The Sixth Level: Capitalize on the Power of Women’s Psychology for Sustainable Leadership

Stacy Feiner, PsyD; Rachel Wallis Andreasson, MBA; Kathy K. Overbeke, DBA; Jack D. Harris, PhD

Publisher: Amplify Publishing Pages: 312 Price: (hardcover) $30.00 ISBN: 9781637558560 Reviewed: December, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

The Sixth Level is a leadership development book positing that the patriarchal approach to leading organizations is unfit for modern challenges. Instead, the authors prescribe a new leadership framework called “The Sixth Level.”

The book’s authors, experts, variously, in psychology, gender, management and business, present a framework for leadership meant to address the strains felt from the modern confluence of the pandemic, social unrest, global economic suffering, and climate change. The Sixth Level – which can be imagined as a new pinnacle to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid – elevates leadership behaviors (referred to as “Self-In-Relation”) that have been traditionally shunned as weak because of their association with women’s behaviors: mutuality (emotional reciprocity), ingenuity (inventive solutions), justness (full representation), and intrinsic motivation (optimized work environment). Combined with an ability to toggle between empathy and analysis, The Sixth Level approach “provides a model for leadership that is … much more successful” than the status quo driven by the patriarchy, they write.

To bolster to this claim, the authors dedicate the book’s third section to what they call “case studies.” The cases are first-person essays authored by the case subjects on how they have approached challenges in their businesses using one of the four core Self-In-Relation behaviors. While these are really just stories, they span myriad industries, including retail, nonprofits, and medicine, and effectively illustrate strategies within each behavior.

The book is both well-grounded in existing organizational psychology and innovative. The authors persuasively explain why some well-known concepts, like Maslow’s hierarchy, needed updating. And while their section on the patriarchy’s impact feels long and like a recap of countless other critical looks at traditional power structures, it provides a strong argument for why leaders should veer from individualized, isolating, and power-focused strategies to more collaborative, cooperative ones.

The Sixth Level is a valuable read and will be a welcome addition to any academic or practitioner’s library on leadership.

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