
measured. The best SMART goals provide guidance for the employee and help keep performance
focused throughout the evaluation period. When these goals are discussed and written, the supervisor
and the employee have a thorough understanding of what performance is expected and by what standard
it will be evaluated
There are two types of objectives incorporated into goals written to measure performance in functional
Process Objectives: help the employee be more accountable by setting specific numbers/types of
activities to be completed by specific dates. Process objectives tell what a “good” – not exceptional -employee is expected to do and how he or she is expected to do it. Process SMART goals describe
participants, interactions, and activities.
Outcome Objectives: describe an expected outcome as a result of work being done. Outcome
objectives are more difficult to measure because many different elements may influence what is being
measured. However, the evaluation can be used to explain external elements impacting an outcome.
Setting Goals for Behavioral Competencies
For each Behavioral Competency, supervisors are asked to develop only one SMART goal. A third type
of objective is incorporated into SMART goals written to measure Behavioral Competencies:
Impact Objectives: describe expected changes in attitudes, knowledge or behavior in the short term
and describe the degree to which you expect this change.
Three Components Create a SMART Goal:
1. Performance – what the employee is expected to do PLUS the steps or measurements needed to meet
or clarify goal:
2. Criteria – the quality or level of performance that will be considered acceptable, often
described in terms of speed, accuracy and/or quality (time frames).
3. Conditions – conditions under which the performance is expected to occur.
An example of a clearly written job objective incorporating these components could be written as
The employee will write reports for the department at the end of each week
while the legislature is in session.
1. Performance:
The first component, performance, helps communicate what the employee is expected to
perform. The performance is usually written using a verb that describes the action of the
performance. Using the example from above, the performance of this objective is highlighted
The employee will write reports for the department at the end of each week while the legislature
is in session.
2. Criteria and Quality
The second component, criteria, describes the quality, level, and timeliness standards by
which the performance should be accomplished. The criteria of the example job objective are
highlighted below.
The employee will write reports for the department at the end of each week while the legislature
is in session.
The preceding example described criteria in terms of timeliness. Another way to describe the
criteria for a performance objective is to use accuracy measures. This can be expressed using a
percentage. For example:
The employee will write reports for the department with zero grammatical errors while the
legislature is in session.
Quality of performance is another critical criterion. Sometimes quality, timeliness, and accuracy
are important. All characteristics may be addressed in the objective.
3. Condition:
The third component, condition, describes the situation, timeframes, and the environment
specifics in which the performance is to occur. The conditions of the example job objective are
highlighted below.
The employee will write reports for the department at the end of each week while the legislature
is in session.
Objectives may be one or several sentences in length. Several sentences may be required to
communicate the intent clearly.
The Work Plan is a Living Document
To ensure success, make performance evaluation an evolving process. Refer to it at least
quarterly and, at the interim review in September, discuss the SMART goals with the employee.
Consider the following:
• Check the priority order of functional competencies to see if there have been changes in business
• Build flexibility into SMART goals to ensure adaptability as changes occur in the job or department.
• Ask about obstacles and take action to eliminate them.
Detailed Help on Developing SMART Goals
Use the following details and questions if you need additional assistance on converting a task-based
work plan into one that will allow you to measure your employee in succinct, focused performance goals
related to their demonstration of Functional and Behavioral Competencies.
Specific – What exactly should be done, with or for whom?
Specific means that the objective is concrete, detailed, focused and well defined. The expectation states
a specific outcome, or a precise objective to be accomplished. The outcome is stated in numbers,
percentages, frequency, reach, scientific findings, etc.
To help set specific objectives it helps to ask:
• WHAT do I need the employee to do? These are best written using strong, action verbs such
as conduct, develop, build, plan, execute, etc. This helps your objective to be action-orientated and
focuses on what’s most important..
• WHY is this important for the employee to do?
• WHO else needs to be involved?
• WHEN do I want this to be completed?
• HOW is this assigned task to be done?
Diagnostic Questions
• What exactly in the employee going to do, with or for whom?
• What strategies will be used?
• Is the objective well understood?
• Is the objective described with action verbs?
• Is it clear who is involved?
