What is the Integrated Psychological Leadership Approach?
The 'integrated psychological' leadership approach is a relatively very recent development in thinking on effective leadership.
The terminology 'integrated psychological' in relation to leadership was firmly established, if not originated, by leadership author, James Scouller.
Scouller's theory itself reveals the logical reasoning for the term.
Three Levels of Leadership
James Scouller says that his 'Three Levels of Leadership' model (featured in his 2011 book, The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Know-how and Skill ), aims to offer a practical view of leadership that:
- Helps individuals become more effective leaders.
- Enables leaders to apply three of the most talked-about leadership philosophies in the 21st century: 'servant leadership', 'authentic leadership' and 'values-based leadership' (details of which follow the Leadership Philosophies section), and
- Combines the strengths of earlier theories (Traits, Behavioural ideals, Functional and Situational/Contingency) while addressing their possible weaknesses.
Part of Scouller's approach has been to examine and present the strengths and weaknesses of earlier models of leadership theory. Scouller's strengths and weaknesses analysis is summarised in the table below.
Scouller's analysis of traditional models of leadership - strengths and weaknesses
Leadership model type
Scouller makes this major observation relating to the above analysis of traditional and early leadership models:
"These older leadership models have strengths and weaknesses. They capture part of the truth about effective leadership, but in largely ignoring
'leadership presence' and the leader's psychology, they don't offer a complete guide to becoming a better leader."
Not surprisingly, therefore, leadership presence and the leader's psychology feature strongly in Scouller's own ideas about leadership.
James Scouller's Levels of Leadership Model
Scouller uses a four-square overlapping diagram (adapted below) to present leadership as a four-dimensional process.
Scouller - leadership as a four-dimensional process.
Four Dimensions of Leadership
James Scouller says:
"Leadership is a process that involves:
- Setting a purpose and direction which inspires people to combine and work towards willingly;
- Paying attention to the means, pace and quality of progress towards the aim; and
- Upholding group unity, and
- Attending to individual effectiveness throughout."
(From The Three Levels of Leadership , J Scouller, 2011)
Scouller's four-square model above can be seen as an extension of John Adair's Action-Centred Leadership three-circles concept.
Note that Scouller describes leadership as a process. By that, he means "... a series of choices and actions around defining and achieving a goal ."
- Scouller says that if you see leadership as a process you are less likely to make the mistake of seeing 'leadership' and the 'leader' as one and the same.
Scouller and other authors like John Adair point out that leadership does not have to rely on one person. Scouller explains further:
"...we can say that anyone in a group could lead a group in one of the four leadership dimensions, which clearly suggests the possibility of shared leadership ..."
This raises the question that if anyone can lead, does a group actually need a formal leader? Scouller says 'yes' and defines the leader's purpose as follows:
- "The purpose of a leader is to make sure there is leadership - to ensure that all four dimensions of leadership are being addressed... This means the leader does not always have to lead from the front; he or she can delegate, or share part of their responsibility for leadership. However, the buck still stops with the leader. So although the leader can let someone else lead in a particular situation, he or she cannot let go of responsibility to make sure there is leadership."
- Scouller offers the example: "The leader has to ensure there is a vision or a goal that all (or at least most) group members want to deliver, but that doesn't mean he or she has to come up with the vision on their own. That is one way of leading, but it's not the only way. Another way is to co-create the vision with one's colleagues."
Scouller has firm views about shared and delegated leadership, subject to the principle - crucially - that ultimate responsibility is retained by the leader.
Three Levels of Leadership - 3P Model
Scouller's Three Levels of Leadership model is also referred to as the 3P model.
The three Ps stand for Public, Private and Personal leadership.
Scouller sees two aims for his model:
- To help leaders understand what they have to do in their role.
- To help leaders understand how to develop themselves so they can behave powerfully, skilfully and flexibly while staying true to character - being authentic - (for useful reference see the authentic leadership philosophy).
Here is the diagram for Scouller's Three Levels of Leadership (3P) model.
The Three Levels of Leadership model builds on Scouller's idea that the leader must ensure there is leadership in all four dimensions:
- Motivating future or purpose
- Task and results
- Upholding group spirit and standards
- Attention to individuals (for example, motivation, confidence, selection, feelings of inclusion)
Scouller's main idea is that for leaders to be effective in all four dimensions, they must work on three levels simultaneously:
- Public Leadership: an outer or behavioural level. It covers dimensions 1, 2 and 3 (Purpose, Task, Group Unity).
- Private Leadership: another outer or behavioural level. It covers dimensions 2 and 4 (individual aspects of Task, attention to Individual).
- Personal Leadership: an inner level. It covers all four dimensions (Purpose, Task, Group Unity, Individuals), although less directly than the two outer levels.
Scouller explains that 'Personal Leadership' affects all four dimensions by working on the sources of a leader's effectiveness: their leadership presence, technical know-how, skill, attitude to other people and psychological self-mastery.
