leadership 6|19
Ein Plädoyer für 3D
Spreng Executive Business Coaching GmbH | Hans-Joachim Spreng
A new idea is driven through the streets? Aren’t there al­ready enough to choose from? Maybe. But the idea of Double Helix Leader­ship is so fasci­nating that I simply have to share it with you.
Humankind has been discussing theories of trans­formation and exist­ence for cen­turies. And the greater the need for true trans­for­mation, ra­ther than merely in­creasing the speed with which we spin around a fixed centre, the louder the de­bate. In the end, real trans­for­mation is not about changing the speed of the spin but about crea­ting a new fixed axis. Have you ever won­dered what in­fluential figures like Merkel and Putin, Macron and Trump, Lagarde and Johnson
have in common and where they differ? While they are all more or less ex­pe­ri­enced leaders, their self-percep­tion in today’s glob­alised world is sig­ni­fi­cant­ly differ­ent. A closer look at the concept of Double Helix Leader­ship that com­bines two well-known trans­for­mation models can help answer these ques­tions and ex­plain current condi­tions and future require­ments.

Craftwork of 2017

Chart of
the week

“On the way to the old persona” Sixteen larger-than-life characters/ per­son­al­i­ties/faces from four dif­fer­ent species, drawn with hard graphite pencil. Six of them will take turns to greet you when you set foot in our new office.
Gabriele Muschel, Exhibition 1999 in Wiesbaden


inspiring & networking
Our new location also rep­re­sents a new business focus. We value the phi­los­ophy of “trans­paren­cy and dis­cre­tion”. Stay curious. And feel welcome.

inspiring & vernetzen

Leadership-Pipeline (Charan)
Charan describes how leaders grow with their tasks. His up­ward, inter­twining leadership pipeline com­prises six so-called passages: “from man­ag­ing self to man­ag­ing others”, “from man­ag­ing others to man­ag­ing man­agers”, “from man­ag­ing man­agers to man­ag­ing a func­tion”, “from man­ag­ing a func­tion to man­ag­ing a di­vi­sion”, “from man­ag­ing a divi­sion to man­ag­ing a com­pa­ny”. He exem­pli­fies which tasks to master in or­der to reach the next level. In terms of the “Double Helix” structure men­tioned in the headline, Charan’s pipeline ̶ a classic in leadership theory ̶ is one of its two chains.

Human Consciousness (Graves)
The second chain of the Double He­lix would be that of human con­sciousness. Applying value systems from different fields of research on human and social develop­ment, Dr. Clare Graves created a con­cept of eight conscious­ness levels that I find truly fascinating. Each level de­scribes a state of tran­sition that, ap­plied to individuals as well as com­panies and even so­ci­eties, can pro­vide us with important insights.

Level 1, allocated the colour beige, is the “primal” stage of human consciousness. It is defined as the stage of material sur­vival, food and sheltered sleep.

Level 2 is purple, a “spiritual” phase, in which cause-effect rela­tionships are put into a magical, animistically animated and intercon­necting context. In childhood devel­opment, we speak of the “magic phase”, while on a social level, myth­ical deities come into play.

The third, red level, which is charac­terised by “egocentricity”, includes the “magic” of level 2 and supple­ments it with aspects of strength and power, profits and losses, winners and losers. Adolescents and young rebels, gangs such as the Hells An­gels – they all are examples of people going through this transitional stage.

Level 4 is blue and the phase in which “rationale” rules. It com­prises all the pre­vious stages, but every­thing is ra­tio­nal­ly or­ganised, stand­ardised and put into order.

Level 5 is achieve­ment-oriented and materialistic. This orange phase also com­prises all previous stages and fo­cuses on the “ad­van­tage”. It is all about the max­imi­sa­tion of in­di­vid­u­al benefit, play theories, futures ex­changes and seconds trade.

The sixth level is green and “crea­tion”-orien­ted. The world is seen as a whole, as a web of inter­dependen­cies affecting and influencing each other. Ecology and creation move into the centre of consciousness.

After this stage, the individual, or­ganisation or culture moves into level 7, the phase of “interdepend­ency”. In this yellow phase, we add deep reflexion and meditation as ac­cepted social practices to all previ­ous consciousness phases. When we pass through this stage, we start realising that our ideas of what our future will be like are still relatively vague.

Level 8 has been allocated the color turquoise. Its details are not yet clearly defined, neither on an indi­vidual nor social level. It will ne­vertheless dock onto the previous stages, just like the others, and will be supplemented by individual and collective needs.

Together, they form a whole
Both models describe the different degrees of skills and maturity an in­dividual, a company and even a soci­ety goes through. Charan’s leader­ship pipeline concentrates on the skills while Graves’ model focuses on different levels of consciousness. If we now apply this Double Helix to modern leadership challenges, it be­comes clear that a level 7 leader with a level 4 consciousness will tend to deliver strategies that are unlikely to solve the issues of this increasingly complex world. Stuck with an ego­centric view that divides the world into winners and losers, the organisational structures of the future can neither be understood nor adequa­tely commented on. Slogans like “America first” have an unsettling ef­fect in a world that, even long be­fore the onset of globalisation, started moving continuously away from the orange level of “advantage” towards the more aware green and yellow levels of interconnected world sys­tems: What will the world look like, how will it operate, how will ex­change take place?

The question you might ask yourself now is how does this affect your company? Well, if your corporate culture, your leading minds and your CEO act on a consciousness level that makes fruitful communication with a younger, green/yellow-oriented staff (generations Y and Z) impossi­ble, you run the risk of losing your best talents. Generation Y’s astonish­ing new understanding of work-life navigation make this very clear. They question and no longer blindly follow the lead, thus causing irrita­tion in “orange” companies. You could end up losing a first-class can­didate, a CEO or employee just be­cause communication and under­standing are obstructed simply by the different levels of consciousness in play. Think of Chancellor Merkel and President Putin, of Christine Lagarde and President Trump. Even though their level of leadership and responsibility for the people, for prosperity and peace is quite the same, they act from completely different levels of consciousness.

Maybe our primary goal should therefore be to develop leadership and consciousness in parallel. Creat­ing incentives that, in addition to simply rewarding results, also foster the development of both pipelines would be an important step to take on the road to effective leadership.

As usual, this article has many moth­ers and fathers: Charan, Graves, Lutterbeck, Wilber, Muschel and the world in which we live; observed, adopted and composed by Hans-Joachim Spreng.