• Is it clear where this will happen?
• Is it clear what needs to happen?
• Is the outcome clear?
• Will this objective lead to the desired results?
Measurable – Is it measurable & can I measure it?
If the objective is measurable, it means that the measurement source is identified and you are able to
track the actions as the employee progress towards the objective. Measurement is the standard used for
comparison. As it’s so often said if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! It’s important to have
measures that will encourage and motivate your employees. As you see the change occurring, you may
need to develop interim measures. Measurements go a long way to help your employees know when
they are performing up to your standards.
Diagnostic Questions
• How will I know that the change has occurred?
• Can these measurements be obtained?
Achievable – Can the employee get the goal accomplished in the proposed timeframe/in this political
climate/at his or her current level of competency? SMART goals need to be achievable. They may
stretch your employee, but not so far that he or she becomes frustrated and loses motivation.
Diagnostic Questions
• Are the goals you set achievable and attainable?
• Can the employee successfully complete this goal with the skills, resources and time available to
• Are there factors beyond their control that need to be considered?
• Can the employee get it done in the proposed timeframe?
• Does the employee understand the limitations and constraints?
• Has anyone else done this successfully?
• Is this possible?
Realistic/Relevant – Will this goal lead to the desired results?
Objectives that are achievable, may not be realistic….. however, realistic does not mean easy. Realistic
means that you have the resources to get it done. The achievement of an objective requires resources,
such as, skills, money, equipment, etc. to the task required to achieve the objective. Relevant means the
outcome or results of the work directly support the business needs
of the agency or priority area.
Diagnostic Questions
• Does the employee have the resources available to achieve this goal?
• Do I need to clarify unit priorities to the employee to ensure that this goal is achieved?
• How can I help the employee see the relationship between this SMART goal and our mission?
Timely/Time-Bound – When or how often do I need for the employee to meet a particular goal?
Time-bound means setting deadlines for the achievement of the objective. Deadlines need to be both
achievable and realistic. If you don’t set a time you will reduce the motivation and urgency required to
execute the tasks. Timeframes create the necessary urgency and prompts action. Timeframes also add
measurability and provide a clear yardstick as to whether work is being done to expected standards.
Diagnostic Questions
• When or how often do I need (response/reports/summaries/agendas/schedules/status updates)?
• Is there a stated deadline?
Legal Update Supports SMART Goals Approach
In Current Legal Issues in Performance Appraisal, Stanley B. Malos, J.D., Ph.D. makes six Substantive
Recommendations for Legally Sound Performance Appraisals. Even if legalities are not your concern,
these six recommendations set the stage for what makes an appraisal rating system, for employees or
non-employees, sound, and potentially – motivational.
According to Malos, “appraisal criteria:
should be objective rather than subjective;
should be job-related or based on job analysis;
should be based on behaviors rather than traits;
should be within the control of the ratee;
should relate to specific functions, not global assessments,
should be communicated to the employee.”
Malos cites procedural recommendations for legally sound performance appraisals as well. His
recommendations include:
• procedures should be standardized for all people within a job group;
• they “should provide notice of performance deficiencies, and opportunities to correct them;
• should provide written instructions and training for raters;
• should require thorough and consistent documentation across raters
Putting It All Together: Sample SMART Goals
To develop SMART Goals that will help your employee’s work meet your business needs, fill in
the blanks below:
Smart Examples:
Complete one for each of your employee’s functional competency areas:
Do This___________________________________How________________________________
Within What Time________________________________ With what outcome?_____________
Sample SMART goals for Customer Service:
• Improve student service satisfaction ratings by (xx)% by the end of the calendar year, as
determined by student satisfaction surveys.
• Increase the number of people who visit our Athletics web site to (xx) by the end of February.
• Respond daily to voice mails or calls concerning the status of ordered supplies or equipment. There
are no more than 2 valid complaints from faculty and staff about lack of supplies during the
performance cycle.
Sample SMART goals for Work Coordination:
• Train and guide secretaries in units reporting to Associate Provost by explaining proper form
completion, communicating new or revised policies, and conducting formal orientations and training
meetings. Orientations of new employees occur within one month of hire.
