Seven Stages of Psychological Growth
Recent advances in neuroscience have found that our brain continually changes throughout our adult life. This has not been a surprise to many psychologists who have theorised, for many decades, that we continually change and develop throughout our entire life. These include psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Clare Graves, Robert Kegan, Elliot Jaques, Jane Loevinger, Bill Torbert, Lawrence Kohlberg and Susan Cook-Greuter.
Each of these psychologists has mapped a different aspect of a person’s development such as values, cognition, morals, personality or ego, etc. However, they all tend to share one thing in common in that they view adult growth in terms of periods of transition followed by plateaux of stability. It is this combination of plateaux and transitions which is the basis of most models of adult development. It is this similarity which has enabled us to map all the models together to form a unified model of ‘Seven Stages of Psychological Growth’ for a leader.
Throughout our lives we travel on a journey of development. We can stop at any stage or, equally, we can accelerate our progress. As adults, we tend to stop our journey when our level of psychological growth is aligned with the activities in our life. We have no need to further develop. However, if life becomes more challenging than our level of psychological growth can deal with, then this tends to generate stress and anxiety. With the right preparation and support this challenge can provide a stimulus for future growth. We can, therefore, accelerate our development through seeking new challenges in life.
Machine type organisations, can be led from the conventional stages (1 - 4). However, these organisations are becoming misaligned with society and are losing their ‘social licence to operate’. Our new emerging society now requires our organisations to operate like ecosystems. These organisations are increasingly being led from the post-conventional stages (5 - 7).