Our Story

Together we are striving to do much more than sell assessments. We endeavor to change the global leadership mind. We want to shift the conversation about what leaders do (a competency-based approach) to a focus on how leaders think—the ways they think that allows them to become extraordinary.

From basement beginnings

From the early, humble basement beginnings, The Leadership Circle has been focused on the development of people from the inside out – with the goal to help people grow and develop emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The story of The Leadership Circle is intertwined with the life and mission of its founder, Bob Anderson. Bob relates a memory from his first position out of college managing a livestock and pet food plant. One night, working late he was inside a rail car unloading some much-needed feed ingredients. When finished, he propped his feet up inside the hopper bottom to catch his breath. Out of his mouth, unrehearsed and un-reflected, came the words, “I am not becoming who I am.”  He spoke out loud and with such inner authority that it startled him. He knew in that moment he was speaking a truth he could not ignore.

The work was deep, life changing, and yet directly connected to the business of running a business.

Bob often wondered how his background in Economics, Statistics, and Business would merge with his passion around personal, spiritual, and people development. Attending his first company sponsored management training session was eye opening and prompted him to enroll in a Master’s Program in Organizational Development the very next week. Early in his career he set about to learn from some of the very best in the field. He had the good fortune to be in close working relationship with people like: Peter Block, Peter Senge, Robert Fritz, Marv Weisbord, Clay Laugherty, David Whyte, Robert Kegan, and a host of others. He recalls being mentored by the best of the best. What Bob noticed as he got deeper into the thinking of each of these thought leaders, was that while the field of Leadership and Organization Development was littered with useful theories, frameworks, models, and research—it was largely unconnected and unintegrated. Bob desired to weave the threads of all this powerful theory and research together.
Over a 20-year period, an integrated model emerged. It became a Unified Theory of Leadership. It integrated into one coherent framework the best theory and research that had emerged in the field of leadership and psychology over the last half-century. As the Unified Theory evolved, Bob began using it as the basis for his work with senior leaders and senior leadership teams. The work was deep, life changing, and yet directly connected to the business of running a business. The inside-out work that he had longed to do with leaders was translating into higher levels of leadership effectiveness and, as a result, increased business performance.
During that same period, Bob was frustrated that he could not find an optimal set of assessments, because like the leadership field, leadership assessments at the time were largely unrelated and unintegrated with each other. He could not find an assessment that was capable of working with leaders at the level of depth, nor that fit seamlessly with the unified framework he had developed. So, as he puts it, “I naively set out to create one.” A few months into the process of creating what is now the Leadership Circle Profile, he was having a conversation with a colleague, David Womeldorff, who was certified to use most of the big 360° assessments in the field. David said to Bob,
“Bob, the world does not need another leadership 360°. They are a dime a dozen. It is a mature market. I don’t understand why you want to waste your time doing this.”
35

Years of Experience and Expertise

We exist to evolve

the conscious practice of leadership

to steward the planet

and awaken us all

to our inherent unity.

Undeterred, Bob kept going. He was simply doing what he had learned to do as a youth working with his engineering father: build things he was interested in building, integrate the best of unintegrated stuff, and then use it with his clients.
One of the first clients for the newly developed Leadership Circle Profile (LCP) was The University of Notre Dame Executive Education Department.  The Leadership Circle Profile was brand new, and Notre Dame took a risk bringing it into their recently created flagship program, the Executive Integral Leadership program. Bob remembers coming out of a coaching room at the end of the first day of conducting debriefs with leaders in this program using the Leadership Circle Profile. Dave Womeldorff, the colleague who, years earlier, told him he was wasting his time developing yet another 360°, was walking down the hallway toward him. David’s eyes were as big around as saucers. Bob was immediately concerned. What had gone wrong? David said, “Bob, I’ve got to tell you. I have conducted over a thousand 360° coaching sessions in my career, and today I had the five most powerful 360° coaching sessions I have ever had.” Bob was stunned and asked why. David had noticed two things. The Leadership Circle Profile very quickly focuses attention on the key competencies needed for development. It brings the key issues into focus unlike any other tool he had used. But more importantly, it naturally allowed for very deep and significant conversations to open up in ways that rarely happened using other tools. These conversations consistently produced breakthrough insights.
What emerged from this process still surprises Bob—The Leadership Circle, a global company with hundreds of thousands of users. From the beginning, individuals interested in using the LCP consisted of a rich mix of senior business leaders, senior HR/OD managers, and very credentialed and seasoned leadership development consultants and coaches. As the community of TLC certified organizations and practitioners grew, a new vision began to emerge. It first emerged as a question, “What could this group of dedicated and talented change practitioners do for the world, that would not happen if they played separately?” The vision grew of mobilizing this talented group of people to have global impact. Could The Leadership Circle play a part in elevating the consciousness of leadership globally? Why not?
Leadership, especially corporate leadership, is the key to our collective future. The consciousness of our leaders will determine the fate of the planet. The Leadership Circle is the first assessment and development system to evolve the leader’s consciousness as it develops the leader’s capability. A global vision was emerging.
The Leadership Circle today is a global leadership assessment and development company at the forefront of the field with offices around the world. Together we are striving to do much more than sell assessments. We endeavor to change the global leadership mind. We want to shift the conversation about what leaders do (a competency-based approach) to a focus on how leaders think—the ways they think that allows them to become extraordinary. We know that extraordinary capability arises on a platform of higher-order consciousness. Consciousness is the operating system of performance. Consciousness mediates effectiveness. Consciousness and competence arise together to establish high levels of effectiveness. We know that business effectiveness requires consciously evolved leadership in order to meet the demands of today’s complex and volatile marketplace. We know that our suffering world requires the same highly evolved leadership if we are to create a sustainable future. We have dedicated our lives to this Mission:
We exist to evolve the conscious practice of leadership to steward the planet and awaken us all to our inherent unity.
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