• Rooms for events and meetings are scheduled two weeks in advance with meeting locations for each
event or meeting communicated one week in advance.
• A master calendar for the upcoming year’s events is submitted for approval by August 15th
Sample SMART goals for Staff Development:
• Set up customer feedback systems to monitor and evaluate employees’ responses to customer concerns
(at least monthly)
• Attend at least one HR Management training session per year and submit a short summary of new
understanding on HR policies/procedures
Sample SMART goals for Information Administration:
• Accurately process 50 housing applications per day.
• Review student time sheets for accuracy and compliance and submit to payroll prior to established
deadlines. Outcome: No delays or errors in students’ pay
Sample SMART goals for Budgeting:
• Submit to the Director by the 15th of each month, a monthly budget report that summarizes for the
previous month the total spent in all budget categories and balances for all categories. This report
should also briefly document any budget concerns and forecasts.
• Review the budgets of the reporting departments on a monthly basis and alert them by the 5th of each
month to possible issues that should be addressed. Accounts are not over-expended or depleted
without the account manager being informed. Accounts are managed efficiently at year-end with all
expenditures managed based on Budget Office guidance.
Sample SMART goals for Planning and Organizing:
• Place documentation of Problem Management Resolution in the J drive within one week of event
• Share project plans with customers through weekly/monthly meetings to determine that expectations
are clear to both parties.
Managing to SMART Objectives
Managing Performance
There are three major components to managing employee performance:

The day-to-day tracking of employees’ progress toward achieving performance expectations
outlined in the performance plan
Benchmark interim reviews conducted throughout the performance cycle based

on specific projects; and at a minimum, the interim review in September
The final appraisal meeting at the end of the annual cycle
Managing also includes providing on-going feedback to employees through coaching and frequent
discussions throughout the performance cycle. These discussions should be held on a regular basis, as
well as in response to changes in performance. At any point during the performance cycle, supervisors
need to address performance areas of improvement and achievements with their employees.
Tools to Keep Performance on Target

Visual observation
Logs or notes kept by supervisor
Written activity or work logs kept by employee
Periodic meetings with employee (quarterly meetings are recommended)
User or customer feedback
Written progress reports
Project Plan and accomplishments based on meeting SMART Goals
Discuss with employee:
Planning how you will track performance data (Methods of Evaluation)
Decide what data to collect
Decide how to collect the data
Decide when to collect the data
Decide what data the employee should collect
The Career Development Plan
Below are examples of some typical activities which could be considered appropriate for
employee development.

On-the-job training, cross-training, job shadowing
College course work or certificate programs
Attending or participating in professional organizations
Coaching or consulting
Individual career counseling
New employee orientation
Working with or as a mentor
Management development programs
Attending workshops, conferences, or teleconferences
Self-study or reading assignments
Online learning projects
Attend meetings for you or with you
Sources and Other Resources
The Web has a wealth of resources on Developing Smart Goals.
Bascal & Associates. Frequently Asked Questions About Performance Management, Performance
Appraisals, Employee Reviews, Appraisal Forms and More : What are SMART goals? 2009-2009.
Boise State University Training Program. Performance Management –Creating Smart Objectives:
Participant Guide. April 24, 2007. http://hrs.boisestate.edu/td/pdf/SMARTgoals.pdf
Edelstein, Wendy. UCBerkeleyNews. Setting SMART goals is key to performance management. Feb. 15
2006. http://berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/2006/02/15_performance.shtml
Halogen Software. Tips with writing SMART goals. © 2010 Halogen Software.
Heathfield, Susan. Goal Setting and Feedback – Beyond Traditional SMART Goal Setting.
Herrick, Scott. CubeRules.com. SMART Goals and Writing Your Performance Review. Sep 21,
2009. http://cuberules.com/2009/09/21/smart-goals-and-writing-your-performance-review/
——–. CubeRules.com. Time to Adjust SMART Goals for your Performance Review. Mar 10,
2010. http://cuberules.com/2009/03/10/adjust-smart-goals-performance-review/
Lopper, Jerry. SMART Goal Setting: Set Goals with SMART: Successful Goals, Objectives,
Resolutions. Dec 3, 2006.
