Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most

Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams

Wiley, 2019


Key Themes

“Conscious” — Introduction pg. xx (Discussion of scale) “…the only way for this to happen is for conscious leaders to scale conscious leadership.”

Pg. 3 — “At a certain point, the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of leaders determines whether or not an organization can grow. A business can’t outgrow the effectiveness of its leadership!”

“transcend” — Page 8 – “It is a business imperative today that we transcend our current level of leadership.”

Pgs. 9-10 “humanity is ultimately the foundation of leadership”, “spiritual path”, “spiritually Intelligent”, “calling to serve”, “challenged to become higher versions of ourselves … and put it in service of others”, “spiritual process”


“What kind of leadership, if it existed, would enable the organization to thrive in its current marketplace and into the future?”

  • Scale equals growth, life’s most essential dynamic.
  • In business, scaling up leadership calls for the intelligent, effective development of new leaders.
  • Leaders who strive to increase their leadership skills engage in a bold spiritual journey.
  • Leaders should take three steps to “scale their leadership” and positively transform their companies.
  • Leaders range across a “full spectrum” of three types of leadership.
  • Integral leaders are servant leaders.
  • Strong leaders value objective feedback.
  • Organizations today operate in a VUCA world.


Organizations today operate in a VUCA world.

“Over the past decade, the term ‘VUCA’ has become part of the business lexicon as executives, managers, and others grapple with its effects.” VUCA — volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. In this environment, “disruptive change” is a giant monkey wrench that makes maintaining the standard level of business leadership a huge challenge. The VUCA world overloads the “internal operating system” of many leaders, who are often in over their heads. Leaders who can’t deal effectively with the topsy-turvy business world will reap a whirlwind and so will their companies. Leaders must scale up.


In business, scaling up leadership calls for the intelligent, effective development of new leaders.

Scaling up corporate leadership calls on mature, high-quality, effective leaders to develop additional mature, high-quality, effective leaders. Reliable business growth demands regular development of new leaders to manage expansion. Leadership scaling calls for “innovation, adaptability, sustainability, agility and engagement.”

Leadership scaling enables manageable growth. Enlightened leadership depends on each person exercising genuine, inspired and goal-oriented “leadership of self.”


Leaders should take three steps to “scale their leadership” and positively transform their companies.

To scale up your leadership abilities so you can help your firm move forward, you should:

  1. “Start with yourself” – Examine your leadership strengths and weaknesses using an industry-standard self-evaluation tool. In their book Immunity to Change, Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey suggest that leaders who want to change should focus on “one big thing” – the single change that will unlock their leadership potential.
  2. “Develop leadership teams” – Think of your team as a team of leaders. Create a leadership “development agenda” for your team members. Assess their individual effectiveness and their effectiveness as a group.
  3. “Build leadership systems” – Build a “developmental organization” by institutionalizing your “development agenda.”


Cool Quotes:

“Life scales, or it dies.”

“Rapid growth solves a lot of problems and brings with it a whole lot more.”

 “Leaders learn out loud, and the best leaders do so openly, vulnerably and in deep relationship.”
“At spiritual boot camp, leaders retire their ‘socialized, dependent’ and ‘reactive’ selves and turbocharge their ‘self-authored, independent’ and ‘creative” selves’.”

“Scale can only be achieved by developing capacity and capability in others. Effective leaders develop other leaders.”

“We build our teams, improve our collective effectiveness, and scale our leadership by doing this work together – transparently and vulnerably – and at every level in the organization.”

“Most of us are underwater, over our heads. We have no more time to give, yet the organization wants to grow, pushes us to grow, pulls us internationally.”

“By its nature, leadership will push us to our limits – and maybe beyond them. It will call on the highest and best of who we are and what we offer to meet the daily challenges we face.”

“It is hard to change deeply grooved patterns in how we show up every day in our lives and our leadership.”

“Ineffective leadership caps the ability of an organization to grow, and this liability is exposed the minute you start to scale.”

“Integral leaders are servant leaders.”

Six conditions for leaders to scale up their abilities:

  1. “Creative leadership” – Reactive leadership, which is retrogressive, will never scale properly. Reactive leaders must upgrade to creative leadership on the way to integral leadership. Creative leaders inspire the people they lead. They make those around them better. They know when to get in front and lead and when to step back and function as just another team member. Creative leaders promote an “open, honest, authentic, optimistic, generative and innovative culture.”
  2. “Deep relationship” – Think of this as relating well to the people you lead. Integral leaders have affection for the people they lead. On high-performing teams, this affection – or love – is a common characteristic of all team members. Great leaders exemplify love. In doing so, they scale up the “capacity and capability” of the people on their teams. The stronger the relationships between leaders and the people they lead, the greater will be the opportunity to scale leadership within the organization. Strong relationships unlock the potential of human imagination and enable team members to persevere together.
  3. “Radically human” – With humility, vulnerability and courage, integral leaders learn from everyone around them. Radically human leaders understand that disruption and significant change in their organizations begins with them. These astute, mature leaders see knowing and controlling as illusions. They substitute learning for knowing and empowering for controlling.
  4. “Systems awareness” – How leaders design and organize their companies – the systems approach they utilize – will determine how these companies fare in the future. Feedback enables leaders to operate intelligently. Creative and integral leaders rely on, value, respect and leverage feedback. They institutionalize robust “feedback systems” as part of developing their organizations.
  5. “Purposeful achievement” – Inspiring leaders motivate others to strive to achieve a higher purpose. Such leaders channel their people’s collective hopes and dreams to accomplish lofty goals. Having an elevated purpose prompts people and systems to evolve. Purposefulness is the “beating heart of creative leadership.”
  6. “Generative tension” – Gaps can loom between employees’ aspirations and the reality of their organizational situation. Generative tension accompanies these gaps. Great leaders work to close the gaps between goals and reality. This involves ambitious leadership scaling within organizations. To direct this scaling, quality leaders must function as their firms’ chief development officers.


Strong leaders value objective feedback.

“The higher we go in organizations, the less feedback we get because it feels risky to speak truth to power.”

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