Vertical news at CCL

Dear CCL Vertical Development Community,

Here are some items of interest for you. Please share.

Our recent webinar by Claudette Rowley on Cultural Brilliance was recorded and is here along with her slides and a link to her work. Thank you Claudette!

Bill Torbert with Global Leadership Associates has launched his new podcast and webinar series on The Origins and Reach of Action Inquiry.

  • Torbert’s memoir is titled Numbskull: Born Again and Again and Again, Transforming Self, Communities, and Scientific Inquiry

Third Annual Research Forum on Vertical Leadership Development in London, 18-20 June with our partner Global Leadership Associates. We especially welcome faculty who bring a (paying) client who is engaged in vertical. Let’s talk if you have one.

Prior vertical news is here if you missed it.

Speaking of our mentor and friend Bill Torbert, here are three wonderful, really short and crisp videos on key aspects of action inquiry. Client ready!

  • Why do action logics matter?
  • What is action inquiry?
  • What is timely action?

Follow the inline links for informational flyers and content.

With much love,


Charles J. (Chuck) Palus
Senior Fellow

Introducing two new members of the CCL vertical leadership community

Introducing Allison Conte:
Allison is on-call faculty based in Colorado.
Allison has 10+ years’ experience in applying integral thinking to organizational leadership and culture transformations. She has studied or worked directly with many vertical-development theorists including Ken Wilber, Suzanne Cook-Greuter, Terri O’Fallon, Bob Kegan, Lisa Lahey, Theo Dawson, Zak Stein, and Bill Joiner. She holds certifications in several vertical assessments including the Leadership Maturity Framework, Leadership Agility 360, and the Lectical Assessment. She wrote a 2007 masters thesis on Holacracy and was amongst the first 10 certified Holacracy practitioners. In addition, she holds a mastery certification in Polarity Thinking and is well-versed in the crossover between polarities and vertical development. In 2014, she published an article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Integral Theory and Practice proposing that polarities should be considered a core element of integral theory. Allison’s own body of work, Sophia Leadership, is a blended professional and spiritual development program that includes vertical development, polarities, Jungian Masculine/Feminine archetypes, energy work, and spiritual practices.  

Introducing Paul Hughes:
Paul is Client Solutions Director in the newly formed UK and Ireland Region (part of EMEA).
The best description of me is a ‘pracademic’: I try to combine my practical managerial, consulting and leadership development experience, with my more recent doctoral research experience. It means while I respect the integrity of academic rigour, I can get frustrated when the focus becomes disconnected from real world value and remote. It also means while I value real world experience, I recognize it can sometimes benefit from some critical thinking to get under the skin of what’s really going on. From what I understand of my limited time so far in CCL, being aware of and managing this dilemma makes me a decent fit. Or at least I hope it does!

There are three personal research areas of interest:

  1. Mindsets, which grew out of work I did in 2012 using a model adapted from the work of Torbert and Rooke (2005) to explore how differing mindsets related to differing leadership approaches, as well as how they are developed.
  2. Leadership cultures, arising from beliefs and particularly discretionary leadership practices. This was one of the themes of my doctorate.
  3. How leaders, and their reports, develop ways to balance the dilemmas within increasingly complex and changing organizational ‘ecosystems’, as well as the ways they navigate and influence within them. This too was another theme in my doctorate.  

These interest areas mean I’m keen to get involved in helping us develop our understanding of leadership cultures, growth mindsets, polarities and leading across boundaries. Though being a naturally curious person I can easily be drawn into any other topic I find interesting!    

Vertical development of leadership culture

Here is an excerpt of Part 1 of our forthcoming article in Integral Review on the vertical development of leadership culture. Contact John McGuire and Chuck Palus for the full article and look for it online shortly. /

McGuire, J. M., & C.J. Palus (2018). Vertical development of leadership culture. Integral Review. In press.


