Module 2

How we think about leadership matters.

There are two ways of thinking about leadership that direct much of what we see.  They are like well-worn paths down which many leaders walk time and again.  

One we will call Transmission.  It is the classic "command and control" method.  It assumes that those we lead grow and develop through the input, instruction, correction, training, feedback, and system of incentives that we put into place for them.  It's a common approach.  It's clear, controllable, quick, and efficient.  The problem, however, is that it often leads to an under-development of those who are being led.  People fail to build skills of creativity, initiative, adaptation, ownership, internal strength and resolve, and such.  

The other we will call Expression.  This is the classic "person or process-centered" method.  It assumes that people we lead are filled with best intentions, wonderful skills, uniquely valuable perspectives, ability to self-correct, self-regulate, and will naturally follow self-directed learning.  They don't need accountability or correction.  Our job is to gt them into a role of their strength, and then get out of the way.  The problem, however, is that it often leads to a lack of discipline, production, congruence, performance, and often, ironically, harmony.

If we were to use metaphors, we could say that the transmissive approach is a "factory" approach to leadership, and the expressive approach is a "forest" approach.  In a factory you have compliance and production, but you burn through resources.  In a forest you have lush vistas and the co-existence of all kinds of species of plant life, but you have little production of "crop" (unless, of course, the crop is timber).  


Command and Control




Compliance and conforming

Just Telling


People and Process-centered

Satisfaction oriented




Just listening


We need a third way.  One that does not ignore the development of people while accomplishing tasks, and one that does not ignore stretching, challenging, and building capacity in people to get the mission accomplished while drawing them out and letting them process.  

We will call this third way Developmental Leadership.  This is a path less traveled because it takes a great deal of discipline to see the longer-term potential in people to extend and amplify the impact of the mission. 

On this path, we believe that there is potential in people, but that they often need to grow and change and stretch and improve in order to reach it.  We believe that production is important, but that while we are seeking to accomplish tasks in the present, we are always trying to build in people the ability to do these tasks better for the future.  We are seeking not only to manage responsibilities and meet our targets right now, but also multiply leaders for the future.  

This is developmental leadership.



1. Have a "developmental" coaching conversation with someone on your team. (This is not necessarily about something they are doing "wrong" in order to fix it. This is a conversation about their "growing edge," the ways they need to develop in order to have greater or better impact in their own leadership.)

2. Write something you learn from the experience of coaching developmentally in the "coach" section of our canvas.

3. Connect with your triad to debrief.