FAQ about the Harthill Leadership Development Profile (LDP)


The aim of this section is to provide further background on the Harthill LDP and how you may be able to make use of the feedback you receive.



1. What exactly is being measured by the process?

The Harthill has evolved from Loevinger's 'sentence completion test' (see Loevinger, L et al (1978) Measuring Ego development Jossey-Bass, San Francisco). The aim of the Harthill test is to measure an individual's action logic defined by Torbert as an overall strategy that so thoroughly informs our experience that we cannot see it. Within the Harthill LDP the actin logic is described in terms of the process through which people interpret and give meaning to their experiences – which subsequently influences their worldview and patterns of action. Each action logic encompasses all the previous action logics.

2. What is the significance of the names given to the action logics?


The names given to the action logics attempt to summarize a key characteristic of that stage. However they are open to a range of misinterpretations – for example it would be wrong to assume that one has to reach the Strategist stage in order to be able to think strategically or that only people operating at the Achiever level are interested in results. The action logics can be broadly divided into pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional actin logics. Conventional action logics take social categories, norms and power structures for granted whereas post-conventional logics are more likely to challenge norms and focus on overcoming incongruities in the way individuals and organizations act.


3. How was my overall Action Logic determined?


In the Harthill sentence completion test each sentence response is scored at a particular action logic, depending upon complexity of thought displayed in the response. For most people their responses will cover four or five different action logics. The actin logic to which an individual is ascribed is not the person's "average" , nor is it necessarily the action logic that occurs most frequently in their scoring. The reason for this is that each action logic encompasses all the previous action logics. This means that someone who regularly reasons from, say, an Achiever action logic will also regularly use Expert and Diplomat action logics. Thus the aim is to assess the highest action logic that is regularly used by the individual. (Technically this is accomplished by comparing the cumulative distribution with a standard curve and establishing the action logic at which they cross).


4. How is action logic related to personality types?


The short answer is not at all. All personality types are found at all stages if development and people of a given personality type can be at any stage of development. Processes that determine personality types, such as Meyers Briggs, aim to establish the characteristics of an individual that do not change over time. One can become more aware of one's personality traits, and that awareness may permit the individuals' greater choice in how they act in the world. But the awareness does not change their personality. In contrast assessing an individual's stage of development or actin logic is recognized as being a span shot of that individual at a particular point in time – and that a later assessment may well indicate a shift in stage. In this sense personality and stage assessments can be regarded as independent dimensions of appreciating ourselves and other people. It may be helpful to know that in the development sequence the attention or development shifts between independence (focus on self) and inclusion (focus on relationship) – so some personality types will find some stages easier than others.


5. How can I use the feedback?


There are at least three ways in which you can make use of the feedback provided in the Harthill LDP. A written report is delivered to you by a Harthill authorized consultant. He or she will help you access the personal feedback on your responses that goes beyond simply scoring the responses. Section 2 of the report outlines some activities that might wish to pursue to both consolidate your current action logic and those that might support your development to a later stage. Not all the activities listed will be relevant to your context, and some may not appeal to you. But you can do your best to undertake those that are relevant and have some appeal. Third, you can use the information on different action logics to add a new dimension to how you relate to people who may be operating from a different action logic to your own. Probably the most useful starting point for this is the table summarizing the different action logics that appears in the report.


6. What is the relevance to action inquiry?


According to Torbert it is challenging "to transform ourselves and help others transform toward an advanced capacity for action inquiry. There is no step-by-step procedure to follow that will accomplish this mission..." Instead Torbert states that it is only be developing higher action logics that individuals can make the necessary transformation. He asserts that it is our "unexamined action logic that most severely limits our effectiveness. We will make the greatest leaps in quality improvement in our own actions when we become aware of those limits and begin to experiment beyond them. If we become aware of these overarching action logics in others and in ourselves, we can reduce unintended conflict and misunderstanding. Indeed we can even help ourselves and other transform beyond the limits of our present assumptions" (Torbert and Associates (2004) Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership, Berrett-Koehler, SanFransicso).



7. What is the relevance to systems thinking?


One of the key dimensions of systems thinking is being able to appreciate other people's perspectives. In order to do this one has to be able to see one's own perspective as one among many possible perspectives, and this, in turn, requires one to regard oneself as "having a perspective" – as opposed to seeing the world through a perspective. This shift is, in broad terms, the shift from conventional to post-conventional action logics. If your action logic is Achiever or earlier, then you will find it harder to genuinely appreciate other people's perspectives than people who have an action logic of Individualist or later.


Most people will have their sentences scored over a range of 4 or 5 different action logics. The post-conventional action logics have been labeled by Wilber as being systemic – indicating that in his view the shift involved from conventional to post-conventional is one of appreciating systems thinking (Wilber, K (2000) Integral Psychology Shambala Books, Boston and London).


Using systems tools help people spend more time in their higher action logics – thereby enhancing their development. The Harthill LDP provides explicit guidance on how you can foster you own development to your next action logic.