Four Columns—Procedures and Uses
In The Real Reason People Won’t Change, by Kegan and Lahey,
they point to how our internal competing commitments keep us
imprisoned. We develop an “immunity” to make the change we
feel that is essential to our well being (e.g., develop more empathy,
lose weight, be more supportive, etc.).
What is required is the willingness to dig deep into our emotional
energies, find out how these are related to our behaviors, and
unearth our assumptions that drive the energies and behaviors.
The four columns exercise is designed to assist in this exploration.
Uses We use the Four Columns exercise in coaching and training as a
way to invite individual responsibility for improving the quality of
your leadership, relationships, and mental/emotional life.
The beauty is that the individual gains deeper understanding into
how he or she is “kept in place” by their commitments---which
carry tremendous emotional energy.
Procedures We use this exercise in the following way:
1 Once an area has been identified (e.g. enriching relationships) it is
important to do an autopsy on the behavior. What contributes to
the way things are and why the individual wants to change?
2 Using the worksheet, write out the area of concern.
3 Work through each column as described, carefully recording the
information that is shared/unearthed.
4 Expose the big assumption.
5 Using the bottom columns outline how to test the assumption.
6 Set a target date with accountabilities to evaluate insights.
Four Columns Exercise by www.qualifying.org Page 1
Four Columns (adapted from Kegan and Lehay)
The behavior for
Stated commitment What I am doing or Competing The BIG Assumption
I am committed to….. not doing that is commitments
keeping my stated
Example: “being a Example: “I don’t Example: “I work hard Example: “I assume
team player.” collaborate enough; I and want to get credit I’ll not get properly
make unilateral and be recognized; recognized; I assume
decisions; I don’t collaboration means that collaboration
seek input.” sharing control.” takes too much time.”
Strategy for Testing Metrics for measuring Benchmarks for Accountability
the “Big Assumption”. the “test”. evaluating the big Partners.
Coaching and training aid by www.qualifying.org 336-774-0330
Four Columns Exercise by www.qualifying.org Page 2