Leadership Diamond Introduction

Honing our individual and collective leadership

Below is part of a short introduction to the Leadership Diamond® which I often share with clients following a top team off-site. 

“Only I can change the world that I created. 
There is no danger in change. 
To get what I really want, I must change. 
I have the power to change.”

Irvin Yalom,
Professor of psychiatry Stanford and existential psychotherapist

In this short paper, I introduce the first four points of the Leadership Diamond® toolkit. 

 All material © Lifetree, Leadership Diamond® is © Peter Koestenbaum and used by permission. For further copying or commercial use please contact Lifetree

The context

We live and work with these two realities: that I am a totally free human being. That I am responsible for my choices, and my choices determine my life. That’s point one: me as a unique individual human being: an ego.

The key question here is who am I? And related to that, who do I want to become? Will Schutz said that human personality is who I’m choosing to be at this moment in time. This is both liberating and terrifying. Accepting that I am an individual with free will, generates anxiety but also excitement. I’m accountable for my own life, my own choices. This is incredibly empowering. What choices are you making today that determine your future impact as a leader?

The second reality is that I am a part of, and a product of the ‘systems’ I came from or am part of. My family system, including where I am in the sibling hierarchy if not an only child. My religion (or no religion). My country and language. Key institutions that shaped me, school, college, university. Organisations I’ve been part of, their cultures and values – particularly early mentors who have influenced me. So, we are determined by our systems. This comes from understanding of systems thinking, and the fact that everything is connected.

This is a paradox – am I totally free or am I totally determined? This is a polarity because both are true. Understanding we are part of, and shaped by ‘systems’ leads us to the key second question is how is the world?. If I try to influence things, change things, to make an impact or make a difference, there is no certainty that I will succeed. This leads us to face ambiguity and doubt. Things are unpredictable. Think about relating to others in the organisation. Your boss, peers, others in your team. Will they be open to my attempts to influence? When I take action will this lead to acceptance, or will this lead to rejection? Will the response be friendly, indifferent or even menacing? 

The key agenda points of Leadership Diamond®

How can I find a way through these unpredictable dilemmas? How can I begin the critical first task of leadership, leading myself? Only you can do this work. Only you can find your meaning and purpose. And using the Leadership Diamond, you have four ‘helpers’ each representing a major area of focus for you, directions you can take. 

One is called courage which connects with your identity. A second is called ethics which relates to your feelings of belonging. A third is reality which enables security. And a fourth is called vision which drives your achievement. One of these is your unique driving force. The others act as servants or support. 

At the residential, you each identified your leadership strength in Diamond terms – and specifically we also looked at your ‘leadership stretch’. The area you needed to work on to become more effective in your role in the organisation.

“The Diamond distinguishes four interdependent leadership imperatives, or “orientations”: Ethics, Vision, Courage and Reality. These orientations are your inner resources, always available to help you if you access them. The relationship among the four orientations determines the shape and size of the space within your Leadership Diamond™. The space within the Diamond is your leadership capacity, which creates the potential for extraordinary results.”

Leadership capacity (able) – the ‘Outer Diamond’ 

  1. Courage (identity)
  2. Ethics (belonging)
  3. Reality (security)
  4. Vision (achievement)

These points of the diamond are polarities: and need to be held in tension. We each have preferences for particular poles of the Diamond.  However, if we do not pay attention to all the poles: if one or more areas are weak, the Diamond collapses, as does my capacity for leadership, learning and delivering results.  Stretching these polarities, holding them in equilibrium, creates the capacity to think, learn, grow and mobilise change.

By supporting your colleagues in assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of their Diamond orientations, they can identify where increased efforts can be best leveraged, giving the maximum impact from the least effort. Their weakest orientation is their key Leverage Corner. Cultivating that Leverage Corner, while continuing to mobilise their stronger orientations, is key to breaking through “stuck points” so that people can experience leadership transformation.

The meaning of the Diamond terms

It is important when learning and applying the Diamond to take time to understand the precise meaning of the Diamond Toolkit Terms. A brief overview meaning for each of the Outer Diamond cardinal points is summarised below.

In the Leadership Diamond®, ETHICS refers to the importance of people and integrity. It means caring about people; being sensitive and of service to them; and behaving in accordance with moral principles.

refers to a no-nonsense approach to facing life without illusions; relying on data that is factual rather than emotional; and being tough, task-oriented and results-focused. It also means being able to understand other people’s perceptions of what is actually true.

means applying analytical skills, thinking big; looking at situations in new ways; and being inspirational. At its deepest level it enables creativity and innovation by a deeper access to the unconscious mind.

COURAGE is defined as taking charge; using power wisely; acting with sustained initiative; managing anxiety; and being free and responsible.

Leveraging the polarities within across and between each Diamond Point. You have the opportunity to choose behaviours. 

See the Lifetree website for more information.  You’ll also find a web form there if you want to email me.

 All material © Lifetree, Leadership Diamond® is © Peter Koestenbaum and used by permission. For further copying or commercial use please contact Lifetree