Mary Lippitt, PhD, Founder and CEO and Enterprise Management Ltd., Leadership Expert & Author

#031: Agile Mindsets in Leadership and Team Coaching: 6 Essential Organization Perspectives to Boost Strategic Thinking and Decision-making

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and leading organizational coach, Dr. Mary Lippitt, for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  Dr. Lippitt is an award-winning author and founder of Enterprise Management Limited.  Known for her pioneering work linking leadership with organizational results, Dr. Lippitt is internationally recognized as a leader in the execution of change and strategy implementation for over twenty-five years.  Her specialities include working with leaders to develop effective leadership practices, engage others, align strategy, improve execution planning, and enhance team power to achieve desired results.  Dr. Lippitt is the creator of The Leadership Spectrum Profile (LSP)–an instrument that examines mindsets or a leader’s choice of what is most important to achieve at a given point in time.  She is also the author of the book (2014) “Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity.

In the episode, Mary shares her fascinating journey into the fields of leadership, team and organizational intervention beginning as the daughter and niece of two legends in the field of organizational psychology: Gordon and Ronald Lippitt. She describes the impact of spending her summers as a child and teenager in Bethel Maine at NTL (National Training Laboratories) where she gained first-hand experience with group dynamics, T-Groups and human relations conferences.  She then shares her journey working as a leader in both the public as well as private sectors including her role in taking over her father and uncle’s firm Organization Renewal, Inc. which she later re-named Enterprise Management Ltd.

In the episode, Mary also introduces listeners to The Leadership Spectrum Profile (LSP) and explores 6 mindsets that help leaders and teams understand the organizational context both internally and externally. The LSP aids with strategic thinking and decision-making.  The 6 mindsets (Inventing, Catalyzing, Developing, Performing, Protecting, Challenging) are linked up with the organization’s lifecycle and provide leadership and team coaches with a rapid approach to helping leaders and teams accelerate their performance and effectiveness.  Mary shares two powerful stories from her practice using the LSP that are full of great tips and lessons learned.  In addition she discusses her latest book that also covers the 6 mindsets: “Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity.”

Team coaches will surely find this episode inspiring and a golden opportunity to learn from a distinguished thought leader in the field.  This is an episode you will surely not want to miss!

Listen Now 


Contact Mary:


  1. The Leadership Spectrum Profile (LSP):
  2. Lippitt, M. (2014). Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity & Complexity



Part 1 – Getting to Know the Coach: Dr. May Lippitt

  • Background
    • Founder and CEO/President of Enterprise Management Ltd.
    • An award winning author.
    • Known for her pioneering work linking leadership with organizational results, Dr. Lippitt is an internationally recognized as a leader in the execution of change and strategy implementation for over twenty-five years.
    • Specialties: Working with leaders to develop effective leadership practices, engage others, align strategy, improve execution planning, and enhance team power to achieve desired results.
    • Based out of Tampa, Florida, originally from Washington, D.C.
    • Author of Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity (2014)
    • Proud continuing family HRD professional: father Gordon Lippitt wrote a book Organization Renewal and her uncle, Ronald Lippitt was a graduate student of Kurt Lewin the eminent Social Psychologist and an author of the seminal leadership studies on democratic, autocratic and laissez-faire modes of leadership.
    • Was introduced to the field early: spend 13 summers at NTL (National Training Laboratories) in Bethel Maine.  Was an early teenage T-Group member.
    • First work experience was in Miami Dade government, ran management training.  Then went on to work with a defense contractor.  The contract was then purchased by a UK firm…interesting culture change experience.
    • Went into academia and ran a Master’s program in Human Resources and and a Master’s program in Public Administration
    • Then went to work for her father’s firm, Organization Renewal, and then after his passing established Enterprise Management Ltd.
    • Has worked in public, private, academic and now consulting settings
    • Her father Gordon Lippitt: started life as a Methodist minister; went to Yale Divinity School; taught at the Union Seminary; he then went to Paris to work under the Marshall Plan looking at how to rebuild Europe; then he joined George Washington University where he was on faculty for 30 years; he focused more on private sector while his brother Ron focused more on the public sector.  They worked together at Organization Renewal.
    • Passion is to find ways to have a faster impact on organizations: the process of the T-Group work and group dynamics work and coaching around style and interpersonal differences, tends to take longer to have impact. Rather than taking a personal approach to change, her work focuses on what goals can unite people and taking a look at context rather than the personality.  Looking at the context can bring people together much more quickly.
    • Also has a proclivity to encourage people to value each other’s contributions rather than looking at our differences, but more how we can help each other.
    • On goals: Important to have a compelling goal: we often pay lip service to goals but having a compelling goal at this point in time is an important distinction; commitment to the goal is really important.  Goals can be too broad or too narrow as well as short term and long term.
    • Founded Enterprise Management: consulting, assessments, training and speaking; company is focused on helping leaders, teams and organizations to identify outcomes that lead to sustainable change. Helping organizations and teams think strategically.  One of the ironies is that situational leadership is a widely used model at the individual level (supervisor/supervisee relationship), its also useful to look at the organizational context and how we are adjusting the mindset accordingly.
    • Being agile, strategic, innovative, flexible, nimble…what does that really mean and what does that really take to bring about?  Mary’s work looks at 6 specific ways to be agile and nimble depending on what the context is demanding.
    • Consistent leadership is important and valuable but we also need agility in order to stay abreast on what the organization needs to thrive.
  • 6 Mindsets & The Leadership Spectrum Profile (LSP)
    • Mindsets, both at leader level as well as team level, can be helpful in bringing out more objectivity vs. subjectivity; helps to depersonalize and to help link ways to find win-win ways to working together
    • LSP was developed after studying 6000 leaders
    • A mindset is a filter about what information we are taking in; in a world of fast-paced change the six mindsets help us to make meaning more comprehensively and nimbly.
    • 1) Inventing – the new, the novel, being state of art
    • 2) Catalyzing – focusing on the customer, the industry, the market competition
    • 3) Developing – more internal focused; building organizational excellence; organizing systems
    • 4) Performing – finding ways to improve work processes and quality; leveraging resources well; fine-tuning
    • 5) Protecting – traditions, succession planning, developing workforce competencies, esprit de corps
    • 6) Challenging – stepping back in external world; assumptions that may not be valid; trends; preparing organization for long-term survival
    • Six mindsets map onto the Organization lifecycle: startup, rapid growth, being a stable/recognized organization, performance stage, and maturation stage.
    • Some organizations can last a long time: one company in Japan is 1000 years old!
    • Units also have lifecycle that may be at different stages of development
    • The six mindsets are not competencies per se; they are more flexible and changeable.  A competency entails a lot more study and process mastery; mindsets are a checklist of questions.
    • Mindsets help you collect data and assess what the context is demanding and to ask the right questions to make sure you are viewing all six mindsets in a balanced way.
    • The LSP helps you look at the current mindset you have at a given point in time and what is being called for during this time; it’s not a label of you as it is specific to the situation you have selected.
    • Coaches can use the LSP to help leaders and teams surface the mindsets that are at play and then to assess what the context is really calling for in terms of response.
    • Coaches can help scan the arena and to deliberately choose one’s response.
    • 6 mindsets also can help when communicating with an audience: are you mentioning the benefits of the 6 mindsets?
    • Many people can’t juggle 6 things at once but we need to be able to keep our antennas out for all 6
    • Asks leaders and teams to take the LSP and then to look at the composite to see where there are differences