Maine Public Universities. Performance Management – SMART Goals. November 2, 2006.
Raasch, Joe. The Happy Burro: Maximizing Organizational Performance. Let Us Be Honest
Here…It’s Time to Write the Annual Performance Reviews. Nov. 20, 2007.
UHR Employee Development. Writing S.M.A.R.T Goals. July, 2009
UNH Performance Management – Developing SMART Goals: “That which gets measured gets
managed.” September, 2007. http://www.unh.edu/hr/performance-management/SMARTGoals.pdf
Writing SMART goals – part 3. The Performance Management Evolution. May 11, 2006.
The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 634 – 653
The use of constructive-developmental theory to advance
the understanding of leadership
Cynthia D. McCauley ⁎, Wilfred H. Drath, Charles J. Palus,
Patricia M.G. O’Connor, Becca A. Baker
Center for Creative Leadership, P.O. Box 26300, Greensboro, NC 27438, USA
Constructive-developmental theory is a stage theory of adult development that focuses on the growth and elaboration of a
person’s ways of understanding the self and the world. In this article we review how the constructive-developmental frameworks of
Kegan [Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self: Problem and process in human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press], Torbert [Torbert, W. R. (1987). Managing the corporate dream: Restructuring for long-term success. Homewood, IL: Dow
Jones-Irwin.], and Kohlberg [Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive developmental approach to socialization. In
D. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research. New York: Rand McNally] have been applied in the theoretical
and empirical literature on leadership and management. Although the literature has produced a number of propositions, the notion
that a leader’s order of development should impact his or her leadership effectiveness or managerial performance has generated the
most research. We found mixed support for this proposition as well as a number of limitations in the research in general. To have a
greater impact on the leadership field, constructive-developmental theory needs to generate more robust research, to link more
clearly with on-going streams of leadership research, and to explore the contribution of aspects of the theory beyond individual
order of development.
© 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Constructive-developmental theory; Adult development; Stages of development; Leadership effectiveness; Leadership development
Over twenty years ago, Bartunek, Gordon, & Weathersby (1983) in the Academy of Management Review advocated
for the use of developmental stage theories to inform the design of management education programs that increase
“complicated” understanding in managers. This ability to see and understand organizations from multiple perspectives
was (and is) seen as necessary for dealing with the complex nature of many of the problems managers face. The
potential contribution of developmental theories is in their description of how adults develop more complex and
comprehensive ways of making sense of themselves and their experience.
In the intervening years since the Bartunek et al. publication, a number of practitioners have used developmental
stage theories in designing leadership development interventions that help managers deal with complex challenges
(Laske, 1999; Palus & Drath, 1995; Torbert, 1991; Torbert & Associates, 2004; Van Velsor & Drath, 2004; Wagner
et al., 2006). However, we have seen little in the mainstream management and leadership research literature that makes
⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 336 286 4420.
E-mail address: mccauley@leaders.ccl.org (C.D. McCauley).
1048-9843/$ – see front matter © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
C.D. McCauley et al. / The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 634–653
use of these theories. Perhaps this should not be surprising. Adult development has been the purview of schools of
education and of counseling programs. Management and leadership belongs to business schools and to social and
organizational psychology and political science departments.
Yet there has been some intermingling of the adult development literature and the management and leadership
literature. In this article, we are particularly interested in the use of a specific stream of work from the adult
development arena—constructive-developmental theory—to advance the understanding of management, leadership,
and change in organizations. The purpose of the article is to examine the literature at this intersection, summarizing
what it says about how people’s development as adults is related to various leadership phenomena. Our aim is to
provide a comprehensive picture of the propositions that have been put forth about how adult development is related to
leadership, the research that has examined these propositions, and the limitations of this body of research.
