Stephen Covey in his classic book 7 Habits of Effective People suggests personal evolution can be achieved from dependency via independence to the ideal state of interdependence. These stages are sequential, variable in time spent and each stage is defined by the individual’s primary area of focus.

I believe there is a parallel evolution for leaders, which also has 3 stages, is sequential, and is varying in time spent per stage. 


  • The first stage is characterised by leaders who are primarily concerned with themselves, their vision, their ambitions, & their investment. The default pronoun is I.

  • A realisation occurs; they realise they can’t operate alone, so switch focus to the needs of their stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, etc). Their default pronoun becomes YOU. This is a progression of sorts but transfers accountability away from them.

  • The final stage of evolution, which I don’t believe all leaders reach, is where they align their personal and stakeholder needs, into a single unifying vision. At this stage, their default pronoun is WE. There is shared accountability and reward in place.


Like most theories this is perhaps simplistic; however, it still begs the question, where are you currently on the evolutionary scale?

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