I recently came across a model of leader development with which I was not familiar, the *Leader Identity Development (LID) model designed by Susan Komives, Professor Emerita, University of Maryland, and her colleagues. Student personnel administrators in higher education are more likely to know this model. It is in student leadership development that the LID model has been widely applied.
The model grew in part out of student development theories. As we move through life, we acquire a variety of social identities. One identity may be that of leader. The model suggests the growth of our identity as leaders evolves through six stages. Komives and her colleagues have described these in great detail in their writings. Here is my very brief simplification of the six stages:
- Awareness – When we are children, we become aware that some people are called leaders. There are leaders in our culture, our community, our home. We develop the concept that some people are leaders.
- Exploration/Engagement – As we grow older, most children and teenagers become involved in groups. We become active participants or followers in various group activities. We begin to develop relational skills, learning to interact with others.
- Leader Identified – At this stage we recognize that some positions are for leaders. They direct us and get things done. Komives found high school students and some first year college students were at this stage.
- Leadership Differentiated – At some point we realize the position leader may or may not be the actual leader. We realize leadership can emerge from followers. We enhance our group skills and participate more actively in group decisions. People who are already in formal leadership roles may feel empowered by their growing awareness of leadership and its possibilities.
- Generality – We move beyond awareness of leadership processes to a larger sense of responsibility to the greater good. Leaders may become more compassionate and caring.
- Integration/Synthesis – We know we are leaders, we have the capacity to lead, and we seek opportunities for self-improvement as a natural part of our lives.
The Leader Identity Development model has found a home in colleges and universities, but there is potential for applications in other organizations. My guess is that most people in the workplace have moved through the first three stages. However, I am sure there are those who have not progressed through level 4, learning the value of collaboration and active listening, people who do not know how to participate constructively with others in decision making activities. These skills can be taught. And I am fairly confident many organizations would be stronger if leaders embraced stages 5 and 6. There are compassionate, caring leaders who are concerned with the greater good. But there are leaders who are self-centered and lack compassion. Training relating to stages 4, 5, and 6 might make for improved climate and culture in some organizations. Potentially this could improve the bottom-line.
*I refer to Komives’ Leadership Identity Development model as the Leader Identity Development model. I agree with Day (2000) that leader development and leadership development are not the same. As I stated in an earlier blog:
"Organizations can easily confuse leader development with leadership development . . . Leader development focuses more on the individual, trying to develop skills and competencies to lead. On the other hand, leadership development seeks to grow leadership throughout an organization developing relationships among leaders, . . . to insure leaders are on the same page, not at cross-purposes.
Lemler (2013) also refers to Leader Identity Development.
Day, D.V. (2000). Leadership development: A review in context. Leadership Quarterly, 11, 581-613.
Komives, S. R., Longerbeam, S. D., Owen, J. E., Mainella, F. C., & Osteen, L. (2006). A leadership identity development model: Applications from a grounded theory. Journal of College Student Development, 47(2), 401-418.
Lemler, R. P. (2013). Rethinking organizational leader identity development: A social network and ethnographic approach (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from http://www.google.com/search?num=50&site=&source=hp&q=russell+lemler+columbia&oq=russell+lemler+columbia&gs_l=hp.3...1062.8254.0.9188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.2148.1j14j1.16.0....0...1c.1.42.hp..11.13.1225.0.v-B08jXwtEU
Image of Shaili Chopra, ET Now, India. World Economic Forum image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/5181857500/
Used with permission: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en