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Seven Spheres of Leadership Mastery

The Seven Spheres of Leadership Mastery is based on a meta-analysis of studies conducted around the world. It integrates the findings of these studies into one model that has shown to enable leader, team and business success.

It is based on the philosophy that real change – both within the corporate world and beyond, occurs through effective and inspired leadership.

Leadership is a shared relationship, where people are positively influenced to mobilize themselves around their toughest challenges, in service of a mutual purpose consistent with fundamental values.

leadership mastery


The Seven Spheres paintings were commissioned by The Leadership Sphere from Joanna Bacher. Click here to read more about the artist’s thinking on each painting. Copyright retained by The Leadership Sphere.

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Seven Spheres of Leadership Mastery

1. Manage and Lead Change

leadership-development-manage-lead-changeThe ability to manage and lead change is an ongoing demand on leaders. There is nothing more true than the statement ‘change is constant’ - in fact disequilibrium is the new ‘normal’. Research shows that the number one issue facing senior leaders is dealing with ‘adaptive challenges’ and ambiguity.
Adaptive challenges can be defined as those without a defined solution, that required fundamental changes in values and beliefs and there are often legitimate yet competing perspectives emerge. Adaptive problems are often systemic problems with no ready answers. To effectively lead change in this environment, leaders need a special set of skills and approach. Skills include ‘getting on the balcony’ (big picture perspective), the ability to identify adaptive challenges (versus technical), regulate distress, maintained disciplined attention, give work back to where it belongs, and protect the voices of leadership below.
Positive change requires letting go of old patterns and taking a fresh perspective. It includes a focus on opportunities rather than problems, long term versus short term and adaptability versus control.
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2. Action Oriented

leadership development action orientedSound execution of strategy combined with effective change management is essential for success. While many leaders and teams develop sound plans and strategies, few actually then execute effectively. A principle that helps ensure that entropy, or a loss or leakage of energy in a system, is minimized is alignment. Elimination of misalignments and being able to create an environment where people can align behaviours, symbols and systems helps ensure that valuable resources are used effectively and efficiently. Aligning people, processes and systems behind the vision also ensures sustainable and meaningful change in service of business goals – the holy grail of organizational success.
At the individual level, leadership is about creating a ‘safe’ environment to enable others to fulfill their potential – in effect, be their best. It’s about coaching others rather than trying to control them, drawing out talents and strengths in service of team and organisational objectives. The Action Sphere is also about self-coaching, where we take responsibility for enhancing our own self-awareness, accepting new information, committing to change where appropriate, and then taking definitive and stepwise action towards the goal.
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3. Synergy

leadership development synergyLeaders create synergy by building meaningful relationships and high levels of trust. Importantly, research demonstrates that the most effective leaders have competencies in both interpersonal skills as well as a focus on results. We also know that sometimes leaders must ‘give up’ some of their relational equity in service of something bigger. To lead is to live dangerously however.
Leaders also need to be able to surface critical issues and deal with conflict constructively. Apart from courage, this requires leaders who are emotionally intelligent – highly self-aware and tuned into those around them.
Leaders also need to be able to make the shift from producing results to enabling and empowering others to produce the results. This is often a difficult transition for leaders to make because they need to let go of what made them successful in the past – technical competence. Once leaders begin to make this transition, they also begin to realise that the key role of leadership is to serve the needs of other’s success, not the other way around. Underpinning the sphere of synergy is the power of presence – the quality of absolute attention and listening. Presence can inspire and energise the potential of others.
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4. Truth

leadership development truthTruth is about connecting with our purpose, values and core strengths in areas that make a difference. Purpose is not a goal or the latest ‘fad’, it’s something leaders need to discover and is beyond our job or even career. It includes a ‘reason for being’ that drives action beyond oneself. It is only with this clarity that extraordinary performance, both in business and personally can occur. Values on the other hand, are the standards and guiding principles that govern our life. While strengths enable us to be our best by leveraging what we’re good at and extinguishing our weaknesses. Truth means being congruent and authentic in service of what we believe in as leaders. These three domains form a powerful coalition.
Inspiring leaders openly communicate their principles and what they stand for despite its popularity. And most importantly, they model the behaviours required to move towards a high performance culture. They truly walk the talk in everything they do. If you influence the lives of those around you, you are engaged in the act of leadership, and each of us is creating a legacy as we live our lives. Our leadership legacy is the sum total of the difference we make in people’s lives. Many leaders fail to consciously craft their legacy, instead leaving it to chance.
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5. Engage

leadership development engageLeaders need to be able to create a compelling vision, or picture of the future that creates a highly focused, results-driven culture. An organisation’s vision needs to be a picture that energises people rather than just a 'lets-go-through-the-motions' type statement. Telling the story about a compelling mission, vision and values can energise entire organisations when done well. While most leaders love to make strategy, but it is vision and values that spawn strategic action. The absence of a vision will doom any strategy -- especially a strategy for change.
Why Inspirational Leadership? Do you want to encourage extraordinary performance from your people? Do you want them to do great things? If yes, then you must create an inspiring corporate culture that inspires, empowers and energizes them. People do what they have to do for a manager, they do their best for an inspirational leader. To inspire, you must both create resonance and move people with a compelling vision. You must embody what you ask of others, and be able to articulate a shared vision in a way that inspires others to act. You must offer a sense of common purpose beyond the day-to-day tasks, making work exciting with fun.
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6. Resilience

leadership development resilienceSound energy management practices help people to achieve sustained performance, energy, and enjoyment. Traditional views have addressed only parts of the energy management equation. Sound energy management means addressing all four domains effectively - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual (head, heart, body, meaning). Energy management is not limited to self however, and effective leaders know how to unlock energy and potential in others through an empowering, strengths-based approach. While ‘life balance’ remains distinctly individual, having the requisite skills to manage all four domains is fundamental to sustained, high performance.
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7. You

leadership development youMany people tend to split the act of leadership from the person. The two are inseparable. We also tend to see leadership as an external event – something we do. However leadership comes from a deeper reality – it comes from our values, principles, life experiences and essence. It is a whole-of-person action. We lead by virtue of who we are – this is real leadership (or leadership from the inside out). Fundamental to the most effective, results-producing leaders is: Authenticity; Influence and Value Creation.
Our definition of leadership is the capacity to unleash the energy and potential of people to achieve individual and business goals through sustainable change while demonstrating value and respect for employees, customers and investors. Put more simply, leadership is authentic influence.
Leadership can come from our character, the essence of who we are – or it can come from a pattern of coping, where we tend to react to circumstances to elicit an immediate result. Character is the essence of a leader and works to transform and open up possibilities and potential, while coping protects us and helps us get through challenging circumstances. If used sparingly, it has value. The coping leader may get results but also exhibit defensiveness, fear, withdrawal, or a desire to win at all costs.
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The Seven Spheres paintings were commissioned by The Leadership Sphere from Joanna Bacher. Click here to read more about the artist's thinking on each painting. Copyright retained by The Leadership Sphere.

Read about our Leadership Development Programs.