We focus on constructive-developmental theory because it is the developmental stage theory most frequently used in
the management and leadership literature. We define the constructive-developmental domain narrowly, focusing only
on the stream of work related to the group of theorists identified by Kegan (1980) when he first suggested the term. This
group most directly built on Piaget’s work, extending the work into adulthood and beyond its cognitive focus. There are
several developmental stage theories that have similarities to constructive-developmental theory (e.g., Beck & Cowan,
1996; Hall, 1995; Jaques, 1996) yet are not part of the neo-Piagetian paradigm. It is beyond the scope of this review to
examine all developmental stage theories. For the interested reader, Commons & Richards (2003) and Wilber (2000a)
have summarized and worked to integrate a wide variety of these stage theories.
We begin by providing an overview of constructive-developmental theory and then review the management and
leadership literature that has made use of three specific developmental frameworks within the more general theory. We
end by examining the current limitations of this literature and propose some promising future directions.
1. Constructive-developmental theory
The term “constructive-developmental” was first suggested by Kegan (1980) to refer to a stream of work in
psychology that focuses on the development of meaning and meaning-making processes across the lifespan. The theory
is “constructive” in the sense that it deals with a person’s construals, constructions, and interpretations of an experience,
that is, the meaning a person makes of an experience. It is “developmental” in the sense that it is concerned with how
those construals, constructions, and interpretations of an experience grow more complex over time. Constructivedevelopmental theory thus takes as its subject the growth and elaboration of a person’s ways of understanding the self
and the world. It assumes an ongoing process of development in which qualitatively different meaning systems evolve
over time, both as a natural unfolding as well as in response to the limitations of existing ways of making meaning.
Each meaning system is more complex than the previous one in the sense that it is capable of including, differentiating
among, and integrating a more diverse range of experience. Along with Kegan, other early theorists contributing to this
stream were Fingarette (1963), Kohlberg (1969), Perry (1970), Selman (1974), and Loevinger (1976).
Constructive-developmental theory is built on the seminal work of Jean Piaget (1954), which he referred to as “genetic
epistemology”—the genesis or successive unfolding of the capacity for rational thought in the developing child. For
Piaget, development was not a gradual accumulation of new knowledge, but a process of moving through qualitatively
distinct stages of growth, a process that transforms knowledge itself. As a constructivist, Piaget believed that categories of
thought—such as number, space, time, and quantity—are not given a priori, but are actively constructed by the
individual in response to the need to understand the world. When contradictions arise in individuals’ current ways of
constructing the world (as, in a famous experiment, when a child learns that the volume of water in two differently shaped
containers is actually the same in each), they reconstruct how they understand the world to eliminate the contradiction.
Constructive-developmental theory is part of a large and diverse literature on life-span development, which at its
broadest is concerned with psychosocial growth and aging from birth to death (Baltes, Staudinger, & Lindenberger,
1999; Hoare, 2006). Although Piagetian and neo-Piagetian ideas have been contested in this literature over the years,
and various limitations have been identified (e.g., Fischer & Bidell, 2006), recent reviews continue to show the
usefulness and validity of the family of neo-Piagetian theories (Commons, Trudeau, Stein, Richards, & Krause, 1998;
Demick & Andreoletti, 2003; Manners & Durkin, 2001). In particular, there is general support within the life-span
development literature that there are important patterns in the ways adults mature such that earlier ways of meaning
making are integrated into more comprehensive and complex later ways (Basseches, 1984; Berg & Sternberg, 2003;
Moshman, 2003; Sinnott, 1996).
C.D. McCauley et al. / The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 634–653
Constructive-developmental theory is referred to as neo-Piagetian theory because it extends Piaget’s ideas in several
important respects: (a) Constructive-developmental theory takes the view that the developmental growth Piaget studied
affects more than the way a child constructs the physical world and includes the way adults construct and interpret their
experiences; (b) the theory moves beyond Piaget’s focus on cognition and includes the emotions; (c) although
constructive-developmental theory recognizes qualitatively different “stages” of development, it also focuses on the
processes of transformation—the challenges, achievements, and costs of moving from one way of making meaning to
another; (d) the theory moves beyond Piaget’s exclusive attention on the external manifestations of development to also
include the inner experience of developing; and finally, (e) constructive-developmental theory broadens its focus
beyond the individual to include a study of the social context and how it affects development (Kegan, 1980).
