What is Second Tier Leadership?

The term “Second Tier” refers to the Integral Theory of Ken Wilber and the developmental Theory of Clare Graves (Spiral Dynamics).  If you have no idea about these theories I highly recommend you to first watch the first two video’s here.

In an ever more complex and turbulent world, Second Tier Leadership aims to embrace – and begin answering – some of the most important questions for leaders from all areas of life and business.

The Second Tier Leadership framework defines nine distinct attributes of a great leader. It is designed for those who want to gain an understanding of what great leadership really entails, and how better and more enlightened leadership qualities can be developed.

Developing these skills and attributes can enable you to find your own answers to some of the biggest questions you will face as a leader:

  • How does effective leadership work in the challenging and unpredictable complexity of the modern world?
  • How can we enable and encourage positive transformation in our teams and in ourselves?
  • How do we hold multiple perspectives without being overwhelmed by seemingly irreconcilable contradictions?
  • How do we courageously stand up for the highest values, and lead with strength and compassion towards a better future for ourselves, our children and the world?
  • How can we use our own power wisely while empowering others at the same time?
  • How do we honour and integrate other perspectives and remain open to the potential for a higher synthesis of values and viewpoint?
  • How can we cultivate and maintain focus and clarity?

What are the core attributes of a great leader?


Second Tier Leaders are awake and focused. In this context, focused does not mean partial seeing or tunnel vision. It means to be awake to and clear about what is needed, to approach everything with conscious intention, and to make choices in alignment with that conscious intention. This creates a vertical energy, an ascending drive towards the future while being rooted in the present moment.


“One comes from second tier like water spontaneously bursts from a deep, deep underground spring. There is outrageousness, gracefulness and creative awkwardness as one simultaneously discovers, learns to flow with, and find words for, the new material that spontaneously emerges from all four “quadrants” that often is a surprise. It is an out-of-the box blossoming not contained by today’s typical cultural creative thinking and being. ” (Wayne Carr)

empowering and empowered

“They can more fully feel, embody and celebrate their own power and sense of self-efficacy. This power can span the whole spectrum from bold and outrageous to soft and subtle. They can blend their powers hierarchically with the power of others in creative and collaborative ways. They can create an energetic wake that naturally brings people to act in line (entrain) with a common purpose.  They en-courage a dynamic balance of support and challenge that facilitates creative action.” Wayne Carr


Authenticity in Second Tier means much more than simply being honest, or “being yourself”. In this context, it means to discover an alignment with the life process itself – the direct, unfiltered expression of the creative impulse, the perennial force that created the universe. The authentic Second Tier leader sees him or herself as an integral part of a much bigger life process, an expression of the creative impulse in human form.


Second Tier Leaders embrace a developmental perspective and have a deep understanding and appreciation of the stages of human development. They have integrated these stages within themselves, enabling them to interact and respond in a way that allows people at different stages of development to be truly seen and understood.

facing reality as it is

Second Tier Leaders aim to be fully conscious of the way things actually are right now. They want to see reality as it is, however imperfect, to be able to access the most helpful conclusions. They do not avoid difficult truths or complex problems. They don’t look away, but instead gaze directly and consciously into the darkest corners. By not overlooking the sometimes uncomfortable truths that affect decision making and forward movement, they can embrace both a rational and intuitive sense of what is happening.


Second Tier leaders always look for the next positive step. They seek out change and evolution. They want to ascend, and find ways to make things better. Second Tier leaders do not fear change, even when it is challenging. Change is embraced as a means to grow. The goal is never to coast on existing successes, but rather to find constant evolutionary flow, improvement and transformation.


Second Tier Leaders learn to be excellent listeners. They are able to completely suspend the usual habits of reaction and judgment. They are listening not only to the words that are spoken, but also to the spaces between the words, to consciousness itself. By learning to listen in this way, by reaching beyond the rational mind, they can access insights which can seem miraculous.

trusting and trustworthy

Above all else, the Second Tier leader trusts in life and the essential goodness of the life process, and consequently has a natural inclination to make people feel trusted. The Second Tier leader expresses a trusting and trustworthy attitude and perspective through action, by demonstrating high ethical and moral standards. Through setting such an example, trust between co-workers becomes deep and reciprocal, and working with others becomes a joy.


Finding Pragmatic solutions

You have a mangement challenge or a project that is not going well? I help you to find fast and pragmatic solutions.

Leadership Workshops

You are interested in Second Tier Leadership as a way to grow and develop? Let’s do a workshop and find out how this can look like in your company.


You’d like to practice Second Tier Leadership? I am happy to coach you or your teammembers through the first weeks or months to get you started.


You look for an exiting new topic for the Key – Note of your next conference? I’d be delighted to speak about Second Tier Leadership and give your audience an experience of its potential.

Contact me to find out more!

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