Adult development theory

Do you want your people to be more self-reliant and pro-active? Does it frustrate you that your people don’t take as much ownership as you would like them to?

Do you find that people are resistant to change or that they are so sure of their own opinions that they don’t want to hear opposing views?

What is Adult Development Theory?

If any of the above are familiar to you, adult development theory might provide helpful insights and ways forward.

We all know that children have development phases, but we tend to be less aware that adults also have development phases. Adult development theory challenges the idea that adults don’t develop much beyond the age of 18. It demonstrates that adults change through their lives, and not all at the same rate.

Robert Kegan’s theory of adult meaning-making has influenced theory and practice internationally across multiple disciplines.

Adult development theory comes into play when the development stage an employee or leader has reached is not sufficient to address the challenges they face. When people find themselves “in over their heads”, this is a sign that their development stage is behind where they need to be, if they are to understand and approach the challenge effectively.

Adults go through 5 distinct developmental stages (just like children). Becoming an ‘adult‘ means transitioning to higher stages of development. Professor Robert Kegan of the Harvard Graduate School of Education has developed his theory of adult development over 40 years, and it has been expanded on by Jennifer Garvey-Berger and others.

Cru incorporates adult development theory into its adapt, grow, achieve model. We use it as a lens to look through when considering the development needs of leaders and the challenges that they and their people are facing.

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