Part 2 – Stories of Hits & Misses

  • Example #1: An Executive Team
    • CEO was hired from outside the organization despite all VP’s applying for the job
    • The CEO didn’t feel welcome by the VP’s who thought the CEO’s thinking was out of alignment with the needs of the company.
    • The LSP showed that the CEO was in a Catalyzing mindset while the VP’s were more in a Performing mode focusing on quality.
    • The firm was losing clients due to quality issues: by having a discussion based on data they decided to focus on quality in the short term with an eye towards getting back on track for long term growth.
    • The LSP and the 6 mindsets helped depersonalize the tension, the conflict
    • The goals are agile and flexible; once we satisfy a goal we can move on.
    • Helping leaders cope with change and respond to change is important; change is successful 11-30% of the time; how are we approaching helping people get on board with the effort.  The 6 mindsets can help with change management including communications about the change.  Creating a change ready culture.
    • In the end the intervention rapidly got alignment among the CEO and VPs; it created a common language; also helped the leaders to coach their own teams.  Helped protect the CEO from going in a direction that would have led to conflict with the VPs. Having the objective framework and the fact that the CEO was willing to listen to the data was important and signaled a willingness to work together with the VPs.
    • Provides a practical way to bring about agility.  All was done in one day.
    • Long term result is that the company got back on track with growth.
    • Process: individual one-on-ones with CEO and VPs; had each individual take the LSP (they get the results immediately); then organized a full team session to explore the mindsets and the differences in mindsets that were revealed; offers an individual debrief following the group session for each leader.
    • The team composite does not note each individuals name; preserves confidentiality.
    • Focusing on the organization’s lifecycle before looking at the mindsets can be helpful especially when there are stark differences in mindset that are present.
  • Example #2: A Non-Profit Case
    • Leader had two teams: one working well and one not
    • Teams concluded that it was a favoritism issue; wanted to overcome that issue.
    • Important for leaders to be able to look at the environment around performance.
    • In this case one team was being micro-managed by the Board of Directors through the leader.  They didn’t know this.  The other team was newly formed and was given a wide latitude.  The first team was in a performing mode and the new team was in an inventing mode.
    • Mary came in and used the LSP.  The dichotomy between the two teams became pretty clear.  Revolutionary change vs. evolutionary change mindsets were at present.  Surfacing the mindsets helped generate understanding and what role each team needed to play given the context.
    • In the end the leader wanted each team to stick with what they were doing. Managed the tension between the teams by identifying some cross-training opportunities.  Some in the more constrained team were find while others weren’t happy and needed some cross training and new temporary assignments to stay engaged.
    • Story illustrates how to work with different teams with different needs.
    • If listeners are interested in a mindset approach, she would recommend Brilliant and Blunder as a way of getting started regardless of whether you want to use the LSP or not.
    • LSP is different in that it isn’t a “personality” profile but rather looks at mindsets given the current operating context, environment, or situation.  Not correlated with the MBTI and the LSP.  Mindsets and personal style are different constructs.
    • Reality does play a role in our lives regardless of personal style or individual preferences.
    • LSP and 6 mindsets framework is dynamic and situated within an organization’s lifecycle.

Part 3 – Parting Advice/Resources/Contacting Mary

  • Current focus/passion: exploring what is meant by “critical thinking;” working on developing a framework that separates out advanced analytical thinking from strategic thinking and from innovative thinking.  3 types of thinking and people often conflate the 3 types.
  • Parting advice: we need to help leaders shift from having all the right answers to asking the right questions. Walter Lippman quote: “When all men think alike no one thinks very much.”  Encouraging some diversity of thinking.  Another quote by Oliver Wendall Holmes: “Once a mind is stretched by a new idea it never regains its its original dimensions.” Once people really understand what mindsets are they can really take off and run with it.
  • Recommended resources:  Brilliant or Blunder book; getting trained/certified in the LSP – a 2 day process in Tamp and Tucson; an online version of the LSP training should be done by the end of 2015
  • Contacting Mary:

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