- Self-mastery, according to Scouller's Three Levels model, is the key to a person's leadership presence, his/her attitude toward others, and flexibility.
- Scouller argues that Personal Leadership is the most influential of the three levels because positive change at the personal level has positive 'ripple' effects at the two outer levels. The same is also true in reverse.
Notice that the four dimensions represent a functional view of leadership that we see in other models.
However, the integration of the four dimensions (functions) with the 'three levels' of leadership seems unique to Scouller's model and in this respect can be considered highly innovative, and probably an advance in established thinking about leadership models.
Summary of Scouller's 3 Level of Leadership Model
Here is a more detailed summary of Scouller's Three Levels of Leadership.
Scouller's Three Levels Of Leadership (3P) Model - Summary of details
The 'Public Leadership' level involves a leader's actions in a group setting (for example, a meeting) or when trying to influence an organisation as a whole.
Includes setting the vision, ensuring unity of purpose, achieving the group task, building an atmosphere of trust and togetherness and creating peer pressure towards shared, high-performance standards.
There are 34 Public Leadership behaviours across two areas:
The 22 Group Purpose and Task behaviours set the group's aims and get the job done. They divide into four sub-groups:
The 12 Group Building and Maintenance behaviours create and uphold a group identity and atmosphere of shared responsibility for overall performance. There are two sub-groups of behaviours:
Leaders need to balance their attention to purpose/task and building/maintenance.
Some leaders over-emphasise the former and ignore the need to create a team spirit. Others are more concerned with atmosphere and pay insufficient attention to results.
'Private Leadership' is the leader's one-to-one handling of group members.
It recognises that although team spirit is essential, everyone is an individual with differing levels of confidence, resilience, experience and motivation.
Individuals need individual attention as well as group bonding.
There are 14 private leadership behaviours across two categories:
There are 5 Individual Purpose and Task behaviours: appraising, selecting, disciplining, goal-setting, and reviewing.
The 9 Individual Building and Maintenance behaviours are for growing and upholding each individual's 'know-how', skills and confidence. They include getting to know colleagues as individuals and building relationships, attracting new talent, and assessing people's competence and commitment.
As in Public Leadership, leaders need to balance their attention to both areas to avoid missing important aspects of individuals' effectiveness.
The 'Personal Leadership' level is the most influential of the three levels. It refers to leaders' technical, psychological and moral growth and its effect on their leadership presence, know-how, skill and behaviour. It drives a leader's emotional intelligence, personal impact, skill, judgement, and insight in action.
Scouller says, "Personal Leadership is the key to what Jim Collins called 'the inner development of a person to level 5 leadership' in his book Good to Great."
Personal Leadership has three elements:
Scouller's Integrated Approach
Scouller's Three Levels of Leadership (3P) model seeks to use the strengths of traditional and earlier leadership theories, while also addressing the leader's psychology - notably the problem of limiting beliefs - and the question of leadership presence and authenticity.
- Scouller's model is therefore aptly called 'integrated'.
The model incorporates and in some cases extends what Scouller considers to be the most useful aspects of prior theories, alongside Scouller's own new and original thinking about leadership psychology, by which he aims to produce a model that is a step beyond previous concepts.
Scouller's integrated approach makes use of four types of leadership models:
- Trait theory
- Behavioural ideals theory
- Situational/Contingency theory
- Functional theory
Here are the main details of how Scouller's 3P model integrates and extends the four types of previous theories.
Integration of Existing Leadership Models
How Scouller's 3P Leadership Model integrates and extends previous leadership models theory
Behavioural Ideals theory
Situational/ Contingency theory
James Scouller's Three Levels model also overlaps with three of the leadership philosophies, which are described in the next section: Servant Leadership, Authentic Leadership and Values-based Leadership.
- This is because the 'inner level' - Personal Leadership - of Scouller's 3P model includes what Scouller calls self-mastery .
In this regard, Scouller asserts that:
- "... self-mastery is the key to developing not only leadership presence and your attitude towards others, but also letting you connect with your values, allowing the authentic 'you' to flow, thus enabling you to be an effective servant-leader. .."
- Further, Scouller reinforces the connection between his Three Levels model and the three leadership philosophies mentioned above in stating that, "... true leadership presence is synonymous with authenticity , expressing one's highest values and an attitude of service."
James Scouller Biography
We are grateful to James Scouller for his help, patience, and expert contribution to producing this leadership guide.
James Scouller is an expert coach and partner at The Scouller Partnership in the UK, which specialises in coaching leaders. He was chief executive of three international companies for eleven years before becoming a professional coach in 2004. He holds two postgraduate coaching qualifications and training in applied psychology at the Institute of Psychosynthesis in London.
James Scouller's book is called "The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Know-how and Skill" which was published in May 2011.
- You can learn more about James Scouller's book at three-levels-of-leadership.com.
- Details of James Scouller's executive coaching work are at TheScoullerPartnership.co.uk.