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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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An Inspirational Encounter


Recently, I had the great good fortune to meet a truly exceptional person. In fact, it’s a man who has provided much of the inspiration for the work I do with business leaders. Ken Wilber.

Working with true greats is a privilege and an inspiration. It’s happened to me a few times in my life. First, in 1986 when I qualified as a physician, I worked and had a close relationship with the leading cardiologist of the time, Peter Nixon. More recently, I met and collaborated on some research (soon to be published) with one of the inner circle of Dalai Lama, a man called Mattieu Ricard. I also spent some time with Gempo Roshi one of the leading Zen masters in America.

Now, just the other week I met the man who has been called the modern day Freud, Ken Wilber.

Ken is probably the one of the biggest of all the outliers. Some people think he’s an alien – and they’re only slightly joking. There are very few people alive on the planet who have spawned a whole new field of academic endeavour across multiple disciplines. 

One of the interesting things about meeting people like Ken is their level of humility, openness and the warmth of their heart. You might expect them to bit a little aloof or standoffish, but they’re really not. Instead they embody, at a very deep level, the things they talk about. Their ability to deeply embody the things they talk about is a mark of their exceptional nature.

Ten minutes into my first conversation with Mattieu, we were sharing stories like drinking buddies, exchanging witticisms and making each other laugh. There was a kind of ordinariness to our exchange that meant very quickly we were completely comfortable in each other’s presence. There is no positioning or game playing that can be characteristic of interactions of most people of power and influence.

Ken has provided a map of the human experience. It’s a map that has gone on to influence numerous other maps in philosophy, psychology, religion, architecture, healthcare and many more. Ken’s work provides the ultimate frame that enables us to understand what it is to be human. Ken’s book, A brief History of Everything, is a fantastic sweep across the nature of human experience and all phenomena.

Wilber provides the knowledge of where you are and where everyone else is on the map and how you might navigate that. 

That map informs fields as different as architecture and nursing. 

I’m looking forward to ongoing conversations about the importance of coherence in navigating an integral world.  As is mentioned in my book (Coherence: The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership) the whole idea of lines and levels of development is Ken’s model. He has inspired so much of my work – I, we it – all Ken’s frame.

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Dr Alan Watkins

Alan is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance. He has a broad mix of commercial, academic, scientific and technological abilities.

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