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Action-Logics a Palette of Colours

During the course of our lives, we all grow through different stages of development called action-logics. The action-logics could be described as “operating systems” or “lenses” through which we look at and operate in the world. Often we hear discussion or see written that the action-logics are like a school rating system, or that some of them are better than others. In Amara we take a different approach. In this piece of writing, Jane Allen the Co-founder of Amara Collaboration beautifully describes and indicated the need of them all in this world.

The action-logics (the ways in which we make meaning that then drives our behaviour) identified by the Global Leadership Profile (GLP), are: Opportunist, Diplomat, Expert, Achiever, Redefining, Transforming and Alchemical. But these terms are too often used as labels for individuals in the way many approaches to individual psychological approaches do, like the MBTI and the Enneagram. To label ourselves or others at one action-logic is to miss the subtlety and beauty of all of the action-logics at play and the way in which, whilst we are likely to have one centre-of-gravity, we operate within the range of many action-logics in a subtle blend. We are all people of many shades and colours.

Whilst we may have reached a certain level of maturity, such as Redefining, we are still capable and likely to act in the manner of earlier action-logics whether by default or choice. I often hear people say, as if it’s a badge of excellence, that they are ‘an alchemist’ or ‘an achiever’ and whilst there is a reliable truth in this it generally isn’t quite so fixed in our day to day lives. The language we prefer to use is that we operate from within the frame of a particular action-logic and that we also act out of other action-logics depending on what the situation calls. Our behaviour moves between the different action-logics and understanding them more deeply can help us understand ourselves and others better as well as assisting us to navigate our own and others development.

This is illustrated by a recent conversation with my business partners about our current challenge of expansion as we talk about the nature of the organisational model we want to co-create. It redefines and transforms the conventional approaches based on our values and vision for a work environment and promotes a community of collaboration and Developmental Action Inquiry. At the same time, we address the technical requirements of finance and organisational efficiency from our ‘expert’ meaning making. We then discuss how to reach our short and long-term goals and the steps we need to take to get there – our ‘achiever’ muscles. We start our meeting in a gracious, warm way with delight at seeing each other and belonging to our joint endeavour – luxuriating for a moment in our ‘diplomat’ action-logic. We know with the lens of the ‘transforming’ action-logic of our capacity to shift, surf and choose the frame that is needed, however, to notice the value of the different action-logics is a crucial aspect of this repertoire as if using a range of spices from a spice rack to produce a rich and tasty dish. From the perspective of teams and organisations there is great value for the diversity of all the action-logics to nurture creativity and enable a creative tension that can mitigate against group think and habitual responses.

“From the perspective of teams and organisations there is great value for the diversity of all the action-logics to nurture creativity and enable a creative tension that can mitigate against group think and habitual responses.”

I am living in a small town in the UK that has been devastated by flooding at a scale not experienced before and see the significance of the action-logics at play and those that are needed and are in short supply. The emergency services have literally saved lives and the quick and professional responses from the insurance assessors and the environment agency have left their ‘diplomat’ action logic – no time or need for niceties the ‘expert’ is crucial. The local leaders and local businesses are thinking about the goal of recovery and retaining customers and pride within a few months – this ‘achiever’ thinking and behaviour is positive, energetic and hopeful for all. Other’s need to rethink and redefine the future and the options whilst caring for all and bringing people together (‘redefining’). The real issue is global warming and the likely increased frequency of such events that challenge small towns located at the confluence of two rivers. It may lead to a break down of the supply chain of goods and the shadow behaviours of greed and anger also being displayed.

There is a need within businesses and organisations of the presence of ‘redefining’ and ‘transforming’ action-logics that give attention to a longer-term horizon, new challenges, coping with uncertainty and confusion and connecting up with many perspectives of what is happening to our world. Understanding our action-logics may not solve all our challenges but offers a significant and timely perspective to how we operate as individuals and organisations always valuing the beauty and place of the action-logics however they present.

Transformational Leadership Through Action Inquiry, Action-Logics and the GLP

A highly experiential 3-day workshop where you will learn to practice Action Inquiry, the only approach statistically reliable generating both personal and organisational transformation. It will deepen your knowledge about vertical development, the leadership action logics and how to support vertical development in yourself and in others. The impact will be felt in your own leadership development and the possibilities for greater impact on others with whom you engage.


Jane Allen is an experienced consultant, facilitator and coach working in public and private sectors, based in the UK. She provides advice and support to consultants and coaches working in the field of organisational and leadership development. Her ambition is to encourage the best of individuals and organisations in pursuit of their highest ideals and … Continued

We often talk about action logics so here is a brief intro by Bill Torbert of what it is. An ‘action logic’ is the way we make meaning of ourselves, our relationships and the wider context which then determines our behaviour in both business and everyday life. The Global Leadership Profile (GLP) is both a … Continued

Seven Transformations of Leadership is an article by Amara’s Co-Founder Bill Torbert in the Harvard Business Review that lead Heidi Gutekunst into founding Amara Collaboration together with Bill and Jane Allen. Developmental Action Inquiry and the GLP are still the base and key frameworks that Amara Collaboration uses today to increase the amount of transformational … Continued