This article defines leadership culture and provides a framework for its vertical (aka constructive-developmental, or transclusive) transformation. The idea of leadership culture and its developmental potential has been a key focus of research and practice at the Center for Creative Leadership since the mid-1990s, as CCL began transcending and including its domain of developing individual leaders within an explicitly relational ontology. The Direction, Alignment, and Commitment (DAC) Framework models leadership as a relational process operating at both individual and collective levels, in which beliefs and practices for creating DAC are shown to develop vertically. Collaboration with Bill Torbert and associates has produced a model of leadership culture transformation in parallel with the action logics observed in individual leaders. The second part of this article describes an approach to change leadership via multi-year collaborative inquiries grounded in culture. The Change Learning Cycle integrates three intertwining domains of change: self, cultural beliefs, and systems. Finally, the article outlines the use of a leadership culture tool box for change leadership initiatives designed for engaging, scaling, and democratizing leadership culture development for everybody, everywhere.   Continue reading “Vertical development of leadership culture”

An Exercise in Connecting

This wonderful relational exercise is offered to us by our colleague TZiPi Radonsky. TZiPi is a traveling rabbi-teacher and woman of the world, coach, writer, artist, and our associate at the Center for Creative Leadership.

Connected: An Exercise in Connecting

con·nec·tion / kəˈnekSH(ə)n: A necessary element to living in present times, and an antidote for the digital world

In a time when we are technology dependent for almost everything it is important to acknowledge commonalities, experience safe touch and eye contact, and be present with one another. This brings about a lightness of energy and an openness that fosters learning.

I learned this exercise many years ago in a Fast Company article. I am always surprised and delighted to see people’s response. A necessary element is being willing to be improvisational and planful in preparing and carrying out this exercise. In other words messiness is good. Continue reading “An Exercise in Connecting”

Advancing a Vertical Approach to Change: Research Forum, June 5-7, 2018, London

The Center for Creative Leadership in partnership with Global Leadership Associates

In our second international forum (details here) we focus on the shift from change initiatives based on horizontal designs to ones rooted in vertical, transformative developmental principles. Questions raised include: What transitions in consciousness do we need to foster? How might we manage the interplay between “spotlight” (explicit) and “scaffold” (implicit) vertical designs. How can a constructive-developmental approach be a valuable piece in societal change? What works? How do we know?

Please join us! Contact Richard Izard at Global Leadership Associates,

Download the flyer here. Here’s a summary of the 2017 Forum.

More on vertical leadership development here.

Hosted by the CONNECTED Community at CCL, featuring the big idea of relational leadership. Contact Charles J. (Chuck) Palus at

The Third Act Conference 2017

Check out the great work of and Edward Kelly and Nick Owen in the Third Act Conference.

“The Third Act is a new developmental stage of human evolution.”

In this year’s Third Act Conference (9th November, The Marker Hotel, Dublin) we explore te impact of human longevity, socially, organisationally and personally.

  • For instance, what does it mean for us socially that we are living an extra 25-30 years?
  • How well is society doing so far?
  • What kind of organisational designs can we create that will enable people to contribute, at all ages, in a more flexible and human centered way?
  • Personally, what are you going to do? Where are you going to live? Who are you going to be with it? What sort of demands does this new 25-30 years place on your life?

The Third Act

Vertical Leadership Research Forum, London, June 2017

The Center for Creative Leadership was honored to partner with Global Leadership Associates and Bill Torbert in designing and hosting a Research Forum on vertical leadership development, 27-29 London 2017. Joining us were colleagues from Google, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Third Act, and Penske Trucks.

We focused on practical applications of vertical leadership development and asked each other:

Site of the 2017 Research Forum on Vertical Leadership Development

  • How have you been using and applying ideas and methods based in (or related to) vertical development (aka stage theory) for leadership development? What works best?
  • In particular, how do you use vertical development ideas and methods to develop organizational systems, practices, policies, strategies, and cultures (not just individuals)? What works best?
  • How do you measure progress?

We will report our findings in a technical report to be issued soon. Watch this space.

In the meantime, some of the topics this group is addressing are:

  • Action inquiry in the face of complex challenges in a changing world
  • Leadership cultures & their transformations
  • Architectures for leadership development: Vertical as the scaffold, and the spotlight
  • Executive team coaching
  • The Leadership Culture Map™
  • Effective leadership strategies in a VUCA world
  • The scientific evaluation of vertical development
  • Vertical development for everybody, everywhere
  • Immunity to change & deliberately developmental organizations
  • Development and impact at multiple levels: society, organization, group, individual (SOGI)
  • Life journeys / From Here to There Stories / Story telling
  • How to frame developmental feedback
  • Seven ways of framing power & politics
  • Mindfulness / meditation / holistic and integral practices
  • Systems thinking
  • Dealing with complexity
  • The Global Leadership Profile for assessing vertical development
  • The Transformations™ card decks for exploring life journeys


  • Chuck Palus, palusc(at)
  • Elaine Herdman-Barker, Elaine(at)
  • Richard Izard, richard(at)