The basic propositions of constructive-developmental theory are the following:
1. People actively construct ways of understanding and making sense of themselves and the world (as opposed to
“taking in” an objective world).
2. There are identifiable patterns of meaning making that people share in common with one another; these are
variously referred to as stages, orders of consciousness, ways of knowing, levels of development, organizing
principles, or (in this article) orders of development.
3. Orders of development unfold in a specific invariant sequence, with each successive order transcending and
including the previous order.
4. In general, people do not regress; once an order of development has been constructed, the previous order looses its
organizing function, but remains as a perspective that can now be reflected upon.
5. Because subsequent orders include all earlier orders as special cases, later orders are more complex (they support
more comprehensive understanding) than earlier orders; later orders are not better in any absolute sense.
6. Developmental movement from one order to the next is driven by limitations in the current way of constructing
meaning; this can happen when a person faces increased complexity in the environment that requires a more
complex way of understanding themselves and the world.
7. People’s order of development influences what they notice or can become aware of, and therefore, what they can
describe, reflect on, and change (Cook-Greuter, 2004).
Constructive-developmental theory concerns itself with two primary aspects of development: (a) the organizing
principles that regulate how people make sense of themselves and the world (orders of development) and (b) how these
regulative principles are constructed and re-constructed over time (developmental movement). An organizing principle
itself is subjective, because the person is subject to its capacity to make meaning; it cannot be reflected on itself, since it
is the regulative means by which the person engages in reflection. Developmental movement involves the person’s
gradually increasing awareness of his or her current subjective organizing principle until the person is able to reflect on
the organizing principle itself, at which point what was subjective becomes objective. Of course, there will then be a
new organizing principle to which the person is subject. When operating from this new principle, which takes the
former principle as an object of reflection, a person is capable of differentiating and integrating more complex life
Developmental movement is driven by new challenges that reveal the limitations of the current organizing principle.
An order of development is a complex interaction between the individual’s meaning-making capability and the holding
environment, which is the totality of the surrounding and embedding social and interpersonal world of love, family,
work, and play. The holding environment may confirm and support a person’s current order of development or
disconfirm and challenge it. Developmental movement is thus conceived as an interaction between the achievement of
stability and order through making meaning of the holding environment and the challenge of new environments with
new relations and roles that reveal the limitations of that achievement.
Various constructive-developmental theorists have examined different yet overlapping aspects of human experience
(e.g., cognitions, emotions, self-concepts, relations to others), resulting in somewhat different ways of describing
orders of development. In the next section, we will describe in more detail three constructive-developmental theories
and the particular orders of development each posits. However, there is some agreement that three broad successive
orders of development are useful for describing the meaning-making capabilities of most adults. We will use these three
broad orders of development as a heuristic for integrating across the theories and summarizing research. Table 1 shows
how the more specific frameworks described in the next section are related to these orders.
C.D. McCauley et al. / The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 634–653
Table 1
Comparison of three constructive-developmental frameworks
1) Kegan’s Orders
of Consciousness
What is object?
Enduring needs and dispositions
Interpersonal relationships
The autonomous self
What is subject?
Interpersonal relationships
The autonomous self
The transforming self
2) Torbert’s Stages
Action logic
Norms rule
Craft logic
rules norms
rules craft
rules single
Most valuable
processes and
evolution rule
Main focus
procedure, and
Delivery of
success within
Self in
relationship to
with system
theory and
with practice,
Interplay of
action, and
self and
Mutual expectations
Law and order
Social contracts
Motives for moral
Anticipation of
disapproval from others
Anticipation of
failure of duty
Concern to
maintain selfrespect and
respect of the
Concern about
for violating
one’s own
Definition of “right”
about other
people and
their feelings;
motivated to
follow rules
Upholding social
order and
maintaining the
welfare of the
society or group
Upholding the
basic rights,
values, and
legal contracts
of society
Guidance by
principles that
all humanity
should follow
3) Kohlberg’s Stages of
Cognitive Moral
Adapted from Cook-Greuter (2004), Kegan (1994), and Snell (1996).
Individuals operating from the first adult order of development have a sense of self derived from their connections to
others. They can reflect on their own needs and desires and have the capac…
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