Book tip: Changing on the job by Jennifer Garvey Berger

Book tip by Tereza Herodková

“At Perspectivity, we are all about complexity. We usually have the complexity of social systems in mind – the C from the term ‘VUCA world’ (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous). When you talk with us, chances are that the topic will soon turn towards navigating unpredictable processes of social change. Yet, this is only one of the possible views on what ‘complexity’ entails and needs. Yes, you anticipate it correctly: Jennifer Garvey Berger’s book ‘Changing on the job –  Developing leaders for a complex world’ offers another one.

Once you dive into reading her works, you become familiar with the theory of adult development. It may surprise you to realise that although we would never expect a one year old baby to master the ways of thinking of a 5 years old, we often automatically assume that mental processes of adults are basically all the same. And that is where the fun starts! In a very approachable manner, Jennifer Garvey Berger explains the adult development theory, mostly based on the works of Robert Kegan, professor in adult learning and professional development at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Just think for yourself about people in your surroundings who…
…are only capable of taking in their own perspectives
…are judging what is right or wrong based on (assumed) perspectives of others
…are capable of taking in multiple perspectives while maintaining their own, or
…see and understand perspectives of others and use them to continuously transform their own system to become even more expansive and inclusive.

Each of these descriptions characterises another form of mind (self-sovereign, socialised, self-authored and self-transforming), which relates to specific perspective-taking and to a specific relation to authority and to the world around them. As we grow older (although the chronological age is not always that relevant), we are likely to undergo a transformation towards higher forms of mind. And although the author says “bigger only means bigger, not necessarily better”, meaning that the form of mind has nothing in common with personal values or qualities, not all forms of mind thrive in truly complex and challenging contexts. Here we meet the term ‘complexity’ again!

But why is the book’s subheading ‘Developing leaders for complex world’? This books offers not only some deep insights into ways of adult thinking. It also provides leadership development coaches with thorough guidance on supporting the process of personal growth towards the advanced mindsets necessary in today’s world. Did the last sentence put you off? Don’t worry, even if you are not a coach, Jennifer Garvey Berger may significantly enrich your understanding of the world and people around.”