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CEO potential



Developmental psychologists cracked the code of the CEO type, which companies need the most in times of uncertainty. The good news is that genetics don’t matter. Transformation does.


Why it matters:  Demands have changed dramatically as our world becomes more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) as well as Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear, and Incomprehensible (BANI). 


Brittle: complex systems tend to break unexpectedly under stress

Nonlinear: small changes disproportionately affect complex systems

Incomprehensible: difficult to make sense of complex systems and data


The big picture: Developmental assessment data revealed that only 15% of senior leaders operate at a highly effective potential needed in the VUCA/BANI environment. Their potential as Expansive and Integral Transformers is exceptional.


  • 30% of leaders possess Vision-Centric potential and are competent at setting and accomplishing goals but hit the wall when complexity increases.

  • 35% of the leaders operate as Domain Centric leaders who are fantastic experts but with limited effectiveness in the complex relationships of senior leadership.




Leading in a disruptive world: Since OpenAI introduced ChatGPT, we have seen novel applications that we only recently read in sci-fi books.

  • AI reads, summarizes, and analyzes many materials in no time.

  • AI assists in writing, developing, and generating ideas.

  • AI ‘sits’ in our meetings, takes notes, and sends meeting summaries.

All of this in less than a year is just the beginning.


Rigid stuckness

In such a rapidly changing world:

  • Some boards wouldn't rehire their sitting CEOs, but they wouldn't replace them either.

  • Some CEOs wouldn’t rehire all their current executives, but they wouldn't replace them either.

  • Some execs wouldn’t rehire all their existing VPs, but they don’t replace them either.

Rigid organization structures

CEOs would have created different organizational structures if they had designed them from scratch, but they don't.

  • Too many organizational structures evolved to ‘fit’ different personas.

  • Executives have built empires, established networks, and set chains that hindered companies’ ability to change quickly in a rapidly changing world.

What a mess!

This is an internal complexity CEOs face that makes them ineffective in external complexity.


How to get out of it

I work with a few leaders who have upgraded their operating systems and joined the 5% club of Integral Leaders. I’m in awe of their capacity to make the uncomfortable…comfortable, the invisible…visible, and the ordinary…extraordinary.


For this 5%, I challenge myself to make the uncoachable... coachable so they can go faster, farther, and higher. It's exciting and challenging because it requires us to be super effective inside and outside the organization.


The big problem is that boards, teams, and organizations of the 5% Integral leaders cannot see from Centric Potentials what these leaders see from Transformer Potentials.

Organizations risk their future by pulling down or pushing out leaders who do not conform to their outdated corporate culture.


Transforming potential

The book I'm releasing discusses how to transform individuals, teams, and organizations to the next level through seven levels of potential.

It’s a simple solution to a complex world. Simple, but not easy. Transformation is challenging, especially for CEOs who transform from Vision Centric to Integral Transformers.


Key Success Factor

Vision Centric CEOs' most significant strength is their obsession with results. They are outcome-oriented.


Their Achilles' heel is that they believe they control outcomes. This isn't possible due to the lack of cause-effect in high complexity.


Growing into Integral leadership requires CEOs to let go of their attachment to goals and the belief that they control the outcomes. This seems risky. Boards measure performance based on outcomes. Right?


That’s the tricky part. We live in a world that assesses performance and success based on outcomes.


Transformer Potentials leverage tangible and non-tangible outcomes that Centric Potentials can’t comprehend.


The transformation from Vision Centric to Expansive Transformer crosses from the conventional to the unconventional, knowledge to wisdom, independence to interdependence, and ego construct to ego deconstruct.


So what CEO are you?

There are three types of CEO in that context:

Continuous Improvement CEOs – Change how they execute. They generate systematic, incremental improvements, such as utilizing data, increasing empowerment, and overcoming cultural barriers.


Change Management CEOs – change what they do within the existing business model and culture. They change processes, systems, and practices to ensure sustainability and adoption.


Transforming CEOs – Change who they are. Everything is on the table, and nothing is sacred. They explore new possibilities, reinventing themselves, their teams, and their organizations. They integrate, innovate, and unlock Organizational Potential (more about transforming Potential of teams and organizations in future posts).


Discover Your Potential

The percentages shared above were retrieved from various assessment data utilizing the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT) my clients use.


However, I developed a Leadership Potential Discovery multiple-choice questionnaire so you can learn the Potential framework. It takes just 20 minutes to complete.


Self-discovery can be highly biased if you select statements you aspire to or 'believe' describe you, but you aren't there...yet.


Check out the complimentary Leadership Potential Discovery.

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