The Biggest Issue with Traditional Leadership: The Dark Side of Mind 2.0

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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Adult development research indicates that there is a dominant type of leadership today. Specifically, this research reveals that 85% of leaders operate from a Mind 2.0 vertical altitude.

When leaders operate from a Mind 2.0 vertical altitude, their bodies are internally wired to advance, stand out, and get ahead. Their primary motive is to hit certain results, outcomes, or benchmarks.

Operating in this way and with these motives is surely justified because it is what (1) is expected of us, (2) will bring us recognition, and/or (3) help us feel of value.

And, while operating in this manner may have some positive consequences, it does have a dark side.

The Dark Side of Mind 2.0

The dark side of Mind 2.0 is very thoughtfully conveyed by C.S. Lewis in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology).

He states:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

Isn’t that interesting!

He is stating that it might be better to be led by “robber baron” leaders than Mind 2.0 leaders, who often operate as “omnipotent moral busybodies” that are inclined to “make a Hell on earth” in an effort to do what they feel is good: get results, hit outcomes, and clear milestones.

In their drive to get results, hit outcomes, and clear milestones, it is not uncommon for Mind 2.0 leaders to want to remove or try to develop the “diseased” people who do not conform to their picture of an ideal employee.

And, Lewis further suggests that the leaders who operate at this level have not “reached the age of reason” (i.e., Mind 3.0) or “never will,” leaving them to be “classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”


Is this language extreme? I think so.

But, being someone who is working on stepping out of Mind 2.0 and more fully into Mind 3.0, this extreme language has caused me to introspect about the times I have operated as a largely mindless “domestic animal” and created a “Hell on earth” in my self-justified pursuit of what I felt was good and/or expected of me.

Have you ever done this?

An Invitation to Rise Above Traditional Leadership

I believe, and human development research suggests, that we can organize efforts to create significant value for others without making “Hell on earth” for our employees.

But, doing so requires that we operate at a Mind 3.0 level and become purpose-focused and not results-focused.

I have learned two things from studying Mind 3.0, purpose-focused leaders.

  1. When one is passionate about a value-creating purpose, people follow them, not because they feel they have to, but because they feel they want to.
  2. Mind 3.0 leaders have the ability to embrace the diversity of others, and they encourage them to bring their unique selves and strengths to the fulfillment of the purpose. They do not force the conformity of a certain type of employee.

It is only by operating at this highest level and through a purpose-fueled drive to create value for someone/something greater than ourselves that we are able to ultimately deliver significant results AND create a “Heaven on earth” for those assisting us in the fulfillment of our purpose.

Thinking through and writing this has left me feeling inspired to rise higher (i.e., more fully vertically develop) so that I can more fully create value and not make a “Hell on earth” for those around me. I hope that in reading this, you feel similarly.

Something that you might be interested in…

If you want to elevate your leadership and operate at more of a Mind 3.0 level, or if you want to help leaders in your organization to do so (so they don’t create a “Hell on earth” for the people they lead), watch this short video about a vertical development exercise that I do in my coaching efforts to help leaders make the jump from Mind 2.0 to Mind 3.0:

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