Conscious Leadership for Sustainability: How Leaders with a Late-stage Action Logic Design and Engage in Sustainability Initiatives -- Barrett Chapman Brown
Barrett specializes in leader development and organizational transformation. For 20 years he has supported individuals and organizations to navigate complex challenges and unlock deep capacities. Barrett is often asked to speak, and has presented widely, including to CEOs and government ministers. He brings a unique multi-sectoral and international perspective. He has been on the leadership team or advisory board of a dozen companies, NGOs, and foundations. In these roles, he has worked with a variety of sectors, including international trade and development, consumer goods, renewable energy, government, manufacturing, banking, internet media, and humanitarian aid. He has lived in the USA, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Ecuador, worked in 12 countries, and traveled in over 30.
Barrett works on two interlinked fronts: leader development and complex change. His innovative leadership research has been widely acclaimed. It offers deep insights into the future of leadership, demonstrating how leaders with highly complex worldviews engage in sophisticated change initiatives. Barrett has designed and facilitated dozens of leader development programs for executives and managers from multinationals, high-growth companies, and international institutions. These range from master classes and innovation labs to corporate universities and multi-year executive education programs. Barrett has trained 500+ leaders from over 30 countries and has logged over 1400 hours mentoring leaders into higher performance. Executives from Nike, Unilever, Nestlé, Mars, Cargill, ADM, Banco Itaú, Natura, and Sara Lee, as well as leaders from government and civil society organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, Dutch Government, US EPA, World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam, and the Asian Social Institute have gone through his programs. He co-designed an executive education program at Nyenrode Business Universiteit in The Netherlands, and has served as adjunct faculty or lecturer at seven other universities in the USA and Europe.
Barrett also works on complex change issues related to organizational and systems transformation. He has co-architected and co-led visioning, strategic alignment, and change processes for mid-market companies in the US and large-scale public-private partnerships in Europe. He co-led development and implementation of the learning strategy for a €30M investment in eight global agro-commodity supply chains. He also co-designed a €14M cocoa sector development program that is rolling out in five countries in West Africa and Asia. In the intergovernmental arena, Barrett holds UN consultancy status, representing Kosmos Journal. He has also delivered leadership briefings at UNDP headquarters, the US Department of State, and the Inter-American Development Bank.
As a researcher and writer, Barrett has authored or edited 40+ articles, case studies, book chapters, and videos on leadership, sustainability, organizational development, and market transformation. Some of his writings are used in universities in North America and Europe as well as in the United Nations system, and have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Farsi. Barrett speaks and lectures on leadership and sustainability issues in both Spanish and Portuguese. His undergraduate studies are in Mechanical Engineering and English Literature through the University of California at Santa Cruz. His Ph.D. and Master’s degrees are in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University.
Barrett lives in the San Francisco area with his wife and young daughter. He is an avid hiker, plays the Native American flute, and enjoys quiet time in Nature. Originally from the green mountains of Vermont, he holds a deep commitment to helping organizations and communities respond to complex social and environmental challenges and leave the world a better place.
This is an empirical study of rare leaders from business, government, and civil society with a developmentally mature meaning-making system, or late-stage action logic (Cook-Greuter, 1999; Loevinger, 1966, 1976; Torbert, 1987). It explores how they design and engage in complex change initiatives related to social and/or environmental sustainability. Participants were assessed for their action logic using a variation of the Washington University Sentence Completion Test (Loevinger & Wessler, 1970). This study has significant implications for the fields of leadership, sustainability leadership, and constructive-developmentalism. The sample has more leaders with documented, advanced meaning-making capacity than any other leadership study (6 Strategists, 5 Alchemists, and 2 Ironists). The results provide the most granular view to date of how such individuals may think and behave with respect to complex organizational and system change. The leaders in this study appear to: (a) design from a deep inner foundation, including grounding their work in transpersonal meaning; (b) access non-rational ways of knowing and use systems, complexity, and integral theories; and (c) adaptively manage through “dialogue” with the system, 3 distinct roles, and developmental practices. Additional results include 15 leadership competencies; developmental stage distinctions for 6 dimensions of leadership reflection and action; and 12 practices that differentiate leaders with a unitive perspective (Alchemists, Ironists) from those with a general systems perspective (Strategists). A constructive-developmental lens is shown to provide important insight for sustainability leadership theory. It is recommended that all leadership programs work to develop the meaning-making capacity of leaders because of the enhanced abilities that emerge with each new stage of development.
Key Words: leader, change agent, sustainability, sustainable development, constructive-developmental theory, action logic, adult development, leader development, conscious leadership, conscious business